The Anonymous Widower

Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and the Heritage Taliban?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

November 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Digital Signalling Work Outlined By Network Rail For Northern City Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business Daily.

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail has detailed work due to be delivered on the Northern City Line to Moorgate.

I use this line regularly and I believe that with digital signalling the Northern City Line could see a large increase in frequency.

Currently, the service from Moorgate is as follows.

  • 4 tph to Welwyn Garden City via Potters Bar
  • 4 tph to Hertford North of which 2 tph extending to Watton-at-Stone and 1tph of those continuing to Stevenage.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Although the service is reduced from that shown, because of the pandemic and lower passenger demand.

But eight tph means a train every seven minutes and thirty seconds.

If you look at London’s high frequency lines, they have or will have passenger frequencies as follows.

  • Crossrail – 24 tph on dedicated tracks with digital signalling.
  • East London Line – 16 tph on dedicated tracks.
  • North London Line – 8 tph on tracks shared with freight trains.
  • Thameslink – 24 tph on dedicated tracks with digital signalling.

Note.

  1. The East London Line is planned to go to 20 tph with two extra tph to Clapham Junction and Crystal Palace.
  2. 20 tph means a headway between trains of three minutes.
  3. 24 tph means a headway between trains of two minutes and thirty seconds.

It should also be noted that the Victoria Line runs upwards of thirty tph on a fully digitally-signalled line.

What Level Of Service Would Be Possible?

These are my thoughts on various aspects of the Northern City Line.

How Many Trains Could Be Handled Between Finsbury Park And Moorgate?

This section of track is a simple double-track with a diamond crossing to the North of the two platforms at Moorgate, so that trains can use either platform.

This layout is used at Brixton and Walthamstow Central on the Victoria Line and Battersea Power Station on the Northern Line to name just three of many.

So I suspect that the track layout at the terminus at Moorgate can handle well-upwards of twenty tph.

The new Class 717 trains that run into Moorgate have an operating speed of 85 mph, which is faster than the previous Class 313 trains, which appear to have run at 30 mph South of Drayton Park.

I suspect that eventually twenty or even twenty-four tph will be possible on a digitally-signalled route between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

But in the interim, sixteen tph would be a good compromise.

How Many Trains Could Be Handled On The Current Routes?

Currently, four tph use the both the Welwyn Garden City and the Hertford East/Stevenage routes.

I am fairly sure that both routes could handle eight tph, with the only proviso, that there is enough terminal capacity to turn the trains.

Looking at the layout of Welwyn Garden City station, I am certain that it could be modified to be able to handle eight tph.

I would hope that the new platform at Stevenage station, built to handle trains to and from Moorgate, can cater for four tph. As there are turnback platforms at Gordon Hill and Hertford North stations, I’m sure the other four tph could be handled.

The Piccadilly Line And The City of London

It has always been difficult to get between the Northern section of the Piccadilly Line and the City of London.

In the 1960s, I used to use my bicycle. By public transport, you generally had to use the bus or the 641 trolley bus to Moorgate.

With the improvement of the Northern City Line and Finsbury Park station, the fastest route to Moorgate is probably to change between the Piccadilly and Northern City Lines at Finsbury Park station.

Increasing the frequency of Northern City Line services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate would create a high-capacity route to the City for those commuting from the Northern section of the Piccadilly Line.

The Piccadilly Line And Crossrail

There is no connection between the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail.

A trip between Oakwood and Canary Wharf would be difficult.

As with getting to the City of London, the improvement of the Northern City Line and Finsbury Park station offers a route to Crossrail.

Oakwood and Canary Wharf would probably be done with changes at Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

The Victoria Line And The City of London

There is a cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station between the Victoria and Northern City Lines.

With an increased frequency of Northern City Line services between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, I would expect that more people would use this route.

The Victoria Line And Crossrail

There is no connection between the Victoria Line and Crossrail.

The easiest route will be to take the route in the previous section and join Crossrail at Moorgate.

Conclusion

It does look that with the current routes sixteen tph to and from Moorgate could be a practical limit.

But that would still be a train every three minutes and forty-five seconds between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.

This increased frequency could be needed to create a high capacity link between the Northern sections of the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines and the City of London and Crossrail.

 

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

What Will Be The Fastest Times Possible Between London King’s Cross And Leeds?

According to media reports, it is likely that the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two will be scrapped on kicked into the long grass.

So out of curiosity, what times can be achieved between London King’s Cross and Leeds.

Wikipedia says this about digital signalling on the line.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ETRMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs.

Note.

  1. Woolmer Green is 23.8 miles North of King’s Cross and a short distance to the North of the Digswell Viaduct.
  2. Dalton-on-Tees is North of Doncaster, where the line to Leeds leaves the East Coast Main Line.

The 186 mile journey to Leeds can be broken down into these sections.

  • King’s Cross and Woolmer Green – 23.8 miles – 16 minutes – 89.3 mph
  • Woolmer Green and Doncaster – 132.2 miles – 85 minutes – 93.3 mph
  • Doncaster and Leeds – 29.9 miles – 32 minutes – 56 mph

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I estimated that each stop in an electric Hitachi Class 802 train takes eight minutes, which includes six minutes accelerating and decelerating and a two minute dwell time in the station.

  • Services between London Euston and Leeds typically stop three times, so this means there are four acceleration/deceleration cycles, if you add in the one split between London Kings Cross and Leeds.
  • There are also three dwell times of perhaps two minutes in the intermediate stations.
  • This would mean that a total of thirty minutes must be added to calculate the journey time.

If the train averaged these speeds over 186 miles, the following times would be achieved.

  • 125 mph – 89 minutes
  • 130 mph – 86 minutes
  • 140 mph – 80 minutes
  • 150 mph – 74 minutes
  • 160 mph – 70 minutes

Adding in the thirty minutes for stops gives some reasonable timings for between London King’s Cross and Leeds.

There are ways that times could be reduced.

Removal Of Level Crossings

This course of action always brings results, but is hated by the local users.

This article in The Times is entitled HS2 Eastern Leg To Leeds Axed, where there is said.

The government’s long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan also commits to full electrification of the Midland Main Line from London St Pancras to Sheffield, as well as upgrades to the East Coast Main Line. The Times understands this includes removing level crossings, which will help reduce journey times.

Every little helps!

More Running At Higher Speeds

From my figures, it appears that roughly a ten mph increase in average speed reduces journey time by up to six minutes.

So the more running at 140 mph or even faster the better.

It should be noted that the Selby Diversion on the East Coast Main Line was designed by British Rail for 160 mph The Wikipedia entry says this.

The line was the first purpose-built section of high-speed railway in the UK having a design speed of 125 mph; however, research by British Rail in the 1990s indicated that the route geometry would permit up to 160 mph operation, subject to the necessary overhead line equipment and signalling upgrades.

Upgrading the line for higher speeds would be a way of reducing the journey time.

  • Curves could be better profiled.
  • Full digital signalling with perhaps even some degree of automatic control could be introduced.
  • More robust overhead line equipment could be installed.
  • Some sections of slab track could be laid.
  • Level crossing removal.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the new Hitachi trains within a few years could be able to average 140 mph between London King’s Cross and Leeds, with a possible 160 mph average speed in the future.

Faster Acceleration And Deceleration

If the three-minute acceleration and deceleration times can be reduced to two minutes this will save eight minutes on the journey.

Quicker Dwell Times

Why not?

High-Speed Two Classic Compatible Trains

These faster trains could bring the time down further, if they were to run the service.

Sample Times

I wouldn’t be surprised to see with full digital signalling and a 125 mph average between London King’s Cross and Leeds.

  • 125 mph Base Time – 89 minutes.
  • Four Acceleration/Deceleration section at 6 minutes each – 24 minutes.
  • Three Dwell Times at 2 minutes each – 6 minutes

This would mean a total time of one hour and 59 minutes.

Uprate that to 140 mph and faster acceleration and deceleration.

  • 140 mph Base Time – 80 minutes.
  • Four Acceleration/Deceleration section at 4 minutes each – 16 minutes.
  • Three Dwell Times at 2 minutes each – 6 minutes

This would mean a total time of one hour and 42 minutes.

Up that to 160 mph.

Uprate that to 140 mph and faster acceleration and deceleration.

  • 160 mph Base Time – 70 minutes.
  • Four Acceleration/Deceleration section at 4 minutes each – 16 minutes.
  • Three Dwell Times at 2 minutes each – 6 minutes

This would mean a total time of one hour and 32 minutes.

These compare with a proposed time of one hour and 21 minutes on the original plan to High Speed Two.

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heritage Steam And Diesel Locomotives To Run Under Digital Signalling

This page on the Network Rail web site is entitled East Coast Digital Programme Selects Atkins And Thales As Key Partners For Heritage Rail Vehicles Pathfinder Project.

To illustrate the sort of rail vehicles they mean, the page is headed with this picture of a Stanier Black 5 locomotive, which is by courtesy of West Coast Railways.

These are the first four paragraphs of the page.

Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Thales have been appointed by Network Rail to deliver an industry-first pathfinder project for Heritage Rail Projects as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.

The pathfinder will carry out design and trial fitment of the technology to determine if it is a viable technical and commercial option for heritage vehicles.

The option of retro-fitting the technology would enable heritage steam and diesel vehicles to continue operating on mainline infrastructure in radio-based train control. In a world first, the pathfinder project will see European Train Control System (ETCS) in-cab signalling equipment, supplied and installed by Thales, trial fitted on Tornado and designed for a Black 5 steam locomotive, as well as a Class 55 Deltic diesel locomotive which was built over 40 years ago.

These vehicles have been selected because they are best placed to support the project. Tornado is a large modern build with established designs and power, and the Black 5 and Deltic are representative of other vehicle types.

If this project is successful, we will continue to see heritage steam and diesel locomotives on the UK rail network.

October 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

London Underground Trains Are Getting Faster

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

A long-running signalling upgrade on the London Underground is starting to show results as the latest timetables show faster journeys on some trips. The four lines modernisation project is replacing antiquated signals across the entire sub-surface part of the Underground – that’s the District, Circle, Metropolitan, and the Hammersmith & City lines.

Iam then goes on to detail some of the timing improvements.

In Between Liverpool Street And Wimbledon Park Stations, I note that I think station dwell times are getting shorter.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russian Convoys

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Five-Train Platoons To Operate With Virtual Coupling.

This is the first paragraph.

Russian Railways is planning to use platooning technology to operate flights of up to five freight trains next year using radio data exchange between locomotives to create a virtual coupling. The aims to reduce headways from 12 to 6 to 8 min, increasing capacity on congested sections of the Trans-Siberian main line.

As a Control Engineer, I must believe that if the Russians get the programming right, then it should work.

Similar techniques will probably be used with digital signalling in the UK and Europe, where each train is controlled by the signalling. But each train will probably have a driver.

The problem in Russia could also be the large number of ungated level crossings, which according to some I’ve met  are prone to a lot of accidents, as drivers regularly chance it after too much vodka.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could British Land’s Plans For Finsbury Square Car Park Include A Rail Link To The Northern City Line?

This map from cartometro.com shows the railway lines in the area of Liverpool Street, Moorgate and Old Street stations.

Note.

  1. The four tracks in black are the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  2. It is planned to install digital signalling on the Northern City Line to increase capacity.

Finsbury Square is to the East of these lines.

The Northern Line is about fifteen metres deeper and underneath the Northern and City Line.

This picture shows the escalator between the two lines at Moorgate station.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the Northern City Lines are deep enough to be below the Finsbury Square Car Park.

So would it be possible to run a four-car electric multiple unit into the Finsbury Square Car Park, so that there is no need to shuttle parcels and light freight to Liverpool Street station.

The digital signalling on the Northern City Line will probably allow a few extra trains to travel to a siding in or under the Finsbury Square Car Park, so it wouldn’t effect services into Moorgate.

 

 

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Between Liverpool Street And Wimbledon Park Stations

This morning, after I’d finished walking to Liverpool Street station, I took the new route to Wimbledon Park station.

  • Liverpool Street to Whitechapel on the Hammersmith & City Line.
  • Whitechapel to Wimbledon Park on a District Line train.

The change at Whitechapel was just a walk across the wide platform.

I have rarely gone between Whitechapel and Wimbledon on the District Line and this was one of the first times since the 4LM (Four Lines Modernisation) project  has been well under way.

The difference showed in the station dwell times, with only four stops taking more than thirty seconds from brakes on to brakes off.

  • Victoria, Sloane Square and South Kensington still took under a minute.
  • But Earl’s Court took a lengthy six minutes.

This map from cartometro.com shows the stations.

Note.

  1. The stations are all close together.
  2. There are some complicated junctions.
  3. The District Line splits into two to the West of Earl’s Court station.

This section will be challenging to any signalling system.

It works out that the average dwell time between Whitechapel and Wimbledon is around fifty seconds.

 

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Essex Councillors Call For Underground Link

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

This is the first paragraph.

Councillors in Harlow are calling for a new Underground link, saying that they are examining ‘all possibilities for improving and modernising transport connections’.

I’ve tackled this subject before in Does Harlow Need An Improved Train Service?, but this time I’m starting with what is possible and working backwards.

Harlow’s Current Train Service

Currently, these trains serve Harlow Town station.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 2 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale and Stansted Mountfitchet

In addition these services run through Harlow Town station without stopping.

  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 2 tph – via Tottenham Hale

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. The Stansted services are fast services and take 29 minutes between London Liverpool Street and Harlow Town.
  3. The other services seem to take a few minutes longer.

Summarising the services gives the following.

  • Eight tph pass through the station of which six tph stop.
  • Cambridge and Cambridge North has a 2 tph service.
  • London Liverpool Street has a 4 tph service.
  • Stansted Airport has a 2 tph service.
  • Stratford has a 2 tph service.
  • Tottenham Hale has a 6 tph service.

Each of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains, when working as a ten-car formation can carry well over a thousand passengers.

Harlow Town station has a fairly good service, but it could probably be improved.

What Are Harlow’s Councillors Suggesting

This paragraph in the Railnews article gives the councillors wish list.

Harlow Councillor Michael Hardware is portfolio holder for strategic growth. He said: ‘With Harlow’s close proximity to London our plans include investigating the potential for the extension of the central line to Harlow, lobbying to extend London Transport Zones to Harlow, examining connectivity to Crossrail 2 and promoting four tracking of the main line to Stansted Airport as well as improving existing public transport links in and out of the town.

I’ll look at each proposal in turn.

Extending The Central Line To Harlow

Epping and Harlow are about nine miles apart.

This Google Map shows the two towns and the M11 that runs to the East of both towns.

Note.

  1. Epping is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Harlow, which is a large town of nearly 90,000 residents is at the top of the map.
  3. The M11 runs North-South across the map to the East of both towns.
  4. North Weald Airfield lies to the East of the motorway.

Would it be possible to run an extension of the Central Line from Epping to Harlow?

It could run up the West side of the motorway.

  • The terminus could be in South-East Harlow close to Junction 7 of the M11.
  • Any plans for the development of North Weald Airfield could have a big effect on any plans.

This Google Map shows the location of Epping station with respect to the motorway.

Note Epping station is in the South-West corner of the map.

Running North-East from the station, the dark green scar of the single-track Epping Ongar Railway can be picked out, as it runs between St. Margaret’s Hospital and the village of Coopersale.

This third Google Map shows the railway as it passes under the M11.

Would it be possible to use the route of this line to connect to a new line alongside the motorway?

This fourth Google Map shows Epping tube station.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms, but is not step-free.
  2. It has a large car-park.
  3. Trains take thirty-seven minutes between Epping and Liverpool Street stations.
  4. Trains have a frequency of nine tph.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Epping station and the interface with the Epping Ongar Railway.

Note.

  1. The Epping Ongar Railway has always been single track.
  2. The crossovers to the South of Epping station allow either platform to be used for Central Line services.
  3. When the Central Line ran to Ongar, it looks like all services used Platform 1 at Epping.

I feel that it might be possible to create an extension to Harlow, by doing something like the following.

  • Add a second bi-directional  track alongside the Epping Ongar Railway between Epping station and the M11.
  • Extend Platform 1 to the North, so that the heritage trains can load and unload passengers at Epping station.
  • The Central Line platforms would be unaltered, so could still handle the nine tph they currently handle.
  • Trains to and from Harlow would always use Platform 2.

At the M11, the new bi-directional track would turn North and become double-track to Harlow.

  • The double-track would allow trains to pass.
  • If the rolling stock for the Central Line has been renewed, it might be possible to run the extension on battery power.
  • If Harlow had a single platform, it would be possible to run four tph to Harlow.
  • The current 2012 Stock trains have a capacity of around a thousand passengers.
  • I estimate that trains would take about ten minutes between Epping station and the new Harlow station.

I feel something is possible, but building the line might be easier if new battery-electric trains were available, as this would probably allow the extension to be built without electrification.

On the other hand, it might not have the greatest financial case.

  • It could be difficult to add large numbers of passengers to the Central Line.
  • At around forty-seven minutes, the Central Line service will be slower than the main line trains, which currently take around a dozen minutes less.

I’ll be interested to see what the professionals say.

Extending London Transport Zones To Harlow

Harlow Town station has ticket barriers, but I don’t think it is part of London’s contactless card zone.

Adding Harlow Town and all stations between Harlow Town and the zone could be very beneficial to passengers and train companies.

Examining Connectivity To Crossrail 2

I think that in the current economic situation this should be discounted.

  • It is a very expensive project.
  • Building it will cause tremendous disruption on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • It is only planned to go as far as Broxbourne station.

But I don’t think politicians from outside London and the South-East would sanction another massive project for London.

I don’t think Crossrail 2 will ever be build in its currently proposed form.

Four Tracking Of The Main Line To Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Currently, the numbers of trains on the West Anglia Main Line is under twelve tph.
  • Modern double-track railways with the latest digital in-cab signalling like Thameslink and Crossrail can handle twice this number of trains.
  • The West Anglia Main Line will be getting new trains with better acceleration.

Four-tracking is mainly needed to cut times to Cambridge and Stansted Airport, but I suspect that with some clever design and improved signalling, the current double-track can be improved significantly.

Improving Existing Public Transport Links In And Out Of The Town

I think that this could be a fruitful area.

  • As I said earlier, Harlow has only 6 tph trains stopping in the station.
  • I believe this could be increased to at least 10 tph, if the West Anglia Main Line were to be modernised.
  • Extending London Transport Zones To Harlow, which I discussed earlier would surely help.
  • Is there enough car parking?
  • Are there enough buses to the stations?
  • Would a fleet of zero-carbon buses tempt people to use them?
  • Would it be possible to run a hydrogen commuter bus service up and down the M11 between say Harlow and Ilford for Crossrail?, as is being done in Dublin, that I wrote about in Three Hydrogen Double Decker Buses Set For Dublin.

Hopefully, Harlow’s councillors would have a few good ideas.

A Few Thoughts On What Is Possible

These are a few of my thoughts on what is possible.

Digital Signalling Could Increase The Number of Trains Per Hour Significantly

Consider.

  • Currently, the West Anglia Main Line handles ten tph between Liverpool Street and Bishops Stortford.
  • Thameslink handles 24 tph with digital signalling.
  • Crossrail will handle 24 tph with digital signalling.
  • High Speed Two will handle eighteen tph.

I certainly believe that another four tph could be easily handled through the two Harlow stations, with full digital signalling.

Perhaps a frequency of eight tph, that would match TfL Rail between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield would be ideal.

If it works for Shenfield it should work for Harlow!

Rebuild Cheshunt Station

Cheshunt station with its level crossing is a bottleneck and any increase in the number of trains through the station will need the level crossing to be replaced by a bridge.

But developers are talking of high class housing in the area and removal of the level crossing appears to be in their plans.

New High-Capacity Class 720 Trains

Pairs of five-car Class 720 trains are coming to the West Anglia Main Line and each pair will carry over a thousand passengers.

These will be used on four tph, that call at Harlow Town station.

Turn Trains In The High Meads Loop at Stratford Station

The single-track Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool handles up to sixteen tph.

Network Rail built a double-track loop under the Eastfield Shopping Centre, which calls at Platforms 11 and 12 in Stratford.

If this loop was used to turn trains it could probably handle at least twelve tph on one platform.

Liverpool Street currently handles these trains that go up the West Anglia Main Line or the Lea Valley Lines.

  • 6 tph – Greater Anglia
  • 6 tph – London Overground

It looks to me that the terminal capacity in London could be as high as 20 tph.

Run More Trains On A Digitally-Signalled Route Through Seven Sisters

Just four tph run on the London Overground route through Seven Sisters station.

Compare that with the East London Line of the London Overground, where sixteen tph run between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations.

The London Overground has ambitions to run four tph to Cheshunt and Enfield Town, as they do to Chingford, but that would only up the frequency through Seven Sisters to eight tph.

The tracks in the area also allow trains from Stratford to use the lines through Seven Sisters stations to go North.

Run West Anglia And Lea Valley Services Together

Currently, Greater Anglia and London Overground seem to do their own things, but surely properly integrated and with the moving of more services to the London Overground, I suspect that everything could be more efficient.

I believe that by using Liverpool Street and Stratford as twin London terminals for Lea Valley services, that upwards of twenty tph can on digitally-signalled West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.

These are the current trains.

  • Bishops Stortford – 2 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 2 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 2 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

  1. This is a total of eighteen tph
  2. The pinch point is surely the stretch between Bethnal Green and Clapton stations, which handles 14 tph including a mix of fast expresses and London Overground services.
  3. On the other hand the route through Seven Sisters is handling just four tph.
  4. Ten tph run between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations on the West Anglia Main Line.
  5. Only two tph terminate in Stratford.

If the Cheshunt and Enfield Town services are increased to 4 tph, as is London Overground’s aspirations we get the following.

  • Bishops Stortford – 2 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 4 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 4 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

This is a total of twenty-two tph.

But there is still plenty of spare capacity at Stratford and through Seven Sisters.

If our objective is more trains through Harlow, why not double up the Stratford and Bishops Stortford service.

  • Bishops Stortford – 4 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 4 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 4 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

  1. This is a total of twenty-four tph.
  2. Harlow will have eight tph to and from London.
  3. There will be 8 tph through Seven Sisters.
  4. There will be twelve tph between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations on the West Anglia Main Line.
  5. Four tph will terminate at Stratford.

Perhaps to reduce the trains on the West Anglia Main Line, the Hertford East trains could go via Seven Sisters.

But that would mean that stations like Brimsdown and Ponders End would lose a lot of their service.

So why not add extra stops to the Bishops Stortford services?

Conclusion

I believe that by doing the following.

  • Adding digital signalling to all lines.
  • Turning more trains at Stratford.
  • Using the route through Seven Sisters at a much higher frequency.
  • Rebuilding Cheshunt station and level crossing.
  • Reorganising stops on the West Anglia Main Line.

That it would be possible to create a high-frequency Metro up the Lea Valley.

Except for the digital signalling and Cheshunt station, there is not much work to do on the infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

August 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A New Timetable For The East Coast

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

The Modern Railways article describes in detail the thinking behind the proposed timetable for the East Coast Main Line, that will be introduced in May 2022.

The new titletable would appear to be a compromise and judging by the number of complaints that have appeared in the media, the compromise doesn’t suit everyone.

A lot of my programming was concerned with the allocation of resources in large projects and that expertise convinces me, that the East Coast Main Line doesn’t have enough capacity to accommodate all the services that passengers need and train companies want to run.

These are my thoughts.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed to Leeds, it will add the following services to Leeds.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Leeds in a time of one hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • Two tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds in a time of forty-nine minutes.
  • One tph between Bedford and Leeds, run by Midlands Connect, in a time of one hour and thirty-six minutes.

Leeds will benefit from these services from the South on the new High Speed Two.

But the High Speed Two network has been designed to need to run three tph between York and Newcastle, which will have to share with other East Coast Main Line services.

Both High Speed Two and the aspiration of providing more services on the East Coast Main Line mean that more capacity must be provided between York and Newcastle.

High Speed Two is not mentioned in the Modern Railways article.

I know the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is many years away, but surely, it should have an influence on the design of East Coast Main Line services.

For instance, destinations like Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Redcar, Scarborough, Skegness and Sunderland are unlikely to be served by High Speed Two services, so how does that determine our thinking, when planning train services to  these destinations.

Perhaps, there should be lists of secondary destinations, that should be served by the various operators.

London And Leeds In Two Hours

This is mentioned in the Modern Railways article as being an aspiration of Virgin Trains East Coast, when they ran the franchise.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I did a few rough calculations and said this.

Consider.

    • The fastest current trains between London Kings Cross and Leeds take between two hours and twelve minutes and two hours and fifteen minutes.
    • I suspect that the extra tracks into Kings Cross, that are currently being built will save a few minutes.
    • There must be some savings to be made between Doncaster and Leeds
    • There must be some savings to be made between London Kings Cross and Woolmer Green.
    • There could be a rearrangement of stops.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It is my view, that any new East Coast Main Line timetable should include services between London Kings Cross and Leeds in a few minutes under two hours.

London And Edinburgh In Four Hours

This must be another objective of the train companies, as it is competitive with the airlines.

But it is not a simple process as cutting stops to save time, often annoys the locals.

So achieving the objective of a four-hour trip between London and Edinburgh probably needs some major upgrades to the East Coast Main Line.

Some of the improvements needed are detailed in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

Projects in the related article include.

  • Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade
  • York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Darlington Station Remodelling
  • The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction
  • Use Of The Leamside Line
  • Full Digital ERTMS signalling.

It would appear there’s a lot of work to do, but all of it, will be needed for High Speed Two.

The Modern Railways article does point out, that the new Hitachi trains have superior acceleration to the InterCity 225 trains, that they have replaced. So that will help!

Although it is a worthwhile objective, I think it will be some years before London and Edinburgh times of under four hours are obtained on the East Coast Main Line.

Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

These trains are described in this Hitachi infographic.

Within a couple of years these trains will start to be seen on the East Coast Main Line serving destinations like Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield,  Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Although, it says batteries will replace one engine in the infographic, I believe the standard five-car train for the East Coast Main Line will have two battery packs and an emergency diesel engine. Before the end of the decade, they will be fully-decarbonised with three battery packs.

Splitting And Joining

Although the Hitachi trains can accomplish splitting and joining with ease, it is only mentioned once in the Modern Railways article and that is concerned with a service to Huddersfield, which will split and join at Leeds.

I can see this being used to make sure that each train running into Kings Cross is either a nine-car or a pair of five-car trains, as this would maximise capacity on the route.

Currently, trains to York and Lincoln share a path into Kings Cross, with trains alternating to each destination, so each destination gets one train per two hours (1tp2h).

It would surely be possible for a pair of trains to leave Kings Cross, that split at Newark, with one train going to York and the other to Lincoln.

  • The Modern Railways article says that the Middlesbrough service will be an extension of the 1tp2h York service.
  • This means Kings Cross and Middlesbrough would call at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford, Doncaster and York.
  • So at some time in the future could the Middlesbrough and Lincoln services share a path, with a split and join at Newark?

If the Lincoln and Middlesbrough services were to be run at a frequency of 1tp2h, the intervening paths could be used for other destinations.

Theoretically, by using pairs of five-car trains and splitting and joining, four destinations can be given a service of 1tp2h to and from London, that all use the same path.

I think the following splits and joins would be feasible.

  • Lincoln/Middlesbrough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Lincoln/Scarborough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Nottingham/Sheffield splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Harrogate/Huddersfield splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Bradford/Skipton splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Hull/Leeds splitting and joining at Doncaster.

Note.

  1. The two Lincoln splits and joins at Newark North Gate could possibly be arranged, so that Middlesbrough got roughly 1tp2h and Scarborough got perhaps two trains per day (tpd).
  2. Hull would be a very useful destination, as it is a large station to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Nottingham and Sheffield could be useful destinations during any disruption on the Midland Main Line, perhaps due to installation of full electrification.

The permutations and combinations are endless.

All Fast Trains Must Have Similar Performance

East Coast Trains, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express all use trains with similar performance.

But other operators like Great Northern use slower trains on the East Coast Main Line.

As the Hitachi trains will be running at up to 140 mph under the control of full digital signalling, it strikes me that for safe, fast and efficient operation, the other operators will need faster trains, where they run on the fast lines of the East Coast Main Line.

Grand Central

Grand Central‘s fleet of Class 180 trains will need to be replaced to decarbonise the operator and will surely be replaced with more 140 mph trains to take advantage of the digitally-signalled East Coast Main Line.

As their routes are not fully-electrified, I suspect they’ll be using similar Hitachi battery-electric trains.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in the world, let alone England and the UK.

It is generating new businesses at a tremendous rate and it needs an expanded rail network to give access to housing and industrial premises in the surrounding cities and towns.

  • Peterborough is in the same county and is developing alongside Cambridge.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and other towns are being drawn into Cambridge.
  • East West Rail to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford is coming.

Cambridge is well-connected to London, but needs better connections to the North and Midlands.

King’s Cross And King’s Lynn

Currently, this route is run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

These trains are just not fast enough for Network Rail’s 140 mph digitally signalled railway between King’s Cross and Hitchin.

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I examine how 125 mph trains and full digital signalling could be used to run between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge.

This would allow the trains to use the fast lines into King’s Cross.

I also feel, that to maximise the use of paths into King’s Cross, that the King’s Lynn service could be paired with a new Norwich service. The two trains would split and join at Cambridge.

Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

This service is currently run by Class 156 trains and needs decarbonising. It also runs on 125 mph lines between.

  • Peterborough and Grantham
  • Nottingham and Sheffield

It certainly needs a thorough redesign and modern rolling stock to replace the current rolling road blocks.

East West Rail will certainly increase Cambridge and Norwich services to two tph, so why not terminate this Liverpool service at Cambridge rather than Norwich?

  • Cambridge station has a lot of space to add extra platforms.
  • The service would not need to reverse at Ely.
  • It would add much-needed capacity to the Cambridge and Peterborough route.
  • The service could even terminate at the new Cambridge South station.
  • There have been plans for some time to split this service at Nottingham.

As between Peterborough and Grantham is a fully-electrified four-track line, I suspect that a Cambridge and Nottingham service could be handled by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

Similar battery-electric trains could probably handle the Northern section between Nottingham and Liverpool Lime Street.

Stansted Airport And Birmingham Via Cambridge

After the work to the North of Peterborough at Werrington, this service has a clear route away from the East Coast Main Line, so it can be ignored.

The service does need decarbonisation and I suspect that it could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

CrossCountry And TransPennine Express Services

CrossCountry and TransPennine Express also run services on the Northern section of the East Coast Main Line.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Leeds and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar (1tp2h)
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Sheffield and Newcastle via Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Leeds, Garforth and York
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Redcar via Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, and Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street (1t2h)

In addition LNER and East Coast Trains also run these services on the same section.

  • LNER – 1 tp2h – London Kings Cross and York
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Northallerton (1tp2h), Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Alnmouth (1tp2h)
  • East Coast Trains – 5 tpd – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Newcastle and Morpeth.

Aggregating the stops gives the following.

  • York – 8.5 tph
  • Darlington – 6 tph
  • Durham – 5 tph
  • Chester-le-Street – 0.5 tph
  • Newcastle – 6 tph and 5 tpd
  • Morpeth – 1 tph and 5 tpd
  • Almouth – 1.5 tph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – 2 tph
  • Dunbar – 0.5 tph

Note.

  1. 1 tp2h = 0.5 tph
  2. Scotland is building two new stations at Reston and East Linton.
  3. Northern run trains between Newcastle and Morpeth.

It does appear from comments in the Modern Railways article, that the various train companies and passenger groups can’t agree on who calls where to the North of York.

Perhaps the Fat Controller should step in.

Between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed

With the reopening of the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington, there may be an opportunity to reorganise services between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed.

  • Morpeth could be served via the Northumberland Line.
  • Britishvolt are building a large gigafactory for batteries at Blyth.
  • It would probably be a good idea to remove slow diesel services from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reston station will need a train service.
  • Morpeth and Newcastle are under twenty miles apart on the East Coast Main Line and the route via Ashington is perhaps only ten miles longer.

It looks to me that local services on the Northumberland Line and between Newcastle and Reston on the East Coast Main Line could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a very much improved timetable for the East Coast Main Line.

I do think though that the following actions must be taken.

  • Ensure, that all the long-distance train companies have trains capable of running at 140 mph under the control of digital signalling.
  • Develop a 110 mph battery-electric train to work the local routes, that run on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Get agreement between passengers and train companies about stopping patterns to the North of York.
  • Use splitting and joining creatively to squeeze more trains into the available paths.

LNER would also need to increase their fleet.

 

 

August 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment