The Anonymous Widower

The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line

Note that this is not a finished post.

To read the The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands (IRP), click this link.

There is a section in the IRP called Serving Leeds, York and North East England.

It is a section of six paragraphs and I shall describe their contents in detail separately.

Paragraph 3.41

This is said in the IRP.

Under the original plans, HS2 trains would have served Leeds, York and North East England via the West Midlands, with the Eastern Leg branching off from the Phase One line just north of Birmingham Interchange.

This is a significantly longer route than the current East Coast Main Line from King’s Cross, which goes directly up the eastern side of the country.

Due to capacity constraints north of Doncaster HS2 trains to Newcastle and York could also only be accommodated at the expense of existing services, potentially reducing or removing connections between the North East and Doncaster, Newark and Peterborough.

Unlike the West Coast Main Line, there is also potential to lengthen existing trains by up to three carriages, increasing the number of seats on those trains by around 40%.

Geography wins and I’ll discuss the train lengthening later.

Paragraph 3.42

This is said in the IRP.

The IRP has concluded in favour of a significant package of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line which could deliver similar journey times to London and capacity improvements for York and the North East as the original proposals – but many years sooner, and with operational carbon savings because trains will be taking a shorter route.

Speed is important in both project delivery and running of the trains.

Paragraph 3.43

This is said in the IRP.

We are therefore taking forward a substantial package of investment for the East Coast Main Line between London and Leeds and the North East, subject to future business case. Development work will consider interventions from both NPR designs undertaken by Network Rail, mainly focussed on York and northwards, and work undertaken by Mott MacDonald for the Department for Transport focused on the line south of York. North of York we will look to increase the number of paths for long distance high speed trains from 6 to 7 or 8 per hour. In addition to the already planned roll-out of digital signalling, work is expected to include looking at opportunities to improve rolling stock performance; power supply upgrades to allow longer and faster trains; route upgrades to allow higher speeds, including of up to 140mph on some sections; measures to tackle bottlenecks, for example south of Peterborough and at stations and junctions such as Newark, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Newcastle all of which limit speed and capacity; and to replace level crossings where needed.

We will ask Network Rail to now take forward these proposals, including considering any alternatives which may deliver better outputs and/or more cost-effective solutions.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.44

This is said in the IRP.

This package is intended to:

    • Cut journey times from London to a range of destinations, including Leeds, Darlington, Northallerton, Durham, and Newcastle by up to 28 minutes, bringing journey times closer to those proposed by HS2, much earlier than previously planned;
    • Allow the introduction of longer trains, increasing the number of seats;
    • Provide 7–8 long distance high speed paths per hour north of York to Newcastle, compared to the current 6 paths (and so allowing a minimum of two fast Manchester to Newcastle services each hour alongside other ambitions);
    • Improve performance and reliability, enabling faster and more reliable services for passengers.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.45

This is said in the IRP.

Journey times from London to Newcastle under this plan could be as little as 2 hrs 25-28 minutes (subject to stopping pattern), about 21-24 minutes faster than now and 8 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

Journey times to York and Darlington under this plan would be about 15 minutes faster than now and 12-14 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

Journey times from London to Leeds, at around 1 hour 53, would be about 20 minutes faster than now, but 32 minutes slower than under the full HS2 plans.

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

Paragraph 3.46

This is said in the IRP.

Journey times from Birmingham to Leeds would be around 30 minutes faster than the current typical time, and, subject
to further analysis, York and the North East could be would be around 30 minutes faster than the current typical time,
via HS2 Western Leg, Manchester and NPR (based on indicative train service).

I’ll discuss a lot of this later in more detail.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts.

Longer Trains

This is said in Paragraph 3.41

Unlike the West Coast Main Line, there is also potential to lengthen existing trains by up to three carriages, increasing the number of seats on those trains by around 40%.

The Hitachi Class 800, Class 801, Class 802 and Class 803 trains, that run the routes out of King’s Cross come in lengths of five, nine and ten coaches.

  • The maximum length of an individual train is twelve cars according to this Hitachi document.
  • All destinations with the possible exception of Harrogate, Lincoln and Middlesbrough can handle the current nine-car trains.
  • Lengthening a five-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 60 %. You’d just run a current nine-car train.
  • Lengthening a nine-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 33.3 %. Poor maths but possible.
  • Lengthening a ten-car train by three cars would increase capacity by 30 %. Two trains would have to be lengthened, as ten-car trains are a pair of five-car trains.

It looks to me that the IRP is talking about running twelve-car trains.

  • The Hitachi trains are all plug-and-play.
  • The main stations on the route are Doncaster, Edinburgh, King’s Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and York.
  • Some platforms would need to be lengthened, but some like Edinburgh, Leeds and York are probably already long enough.

But what about the important London terminus at King’s Cross?

These pictures show the Northern ends of the platforms at King’s Cross station.

The two trains are both nine-car Hitachi Class 800 or Class 801 trains and I was standing in line with their noses.

I wonder what is the maximum length of trains that can be handled in these platforms.

  • They can certainly handle ten-car trains, as LNER run these to Leeds.
  • Looking at maps, I suspect that eleven-car trains could be the largest that can be handled.

I suspect it will be tight, but I suspect with a simple platform extension, twelve car trains could be accommodated in King’s Cross station.

Journey Times

These times come from High Speed Two’s Journey Planner and the IRP.

  • London and Edinburgh – Three hours and forty-eight minutes – Four hours and nineteen minutes – Three hours and fifty-eight minutes – My estimate based on IRP figures
  • London and Newcastle – Two hours and seventeen minutes – Two hours and forty-nine minutes – Two hours and 25-28 minutes
  • London and Durham – Two hours and sixteen minutes – Two hours and fifty-five minutes – Two hours and forty minutes
  • London and Darlington – One hour and fifty minutes – Two hours and twenty-two minutes – Two hours and seven minutes
  • London and York – One hour and twenty-four minutes – Two hours and ten minutes – One hour and fifty-five minutes – My estimate based on IRP figures
  • London and Leeds – One hour and twenty-one minutes – Two hours and thirteen minutes – One hour and fifty-three minutes

Note.

  1. The first time is that from High Speed Two, which assumes the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has been built.
  2. The second time is the current best time via the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The third time is the IRP’s estimate via an upgraded East Coast Main Line.
  4. Where the estimates are mine it is noted.

London and York and London and Leeds are under two hours, London and Newcastle is under three hours and London and Edinburgh is under four hours.

Are these times fast enough for modal shift from the Air and Roads to Rail?

Project Delivery

Rail projects in the UK have a variable record in the delivering of projects on time and on budget.

I haven’t done the full analysis, but I do believe that smaller projects have a better record of delivery, based on media reports.

In Railway Restored: Regular Trains To Run On Dartmoor Line For First Time In 50 Years, Network Rail have delivered an important smaller project, for which I said.

Network Rail have set themselves a good precedent to open the line in nine months and £10 million under budget.

As the improvement of the East Coast Main Line is more of a succession of smaller projects, rather than one large project does this mean it is more likely to be delivered on time and on budget?

Extra Paths

This is said in Paragraph 3.43

North of York we will look to increase the number of paths for long distance high speed trains from 6 to 7 or 8 per hour.

One of the min reasons for building High Speed Two, but here we have extra capacity being created on the East Coast Main Line.

One extra path would be very good, but two would be excellent.

Power Supply Upgrades

In the last eighteen months, I’ve written two articles about updating of the power supply on the East Coast Main Line.

The second article talks about the involvement of the University of Leeds to get the power supply to a high standard.

It does appear that Network Rail are doing all they can to enable the East Coast Main Line to handle the eight electric trains per hour

140 mph Running

There are several elements to the successful achievement of 140 mph running on a railway.

  • The trains must be capable of running safely at 140 mph.
  • The track must be able to support trains at that speed.
  • The signalling must be in-cab and fully tested.
  • The electrification must be designed for running at the required speed.
  • The drivers must be fully trained.

Note.

  1. There are certainly 140 mph trains in service and there are tracks in the UK, where they can be tested at that speed.
  2. I wouldn’t be surprised as we have been running 140 mph InterCity 225 trains on the East Coast Main Line for thirty years, that a lot of the track is already profiled for 140 mph running.
  3. The digital signalling is being installed.
  4. The electrification on the East Coast Main Line has been dodgy for years, but is now being upgraded.
  5. Drivers are probably the least to worry about, as they probably know the route well and are honing their skills in simulators.

I can see 140 mph running being delivered in stages and on time.

Darlington Improvements

In First Phase Of ‘Transformational’ Darlington Rail Station Upgrade Approved, I said this about the improvements at Darlington station.

This upgrade is on the Eastern side of the current station and will include a new entrance, station building, concourse and three new platforms.

This design should allow the following.

    • LNER, High Speed Two and other expresses not stopping at the Darlington station to pass through at speeds of up to 125 mph or more.
    • Expresses stopping in the station will slow and accelerate in less time than they do now.
    • It will probably allow more local trains to Bishops Auckland, Middlesbrough and Saltburn

A seventy-five percent increase in platforms probably offers other advantages.

This could knock several minutes off journey times.

York Improvements

I describe this problem and my solution in Improving The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction.

My solution won’t happen, as I advocate replacing the historic Skelton Bridge with a modern four-track bridge.

Effects On Lincoln Service

It will be interesting to see how the improvements to the East Coast Main Line effect LNER’s service between King’s Cross and Lincoln.

Any time improvements South of Newatk will surely be reflected in the time between King’s Cross and Lincoln.

Conclusion

The plan seems feasible to me.

November 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a Ferryhill station on the East Coast Main Line. It closed in 1967 and burnt down in 1969, before being demolished.

I first noted the station in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, after Boris promised it would be built in PMQs.

I then mentioned the station 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.

Last night, I read this document from Railfuture, which talks about rail improvements in the North East and on the East Coast Main Line.

In the document, Ferryhill station is mentioned eighteen times.

Reopening Ferryhill station would appear to have support at all levels.

The Location Of Ferryhill Station

This Google Map shows the general area of the proposed Ferryhill station.

 

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is the village in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The lion-shaped quarry in the North-East is destined to become a landfill site.
  3. Below this is Thrislington Plantation, which is a National Nature Reserve.
  4. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village and the quarry.

South of the village the line splits, as is shown in detail in this second Google Map.

Note.

  • Ferryhill South junction by Denhamfields Garage, with the nearby Ferryhill Station Primary School
  • The line going South-East is the Stillington freight line to Teesside.
  • The other line going in a more Southerly direction is the electrified East Coast Main Line to Darlington and the South.
  • Between Ferryhill South junction and Tursdale Junction with the Leamside Line is a 2.5 mile four-track electrified railway.

I suspect the station could be any convenient location, to the North of the junction.

Railfuture have strong opinions on the station and feel it should be a Park-and-Ride station for the settlements in the former North Durham coalfield, with frequent services to Newcastle.

Current Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

These services currently pass the location of the proposed Ferryhill station.

  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington. Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh via Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Southampton and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham
  • TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  2. All trains call at York, Darlington and Newcastle.
  3. I have missed out some of the intermediate stations, where trains don’t call at least hourly.
  4. I have missed out stations South of Birmingham New Street.
  5. A few Northern Trains services pass through at Peak times or to go to and from depots.

I suspect some of these services could stop and to encourage commuters to Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to swap from car to train,

I also suspect that Ferryhill station needs a frequency of at least two tph and if possible four! Four tph would give a Turn-up-and-Go service to Darlington, Newcastle and York.

Planned And Possible Future Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

From various sources, these services are either planned or possible.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two are planning the following services, that will pass through.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub and York.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub, York and Darlington.

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one tph.
  2. All trains call at York, East Midlands Hub, York and Newcastle.
  3. All trains will be 200 metres long.

I feel that Ferryhill station should have platforms long enough to accommodate these trains and other long trains, to future-proof the design and to cater for possible emergencies.

The longest trains on the route would probably be one of the following.

  • A pair of five-car Class 800 trains or similar, which would be 260 metres long.
  • A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, which would be 200 metres long.

Unless provision needed to be made for pairs of High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

East Coast Trains

From next year, East Coast Trains, intend to run a five trains per day (tpd) service between London and Edinburgh via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

Note that in Thoughts On East Coast Trains, I said this service would stop at Durham, as that was said in Wikipedia at the time.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail has an objective to to run four tph between Leeds and Newcastle in 58 minutes.

At present there are only three tph on this route, two tph from TransPennine Express and one tph from CrossCountry. All three services stop at Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

I believe that the best way to provide the fourth service between Leeds and Newcastle would be to run a third LNER service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh, when upgrades to the East Coast Main Line give the train operating company another path.

  • The service would only stop en route at Leeds and Newcastle.
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Leeds to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Newcastle to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Leeds and Newcastle to four tph
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, in under two hours.

I believe that, when all the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line are complete, that such a service could match or even better High Speed Two’s time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between London and Edinburgh.

Ferryhill And Teesside Via The Stillington Freight Line

The Clarence Railway is described in this paragraph in its Wikipedia entry.

The Clarence Railway was an early railway company that operated in north-east England between 1833 and 1853. The railway was built to take coal from mines in County Durham to ports on the River Tees and was a competitor to the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). It suffered financial difficulty soon after it opened because traffic was low and the S&DR charged a high rate for transporting coal to the Clarence, and the company was managed by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners after July 1834.

But it has left behind a legacy of useful rail lines, that connect important factories, ports, towns, works on other railways on Teesside.

This Google Map shows the triangle between Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Note.

  1. Eaglescliffe station is in the South-West corner of the map and lines from the station lead to Darlington and Northallerton stations.
  2. Thornaby station is in the North-East corner of the map and connects to Middlesbrough station.
  3. Stockton station is at the North of the map.

Tracks connect the three stations.

This Google Map shows the connection between Thornaby and Stockton stations.

Note.

  1. Stockton station is at the North of the map.
  2. Thornaby station is at the East of the map.
  3. In the South-Western corner of the map is a triangular junction, that links Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Currently, this triangular junction, allows trains to go between.

  • Middlesbrough and Newcastle via Thornaby, Stockton, Hartlepool and Sunderland.
  • Middlesbrough and Darlington via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.
  • Middlesbrough and Northallerton via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.

But it could be even better.

This Google Map shows another triangular junction to the North of Stockton station.

Note.

  1. The Southern junction of the triangle leads to Stockton station and ultimately to Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Middlesbrough, Northallerton and Thornaby.
  2. The Eastern junction leads to Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle.

So where does the Western Junction lead to?

The railway is the Stillington Branch Line.

  • It leads to Ferryhill.
  • It is about ten miles long.
  • It is double-track.
  • There used to be intermediate stations at Radmarshall, Stillington and Sedgefield.

Looking at timings for trains on the various sections of the route gives.

  • Middlesbrough and Stockton – 11 minutes
  • Stockton and Ferryhill South Junction – 23 minutes
  • Ferryhill South Junction and Newcastle – 20 minutes

This gives a timing of 54 minutes compared with up to 78 minutes for the current service on the Durham Coast Line.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Providing Faster Journeys Teesside to Tyneside by running passenger services from
Middlesbrough, Thornaby and Stockton via the 10 mile Stillington freight only line and then via the
East Coast Main Line to Newcastle. Our aim is to reduce overall journey time on direct train
between Middlesbrough to Newcastle from 1 hour 15 minutes to 55 minutes and so open up many
additional job opportunities to the residents of both areas.

My calculations say that it should be possible, to run a useful service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, via the Stillington freight line.

  • The route is used regularly for freight trains and by LNER for what look to be testing or empty stock movements.
  • Will any station be built at Radmarshall, Stillington or Sedgefield?
  • I estimate that between Ferryhill South Junction and Middlesbrough, is about fifteen miles, so it might be possible to run a Middlesbrough and Newcastle service using battery electric trains, like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be charged on the East Coast Main Line.

Activating the route, doesn’t look to be the most expensive passenger reopening on the cards.

I suspect though, that if passenger services were to be run on the Stillington Line, that Ferryhill station, will need platforms on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.

Services could include.

  • Newcastle and Middlesbrough via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and Hartlepool via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and York via Eaglescliffe and Ferryhill, with a reverse at Middlesbrough.

 

Note.

  1. The Northern terminus could be Ferryhill for some trains.
  2. Two tph between Stockton and Ferryhill would be a useful service.
  3. Would a Newcastle and Middlesbrough service call at the poorly-served Chester-le-Street station to improve services?

I also feel that as some of these services will be running on the East Coast Main Line between Ferryhill and Newcastle, it probably would be desirable for these services to be run by Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be capable of maintaining the maximum speed for the route, as all the other passenger services can at present!

Ferryhill And Tyneside Via The Leamside Line

The reopening of the Leamside Line is a high priority of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which I wrote about 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.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Reopening the rail line from Ferryhill to Pelaw (the Leamside Line) with the aim of providing
services that will improve local connections and open new opportunities to people living in this part
of County Durham, as well as providing relief for congestion on the existing line through Durham.

This reopening has been talked about for years, so I suspect that Network Rail know the problems and at least have a rough estimate for what needs to be done and how much it will cost.

The Wikipedia entry for the Leamside Line has a section, which is entitled Proposed Re-Opening, Upgrade and Development, where this is the first paragraph.

Since the line’s closure in the early 1990s, a number of proposals to re-open the Leamside Line were put forward, including plans by AECOM, ATOC, Durham County Council, Railtrack and Tyne and Wear PTE. The line has been considered for a number of potential uses, including a regional suburban rail service linking Tyneside and Teesside, a diversionary freight route for the East Coast Main Line, and an extension to the Tyne and Wear Metro network.

Wikipedia also states that an application to the Restoring Your Railway Fund for money for a feasibility study was unsuccessful.

All that could change with the developments needed between Leeds and Newcastle for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • High Speed Two are planning to run at least three tph to and from Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning to run an extra service between Leeds and Newcastle.
  • LNER will have an extra path on the East Coast Main Line, that could be used through the area.

Using the Leamside Line as a diversion for freight and slower passenger trains would appear to be a possibility.

It could also be combined with the Stillington Line and Northallerton and Stockton to create a double-track diversion, alongside the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line between Northallerton and Newcastle.

Extending The Tyne And Wear Metro Along The Leamside Line

This has been talked about for some time.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro. there is a section, which is entitled Extension To Washington IAMP, where this is said.

There have been a number of proposals looking in to the possibility of re-opening the former Leamside Line to Washington, including a 2009 report from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), and a 2016 proposal from the North East Combined Authority (NECA), as well as the abandoned Project Orpheus programme, from the early 2000s. Most recently, proposals are being put forward to link the current network at Pelaw and South Hylton, with the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Washington, using part of the alignment of the former Leamside Line.

If the Tyne and Wear Metro were to be extended to the Southern end of the Leamside Line, Ferryhill station could be a Southern terminal.

  • There is space to create a line alongside the East Coast Main Line between Tursdale Junction, where it connects with the Leamside Line and Ferryhill station.
  • The new Tyne and Wear trains have been designed to share tracks with other trains on Network Rail tracks.
  • This would enable interchange between East Coast Main Line, Stillington Line and Metro services, without going North to Newcastle.

At the present time, all that would be needed would be for the Metro connection to be safeguarded.

Railfuture’s Campaigns In The North East

This is a tidying up of several improvements, which are campaigns of Railfuture, that are outlined in this document.

They will be covered in separate posts.

Conclusions

I can separate conclusions into sections.

The Design Of Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the design of Ferryhill station.

  • It should be built as a Park-and-Ride station.
  • It should have platforms long enough for any train that might stop at the station. I suspect this would be a pair of Class 800 trains, which would be 260 metres long.
  • Platforms should be on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.
  • There should be safeguarding of a route, so that Metro trains could access the station from the Leamside Line.

As the station could be a Park-and-Ride station, I will assume the station will need good road access.

Train Services At Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the services calling at Ferryhill station.

There should be four tph between Leeds and Newcastle, all of which would stop at York, Darlington, Ferryhill and Durham, with some services calling at Northallerton and Chester-le-Street.

There should also be less frequent services at Ferryhill to Scotland and London. Perhaps a frequency of around six tpd would be sufficient, as changes could be made at Leeds, Newcastle of York.

Two tph would probably be ideal for services on the Stillington Line to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

It would certainly be a busy and well-connected station.

 

December 13, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham

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

The article has this sub-title.

The Prime Minister has backed calls for a new railway station in County Durham which could also be linked to the Tyne and Wear Metro.

This all came out in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, where Boris said it was his ambition to see a line opened to the former Ferryhill station, which is nine miles South of Durham.

There has been talk of reopening the Leamside Line, as both a route for the Tyne and Wear Metro and as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

New Rolling Stock For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Stadler are building new rolling stock for the Tyne and Wear Metro, which will be dual-voltage.

  • Able to work on the Metro’s 1500 VDC.
  • Able to work on the national 25 KVAC.
  • In addition like Merseyrail’s closely-related Class 777 trains, they could have a battery capability.

Pelaw And The Leamside Line

The Leamside Line leaves the Durham Coast Line near to Pelaw station on the Metro.

This Google Map shows Pelaw station and the rail lines in the area.

Note.

  1. Pelaw station on the Western edge of the map marked by a blue M.
  2. The Durham Coast Line running East-West across the map.
  3. The tracks going North from the junction in the middle of the map are the Tyne and Wear Metro to South Shields station and a freight line to Jarrow.
  4. At the Eastern edge of the map, Pelaw Metro Junction can be seen, where the Metro and the Durham Coast Line join to continue through Sunderland to their respective terminals.
  5. The Leamside Line can be picked out running from the major junction in the middle to the South East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows an enlarged view of the Pelaw Metro Junction.

It appears to be a flying junction of the highest class, despite being built in the days of cash-strapped British Rail. Note the two outside Metro lines with their electrification merging with the central Durham Coast Lines, that have no electrification.

  • The route is electrified using the Metro’s 1500 VDC overhead system from here until the Metro branches off to South Hylton station.
  • The Metro and the other trains through the area, use a version of the Karlsruhe model for the signalling, so effectively, the Metro is running as a tram-train.

When the Metro has received the new Stadler trains, it will be possible to electrify the Durham Coast Line at 25 KVAC, which would allow the following.

  • Metro trains could run all the way to Middlesbrough, using their dual-voltage capability.
  • Metro trains could also run directly into Newcastle station, using the Durham Coast Line.

Voltage changeover would take place in Pelaw station.

Pelaw And Washington

The route of the Leamside Line South from Pelaw to Washington is more or less intact, although it does look in need of tender loving case.

This Google Map shows the section through Follingsby, where there used to be a Freightliner terminal.

Note.

  1. The whole area, including a former opencast coal time, is being developed.
  2. Amazon are building a fulfilment centre on the site of the Freightliner terminal.
  3. The Leamside Line runs North-South through the complex road junction at the top of the map.

This second Google Map shows the area South of the previous one and shows the Leamside Line as it passes to the West of the Nissan plant at Sunderland.

Note.

  1. The Leamside Line runs down the Western side of the map.
  2. The Nissan plant to the East, with a sausage =shaped feature in the South-West corner of the site.
  3. North of the Nissan plant an area has been earmarked for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, which is currently the site of the NHS Nightingale Hospital NE.

It would appear discussions are underway to connect the Advanced Manufacturing Park to the Metro. But surely, with all the development alongside the line, there must be a need for perhaps three stations between Nissan and Prlaw.

This third Google Map shows Washington and its position with respect to the Nissan plant.

Note.

  1. The Nissan plant is to the North-East of this map and the sausage-shaped feature can just be seen.
  2. The Leamside Line goes North-South through the area and crosses the A1231 road, midway between the two complex junctions.
  3. The housing of the town of Washington in the South-West corner of the map.

There will surely be scope to put more than one station in the town of Washington, if the Leamside Line were to be reopened to passenger trains.

South From Washington

I will now continue South from Washington

The Victoria Viaduct

Going South from Washington, the Leamside Line has to cross the River Wear and it does that in spectacular fashion over the Grade II* Listed Victoria Viaduct.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note.

  1. Network Rail have maintained the viaduct since it was mothballed in 1991.
  2. It used to carry a double-track railway.
  3. The viaduct must have handled an occasional InterCity125.

I would be very surprised if a restored Victoria Viaduct couldn’t handle a five-car Class 800 train or similar.

Penshaw Station

The first station on the Leamside Line to the South of the viaduct, used to be Penshaw station.

This Google Map shows the village of Penshaw.

Note.

  1. Station Road curving around the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Leamside Line crossing this road and running North-South.

I would expect a station could be built there, without too much difficulty.

Fencehouses Station

The next station to the South was Fencehouses station.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

Note.

  1. The A1052 Road named Station Avenue North passing through the village.
  2. The former track of the railway passing North-South.
  3. According to Wikipedia, there used to be a level crossing at the station.

As with Penshaw station, I suspect a station could be built here fairly easily.

Leamside Station

The next station was Leamside station, which served the villages of Leamside and West Rainton.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The Leamside Line runs North-South in the middle of the map.
  2. Station Road can be picked out crossing the railway.
  3. Leamside is to the West of the Leamside Line.
  4. West Rainton is to the East of the Leamside Line.

It looks to be another station, that can be rebuilt without difficulty.

A Choice Of Routes At Belmont

The next station coming South on the Leamside Line used to be Belmont station.

This Google Map shows the site of the original station.

Note.

  1. The area is dominated by the two major roads; the A1(M) and the A690.
  2. In the vee of the roads, the Belmont Park-and-Ride site for Durham City is situated.
  3. The Leamside Line passes to the East of the Park-and-Ride.
  4. It appears that there is already a bridge to carry the Leamside Line over the A690.

There used to be a direct line between Belmont and Durham Gilesgate stations and the remains of the track-bed can be picked out, as it passes to the North of the Park-and-Ride.

There must surely be possibilities for some innovative thinking to connect Belmont, Durham, Newcastle and Washington.

But a simple station at the Park-And-Ride could be the best!

  • Travellers living along the Leamside Line could use the buses at the Park-and-Ride to get to Durham City.
  • The station would become a Parkway station for travellers going to Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Washington and anywhere on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

There would appear to be space for more parking, if that were to be needed.

An Alternative Direct Route Between the Leamside Line and the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the Leamside Line to the North of Belmont and the area to the West of the Line.

Note.

  1. The A1 (M) running North-South.
  2. The Leamside Line running North-South to the East of the motorway.
  3. The Grade II Listed Belmont Railway Viaduct marked by a blue arrow crossing the River Wear.

The remains of the trackbed of a railway can be picked out between the Leamside Line and the Belmont Railway Viaduct.

This second Google Map shows the area between the Belmont Railway Viaduct and the ECML.

Note.

  1. HM Prison Frankland at the top of the map.
  2. The ECML running down the West side of the map.
  3. The Belmont Railway Viaduct in the South-East corner of the map.

The trackbed between the ECML and the railway viaduct can be picked out.

Could The Line Over The Belmont Railway Viaduct Be Rebuilt To Create A Route Between Durham And Newcastle?

  • Looking, where the railway would need to cross the A1 (M), if appears that no provision was made for a underpass or bridge, when the motorway was built, so building one would be expensive and very disruptive.
  • Creating a flying junction to connect the new line to the ECML would be another expensive and disruptive project.
  • What is the condition of the Belmont Railway Viaduct?
  • Would it be better to build an interchange station at the Belmont Park-And-Ride?

I feel that it would be unlikely that this route will be rebuilt.

South From Belmont

I will now continue South from Belmont station.

Shincliffe Station

The next station going South was Shincliffe station.

This Google Map shows the village of Shincliffe.

Note.

  1. The A177 road running NW-SE across the map.
  2. The Leamside Line running SW-NE across the map.
  3. The original station was where was road and railway crossed.

The Leamside Line continues South to Tursdale Junction, where it joins the ECML.

This Google Map shows Tursdale Junction.

 

Note.

  1. Ferryhll is to the South.
  2. The ECML runs North to Durham and Newcastle in a slightly North-Westerly direction.
  3. The Leamside Line goes to Washington in a Northerly direction.

This second Google Map shows the ECML through Ferryhill.

Note.

  1. The sand quarries opposite the village, that are planned to be used for landfill.
  2. The ECML runs North-South between the village and the quarries.
  3. There are two railways going South from Ferryhill.
  4. The ECML goes South to Darlington, York and beyond.
  5. The Stillington Railway goes South-East to Stockton and Hartlepool.

The Campaign for Better Transport have given a high priority for reopening passenger services between Ferryhill and Stockton.

Thoughts On The Reopening Of Ferryhill Station

The closing of routes linking to Ferryhill station seems to have been almost a continuous process.

  • Coxhoe – 1902
  • Byers Green Branch beyond Spennymoor – 1939
  • Leamside Line – 1941
  • Spennymoor – 1952
  • Stockton – 1952
  • Harlepool – 1952

Beeching finally put the station out of its misery in 1963

But things are different now!

  • We need to build lots of new houses all over the country. And they need transport connections!
  • We need to cut our carbon emissions.
  • Roads are getting more crowded and we need to provide alternative reliable public transport.
  • We need to load our weapons against COVID-19.

I feel with detailed planning, a well-designed station at Ferryhill could be an asset to the North East.

These are a few thoughts.

The Leamside Line Will Be An Important Route

The route between Pelaw and Ferryhill stations will be just over twenty miles long.

  • It could be easily be run with the new Metro trains.
  • Trains could stop at perhaps seven or eight intermediate stations.
  • I estimate a journey could take about an hour.
  • South Hylton station supports at least four trains per hour (tph)
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Trains could stop at Belmont Park-and-Ride for a frequent bus service to Durham City.
  • Washington might be able to support two stations.

It would certainly be a service that would fit in with the philosophy of the Metro.

Would The Leamside Line Be Electrified?

Unless the Metro trains were to be fitted with batteries, it would need to be electrified.

Either 1500 VDC or 25 KVAC could be used!

If the Durham Coast Line and the Leamside Line were to both be electrified with 25 KVAC, the following would be possible.

  • Metro trains could go to Newcastle station.
  • Other electric trains could use the Leamside Line as a diversion.
  • Electric freight trains could use the Leamside Line.

On the other hand, the Leamside Line would be ideal for partial electrification.

  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains are to be fitted with batteries and these trains are closely-related to the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains.
  • Relaying new track on the existing track bed, is not going to be the expensive part of the project.
  • Electrification between Pelaw and Washington would be easy, using the 1500 VDC overhead system of the Metro.
  • There may be problems from the Heritage lobby, about electrification on the Victoria Viaduct.
  • Ferryhill station would be electrified as it is on the ECML.

Trains could run the sixteen or so miles between Washington and Ferryhill stations on battery power.

The Ferryhill And Hartlepool Line Could Be A Useful Passenger Route

The route between Ferryhill and Hartlepool stations will be around twenty miles long.

  • There could be new stations at Sedgefield, Stillington and Stockton.
  • The route is double-track throughout.
  • The route joins the Durham Coast Line at Billingham.
  • It must open up possibilities for business and leisure travel.

The Government and local politicians must see a future for the railways in the area, as Horden station, which is next to Hartlepool station, is reopening.

Perhaps, there are plans for a train to leave Newcastle and take this route.

  • Newcastle to Ferryhill via the Leamside Line.
  • Ferryhill to Hartlepool.
  • Hartlepool to Newcastle via the Durham Coast Line.

Running hourly, it would connect a lot of towns with unemployment to those, where jobs are being created.

Would The Ferryhill and Hartlepool Line Be Electrified?

This route would surely only be electrified, when other lines in the area were similarly enhanced.

Electrification would not be a bad idea.

  • It would allow the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to invade Teesside.
  • A Teesside Metro could be developed, that was electric-hauled, which would use the same trains as the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Some of the many freight trains starting or finishing in the area could be electric-hauled.
  • LNER and TransPennine Express could use their bi-mode trains in electric mode to Teesside.

There could be a zero-carbon alternative, as plans for hydrogen trains on Teesside seem well advanced, as I wrote about in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails.

Also in Northern’s Hydrogen Plans, I published this extract from an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

Northern has submitted planning documents, with the preferred site for a maintenance and fuelling facility understood to be at Lackenby. As hydrogen units would have a more limited operating range than DMUs (around 600 miles), they would likely need to return to the depot every night. Northern believes the routes radiating from Middlesbrough to Nunthorpe, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn are ideal candidates for the operation, as they are unlikely to be electrified and can be operated as a self contained network using hydrogen trains. A fleet of around a dozen Breeze units is planned, with the possibility they could also operate services to Whitby and on the Durham Coast Line to Newcastle. Planning documentation suggested the first hydrogen train would be ready for testing in June 2021, but this was based on construction of the depot facility beginning in January this year.

If they were to use these trains to Ferryhill, some extra stations would be needed.

Will Trains On The East Coast Main Line Stop At Ferryhill Station?

I can’t see why not!

Services between York and Newcastle call at the following stations.

  1. CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  2. CrossCountry – Reading and Newcastle calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  3. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington and Newcastle
  4. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  5. TransPennine Express – Liverpool and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  6. TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Newcastle

I suspect that with a small amount of adjustment two tph could call at Ferryhill

  • If train 3 stopped, this would give a connection to London and Edinburgh
  • If train 6 stopped, this would give a connection to Manchester Airport

For many stations, which could connect to Ferryhill station in the future, the station might offer the quickest and most convenient route for travellers.

Could Some Of The Old Branches From Ferryhill Be Reopened?

There were a lot of branches from the Ferryhill area to neighbouring villages, because of all the coal mines in the area.

So could some of these branches be reopened, if say there were housing or commercial developments.

This Google Map shows the ECL about a mile North of the site of Ferryhill station.

Note.

  1. The ECML going North-South just to the East of the centre of the map.
  2. Ferryhill station is to the South.
  3. On the Western side of the map, there is the remains of a triangular junction, which used to connect Byers Green and Spennymoor stations on the Byers Green Branch to Ferryhill.
  4. On the Eastern  side of the map, there is a scar, which was the trackbed to Cuxhoe station.

Both branches can be picked out on Google Maps. As can roads like Railway Terrace and Station Road!

Whether any of these branches are worth reopening, is one for the planners armed with future knowledge of developments and various statistics.

Did Boris Know More Than He Said?

I have listened to Prime Ministers Questions off and on, since the time of Mrs. Thatcher.

Not often, does any Prime Minister make a substantial statement in PMQs, as they rarely have all the facts at their fingertips and don’t want to be called to account later.

In response to a direct question from a local MP, about the opening of Ferryhill station, Boris after usual PMQ waffle, said this.

I will make sure that I add to that an ambition to come and see Ferryhill station launched with him.

As decisions on the Leamside Line and hydrogen trains for Teesside have been delayed for months or possibly years, I wondered, if the decision has recently been made.

  • If the plan had been discussed in Cabinet, Boris would surely have known more.
  • A government minister was also seen on the BBC News at Horden station having a look, last week.
  • The tone of the Sunderland Echo article is also very positive.

All that prompted me to write this post.

Conclusion

After looking at the Leamside Line and other railways in the North East, I think there is a lot that can be done to create a world-class local railway in the area.

June 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments