The Anonymous Widower

Ashington Targets 2023 Opening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the sub-title.

A half-hourly service to Newcastle is planned.

The two trains per hour (tph) service and the opening date sounds just what is needed. Not just on the Northumberland Line, but in many places in the UK.

I would suggest some of the following.

There are also some much-needed stations, that could be added.

If we can create and manufacture a vaccine in a year, we can surely do a lot on a rail project in two years. And a lot of them! How many construction firms and workers would it keep employed?

The Modern Railways article gives a few more details.

How, Not If

This is the title of the first sub-section and sounds good to me!

It looks like Network Rail and others intend to apply good project management to deliver the project, fast and at a good price.

They haven’t been the best in the past, is all I’ll say!

Six Stations

This is said.

In summary, six new stations are proposed, at Northumberland Park (interchange with the Tyne and Wear Metro), Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington. An extension at the Northern end to Woodhorn is possible at a later stage.

Other points made include.

  • Ashington is envisaged as the terminus.
  • There are level crossing issues between Ashington and Woodhorn
  • There will be a cycleway connecting Blyth Bebside with the town centre. With all those B’s, they need an Geordie equivalent to Boris bikes!

It sounds well-thought out to me.

Butterwell Freight Line

This is said.

Also for consideration at a later stage is conversion of the currently freight-only Butterwell Line to passenger use, permitting a service from Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth to Newcastle via Bedlington.

This Google Map shows the railway lines North of Ashington.

Note.

  1. The big grey building at the bottom of the map is Asda’s Ashington superstore.
  2. There is a rail junction to the West of the superstore.
  3. The line going South leds to Bedlington and Newcastle.
  4. The line going North-East goes to Woodhorn, Lynemouth Power station and the Alcan Smelter.
  5. The Line going North West through the trees is the Butterwell Line, which goes to the Butterwell Opencast coal mine, Widdrington station and up the East Coast Main Line to Berwick-on-Tweed.

This second Google Map shows to the North of the first one.

Note the Butterwell Line runs from the South East corner of the map through the woods and to the East of the Ellington landfill site.

This third Google Map shows the route of the line to the East Coast Main Line.

Note.

  1. The electrified East Coast Main Line runs North-South down the Western site of the map.
  2. The large fields may indicate that coal has been removed and they have been restored.
  3. The Butterwell Line meanders its way across the map.
  4. Trains would appear to be able to enter and leave the Butterwell Line to or from the East Coast Main Line to and from the South only.
  5. The next station to the South is Pegswood and to the North is Widdrington.
  6. At the East of the map, the line connects to the line to Ashington through the woods.
  7. The Butterwell Line appears to be a mix of single and double track.

I wonder if Network Rail and train companies have a cunning plan for train services on this section of the East Coast Main Line.

Current services on the East Coast Main Line, that use the section of the line between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed include.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stops irregularly at Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day (tpd) – Stops at Morpeth
  • LNER – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Berwick-on-Tweed
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Stops at Manors and Cramlington
  • Northern Trains – 2 tpd – Newcastle and Chathill – Stops at Manors, Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth

Note.

  1. Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get at least one fast tph to both Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  2. Stations between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get only a two tpd service.
  3. Stations between Newcastle and Morpeth get a 1 tph service.
  4. The East Coast Main Line is only two tracks and I suspect that Northern’s slow diesel multiple units are not ideal trains for the route.

The obvious improvement would surely be to run an hourly train between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, via Bedlington.

  • It would stop at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Ashington, Pegswood, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth.
  • There would be a reverse at Morpeth.
  • It would join the East Coast Main Line between Pegswood and Widdrington stations.
  • Trains could be timed, so that passengers between Cramlington and Alnmouth only waited a couple of minutes during change at Morpeth.
  • Faster trains would be used to ease train pathing on the East Coast Main Line.

Current fastest times between Newcastle, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed are as follows.

  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Newcastle – LNER – 67 miles – 46 minutes – 87 mph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth – LNER – 50.2 miles – 30 minutes – 100.4 mph
  • Morpeth and Newcastle – TransPennine Express- 17.5 miles – 26 minutes – 40.4 mph

It looks to me that because of the times North of Morpeth, that a high performance train or some cunning signalling will be needed.

Britishvolt’s Gigaplant

BritishVolt are building a factory to produce lithium-ion batteries at Blyth.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Recent news concerning Blyth is that it has been selected as the site for Britain’s first ‘gigaplant’ for electric car battery production, with a planning application for the 95-hectare site on the north of the river Blyth (the location of the former Blyth power station) submitted by Britishvolt in February. The £2.6billion scheme is expected to generate about 3000 jobs; if all goes well, lithium-ion batteries could be produced on the site by the end of 2023. The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

I looked at Britishvolt’s web site and if I was graduating soon, I don’t think it would fire me up, unlike others in similar sectors.

We live in exciting times, so don’t have a boring web site, as it will not attract exciting and enthusiastic people.

This Google Map shows the Port of Blyth.

Note.

  1. The red arrow at the top of the map labelled as a former power station, which must be Blyth power station.
  2. There is certainly a large cleared site to the South of the arrow.
  3. The Port of Blyth is to the East.
  4. Because of the power station and the port the site could be rail connected fairly easily.

Britishvolt seem to be planning to use rail freight to bring in raw materials and take out finished product.

The Modern Railways article says this.

The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

As there is a rail connection, at some point in the future could a shuttle train be used? Or perhaps a few trains per day between the factory and Newcastle.

A Bridge For The A1061 At Newsham

The Modern Railways article says this.

A new road bridge will be built on the A1061 to replace Newsham level crossing.

This Google Map shows where the Northumberland Line crosses the A1061 at the level crossing at Newsham.

Note.

  1. The railway is double-track through the level crossing.
  2. It doesn’t appear to be a challenging project.
  3. A bridge could either be built along the existing route or a few metres to the South.

But as it looks like there could be more housing development in the area, would a bold design, that would allow a station to be added later be better?

Two Footbridges

The Modern Railways article says this.

In addition, there will be two new footbridges; Palmersville Dairy (replacing Palmersville foot crossing) and Chase Meadows (replacing Chase Meadows foot crossing).

This Google Map shows the Palmersville foot crossing to the West of Palmersville station on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Note.

  1. The Northern pair of tracks are the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  2. The Southern pair of Tracks are the Northumberland Line.
  3. Palmersville and Northumberland Park stations are to the East.
  4. The current foot crossing is shown over the Northumberland Line.

It would appear that there is plenty of space for a footbridge.

Two Trains Per Hour

The Modern Railways article says this about infrastructure improvements to enable two trains per hour.

An extension of the double-track south from Newsham, for about 1 km in the direction of Seaton Delaval, along with a new 2.4 km passing loop between Holywell and Seghill, are in place in order to permit a half-hourly service in both directions.

From the maps, it looks like about half the route between Northumberland Park station and Seghill will be double-track.

It may even be possible to extend the double-track further South towards Northumberland Park station, if there became a need to run more trains on the Northumberland Line.

Operations

The Modern Railways article says this.

It is assumed that Class 158 DMUs will be the rolling stock for the first couple of years of service to Ashington, with three or four units required. Conversion of these trains (or replacement with new) to allow battery-electric operation is envisaged for the later years of this decade. There will be provision for two-car services at the outset with passive provision for extension to four-cars in the infrastructure works.

In Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line, I felt that the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for this route.

I said this.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

    • They are 100 mph trains.
    • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
    • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
    • They can work in pairs.
    • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
    • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
    • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
    • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi, Hyperdrive and Britishvolt would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

Now that the extension to between Ashington and Berwick-upon-Tweed via Morpeth is being talked about, I suspect that battery-electric trains, will be ideal for this route.

Distances without electrification of the two routes are as follows.

  • Benton North Junction and Ashington – 19 miles – 38 miles round trip
  • Benton North Junction and Widdrington – 27 miles

These distances are well within the planned range of the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains and they would even be capable of working a round trip to Ashington without charging at the Northern end of the route.

Batteries can be charged on the East Coast Main Line on the following sections of the route.

  • Between Benton North Junction and Newcastle.
  • Between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations.

Their fast acceleration and 100 mph operating speed mean that it could keep out of the way of the 140 mph Hitachi trains North of Morpeth.

Calling At Manors Station

The Modern Railways article says that because the East Coast Main Line is so busy, some peak services may have to omit the call at Manors station in the suburbs of Newcastle that is envisaged for the off-peak services.

I wonder with their faster acceleration, if the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be able to handle the stop at Manors station for all services.

Development At Ashington

The Modern Railways article gives this quote from Network Rail’s manager for the reopening project.

For instance in the centre of Ashington there’s a rather grim 1960s tower block that is owned by the county council that could be replaced by something more appropriate to today’s needs. This is Wansbeck Square in the centre of the town; the square is in line to be remodelled to make it more attractive. The integrated station and development need to be delivered at the same time for maximum impact.

This Google Map shows the Northerland Line going through the centre of the town of Ashington.

Note.

  1. Station Road running East-West .across the top of the map.
  2. The 1960s block could be to the West of the railway, especially as the Southern part is labelled Northumberland County Council.
  3. The site to the West of the railway does appear to be quite large.

The new station and the Wansbeck Square site does look look to have strong development potential.

 

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Belgrove House – A New Entrance For King’s Cross Tube Station

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on Ian Visits, with the addition of Belgrove House,

This is the introductory paragraph.

An isolated box entrance to King’s Cross tube station is to be demolished and replaced with a new step-free entrance as part of a building development.

I went and took these pictures today, as I needed a few bits of shopping, which I bought in the area.

Note.

  1. The busy Euston Road which is a major route into and out of London in front of the two stations.
  2. The two station boxes on the South side of Euston Road, making the pavements difficult places to walk at times.
  3. The subway is step-free to all the Underground lines at Kings Cross and to both National Rail stations on the North side of Euston Road.

The block with the access self-store and the entrance to the station in front, will be replaced by a substantial new building, with step-free entrance to the existing subway.

This web page is entitled Welcome to the Consultation Website for Belgrove House and Acorn House.

It more of less does what it says and has this statement on the page.

This site presents our aspirations for an exciting new project for Camden; a life science Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for MSD UK at Belgrove House along with affordable housing at Acorn House. It involves two interlinked sites within the King’s Cross ward of the London Borough of Camden – Belgrove House is located on Euston Road and fronts onto the King’s Cross Square and Acorn House is located a four minute walk away on Gray’s Inn Road.

We have now updated our website to include virtual exhibition boards where you can view the proposals for both sites in detail, see the consultation that has been undertaken to date and review the feedback that we have received so far. This is also an opportunity for you to give us your feedback on the plans ahead of a planning application being submitted to Camden Council at the end of August 2020.

The virtual exhibition boards can be viewed here.

The web page also features this visualisation of the building.

I have read most of the virtual exhibition boards and I wish that more consultation websites would be only half as good as this one.

These are a few points from the exhibition boards.

Cafe

There will be a publicly available cafe on the ground floor.

Many times in my life, I’ve arrived early and there is nowhere suitable to wait.

Carbon-Efficient Building

This is obvious from the proposal and raises its green head everywhere in the proposal.

Heating

It will be an all-electric building, with no combustion on site.

There will be air-source heat pumps and heat recovery.

Innovative Biophilic Façade

Wikipedia says this about biophilic design.

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks. Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

This sounds to me, like the sort of post-Covid working environment we need to tempt people back into offices.

Parking

This is said about cycle and car parking.

We are proposing over 350 cycling parking spaces as part of our proposals for Belgrove House. These will be accessed via its own entrance located on Belgrove Street. We are also not proposing any car parking spaces as the area benefits from excellent transport connections.

I can’t see many disagreeing with that.

Recycled Building

I particularly liked this paragraph.

In line with the low-carbon strategy, the team intends to recycle and reuse existing building materials on the site where possible, such as bricks where these are salvageable. The re-use of these materials will reduce the embodied carbon of the new building.

Some of the buildings, I’ve commissioned have made extensive use of recycled bricks. And very fine, they’ve looked too!

Service Vehicles

This is said about servicing the offices and the retail units.

All servicing and deliveries for the Belgrove House offices/lab space will take place via the ground floor loading bay, with any vehicles entering the site from Crestfield Street and exiting onto Crestfield Street. The retail element of the development will be serviced from Crestfield Street in the same way as the existing McDonalds unit.

Sounds fair to me.

The more I read about this building the more I like it.

MSD

The main tennant will be MSD.

This is said about the company and its involvement in Belgrove House.

The proposals for Belgrove House have been designed to meet the needs of Knowledge Quarter occupiers such as MSD, a multinational life sciences company that discovers, develops and provides innovative medicines and vaccines to make a difference to people’s lives.

MSD has been looking for a suitable site for some time and identified King’s Cross as the ideal location for their Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for the life science community.

They have form with this type of development and have a similar Discovery Hub in San Francisco.

Connection To Kings Cross Station

The current station boxes on the South side of Euston Road will be replaced by a step-free entrance inside Belgrove House, that will connect to the existing subway under Euston Road.

It is a difficult area to walk through and the pavements will be widened.

This Google Map shows the location of Belgrove House and the two stations of Kings Cross and St. Pancras.

Note.

  1. Kings Cross station is at the top of the map.
  2. St. Pancras station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. Argyle Square Gardens is the green space in the South East corner of the map.

Belgrove House will replace the Access self-storage with the squares on the roof, that lies between Argyle Square and Euston Road.

Conclusion

If the development is as good as the proposal and lives up to the aims of the developers and MSD, it will be a building of which London will be proud.

How long will it take for some wag in a tabloid to call it The Hanging Gardens Of Kings Cross?

 

 

March 14, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Housing Approved For Northern Line Extension Building Site

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on IanVisits.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A worksite in Kennington currently being used for the Northern line extension is set to be redeveloped as a mixed residential and light industrial estate. TfL bought the plot of land in 2012 as a worksite for the Northern line extension, as the access shaft for the tunnelling and permanent ventilation are close by.

This surely, is the way to build developments in a crowded city to incorporate the necessary ventilation shaft.

This development will provide 139 new rental homes and more than 2,700 sqm of light industrial workspace, in a partnership between the developer and Transport for London.

January 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Stansted Airport In A Class 745/1 Train

This lunchtime a friend was passing through Stansted Airport on the way to Glasgow. As we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, we had decided to have a coffee at the Airport.

I took these pictures on the trip.

Property Development At Tottenham Hale

There is a lot of development going on around Tottenham Hale station.

There will be a lot more to come.

The New Class 745/1 Train

I travelled in a new Class 745/1 train, which are replacing the Class 379 trains.

Note.

  • The trains have twelve articulated sections.
  • The trains are 236.5 metres long.
  • Only 11-car Class 390 trains or a pair of five-car Class 80x trains are longer.
  •  The train has767 seats at a density of 3.24 seats/metre

This picture through the train emphasises the train’s length.

Note.

  • There are some light slops, but no steps.
  • A coffee and snack trolley would be possible.
  • The overhead racks are generously-sized.
  • Some seats are higher and you step up into them, as they are over the wheels.

The ride was also excellent.

Class 745/1 Train Performance

I made these observations.

  • My train stopped at Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Mountfitchet.
  • The train was at 80 mph most of the time on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • The maximum speed if a Class 745 train is 100 mph.
  • The operating speed of the West Anglia Main Line is given on Wikipedia as 100 mph maximum.
  • The train was didn’t exceed 70 mph on the Stansted Branch.
  • Between Stansted Airport and Stansted Mountfitchet, the train accelerated to 70 mph and then braked at the right time to stop precisely in the following station.

At all times, I felt the train was running very easily. But then there are 125 mph members of the Flirt family running in Norway.

I can see these trains cutting the current 49 minutes between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Other times to London’s airports are as follows.

  • London Bridge – Gatwick – Thameslink – 48 minutes.
  • Victoria – Gatwick – Gatwick Express – 30 minutes.
  • Victoria – Gatwick – Southern – 32 minutes.
  • Paddington – Heathrow Central – Heathrow Express – 15 minutes
  • Paddington – Heathrow Central – Crossrail – 28 minutes

With the exception of Heathrow Express, the new Stansted Express doesn’t stand up too badly.

Rye House Gas-Fired Power Station

One of the landmarks you pass on the West Anglia Main Line is Rye House power station.

The weather wasn’t good, but the pictures give an impression of the  715 MW gas-fired power station.

This Google Map shows the power station.

Note.

  1. The West Anglia Main Line running SW-NE across the map.
  2. Sainsbury’s distribution centre to the North of the railway.
  3. The power station to the South of the railway.
  4. The grid-like structure is an air-cooled condenser.

But where is the station’s carbon capture equipment?

The Lea Valley is London’s greenhouse, as this second Google Map shows.

Note all the nurseries and salad producers on the map, which is a mile or so to the South East of the power station.

Drax Group used to pipe carbon dioxide to salad producers from Drax power station, so why aren’t they doing it here?

Changing At Tottenham Hale Station

This set of pictures show my change at Tottenham Hale station, when I returned to London.

Note.

  1. The step-free entry to the Class 745 train.
  2. The Stansted Express used Platform 3.
  3. It was then followed in Platform 3, by a train to Liverpool Street via Hackney Downs station.
  4. At the same time, a train arrived in Platform 4, which went to Stratford via Lea Bridge station.
  5. I took the Stratford train to Lea Bridge station.
  6. The train was a Class 379 train, which has been replaced by the Class 745 train.

It looks like all Stansted Expresses have an interchange to trains to Hackney Downs and Stratford after a few minutes.

This sums up, what travellers can do at Tottenham Hale station, after arriving on a Stansted Express.

  • Stay on the Stansted Express for Liverpool Street.
  • Wait for the next train to Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street, on the same platform.
  • Wait for the train to Stratford, on the other side of the same platform.
  • Catch the Victoria Line, as passengers have done for decades.
  • There are also lots of buses and taxis.

When Crossrail opens, there will be connections at Stratford and Liverpool Street.

Lea Bridge Station

I took these pictures at Lea Bridge station.

Note, that not all trains on this route are Class 379 trains.

Property Development At Lea Bridge Station

There is a lot of development going on around Lea Bridge station.

As at Tottenham Hale and Stratford, there will probably be more to come.

Lea Bridge Road In Mid Afternoon

As I just mixed a 56 bus home, I walk about half-a-mile to the next bus stop.

It was not a pleasant walk!

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Energy, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go-ahead For West London 460-home Build To Rent Scheme

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Construction Enquirer.

This is the first paragraph.

The scheme is the first to be brought forward by Connected Living London, a partnership between build to rent specialist Grainger and Transport for London.

This must be the way for London to get best value from all the suitable sites for housing, owned by Transport for London.

Four sites are mentioned in the article.

  • Next to Southall station
  • Next to Arnos Grove station
  • Montford Place in Kennington. which is currently being used as a construction site for the Northern Line Extension.
  • Above the new Nine Elms station on the Northern Line Extension.

These are some thoughts on the sites.

Arnos Grove Station

The developers will have to be careful, with the design at Arnos Grove station, as it’s a Grade II* Listed building.

This Google Map shows the station.

I never knew, that the station had so much parking.

Will the development be over some or all of this car parking?

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Plans To Build Flats On Arnos Grove Tube Station Car Park.

Ian says that there will be four blocks, with a total of162 rental homes, of which 40 % will be affordable.

  • It doesn’t seem to be high density or high towers.
  • A map shows it is not over the railway.

Ian also says this about the loss of car parking.

Unsurprisingly, there are local objections to the plans to remove the car park with nearly 300 parking spaces, although TfL counters that a third of the people who currently drive to the station living within walking distance.

But then many people never drive very far from where they live. For environmental reasons, perhaps fossil fuel vehicles should pay a Movement Tax of say five pounds, every time the vehicle is moved in a built-up area. Zero-emission vehicles would be exempt!

Montford Place

I took these pictures of the Montford Place site in July.

This site could be sensitive too! But surely, the residents don’t want an ugly utilitarian headhouse for the ventilation shaft of the Northern Line Extension.

This Google Map shows the site.

It is not small, judging by the two buses at the side.

There’s also a large hole to cover!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Wymondham-Dereham Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It has looked to me, that for some years, that those in Norfolk’s rail industry and Local Government, have been co-operating with rail problems and developments in the county.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, various activities are revealed.

  • Regular steam and diesel services between Wymondham and Dereham stations.
  • Occasional sightseeing services North of Dereham station.
  • Mid-Norfolk Railway facilitates commercial freight trains.
  • Dereham yard has been used as a servicing depot by Direct Rail Services for over ten years.
  • Network Rail store track plant at Dereham.
  • There are facilities to transfer damaged rail vehicles to road vehicles at Dereham.
  • The Army uses the line to transport vehicles by train.
  • Storage of trains for Greater Anglia, who have a chronic lack of space.
  • The line appears to be used for specialist crew and driver training.
  • In Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing, I wrote about how the railway company used new Dutch technology to demonstrate how to rebuild a level crossing.

It seems, that if you have a different rail-related need in Norfolk, that the Mid-Norfolk Railway will at least listen to your needs.

The company and volunteers have the ambition to restore the railway as far as Fakenham, which will make it one of the longest heritage railways in England.

I am not surprised that reopening services between Wymondham and Dereham stations, is on the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

Dereham

Dereham is a market town of 18,600 residents.

This Google Map shows the Dereham station complex.

It is the headquarters of the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Wymondham

Wymondham is a developing market town of 14,400 residents, that has a station on the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich via Ely and Thetford.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway also has a connection to the Breckland Line and access to Wymondham station at Wymondham South junction.

This Google Map shows the town of Wymondham.

Note.

  1. The Breckland Line going SW-NE across the map.
  2. Wymondham station in the middle of the map.
  3. Wymondham Abbey station, which is on the Mid-Norfolk Railway in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. Wymondham South junction, where the branch divides to the South-West of Wymondham station.

The A11 Wymondham Bypass encloses a lot of land, which seems to be being developed into housing.

Breckland Line Train Services

Current train services on the Breckland Line include.

  • Greater Anglia – One train per hour (tph) – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough

Note.

  1. Both train franchises are Abellio.
  2. Both train franchises use modern diesel or bi-mode trains.

As there is significant development of housing and industry, all along the A11 and the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich, many believe that there is a large opportunity for the growth of passenger train services.

All being well in a few years, Norwich will get a third service in a one tp2h service along the East West Railway to Oxford.

But towns like Wymondham probably will need better and more connections to Cambridge and Norwich, before that, as although the roads are good, the emissions won’t be!

The Trowse Swing Bridge

The single-track Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on any service between Norwich and the South.

It does manage to carry up to nine to ten tph, but it appears that for efficient operation of extra services South from Norwich, that the bridge will have to be replaced or by-passed.

This Google Map shows Trowse Bridge.

When the Great Eastern Main Line was being electrified to Norwich station, a temporary station was built in this area, whilst electrification was added to the bridge.

A Station At Trowse

A similar strategy could be used, whilst the bridge is replaced, but I suspect, that a bolder plan might be possible.

  • There is a lot of development going on in Norwich.
  • It is expected that rail traffic South from Norwich to Cambridge and London will grow significantly in the next few years.
  • Removing the requirement for the bridge to open, would require difficult Parliamentary legislation.

This Google Map shows the wider City Centre.

Note.

  1. The River Wensum curving through the City.
  2. The large Norwich station in the middle of the map.
  3. Norwich City Centre to the West of the station.
  4. Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground to the South of the station.
  5. The blue-roofed Norwich Crown Point Depot towards the East of the map.
  6. Trowse bridge crossing the river to the South of Crown Point Depot.

It should also be noted, that to solve some of the chronic overcrowding in Crown Point Depot, Greater Anglia have developed some new sidings South of the Trowse bridge, on the Western side of the Great Eastern Main Line, around the area of the former Trowse station.

Consider.

  • If you look at the rail lines South of the Trowse bridge, the Breckland Line crosses under the Great Eastern Main Line and then joins the main line from the East.
  • Norwich could borrow an idea from other cities like Bristol and run a water bus on the River Wensum.
  • The South Bank of the river looks ripe for development.

I wonder if it would be possible to reopen Trowse station as a modern riverside station.

  • There would be two electrified through platforms.
  • The Southern ends of the through platforms would connect to the Great Eastern Main Line and the Breckland Line, as they do now.
  • The Northern ends of the through platforms would combine and cross the Trowse Bridge, as they do now.
  • On the Eastern side of the station, there would be up to two electrified bay platforms, which could connect to any route to the South.
  • At least one platform would be able to take a full-length Class 745 train.
  • There would be a river bus station, with connections to the main Norwich station, Carrow Road and Norwich City Centre.
  • The station would be fully step-free.

As the infamous bridge is only thirty-three years old, surely it can be refurbished and modernised, so that the major problem of reliability is eliminated.

This new station would give train operators advantages and options.

  • The station would be very handy for office and residential developments along the river.
  • The rail line into Norwich could probably be kept open during the construction, as the bridge is only being refurbished.
  • Some travellers to and from Norwich might prefer to use Trowse, rather than Norwich station and use the water bus.
  • Extra services to Norwich might terminate in the bay platforms at Trowse and would not need capacity on the bridge.
  • I suspect that a four or five tph frequency would operate between Norwich and Trowse station.
  • In times of disruption, the bay platforms can be used to turn trains South of the bridge.

I’m sure there is an innovative solution in there somewhere.

What is Norwich City Council intending to do along the South bank of the river?

Future Train Services Between Norwich And The South

Greater Anglia have bought a lot of new trains and I doubt, that they’ll be leaving them in sidings, if they have a job for them to do.

I can certainly see four tph Turn-Up-And-Go services running on the following routes around Norwich.

  • Norwich and Cambridge
  • Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Yarmouth

Being able to turn some Cambridge and Ipswich trains South of Trowse bridge, may be the better solution, than replacing, rather than refurbishing the bridge.

Norwich And Dereham

  • Norwich and Dereham stations are just over twenty miles apart and I suspect that Class 755 trains can do the trip in about twenty-five minutes.
  • This may open up the possibility of an hour’s round trip between Trowse and Dereham stations.

If the hour trip is possible, this could open up a two tph service, run by just two trains.

A Possible Timetable

I could see something like this being a possible timetable.

  • East West Rail – One tph – Norwich and Oxford via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Trowse and Dereham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Norwich and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Ipswich

Trowse bridge would be handling five tph in both directions, with six tph terminating in Trowse station.

Obviously, there are a lot of permutations and combinations, that will be determined by customer forecasts and figures.

Conclusion

I’ve thought the route between Norwich and Dereham stations will be a commuter, shopping and leisure rail route for some time.

As I indicate, I think some work will need to be done at the Trowse bridge, but a two tph service should be possible.

 

 

 

August 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Re-Opening of Camberwell Station

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Some of Lord Beeching’s relatives and friends, may consider it a bit of a cheek to add this project to a list of Beeching Reversals, as the station closed in 1916.

This station re-opening project has been around for donkeys years and endless studies have analyse, whether Camberwell station should be re-opened.

Under Possible Re-opening, Wikipedia says this about a possible Thameslink service and costs.

Steer Davies Gleave produced a TfL-commissioned report discussing the possibility of the station’s re-opening in 2026 in three future land use densities across three levels of operational use (four 8-car trains per hour, six 8-car trains per hour and six 12-car trains per hour) to give a total of nine scenarios. It estimated the capital cost of an 8-car station at £36.74m and a 12-car station at £38.50m.

It also says this about the business case.

In September 2018, TfL published a strategic business case to explore the station’s reinstatement. It acknowledged the area’s poor transport connectivity and that the reopening of the National Rail station was the best of eight option examined. While it concluded the local area would benefit from the station’s re-opening, its conclusions were similar to Steer Davies Gleave’s 2017 report.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the various lines in the area of Camberwell station.

Note.

  1. The station had four platforms, which if they followed the pattern of Elephant & Castle station to the North would be numbered from the West.
  2. Trains would appear to use all four lines at Elephant & Castle, but only stop in Platforms 1, 2 and 4.
  3. Thameslink services go through Platforms 1 & 2 at Loughborough Junction station and Platforms 3 & 4 at Denmark Hill station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The railway cuts across the North-West corner of the map.
  2. There is a bridge over the busy A202 road.
  3. The original station appears to have been close to where the railway and the A202 road cross.
  4. The area is well served by buses and even has a bus garage close to where the station will probably be built.

It would appear that it is a good location for a new station.

Redevelopment Of Elephant & Castle Station

Two big projects and a smaller one may affect Elephant & Castle station in the next few years.

  • The whole area is to be redeveloped, with probably better connections between the three different Elephant & Castle stations.
  • The Bakerloo Line may be extended from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham.
  • Elephant & Castle station will get step-free access.

Would a functioning Camberwell station help, if Elephant & Castle station needed to be closed at times during all the construction work?

Thameslink And Elephant & Castle And Camberwell Stations

Thameslink run four services through Elephant & Castle station and the site of the proposed Camberwell station.

  • St. Albans City and Sutton via Loughborough Junction and Mitcham Junction
  • St. Albans City and Sutton via Loughborough Junction and Wimbledon
  • Luton or Catford and Orpington via Denmark Hill and Catford
  • Welwyn Garden City or Blackfriars and Sevenoaks via Denmark Hill and Catford

Note.

  1. All services are run by eight-car trains.
  2. All services have a frequency of two trains per house (tph)

This means that Camberwell station would only need to be able to handle eight-car trains. I would suspect that it would be built, so that platforms could be extended in the future, but certainly only short platforms would be needed with the present Thameslink service.

Could costs be saved, by ensuring that all services went through Camberwell station in the pair of Eastern platforms; 3 and 4? I suspect from looking at the pattern of trains, that both Elephant & Castle and Camberwell stations could work as two-platform stations.

Both stations would be built, so that access to the other lines could be added in the future, if needed.

There is certainly scope for cutting the cost of building the station, through good design.

The Current State Of The Station Site

These pictures show the current state of the station site.

It’s not very tidy, but it did appear to be in a similar state, than when I last saw it.

It almost looks to me, to be in a state of partial demolition.

  • All these railway arches have been taken over in a massive £1.5 billion deal from Network Rail by Blackstone and Telereal Trillium.
  • On looking at these properties, did they take a look and see them as development potential.
  • In fact, the whole area could do with a makeover and there are two bus garages nearby, which might also be rebuilt with towers on top.

So is there a plan from Blackstone behind this reopening of the station?

These viaducts are often very sound and can scrub up well, as these [pictures show.

I wonder if a good architect could squeeze in, a quality modern step-free station and half-a-dozen business units, that would enhance the area.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that money for this project to sort out the various design, building and project management issues would be money well spent.

I wonder if this is a project promoted by Sir Peter Hendy, of which he has experience of his time in London.

As I said, Blackstone and their partners might want to turn an underperforming asset into something that all stakeholders would be proud of.

Could it be one of those projects, where the sums don’t add up, but Sir Peter and others with a nose for these projects, feel that if the station is re-opened, the passengers will use it in droves?

 

July 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

At first I wasn’t sure, which line was referred to as the Waterside Line. But then I looked at the Fawley Line on Wikipedia.

This is the opening paragraph.

The Fawley branch line, also known as the Waterside line is a standard-gauge railway line to Fawley, in the English county of Hampshire. It is on the opposite side of Southampton Water from the city of Southampton itself, in an area known as Waterside. For 40 years a passenger service operated, but this was withdrawn with the exception of the occasional enthusiasts’ railtour. The line serves the freight needs of Marchwood Military Port, having also served the same function for Fawley Refinery until 2016.

I explored this line in Reopening The Fawley Branch Line.

The Wikipedia entry, also gives details under Future, of a plan by the Association of Train Operating Companies to reopen the line.

The proposals in Wikipedia included.

  1. Reopening of all former stations along the line; Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley Halt and Fawley
  2. A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  3. A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.

The service was planned to run half-hourly during peak times and hourly at other times.

The Route

This Google Map shows the area of the Waterside Line

Fawley Branch Line

Note.

  1. The line starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.
  2. All the places with stations are named on the map.
  3. The line is about seven miles in length.
  4. From my helicopter, it looks to be single-track most, if not all the way.
  5. There is a ferry between Hythe and Southampton.

This picture shows where the Waterside Line joins the main line.

 

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I took these pictures, when I visited Hythe in February 2017.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

As the Waterside Line was still fully in use to Esso Fawley until four years ago, I should suspect that updating the track and signalling for passenger trains wouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

The Trains

Wikipedia says this about the trains to be used.

The service would be operated by the then franchisee; South West Trains using diesel multiple units (DMUs)

This means they will be Class 158 or Class 159 trains, as South West Trains doesn’t have any other DMUs.

This picture shows a newly-liveried Class 159 train at Corfe Castle station.

The Class 158/159 trains would certainly do a job, but I believe that any solution must be zero-carbon, to meet the UK’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The Use Of Battery Trains

Consider.

  • Fawley and Totton West Junction are seven files apart. As there are five stations, I will assume three minutes per station of a journey of fifteen minutes.
  • Totton West and Eastleigh are ten miles apart and fast trains take seventeen minutes.
  • Eastleigh and Romsey are seven miles apart and fast trains take fourteen minutes.
  • Only the section between Totton West and Eastleigh is electrified.
  • Adding up the times gives a journey time between Fawley and Romsey of forty-six minutes.
  • Add in fourteen minutes to turn the trains and each Fawley and Romsey takes an hour with a two-hour round trip. This is all very convenient!
  • For example, an hourly service, would need two trains and they could leave Fawley and Romsey at the same time.
  • It could also be arranged, that only one train was on the single-track Waterside Line at any one time.
  • The fourteen minutes being used to turn the train, could also be used to charge the batteries on a battery-electric train.
  • In each two-hour round trip between Fawley and Romsey, trains would spent thirty-four minutes connected to electrification and twenty-eight minutes connected to chargers. This means that there is plenty of time to charge the batteries.
  •  It should be noted that the train runs on a busy main line between Totton West and Eastleigh, so good acceleration and 90-100 mph capability would probably be needed, by any trains shuttling between Fawley and Romsey.

With charging facilities at Romsey and Fawley, I would be certain, that a two battery-electric trains could provide an hourly service on the route.

Candidates would probably include battery-electric versions of a Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, a CAF Civity or a Siemens Desiro City. I doubt, that the performance of a Class 230 train is enough to keep out of the way of fast expresses.

The Use Of Hydrogen Trains

The route could also be worked by a hydrogen-powered train with enough performance.

The Stations

There would need to be new stations at Totton West, Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.

As the first is new and the others were closed in the 1960s, they would be complete builds, rather than an easy refurbishment.

Fawley Waters

In the Wikipedia entry for Fawley station, there is a section called Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In August 2018, it was revealed that plans to reopen the Fawley Branch Line had been resurrected as part of the redevelopment known as Fawley Waters. It proposed a half-hourly service on a Monday to Saturday from Southampton Central to Fawley. At Marchwood the journey time would take 12 minutes and the linespeed would be 60 mph (97 km/h). Fawley station, if reopened, would be known as Hythe & Fawley Parkway which would serve both Hythe and Fawley.

Now, there would appear to be two plans for the operation of the Waterside Line.

  • The Association for Train Operating Companies plan, which has an hourly service to Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey, from five stations on the branch.
  • The Fawley Waters plan, which has a half-hourly service to Totton and Southampton Central, from just two stations on the branch.

One plan would probably appeal to existing residents and the other to those, who bought new properties in Fawley Waters.

Conclusion

Future studies funded by the successful bid, could decide, which plan is best.

Overall though, this is a simple plan, that opens up an area to the West of Southampton for development.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The Route

This Google Map shows where the Barrow Hill Line starts at Tapton Junction near Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield station is less than a mile to the South.
  2. The left railway going North is the Midland Main Line to Sheffield
  3. The right railway going North is the Barrow Hill Line.

The Barrow Hill Line turns slightly to the East and this Google Map shows it passing through Barrow Hill, which gives the route its name.

Note.

The historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse and some rail-related businesses to the North of the line.

There used to be a station here called Barrow Hill! What a surprise!

The Wikipedia entry for Barrow Hill station has a section called Modern Traffic, where this is said.

At 22 June 2013 the line is part of the Midland Main Line. It is used predominantly for freight, with a handful of passenger trains going the “long way round” from Chesterfield to Sheffield via the Old Road and Darnall largely to retain staff route knowledge in case of diversions.

The Wikipedia entry for the station also has a section called Possible Future, which is worth a read, as it lists other mothballed rail lines in the area, that could be developed.

Follow the Barrow Hill Line to the North-East and it goes through a mix of agricultural land, industrial dereliction, modern factories and nature reserves before it splits near Beighton.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The rail lines splitting by the Rother Valley Country Park at Beighton Junction.
  2. Barrow Hill is to the South.
  3. There used to be a station at Beighton.
  4. Woodhouse station is in the North West corner of the map.
  5. Woodhouse station is on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, which can be seen crossing the area.
  6. Trains taking the left fork at Beighton Junction can go to Sheffield via Woodhouse and Darnall stations.
  7. Trains taking the right fork go under the Sheffield-Lincoln line and have connections to a large number of destinations for both freight and passengers.

It looks to me, that it is proposed to convert this long-way round route, into a second route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

  • Stations exist at Woodhouse and Darnall.
  • Stations used to exist at Barrow Hill, Eckington & Renishaw, Killamarsh West  and Beighton.
  • The route would surely be very useful, when the Midland Main Line route between Sheffield and Chesterfield is updated for High Speed Two.
  • The route might also be very useful for East Midlands Railway to develop services to Rotherham and other places to the East of Sheffield.
  • I’ve found a train that takes this route between Chesterfield and Sheffield and with no stops it took twenty-five minutes.
  • Typically, the direct route takes about eleven minutes.

I can see several possibilities for local, regional and national services using the Barrow Hill Line.

I have a few questions.

Would The Barrow Hill Line Be Electrified?

It has been stated that High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share an electrified corridor from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

  • So as both stations will be electrified, it would not be any problem to rustle up a good electricity supply to power an electrified Barrow Hill Route.
  • Electrification might narrow the fourteen minute difference between the routes.
  • Electrification would allow East Midlands Railway‘s new Class 810 trains to have a second electrified route into Sheffield.
  • Is there a case for a service between London and the South of England and the South and East of Sheffield?

I think electrification of the Barrow Hill Line is more than a possibility.

Would Gauge-Clearance For Electrification Be Difficult?

As the route is already cleared for freight trains with the largest containers, it won’t be as difficult as some routes.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used Between Sheffield And Chesterfield On The Barrow Hill Line?

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley, I talked about a plan by the Sheffield Region for a new tram-train route between Sheffield station and a new housing district of Waverley on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

  • Waverley is between Darnall and Woodhouse stations.
  • The new Advanced Manufacturing Park would also be served.
  • Tram-trains could venture further down the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, if that was so desired.

If tram-trains were used on the Barrow Hill Line, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, both routes would share the track between Sheffield and Darnall stations.

Note that tram-trains would be able to share tracks with all electric trains used around Sheffield, including freight trains and the Class 810 trains.

Note that the stations for tram-trains can be much simpler and even share platforms with full-size trains.

The pictures show Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations.

  • I feel with innovative design, the whole route between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be run using tram-trains.
  • The route could be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Instead of taking the Sheffield fork at Beighton Junction, the tram-trains could also take the right fork and link Chesterfield with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Swinton.
  • These tram-trains also come with batteries, if that is needed.

Barnsley, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield could be getting a lot of better connectivity and the Barrow Hill Line is key.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very sensible project.

  • It could be run with either trains or tram-trams.
  • It should be electrified, so could be zero-carbon.
  • Tram-trains could be used to make stations simpler.
  • It could give an alternative route for electric trains to Sheffield station.
  • The track is already there and regularly used.

But surely the biggest reason to built it, is that it appears to open up a lot of South and South-East Sheffield and North-East Chesterfield for development.

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Demand For Green Offices Will Soar To Meet Carbon Targets

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Business section of The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

London will need much more “green” office space by 2030 to meet sustainability pledges made by businesses that are coming to the end of their leases.

The article then makes these points.

  • Looking at lease expiry dates, JLL believes that eight million square feet of green offices are needed by the end of the decade.
  • This is partly brought about by pressure from staff, shareholders and customers.
  • Microsoft and Astrazeneca want to be carbon-negative by 2030.
  • JLL’s research shows that sustainable buildings command higher rents.
  • Bloomberg’s office block is one of the best.

It was certainly an article worth buying the paper for.

Conclusion

With London office space sustainable offices are good for property companies.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment