The Anonymous Widower

My First Ride In A Class 331 Train

After yesterday’s post; My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, today, I took a ride in that train’s electric sister; the Class 331 train, between Leeds and Doncaster stations.

These are some pictures.

These are my views on various aspects of the train.

Noise, Vibration And Harshness

The electric trains, I travel in most are London Overground’s and TfL Rail’s various classes; 315, 317, 345, 378 and 710.

These Class 331 trains seemed to have a smooth ride, but a noisier transmission compared to say the Class 378 train or the Class 710 train.

To check, the day after I rode the Class 331 train, I rode the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, sampling both Class 378 and Class 710 trains.

It was no surprise that noise levels in the Class 710 train were lowest, but the Class 331 train was noisier than the Class 378 train.

Interior Design

The interior design is the same as that of the Class 195 train and my same comments apply.

  • It is inferior to that of a Class 385 train.
  • The seats are not aligned with the windows.
  • There are lots of tables, which I like.

I also noted that the information display wasn’t working. Was this just teething troubles?

Entrance And Exit

As expected, this was the same as the Class 195 train.

Conclusion

The Class 331 train like its sibling; the Class 195 train, has a few design faults, that hopefully will be rectified in the next few months.

July 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Services To Lincoln

Lincoln is one of those places, where, companies have promised better train services for years and they’ve never appeared.

The Wikipedia entry for Lincoln station under Future Services reads like a catalogue of broken promises and very little progress.

I think that it is time to think out of the box to provide a better service for the City.

Sorting Out Newark

Newark is an important interchange to get good services to and from Lincoln.

Because of the notorious Newark Flat Crossing, the railways around the town need improving.

Currently there are two fast trains to and between Lincoln and London a day in both directions, an hourly service to Newark and various other random services.

To make matters worse, the change at Newark Northgate station is often fifteen minutes or so.

These pictures were taken as I changed trains at the station for Lincoln on a fine day.

Is an hourly single coach Class 153 train between Lincoln and Newark Northgate an adequate service?

There are other services to Newark Castle station, but the two stations are separated by the notorious flat junction at Newark, which slows services on the East Coast Main Line.

I think in a well-thought out solution, the following will be achieved.

  • Trains on the Nottingham to Lincoln  Line will pass Newark without inconveniencing trains on the East Coast Main Line, possibly by means of a flyover or a dive-under.
  • These trains would ideally call at both Newark stations.
  • Hopefully lifts and stairs will make the changebetween the two lines step-free.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very unconventional solution to the problem.

Newark Northgate station could be closed and a flyover could take the Nottingham to Lincoln Line over the East Coast Main Line to the North of the town, where a new out-of-town station could be built, which had platforms on all lines and they were connected by lifts. I have called this arrangement A Four-Poster Station in the past.

The new station could also be a transport hub, with lots of car parking.

I changed twice at Newark Northgate today and in both instances I waited nearly fifteen minutes.

So why not just build a simple single-track flyover or dive-under and provide a comfortable electric shuttle bus between Northgate and Castle stations, that meets all trains and does the journey in less time, than the current wait?

Remember that Castle station is closer to the town centre.

It would be a cheaper flyover and the money saved might purchase some bigger new trains.

The service from Nottingham could even be run by tram-trains or like in Zwickau by diesel multiple units, which left the Nottingham to Lincoln Line at Castle station and then went walkabout in Newark.

The only certainty about the sorting of Newark, is that there are innumerable ways to do it and some could be unusual.

I doubt though, that we’ll see much improvement at Newark until after 2020.

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

In Project Managers Having Fun In The East, I talked about hoe the Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line (GNGE) has been upgraded to be a valuable diversion route for freight trains travelling up and down the East Coast Main Line.

£230million has been spent to create a high-quality railway from Werrington Junction just North of Peterborough to Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

Given the increasing traffic on the East Coast Main Line and the long wait for any relief in the shape of HS2 to Leeds, the North East and Scotland, I think we will see further development of the GNGE.

  • I reported in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington, how plans are ongoing to improve the Southern connection of the line to the East Coast Main Line.
  • The latest details on Werrington Junction are here on the Network Rail web site and talk about a 2020 completion.
  • Could a new Lincoln Avoiding Line be built, so that freight trains avoid going through Lincoln Central station and the level crossings?
  • The GNGE has lots of closed stations and some have been reopened in the last few years. Could more be reopened?

All these developments lead me to the conclusion, that there will be improved passenger services on the Peterborough to Doncaster route via Lincoln.

As the GNGE is now a high-class modern route, the single coach Class 153 train will be replaced by something like a two-car Class 158 train or Class 170 train.

The speeds of the three trains are.

  • Class 153 – 120 kph
  • Class 158 – 140 kph
  • Class 170 – 160 mph

As Inter-City 125s are released by the arrival of new Class 800 trains, could we even see shortened versions running between Kings Cross and Yorkshire via Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster? These magnificent trains certainly perform well on secondary routes, as anybody, who has ridden in the cab between Edinburgh and Inversion can testify.

I wonder what times a well-driven Class 170 train could achieve. Currently Peterborough to Lincoln takes eighty minutes and Lincoln to Doncaster takes two hours.

I estimate that a Class 170 train could do the journey between Lincoln and Peterborough in about an hour, which is about the fastest time that can be achieved changing at Newark.

An estimate for the time between Lincoln and Doncaster could be about ninety minutes.

All of this speed improvement could probably be obtained without any major infrastructure improvements, but updating Werrington Junction and creating a new Lincoln Avoiding Line would improve things further.

Faster connections to Doncaster and Peterborough would bring various benefits.

  • At Doncaster, it would give access to the East Coast Main Line services to the North East and Scotland.
  • From 2018, at Doncaster, it would give access to the the improved TransPennine services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
  • At Peterborough, it would give access to services to London, East Anglia and the South Midlands.
  • From 2018, at Peterborough, there will be a connection to Thameslink, to take passengers all over London and the South East.

Surely these connections will benefit Lincoln most, but a fast service to Peterborough would also do something to improve connectivity at places like Sleaford and Spalding.

I suspect that when the new East Midlands Franchise is announced next year or when suitable trains are procured, we will see significant speed, frequency and comfort improvements on this route.

Reinstating The Complete Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

With the next East Anglian Franchise, it is rumoured that there will be a marked improvement in train services in the region with new and refurbished trains everywhere, running many more services.

One possibility, is that the Bramley Line to Wisbech will be served by passenger trains, as a network of local services are improved and created around Cambridge with expansion and development needs and its soon-to-be-two stations.

I think that the possibility exists that the line between March and Sleaford might be reinstated to give freight trains to and from Felixstowe, direct access to the GNGE to get to Doncaster, avoiding Peterborough and the East Coast Main Line South of Yorkshire.

If you look at Google Maps, then the old rail line is clearly visible for most of the way between March and Sleaford. However, Whitemoor Prison has been build over the route.

If this Southern part of the GNGE were to be reinstated, could we see passenger services between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I think we would, as the engine of growth that is Cambridge, would then be directly connected by train to all the cities and larger towns of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

I should say, that just as London dominates the South East, I believe that Cambridge with all its skills, ambition and success will dominate the East of England.

Lincoln to Cambridge could be about ninety minutes using a fully developed GNGE, as opposed to two hours now.

Conclusions

I have come to the following occlusions.

  • The record of train companies in getting more direct services to Lincoln says a lot and I’d be very surprised if Lincoln sees more direct services to London.
  • Newark is a basket case and sorting it will be difficult and probably expensive
  • The best bet for improved services is to put faster trains on the upgraded Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, which could mean Peterborough in an hour and Doncaster in ninety minutes from Lincoln.
  • The trains for this should be available in 2018.

In the long term, I can see benefits in connecting March and Sleaford.

Ironically, the GNGE was built to bring coal to East Anglia from Yorkshire and it could be used to bring freight between Felixstowe and the North, in an efficient ,manner.

The Victorians seem to have got the route of the GNGE correct.

Just as they did the Varsity Line and the Borders Railway.

 

 

August 4, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Hull To Sheffield

I escaped from Hull on a train to Sheffield, as on my walk across the city from my hotel to the station, I didn’t pass one welcoming looking cafe or a suitable shop to buy my copy of The Times. I did finally find a cafe in the station called the London Way Cafe, but I’d already bought my ticket and didn’t fancy waiting an hour and a half for the train after the one I was catching.

The route to Sheffield via Goole and Doncaster is across very flat country as the pictures show.

Can I come to any conclusions?

  • I think the last time, I did this journey it was in a dreaded Pacer, but this time it was a clean Class 158 train. So some things are getting better!
  • Part of Hull station has been turned into a bus station, which is properly integrated with the trains.
  • The signposting in the station to local attractions like The Deep and the KC Stadium can’t even be judged on quality, as there isn’t any.

Much of the line is the Hull to Doncaster branch, which effectively connect the two TransPennine routes into Hull and Cleethorpes at Gilberdyke and Thorne. It is not electrified, but given the fact that Doncaster is and Sheffield could be in a few years, this line would be ideal for IPEMUs running a possible half-hourly electric service between Hull and Sheffield via Doncaster.

At present Hull trains from London take two hours thirty minutes for a direct run via Selby and if you change at Doncaster it takes a few minutes under three hours using Virgin East Coast.

So perhaps if the Sheffield to Hull service is improved using IPEMUs and a bit of selective electrification is installed from say Doncaster to Thorne or in Hull station, the service from London with a change at Doncaster could be reduced to almost the two and half hours using the direct train.

But if IPEMUs can do Doncaster to Hull, then surely Hull Trains could use them on the Doncaster route to go to Hull as an all-electric alternative. They could still serve Brough, but Selby would need to use that route.

This simple exercise shows how IPEMUs could change the rail landscape of the UK.

 

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreadful Doncaster

Doncaster is a town that doesn’t deserve to have a football team.

I went to the match on Tuesday, where Ipswich won by four goals to one.

On arrival at the station, as I’d got plenty of time, I thought I’d take a bus to the excellent Keepmoat Stadium. Doncaster station is next to the bus station, but I couldn’t find any information or in fact anybody to ask. So I had to take a taxi.

I asked the taxi-driver how I would get a taxi back after the game and he said that I couldn’t, as because of the traffic taxis can’t get near the ground.

Two stewards told me that I could get a bus from a particular stop to get back. So that was some progress.

As I had to catch the 22:43 train, I decided to leave after the match proper, which meant I missed the extra time, but it did give me an hour to get to the station.

Unfortunately, the buses seemed to have stopped running, so after waiting for twenty minutes, I decided to use the most reliable transport I had – my feet!

But there were no signposts and after scrambling over busy dual carriageways and walking through dark and dismal subways, I made it with about ten minutes to spare.

If a ground, is not obvious from the station, then councils and football clubs, should at least provide some signs and maps.

I shall not be going to the football in Doncaster on a Tuesday night again.

At least I’d booked a ticket in First for the trip home for £23.75.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

That Was A Waste Of Time That Was!

I’m now back home, as I failed to get a lift to Doncaster, in time to get there for the match. So my ticket and the one I bought for a possible driver have gone to waste. The money is irrevalent, but i don’t like to throw tickets in the bin, when someone less well off trhan myself, might have used them.

I probably didn’t leave myself enough time to get to the A1 at Apex Corner. As Doncaster, is one of these towns, where I’ve never had a gluten-free meal in the centre and the ground is some way away from the centre, I went to the only open Carluccuio’s near me at St. Pancras to get a meal, before taking a Tube and a 113 bus out of London.

The Tube and bus was my downfall, as it took about half-an-hour longer than I thought it would.

So when the clock went past 12:30, my cut-off time for getting to the match, I reversed my route and came home.

As luck would have it, I got home a lot quicker, than it had taken me to go.

In a way the missing of this match might be a blessing.  The two other impossible ones; Yeovil and Leeds, can now be missed, without them breaking a perfect record.

Unless of course today’s match should be abandoned!

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

I’ve Got My Banners Ready!

I’ve made a couple of banners to help in my journey.

I've Got My Banners Ready!

I’ve Got My Banners Ready!

Whether I go though, is up to the weather!

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Nothing Is Impossible!

It’s just that some things are more difficult than others.

One of my favourite quotes was made by Barnes Wallace in an interview by Chris Brasher for the obituary television program, that would follow the innovative engineer’s death.

There is no greater thrill in life than showing something is impossible and then proving how it can be done!

I’ve lived my life by this mantra even before I saw the program.

My current problem is how to get to Doncaster on Boxing Day to see Ipswich play.

There are no trains or buses, as it is Christmas.

I have posted on forums, written to newspapers, the television and radio and not one sensible reply. I’ve even offered a free ticket to the person, who drives me up to Doncaster.

I have even thought about hiring a helicopter.  Light aircraft are not on, as Doncaster built on their grass field by the racecourse and the old Doncaster ground.

But then no-one says no to this London mongrel with a strong connection to Suffolk.  According to my late father, I was at least conceived in the county. The last time was when I was told it would be impossible to visit all 92 League clubs in alphabetical order by public transport.  I did that, but perhaps not as easily or fast, as I would have liked. I’m a stubborn bugger!

So I’ll be hitching all the way up. I can get a bus to the bottom of the A1 at Apex Corner and that’s where I’ll start. I’ve got a banner ready saying.

TRACTOR TO DONCASTER PLEASE!!

Only one person ever said no to me and that was the devil after my stroke.  She took one look at me and thought I’d be too much trouble. So she let me stay here!

In a way, it was a compliment.

December 22, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

An Offer For An Ipswich Town Fan Based In London

I am attempting to see every Ipswich Town League and Cup match this season.

So far it has gone very well and I haven’t missed one, although some it could be said were eminently missable.

The problem match is the Boxing Day match at Doncaster, where there are no trains on that day.

Today though, I have bought two tickets for the match. One ticket is for myself, and the other will be for anyone who gives me a lift to and from the match.

November 29, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Doncaster to Edinburgh

I had a few minutes to change trains at Doncaster, before I got on the fast train towards the North. I’d known when I booked that the last part of the journey to Edinburgh would actually be a coach as they were doing substantial work in the Morpeth area. At least though when I got in the Scottish capital, I knew that it was perhaps a ten minute taxi to a comfortable bed in my friend’s house.

Doncaster is a station that has had a serious makeover with most of the facilities modern and up-to-date. But I don’t know, but it just lacks something.

Perhaps, stations should be destinations in their own right.

I know St. Pancras International is in a different league from every other station in the UK and possibly Europe, if you believe some of the statements of the head of SNCF, but I believe all stations should aspire to be a little bit like that station.

If say you are meeting someone in the station, it should be a pleasant place to wait, have a coffee, read the paper and perhaps watch the trains coming and going.

Moving a Train

The picture shows a Southern train from the routes south of London, probably being moved to the works at Doncaster or York for repair or refurbishment.  There is a lot of movement at a station like Doncaster.

Stations should also be places for business meetings, so that say if you are based in london and want to meet your managers from say Hull and Newcastle, then perhaps a sensible and productive lunch in the middle would be an idea.

I didn’t venture outside of the station, so I don’t know whether their is a nice hotel or restaurant outside or not!

But why not create a sensible cafe/restaurant, shops and perhaps a hotel high up in the station?  Many stations have beautifully structured roofs and the proper structure placed up there would compliment them. In some ways, the engineering involved would be similar to that in some of our art gsalleries and museums, where roofs and mezzanines have been created.  Space should always be use to the maximum, and now that trains make a lot less pollution, the roof space might be ripe for development

It might not be practical, but so many of our stations are cluttered and there is nothing more than a Costa and a burger bar.

We can do so much better!

It’s just a small point, but to get it right, you must get all the details right.  For instance they’d put in nice new toilets in Doncaster, but the toilet roll dispensers were all broken, as they were badly designed.

Coming up, I would have been able to just walk across the platform, but when going north, it meant I had to use the underpass.  Perhaps, we should ensure that as many connections as possible are just a short walk on the level! Doncaster, Peterbough and York aren’t too bad.  They would also be a lot better, if people didn’t travel with the kitchen sink on wheels trailing behind them.

I was travelling very light and all I had was just a shoulder bag, that carried a spare pair of knickers and socks for each day I was away and a shirt for every two.  I didn’t bring a laptop, as I’ve now come to the conclusion that every gram is something else to carry and more strain on my decrepit body.

We arrived in Newastle on time and whilst others were dreading the bus, I was being philosophical.  There was a bit of a scrum at the coaches, but I was on quickly and managed to get a double seat for the nearly three hour trip.  I think it could have been better organised with perhaps a few coaches going direct to Edinburgh, rather than having to drop off perhaps one person at Berwick and Dunbar.  Some American passengers were getting distinctly edgy, as they’d only got into Heathrow that morning. They’d have probably changed their plans, if they’d known about the coach, but then the information their agent got in the US seemed to be incomplete. Travel agents are to me the lowest of the low, as they always book you on the route that gives them the most commission, so possibly East Coast pays better than Virgin! We are lucky in that we have two equally fast routes to Scotland from London and you should use the one that is more convenient, not the one that is obvious.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment