The Anonymous Widower

The High Speed Local Train

If Great Western Railway (GWR) are going to run a train service between Paddington and Bedwyn, they need an electric train which can power itself on the last thirteen miles between Newbury and Bedwyn, which is not electrified and is unlikely to be so in the next couple of decades.

The train must also be capable of cruising at 125 mph on the fast lines of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington.

GWR have no choice, but to run the service with a five-car Class 802 train.

When Hitachi were designing these 125 mph trains in Japan, I don’t suspect that running a service over a distance of 66.5 miles between London and a small village in Berkshire, was in the specification.

This morning, I took the 10:05 service from Paddington to Bedwyn, with the intention of returning on the 11:41 from Bedwyn to Paddington.

These are a few of the pictures that I took.

But things didn’t turn out as planned.

  • Nothing serious and some animals got on the tracks between Reading and Swindon, meaning that we were some minutes late into Bedwyn, due to platform congestion at Reading.
  • The return journey was consequently delayed.

These are a few observations.

Operating Speed

These were speeds on various parts of the journey.

  • I timed the train at 115 mph through Southall and at 123 mph through Hayes & Harlington as the train accelerated out of Paddington.
  • The train was doing just short of 125 mph for the major part of the route between London and Reading, until it had to stop because of the congestion.
  • The train was doing around 100 mph on the electrified line between Reading and Newbury.
  • Between Newbury and Bedwyn, speeds were between 80 and 90 mph.

Similar speeds were attained on the return journey.

Passenger Numbers

As the pictures show, there weren’t that many passengers who were travelling to Bedwyn, although there were more heading back to London.

Many more joined and left the service at the three larger stations of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford.

Now that the service is hourly between Reading and Bedwyn and half-hourly between Reading and Newbury in modern, comfortable trains, I can see passenger numbers growing.

Current Service

There are eleven trains per day, between Paddington and Bedwyn, at an hourly frequency, which take around three hours for a round trip.

So it would appear that three trains are needed for the service.

The service is also supplemented by an hourly stopping shuttle train between Reading and Newbury.

Two years ago, the service was just one three-car diesel train per hour between Paddington and Bedwyn with a few additional stops from long-distance trains.

Bedwyn Station Improvements

I got the impression, that Bedwyn station is probably at its limit for car parking with the current twenty-five spaces and cars all over the place.

This article on the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is entitled It’s A Rail Problem At Great Bedwyn and indicates that commuters and residents don’t see eye-to-eye with the car parking.

If the car parking were to be increased and usage at the station increased then I feel that a step-free bridge could be needed.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Bedwyn station?

The installation wouldn’t be difficult, but the politics could be.

Other Station Improvements

A quick look at other stations suggest these improvements.

  • Hungerford station, which has a large car park, needs a step-free bridge.
  • Kinbury station doesn’t have a bridge.
  • Midgham station doesn’t have a bridge
  • Theale station has improvements planned.

There are level crossings at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham and Midgham.

Future Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed how Hitachi were proposing to add battery power to Class 385 trains, which are in the same family as GWR’s Class 802 trains.

So surely, what is a power source for the goose is also a power source for the gander.

As it would only be a journey of thirteen miles both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, this would surely be an ideal route for the use of battery power.

The other route, where battery power could be used would be between Didcot and Oxford, which is just over ten miles.

A Future Service To Marlborough

I covered this proposal in A Station For Marlborough.

Marlborough would be served by a single-track branch line on an old railway alignment, probably terminating near the large Tesco superstore in a single platform station.

The advantages of doing this would be.

  • Marlborough, which is an important market town of 8,500 people would be connected to the rail network.
  • Adequate car parking could be provided.
  • Creating a station at Marlborough could be an alternative to expanding Bedwyn station, which could be problematical.
  • It would improve the economics of the Paddington and Bedwyn service.

This is the sort of service, that should be developed.

Other Possible Services

The big advantage of this high speed local service for Great Western Railway, is that when it is on the Great Western Main Line, it becomes just another 125 mph service or once digital signalling is installed a possible 140 mph service.

These routes could have this type of high speed local services.

Great Western Main Line

Great Western Railway has several routes, where Class 800 and Class 802 trains break away from the Great Western Main Line to operate local services.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn
  • Paddington and Oxford

It could be argued that services to Cheltenham and Hereford are also high speed local services.

East Coast Main Line

In April 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

This post was based on an article in Rail Magazine, which talked about running 125 mph trains on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route.

This would make operation of the East Coast Main Line easier with herds of 125 mph trains steaming into and out of London.

I think, improvement would also extend to the Cambridge Line, in addition to the Fen Line.

  • Operating speed up from 90 mph to 110 mph plus.
  • Full digital signalling.
  • Automatic Train Control.

Journey times and frequency to and from London Kings Cross would be improved significantly.

Siemens would probably need to uprate the Class 700 trains for faster running, as 100 mph trains are just too slow!

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Edinburgh, large sections of the line are only double track.

It is the ambition of train operating companies to run more high speed expresses between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I can see a time, when all trains using the East Coast Main Line will have to confirm with a high minimum speed, otherwise the future plans cannot be fulfiled.

Midland Main Line

By the end of 2020, the Midland Main Line South of Market Harborough, will be a 125 mph electrified railway with a high speed branch to Corby, which will be served by a half-hourly twelve-car electric service.

From 2022, 125 mph bi-mode trains will be running services on the Midland Main Line.

I can see services between St. Pancras and Corby becoming another high speed local service.

  • Half-hourly service.
  • 125 mph running.
  • Limited stop between Corby and London, with stops at Kettering, Luton And Luton Airport Parkway.
  • The journey time could even be under an hour.

Selected trains could even use battery power to extend the service to Melton Mowbray.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line will become increasingly crowded with fast 140 mph trains, especially after the opening of Phase 2a of High Speed Two to Crewe in 2027.

I believe that this will mean that all passenger services using the West Coast Main Line will need to be run using trains capable of at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph.

The new operation of suburban services on the West Coast Main Line; West Midlands Trains are replacing their fleet with new Class 730 trains. Like the previous trains, they are 110 mph units, but are they capable of upgrading to 125 mph?

If they are upgradeable, they would ease timetabling problems between London and the West Midlands, as they could mix it with Virgin’s Class 390 trains.

Further North, Northern run services like these.

  • Barrow and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Manchester Airport
  • Windermere and Manchester Airport

Currently, the operator is introducing new Class 195 and Class 331 trains, alongside the Class 319 trains.All of these trains are 100 mph capable, which is probably not fast enough, if they have to use the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Lancaster, some of which is only double-track.

In Northern Considering Options For More New Trains, I wrote about Northern’s future rolling stock plans.

I suspect some 125 mph trains are in their plans for both the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Implications For Freight

There must surely be pressure for freight trains to go faster.

The 110 mph Class 93 locomotive is on its way, but with rail freight increasing we need to radically think how we run freight trains on a busy passenger line.

Conclusion

We will increasingly see upgrading of suburban services that use 125 mph line and not just around London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northern Considering Options For More New Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is a paragraph.

Senior Northern sources told RAIL on June 28 that the operator believes the new trains will entice more people onto its services, and that within two years – once all 101 new trains are in service – there could be overcrowding.

This sounds to me, like another case of London Overground Syndrome.

At least, Northern have identified it early and taken the only action that works – Acquire more trains.

The High Speed Train Problem

Several of Northern’s routes use 100 mph trains on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines.

  • Blackpool and York
  • Chester and Leeds
  • Hull and York
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool and Blackpool via Wigan
  • Manchester and Crewe
  • Manchester and Stoke
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere

Will Northern acquire some 110 mph or even 125 mph trains to ease the creation of timetables amongst so many high speed trains using the main lines?

Greater Anglia’s New Train Order

Greater Anglia have ordered thirty-eight Class 755 trains, which have a total of 138 cars.

These will replace twenty-six assorted trains, which have a total of 55 cars.

This is an increase of 46% in the number of trains and  150% in the number of cars.

Greater Anglia didn’t increase the fleet so that could sit in sidings, so I think we can expect some new services and higher frequencies.

Conclusion

Northern’s actions are in line with other operators.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Puzzled By New Fleets For TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express (TPE) are replacing all their trains, but their choice of three different new fleets puzzles me.

The new fleets and their routes are as follows.

Nova1

This is a fleet of nineteen five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, with probably a frequency of one tph

Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle, which I estimate will take 4:15 hours

Manchester Airport and Newcastle, which takes around 2:45 hours

These two services would probably need nine for the Edinburgh service and six for the Manchester Airport service.

This means that there are four extra trains.

If there is a spare or one in maintenance, that means that two trains are available to boost capacity on busy services if needed, by running a ten-car train.

I doubt that ten-car services to Manchester Airport could be run through the Castlefield Corridor due to the inadequate stations, but Liverpool and Edinburgh might be a route for longer trains.

I have some observations on Nova1.

  • The trains are 125 mph trains, that can be upgraded to 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • The trains will share the East Coast Main Line with LNER’s Azumas, which are other members of te same family of Hitachi trains.

The trains have been authorised to start running services.

Nova2

This is a fleet of twelve electric Class 397 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes,

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, which takes around 3:30 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh, which takes around 3:15 hours.
  • New route – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which could take around 3:30 hours.

Currently, the two existing routes run at a frequency of one train per two hours, which would probably need at least seven trains.

This probably means that there will be four trains left for the service between Liverpool and Glasgow, if it assumed there is one train spare or in maintenance.

As a round trip between the two cities, would probably take eight hours, it looks like the frequency will be one train per two hours.

This would give the following services, all with a frequency of one train per two hours.

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central

Passengers wanting to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh should keep reading.

I have some observations on Nova2.

  • They are 125 mph trains that are replacing the 110 mph Class 350 trains.
  • In the next few years, these 125 mph trains will be sharing the West Coast Main Line with faster trains like Class 390 trains and the trains of High Speed Two, both of which should be capable of 140 mph, when running using in-cab signalling.
  • I would assume that the trains can be similarly upgraded, otherwise they will have to be replaced.
  • There was an option for more trains, but I suspect the success of Class 802 trains on the Great Western Railway led to it not being taken up.,

The trains should come into service later this year.

Nova3

This is a fleet of five-car rakes of Mark 5A coaches, hauled by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.

There are fourteen locomotives and driving van trailers, with enough coaches for thirteen rakes.

I would suspect that TPE are aiming to have twelve trains available for service.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, which both have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, which takes around 2:45 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough, which takes around 2:45 hours.

So with turnround at both ends, I suspect that a six hour round trip is possible. So to provide the two hourly services across the Pennines, TPE will need six trains for each route.

This explains a fleet size of twelve operational trains.

I have two observations on Nova3.

  • They are diesel-powered and will be running at times on electrified lines. But I suspect the diesel Class 68 locomotive could be replaced in the future with an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive.
  • Questions have been raised about the speed of exit and entry from the coaches through single end doors of the coaches.
  • They have an operating speed of only 100 mph, but opportunities for higher speeds on the routes are limited to perhaps thirty to forty miles on the East Coast Main Line.

At least they should be in service within a couple of months.

Why Didn’t TPE Order A Unified Fleet?

To summarise TPE have ordered the following trains.

  • Nova1 – Nineteen Class 802 trains
  • Nova2 – Twelve Class 397 trains.
  • Nova3 – Thirteen trains consisting of four coaches topped and tailed by a a Class 68 locomotive and driving van trailer.

All forty-four trains are five cars.

Surely, it would have been easier for TPE to have a fleet, where all the trains were the same.

I suspect that all routes can be run using Class 802 trains, so it as not as if there are any special requirements for the trains.

So why didn’t TPE order a fleet of Class 802 trains?

I can only think of these reasons.

  • Hitachi couldn’t supply the required number of trains in the appropriate time-scale.
  • ,CAF made an offer that TPE couldn’t refuse.

It should also be born in mind that Great Western Railway and Hull Trains, which like TPE are  First Group companies, went down the Class 802 route.

The Future

There are various issues, that will arise in the future.

Nova2 And West Coast Main Line Operating Speed

The new Nova trains are running on TPE’s Northern and Scottish routes and as I indicated earlier, the Nova2 trains might not be fast enough in a few years time for the West Coast Main Line, which will have Class 390 trains running at 140 mph using in-cab signalling.

High Speed Two will surely make this incompatibility worse, unless CAF can upgrade the Nova2 trains for 140 mph running.

Replacing the Nova2 trains with Class 802 trains, which are being built for 140 mph running, would solve the problem.

Nova3 And Class 68 Locomotives

There are powerful reasons to replace diesel locomotives on the UK’s railways, with noise, pollution and carbon emissions at the top of the list.

As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, there will be more electrification between Manchester and York, adding to the pressure to change the traction.

  • There could be a change of locomotives to Class 88 or Class 93 locomotives, which would run using the overhead electrification, where it exists.
  • The trains could be changed to Class 802 trains.

The Class 68 locomotive is increasingly looking like an interim solution. At least, it’s a less polluting locomotive, than the dreaded and ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive.

Class 185 Replacement

TPE will still have a fleet of diesel three-car Class 185 trains.

  • They are running on routes between Manchester and Hull and Cleethorpes via Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield.
  • These are best described as just-about-adequate trains and are one of The Treasury’s boob-buys.
  • As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, they will be increasingly running under wires.
  • Could it be likely that more capacity will be needed on routes run by these trains?
  • The capacity of a Class 185 train is 169 seats, as opposed to the 342 seats of a five-car Class 802 train.

I think it could be very likely that instead of running pairs of Class 185 trains, TPE will replace them with five-car Class 802 trains.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that over the next few years, TPE’s fleet will change further in the direction of a one-unified fleet!

 

 

 

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North

The title of this post is the same as that as this article on Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The government is reconsidering the route of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester and also between Birmingham and Leeds, which are jointly known as Phase 2b.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to use HS2 as a regional route, by providing two new junctions so that Northern Powerhouse Rail services could use HS2 to reach Manchester.

The Times also has a news item entitled HS2 To Link With Northern Powerhouse Line, that adds some other details to the story.

This is the start of the news item.

HS2 trains will be able to run across Northern England under plans for a fully-integrated high-speed network.

The government said yesterday that HS2 would connect into a proposed east-west route across the Pennines, enabling trains to run directly between more cities.

Four years ago, I wrote Whither HS2 And HS3?, which argued for greater integration of the two routes and more tunnelled stations under major cities to build High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail with less disruption.

Part of that post was deliberately over the top, but it seems that others have been thinking in a similar way.

The Times also says the following.

  • Two junctions near High Legh will connect High Speed Two and the East-West line.
  • High Speed Two will be realigned between Nottingham and Derby to avoid a year-long part-closure of the M1.
  • The government has insisted that both High Speed lines are necessary.
  • Northern Powerhouse trains would be able to use High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two trains may be able to run at speed direct to Liverpool, Bradford and Hull.
  • The CBI are quoted as liking the proposal.

The Times also has a map that shows the proposed routes of the High Speed railways.

At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail

This is the name of this report on the Transport for the North web site.

I will use information from this report , when it is relevant and the best available.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts on the project taking information from the two articles and the Transport for the North report.

A Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line

Looking at the map and the position of High Legh, it appears that a new High Speed line could be built Vaguely along the route of the M56 between Liverpool  and Manchester.

  • It appears to cross the Mersey to the West of Warrington.
  • It appears to go South of Warrington, where there could be a station.
  • It would call at Manchester Airport.

From this article in the Knutsford Guardian, which is entitled Government Releases New HS2 Plans For High Legh And Ashley, I suspect there will be a lot of opposition from local politicians and residents.

I seem to remember, a lot of opposition to the building of the M56.

This could be a difficult route to persuade the local people to accept.

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note how the M56 motoway passes across the North-West of the Airport.

Could the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line be alongside the motorway or even in a tunnel underneath?

This second Google Map shows the area around High Lrgh.

Note.

  1. The M56 going across the top of the map.
  2. The spaghetti in the North-East corner of the map is Junction 8 on the M56, where it joins the A556.
  3. The new A556 by-pass route to the West of the original route.
  4. The M6 running diagonally across the map.
  5. High Legh village is just to the North-West of the middle of the map.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in the area.

High Speed Two would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two speeds.
  • , if they don’t stop at Crewe, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London And Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services would stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines can be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester Piccadilly

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minutes time between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations is necessary.

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly stations, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

This tunnelled approach has the following advantages.

  • High Speed services between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations would have their own dedicated High Speed line.
  • Through and terminal platforms as needed would be provided under the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Escalators and lifts would connect the underground platforms to local services and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • By choosing the right orientation for the tunnel and position for the underground platforms, it may be possible to have a second entrance to the  underground station in Piccadilly Gardens.
  • The current Manchester Piccadilly station would only need remodelling, rather than a total rebuild.

Manchester would have the fastest conventional airport link in the world. Who needs Hyperloop and Maglev?

Liverpool And Manchester Journeys

I also suspect that nearly all Liverpool and Manchester passengers would use the High Speed services running between the city centres and Manchester Airport every ten minutes, which would take twenty-six minutes.

One estimate on the Internet says it takes fifty minutes to drive!

As both cities have extensive and interconnecting local rail, tram and bus networks, would this mean simplification of the other services between the cities.

The Castlefield Corridor

Hopefully something will be done to sort out this route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.

  • I am very surprised that freight trains for Trafford Park Freight Terminal still use the Castlefield Corridor.
  • Will there still be a need to provide as many services to Manchester Airport, as surely passengers will use the High Speed route, which will be running every ten minutes?
  • Would there be any need for long distance services to run through the route?
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and York would go via Northern Powerhouse Rail under Manchester Piccadilly and the City Centre.
  • Manchester Airport to Liverpool and Warrington would leave the airport to the West and go direct.
  • Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Preston would leave the airport to the West and would take the West Coast Main Line at High Legh.
  • Manchester Airport to Birmingham, and London would leave the airport to the West and would take High Speed Two at High Legh.

I think the Castlefield Corridor end up as a series of train or tram-train routes across Manchester.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line is a series of routes across Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line is a series of routes across Birmingham.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is a series of routes across Newcastle.
  • Thameslink is a series of routes across London.
  • The East London Line is a series of routes across London.

Note that the last two routes handle in excess of 16 tph.

Why should the Castlefield Corridor routes be any different?

It’s just another cross-city line!

If there was a direct escalator and lift connection from Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station, the routes through the Castlefield Corridor would be a superb system connecting passengers to  High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The Future Of The West Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • It appears Crewe and Warrington will be by-passed by new High Speed tracks.
  • A new Warrington station will have good rail links to Chester, East Liverpool, North Wales and West Manchester.
  • Wigan station is well-connected with commuter lines to Kirkby, Liverpool, Manchester and Southport, which would bring passengers to High Speed services stopping in the station.
  • Preston station will connect passengers from Blackpool and North West Lancashire to High Speed services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston converted into quadruple track all the way.

  • Two High Speed tracks with at least 140 mph running and only one stop at Wigan.
  • Two slow tracks for freight and local services, with stops as necessary.

Separation of High Speed services on 140 mph tracks with perhaps a capacity of fifteen tph, raises the possibility of using 140 mph electric multiple units running High Speed suburban services.

  • Northern terminals could be Blackburn, Blackpool and Burnley.
  • Southern terminals could be Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Manchester services would call at Manchester Airport.
  • Trains would be something like the Class 395 train used for High Speed commuter services between St. Pancras and Kent.

If bi-mode Class 802 trains were to be used, the towns and cities served could increase dramatically.

  • Northern terminals could be Barrow, Hebden Bridge and Windermere.
  • Southern terminals could be Chester and Llandudno.
  • Carlisle could be served using the Cumbria Coast Line via Barrow, Sellafield, Workington and Whitehaven.

I can see a large High Speed regional network developing around a 140 mph West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston.

North of Preston, the West Coast Main Line will become a double-track line with the passenger trains travelling at 140 mph.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

In Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North, I compared the current route between Leeds and Manchester with the Ipswich and Norwich route, that I know well.

  • Both routes are roughly the same length.
  • Ipswich and Norwich has a 100 mph line speed, with usually just two stops.
  • Manchester and Leeds has a much slower line speed, with umpteen stops.
  • The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 train per hour (tph).
  • Norwich to Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Two alternative routes are proposed.

  • The black route would be created by upgrading the Huddersfield Line.
  • The yellow route would be a new route via Bradford.

The Transport for the North report says this about the Leeds-Manchester service.

  • There will be six tph.
  • The journey will take 25 minutes.

The next two sections give my thoughts on these options.

Upgrading The Huddersfield Line

It will be a tough ask to upgrade this line so that a twenty-five minute time can be achieved.

I suspect though, it wouldn’t have been suggested unless it were possible.

Manchester And Leeds Via Bradford Low Moor

The Transport for the North report indicates that this could be via Bradford Low Moor station.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

Upgrade Or Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds?

Obviously, the tunnel would take several years to bore.

So to get Northern Powerhouse Rail up and running, the Huddersfield Line would be upgraded first.

At a future time, the tunnel would be constructed.

Hopefully, it could be built, when the finance became available, without disrupting existing train services.

After the tunnel was built, there could be a division of services.

  • High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services would use the tunnel.
  • Stopping services would use the Classic route on the Huddersfield Line.

All passengers would get the service they need.

Freight would have an extra route, if it could use the High Speed tunnel.

High Speed Lines East Of Leeds

I’ll repeat the map I included earlier, which shows the route of High Speed Two and the  two Northern Powerhouse Rail routes to the East of Leeds.

The three Junctions labelled on the map are.

  1. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Leeds – North East services.
  2. Junction on High Speed Two Leeds spur to facilitate through services via existing Leeds station.
  3. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Sheffield – Leeds services.

The two main Northern Powerhouse Rail routes East of Leeds are.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

Having ridden around these lines in the last few weeks, I believe that these routes could be  upgraded to a High Speed standard.

  • The East Coast Main Line is mainly four-track and could be capable of 140 mph running, with in-cab digital signalling.
  • An electrified link between Leeds and the East Coast Main Line has been promised for years.
  • Replace the Selby swing bridge and the line between Leeds and Hull could probably be upgraded to an electrified 125 mph line with 140 mph available with in-cab signalling.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report gives these proposed details of services East of Leeds.

  • Leeds and Newcastle -four tph in 58 minutes.
  • Leeds and Hull – two tph in 38 minutes

If all the lines East of Leeds were electrified, local services could be run by 125 mph electrical multiple units, like Class 395 trains, that would not delay the High Speed trains.

Liverpool and Hull Timings

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report doesn’t give a timing for this route across Northern England, but it does give the intermediate timings

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 25 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

This gives a time of 90 minutes between Liverpool and Hull, which compares with the current fastest time of 2:32 hours.

Hull Station As A High Speed Terminal

Hull station has been earmarked for some time as an Eastern terminal for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This Google Map shows the station.

The station is large, with six platforms, and would have no problem accommodating long High Speed Two trains.

Could using Hull station as a terminal for a London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull service be a sensible response to saving costs and reducing disruption in the building of High Speed Two to Leeds?

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will need a High Speed link across or under the Pennines, but Leeds station is congested.
  • The new Junction 2 on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map, has been designed to allow services through Leeds station.
  • Leeds station probably would not be able to turn round a High Speed train from London, without the previously planned substantial rebuilding.
  • Could the passengers at Leeds cope with all the disruption?
  • One extra High Speed train in both directions between Manchester and Hull every hour, could probably be accommodated using modern digital signalling.
  • The train might even split and join at Leeds to serve both Newcastle and Hull.

Using Hull as a terminal probably has other advantages.

  • There is probably space to add a stabling facility close to the station.
  • Upgrading the route between Hull and Selby, would speed-up London to Kings Cross services via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Electrification between Hull and Leeds would allow substantial improvement in local services around Hull.

If you look at the whole High Speed route between London and Hull via Manchester and Leeds, the route would be as follows.

  • High Speed Two between London and Crewe.
  • New High Speed railway between Crewe and Manchester via High Legh and Manchester Airport
  • New High Speed route across or under the Pennines to Leeds.
  • Upgraded line between Leeds and Hull.

I believe that it would be possible to run between London and Manchester at 225 mph and up to 140 mph on all the rest of the route.

High Speed East Coast Between London and Yorkshire, the North East Of England and Edinburgh

The East Coast Main Line is not mentioned in either of the articles, I have quoted in this post.

This line will see big changes in the next few years.

  • All services from East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and LNER and some services from TransPennine Express will be run by 140 mph-capable Class 800/801/802 trains.
  • ERTMS will be installed between London and Doncaster.
  • Extra tracks will be added in places.
  • Werrington Junction will be improved.

Large sections of the line will be capable of 140 mph running.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 88 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I think we may have the making of a railway race between London and Leeds

  • London Kings Cross via Peterborough, Wakefield and Doncaster
  • London Euston via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • London Euston via Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Bradford.

In addition, if the Leeds and Hull Line via Selby were to be upgraded to a High Speed route capable of running at up to  140 mph , I believe that by 2024 or 2025 could see London and Hull covered in under two hours.

The East Coast Main Line will be a High Speed line in all but name.

The improvements and the 140 mph operating speed will create more capacity and I believe services from Kings Cross could be something like.

  • London and Bradford – Two tph
  • London and Edinburgh – Three or Four tph – One or two tph via Leeds
  • London and Hull – Two tph
  • London and Leeds – Three or four tph
  • London and Newcastle – Four tph
  • London and Scarborough – One tph
  • London and Sunderland – Two tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – Two or three tph

Selective joining and splitting will be used to make better use of paths South of Doncaster.

I haven’t proven it, but my gut feeling for the numbers, is that LNER with their fleet of Azumas, will be capable of running a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

With the open access operators providing extra services, I suspect that there will be at least two tph between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Scarborough and Sunderland.

It would be the ultimate High Speed service based on a route that was designed in the Victorian era.

To make the most of the East Coast Main Line improvements, the following Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements should be done.

  • Leeds to Hull
  • Leeds to the Northward East Coast Main Line

I’ve already discussed the first, but the second would do the following.

  • Speed up services between Leeds and Newcastle and Scotland.
  • Allow LNER to run electric trains between London and Scotland via Leeds.
  • Create an electrified route between Neville Hill Depot and York.
  • It creates an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Trains To Sheffield

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in East Yorkshire.

I can remember, when the Master Cutler used to run to Sheffield via the East Coast Main Line in the 1960s.

Even if a train took thirty minutes to go between Sheffield and  Doncaster, it will still be a journey time of under two hours between London Kings Cross and Sheffield.

But note that on the map the route between Sheffield and Doncaster is shown as to be improved for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the route were to be electrified, it could give Sheffield and Rotherham a High Speed route to London Kings Cross.

The Classic route to Sheffield via the Midland Main Line is being upgraded.

  • It will be electrified as far North as Market Harborough.
  • Much of the route will have a 125 mph operating speed and perhaps 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • It  will share the 15.5 mile Northern section of the spur between High Speed Two and Sheffield, meaning it will be electrified between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

So when the new 125 mph bi-mode trains start running between St. Pancras and Sheffield, I would suspect that timings on this route could be below the two-hour mark.

Sheffield will get a much improved train service to and from the South.

Sheffield And Hull

The map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report.Map shows a route between Sheffield and Hull via Doncaster as  improved Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • It includes Sheffield and Doncaster, which could be improved to a High Speed electrified line.
  • Part of the route between Doncaster and Selby is  the East Coast Main Line, which should be able to sustain 140 mph running in a few years.
  • Selby and Hull, is another route to be improved by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning two tph in fifty minutes between Sheffield and Hull.

They could be 125 mph electric multiple units, which are a bit better than the current Pacers.

Some local services use a second route via Doncaster, Thorne, Goole, Gilberdyke and Brough.

Between Doncaster and Gilberdyke is not planned for improvement in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, but at only twenty-five miles, it could easily be run by using 125 mph battery-electric trains, which would charge their batteries wilst running at both ends of the route.

  • I wonder if it would be best to electrify the Thorne/Goole first, to give diversion for trains between Doncaster and Hull, whilst the Selby Swing Bridge is electrified.
  • I have just read on this page of the Historic England web site, that the Selby Swing Bridge was Listed as Grade II ion the 23rd April 2015. So is this the reason why the electrification between Leeds and Hull has stalled?
  • An electrified Thorne/Google route, might be used for local trains, whilst expresses used the Selby route.
  • Selby has a couple of useful West-facing bay platforms.

There certainly seems to be some innovative Project Management at work

After all, train operators wouldn’t probably want to cut off one of their markets, whilst upgrading and electrification are underway.

Sheffield and Grimsby Via Doncaster and Scunthorpe

This route is shown on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map.

  • There is an hourly TransPennine Express service between Cleethorpes station and Manchester Airport via Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Sheffield.
  • There are a few sundry local services.
  • The route serves the important Port of Immingham.
  • A large renewable energy industry is developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • British Steel has just folded at Scunthorpe.

The route doesn’t really fit the Northern Powerhouse ideal and it has a totally inadequate passenger service.

Could this route be improved to provide better rail services to the area, that sometimes, the rest of the UK forgets?

  • Electrification might be needed to handle the heavy freight from Scunthorpe and Immingham.
  • Would an LNER service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes be welcomed?
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport needs to at least be doubled in frequency.

With all the energy projects going on in North Lincolnshire, this area could become the Lincolnshire Powerhouse.

Sheffield And Leeds

Long-terms plans for traffic between these two cities will probably be by Junctions 2 and 3 on the map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report, suggests that the trains will use High Speed Two and some infrastructure improvements and will run at a frequency of four tph and take 28 minutes.

This is a good service and compares well with what is planned between Ipswich and Norwich.

In the meantime, the main route is the Hallam Line, where trains take eighty minutes for the forty-five miles

Let’s hope Northern’s more powerful new Class 195 trains, bring the journey time under the hour.

Barnsley mustn’t be left out of thebenefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Sheffield And Manchester

The Northern Powerhouse Rail map has this route marked as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

As a lot of freight traffic is generated along the Hope Valley Line, which is the only route between the two cities, will this route be upgraded for a faster speed and greater capacity.

Will the Hope Valley Line be electrified?

  • At the Western end, it is electrified as far as far as Hazel Grove station.
  • At the Eastern end, High Speed Two will mean there will be electrification at Dore Junction.
  • The distance between Dore Junction and Hazel Grove station is about thirty miles.
  • My helicopter didn’t show that many bridges or level crossings.
  • There are three long tunnels on the route, which are a total of eight miles long. Depending on their condition, these could be easy or difficult to electrify.
  • Much of the electrification at the Western end looks in need of replacement.

 

This is one for the project engineers and accountants, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this route electrified.

High Speed Two Routes

From the map it appears that in addition to the current proposed routes for High Speed Two trains.

  • London-Birmingham-Liverpool
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester
  • London-Birmingham-Wigan and then on the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow.
  • London-Birmingham-East Midlands Hub-Sheffield-Leeds and then on the East Coast Main Line to Newcastle.

Two new routes would be added via the new High Legh junctions.

  • London-Birmingham–Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Newcastle

In addition Liverpool would be served via the High Legh junctions.

Building High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

There is an old Project Management phrase about

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row!

I think, that someone has been thinking hard as it appears the building of the second phase of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail together can offer a lot of benefits.

These are my thoughts on the project order.

Devise An Intelligent Electrification Philosophy

Transport for Wales and their contractors are devising an intelligent discontinuous electrification philosophy for the South Wales Metro.

The Hallam, Hope Valley and Huddersfield Lines will be tricky to improve and electrify.

  • They run through picturesque countryside.
  • There are a large number of overbridges and some level crossings..
  • There could be objections.
  • There are some long tunnels.
  • Access could be difficult.
  • Speed limits will need to be increased.

Every trick will need to be employed.

Instead of rebuilding overbridges, electrification  could be discontinuous as in South Wales.

Trains would have enough energy storage to bridge gaps in electrification.

Tunnels will be electrified using rails on the roof or as third-rail.

Intelligent fast-charging for trains with batteries will be deployed.

Less obtrusive electrification could also be used, as  I described in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gasntries and wires!

Lines East Of Leeds

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

The trains that the train operators have ordered can run all the services.

Once ERTMS is installed on the East Coast Main Line, train travel between London and Hull could be under two hours.

Conclusion – These lines should be improved sooner rather than later.

Midland Main Line Between Clay Cross Junction And Sheffield

This section of track will be shared between High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line.

  • It is 15.5 miles long.
  • It will be electrified.
  • The only intermediate station is Chesterfield, which will need to be substantially rebuilt.
  • It will have a high line speed, perhaps even in excess of 140 mph.

Currently, the line carries about ten tph in both directions.

Completing this sub-project early would give benefits.

  • The bi-mode trains due to be introduced on the Midland Main Line in 2022, would benefit from the improved electrified line.
  • Timings on services between London and Sheffield would be reduced to under two hours.

An electrical supply for the electrification would have to be provided in Sheffield, which would be useful, if other electrification projects were to be started in the area.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later.

Electrification Of The Hope Valley Line

Work is already planned to upgrade capacity on the Hope Valley Line.

Having looked at several electrification projects in the last few years, it is my belief that delays can occur because of bad surveys and preparation work done too late and in great haste.

So why not do as much of this work, whilst the capacity is upgraded?

Electrification of what would be a well-surveyed and prepared railway, with an immaculate track, must be a lot easier to plan, install an deliver on time.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later, especially as it could be a test project for other lines through the hills.

Improvement And Possible Electrification Of The Huddersfield Line

Improvement of this line could probably give a large benefit to services between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield.

  • Current services on the line would be speeded up.
  • More services could be possible.

On the down side, it is a busy route and improvement will be very difficult.

Conclusion – This important route should be improved as soon as possible.

Building The Liverpool And Manchester High Speed Line

This will be a large and complex project.

It will involve building the following.

  • Around thirty miles of new railway.
  • New platforms and/or stations in Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • A Tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Diversion of the West Coast Main Line through or around Crewe and Warrington.
  • Building of the two junctions at High Legh.
  • Connection to High Speed Two towards Birmingham and London.

It is my opinion, that the diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be opened at the same time as High Speed Two reaches Crewe, in 2027.

Conclusion -The diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be given priority, but the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed line can be done later.

Good Project Management Is Needed

I am sure, that Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two can work together to produce a schedule that delivers benefits in a steady stream.

They must be bold and not allow the politicians to derail the project or move it in an unsustainable direction, based on pressure from their constituents.

Conclusion

Linking the building of Phase Two of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail would appear to be a sensible solution to expanding the economy of Northern England.

 

 

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

And The Wires Came Tumbling Down!

Today, I intended to go to Doncaster on the 11:03 train to Leeds from Kings Cross.

I had intended to travel in First on an Azuma, to see what the quality was like.

So I booked an Advance ticket online for around £50.

But then the train didn’t run, as the wires had come tumbling down!

This must be the third time, I’ve been affected by faulty overhead wires on the East Coast Main Line in the last few years.

In one case, we were delayed for about two hours and in the other, it didn’t affect me for long, as I was in an InterCity 125, which drove through the problem.

I have lost my fifty pounds, as you take the risk with an Advance Ticket.

Conclusion

The electrification on the East Coast Main Line seems to be built and maintained by morons.

Next time, I take the train on the East Coast Main Line, I’ll check trains are running before buying a ticket.

 

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 13 Comments

A First Ride In One Of LNER’s New Azumas

The Azuma is the name given by LNER‘s new Class 800 trains.

I rode in one today from Peterborough to Kings Cross after deliberately doing the trip the other way in an InterCity 125.

I took these pictures.

These are my thoughts.

The Brand-Name

The Azuma brand-name is one of those names, that was either thought-up for a fee of several million pounds by a specialist agency or it was thought up by a few serious real-ale drinkers in a comfortable pub, in front of a roaring fire or a blazing sun.

  • It is actually Japanese for East, so I doubt it will be controversial.
  • It is catchy and if say Simon Calder said that he liked the new Azuma, it might result in extra ticket sales.
  • It will differentiate LNER from their competitors running differently-liveried examples of the same Class 800 train.
  • Does it suggest speed in English, with the zoom in the middle?

LNER obviously like it, as Wikipedia says they retained the name, which was devised by the previous franchise holder; Virgin Trains East Coast.

Thinking through the history of the East Coast Main Line, I can only remember one class of locomotives or trains, that got a name; the Class 55 locomotive or Deltic. For those of my generation, Deltics are often iconic. In The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses, I describe a memorable trip behind a Deltic.

The Livery

The livery is distinctly cheeky, with an eye suggested around the front side-window!

The eye certainly stands out, which could be a good way to get extra seat sales.

It also appears that the livery has changed from the original Virgin East Coast design.

I like it!

The Interior

The interior is simple, practical and bright with some innovative touches.

  • I was in Standard and there were a reasonable number of good-sized tables, which is always welcome.
  • The seats seemed better than those fitted to the Class 800 trains on Great Western Railway (GWR).
  • The electronic seat registration status displays were clear and understandable.
  • I didn’t use the wi-fi or the charging points, but others were using them and one guy said they worked fine.
  • Our ticket collector had a moan and I suspect there are a few problems that will be corrected as necessary.

But then trains always get a lot better after their first major update.

Comparison With Great Western Railway’s Version

The general consensus between two other passengers and myself, was that the seats in the Azuma were more comfortable, than those of GWR’s Class 800 trains.

A Three Class Train

Like some other services in the UK, the Azuma is effectively a three-class train.

  • First Class
  • Standard Class with a table.
  • Bog Standard Class

I find it interesting that East Midlands Railway are promising that all seats will have tables, which already happens on some services on Chiltern Railways.

I wonder if LNER’s competitors; East Coast Trains, Grand Central and Hull Trains will offer more tables.

As a regular user of Chiltern Railways, I can see more tables being added to all main line services.

Performance

As the pictures show, I followed the train speed with the Speedview app on my phone.

After accelerating away from Peterborough 125 mph was held to Stevenage and then after slowing for the twin-track section over the Digswell Viaduct, the train maintained 100 mph for most opf the way until Kings Cross.

I think we will see improved performance onf the East Coast Main Line, with speeds increasing and journey times decreasing.

  • There are plans to add extra tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough.
  • The flyunder at Werrington will be completed.
  • There are plans for improvements to the North at Newark, Doncaster and York.
  • Digital signalling will allow 140 mph running of Azumas and other Class 800 trains.
  • It has been suggested that capacity on the route would improve with 125 mph trains running to Kings Lynn.

If all operators were running Class 800 trains, this would surely increase capacity.

Splitting And Joining

This document on the Hitachi web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-Speed Rolling Stock For UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a sentence from the document.

It also incorporates an automatic coupling system that shortens the time taken to couple or uncouple trains while stopped at a station.

Their Kentish cousins have been at it for several years.

LNER have not disclosed how they will use splitting and joining, but there are possibilities, where two five-car trains leave London as a ten-car train and then split en route to serve two destinations.

  • London to Aberdeen and Inverness, splitting, at Edinburgh.
  • London to Harrogate or Skipton and Middlesborough, splitting at Leeds.
  • London to Lincoln and Hull, splitting at Newark.

Trains would join at the same stations, when returning South.

The splitting and joining has advantages over the current fixed-length InterCity 125 and InterCity 225.

  • A five-car Azuma, only needs a 130 metre long platform. So services to destinations like Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland without a long platform become possible without expensive platform extensions.
  • Train paths on the East Coast Main Line are being used more efficiently, as in some cases two destinations are served by one service into Kings Cross.

There are some disadvantages.

  • Travellers must make sure they get into the correct part of the train.
  • There is probably more staff on the train, as both five-car trains need a full crew.
  • Returning South, trains must keep to time precisely to the joining station, to avoid delaying another service.
  • All possible calling points on the East Coast Main Line, must be able to handle ten-car trains But as these are less than twenty metres longer than an InterCity 225, lengthening shouldn’t be a major exercise.

It’s probably best to consider the two five-car trains as separate services, which happened to be coupled together on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should also be noted that several stations like Kings Cross, Doncaster, York and others have entrances in the middle of the platform, which is convenient for either the front or rear train.

Bicycles, Surf Boards And Oversized Luggage

I don’t think you get many surfboards on London to Leeds services, but a member of LNER’s staff told me, that during the recent Tour de Yorkshire, there were a lot of passengers with bicycles. This could be a problem on the Azuma,, as the nine-car train has only four spaces, with a five-car just two.

With the conversion of Scottish services to Azumas, I can see that luggage could be a problem.

I took this picture at Edinburgh, where this luggage is about to be swallowed by the locomotive of an InterCity 125.

I can see a time, when there will be a need to add another car to some nine-car trains, to make sure all the bicycles, surf boards and oversized luggage can be accommodated on the train.

  • Are LNER cutting themselves off from upmarket golf tours, where passengers travel between London and Gleneagles in First Class luxury?
  • GWR have a similar problem on South West England services and I think, it will get more serious in the next few years, as more people take up cycling and surfing.
  • It appears GWR have resorted to banning surf-boards.
  • ScotRail have opted to convert redundant single-car Class 153 trains, into multi-purpose additional carriages to enhance services on the West Highland Line.

I can also see a problem on the London to Inverness services. In Promoting The Highland Main Line, I wrote about the efforts of the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership to encourage more visitors to their iconic line and the surrounding area.

Many of the visitors that are attracted to the area, might come with bicycles, golf bags, climbing equipment and other oversized baggage.

So could we see an extra multi-purpose car added to some Azumas working between London and Scotland?

  • The Class 800 trains can be lengthened to as long as twelve cars.
  • Manufacturing of extra cars in the next few years, should be relatively easy.
  • Adding extra cars is a simple cut-and-paste, with the train software ascertaining the train formation.
  • Most platforms are probably long enough for at least ten-car trains.
  • A ten-car Class 800 formation is only fifteen metres longer than a nine-car InterCity 225.
  • There may be opportunities to carry high-value, urgent or perishable freight.

Obviously, the train operators’ needs to satisfy their markets and their finances will decide if extra cars are worth adding.

But I think, that we’ll see some ten-car Azumas on the London and Aerdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness routes.

Conclusion

The train appears to meet the specification, but as regards bulky luggage, it could be that the specification is lacking.

 

 

 

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trainspotting At Oakleigh Park Station

Around 1960, my friend; Richard Plumb and myself, used to go trainspotting on the East Coast Main Line through Barnet and Hadley Wood. One of the places, we used to go regularly was Oakleigh Park station, where we would stand on the pedestrian bridge to the North of the main part of the station.

These pictures show the station today.

It hasn’t really changed that much over the sixty years.

  • Wikipedia says it was remodelled for the electrification in 1975.
  • The steel bridge, where we used to stand i very much the same.
  • There are a lot of new houses on surplus railway land.
  • The whole area is a lot greener, due to an increase in tree cover of the sides of the railway.

The step-free access is as it was in 1960 and totally non-existent. Wikipedia doesn’t detail any plans for the future.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

Note.

  1. The two island platforms, with four faces.
  2. The North bridge, where we used to watch the trains.
  3. The South bridge, which is the station footbridge with steep steps down to the platforms.

It is a station that has most of the things it needs, except for that step-free access!

Could Oakleigh Park Station Be Made Step-Free?

I have to ask this question.

Before I answer it, the following should be considered.

  • The station doesn’t appear to have an open Booking Office or any ticket gates, but has ticket machines and Oyster readers on both platforms.
  • It also has coffee stalls on both platforms.
  • It might be possible to put a lift to Platforms 3-4, but because of the Booking Office, it might be difficult for Platforms 1-2.
  • The station has about a million passengers a year.

My personal view is that as more housing is developed between Kings Cross and Welwyn Garden City the train frequency will be increased.

One solution might be to replace the bridge, where Richard and myself, watched the trains, with a new step-free bridge that also bridged Netherlands Road alongside the station.

Did I See Any Trains?

I took this picture of LNER’s new Azuma returning on the first round trip to Leeds.

The Azuma or Class 801 train almost bears a front-end resemblance to Nigel Gresley‘s famous A4 Pacifics. Mallard is a member of this class and set the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126.4 mph.

Although, it is a bit like comparing apples with oranges, it should be noted that Mallard’s speed record  is actually faster than the current 125 mph operating speed of the new Class 801 train. But the electric train has another fifteen mph to come with full digital signalling.

But seeing the Azuma coming through Oakleigh Park station, reminded me of summers sixty years ago, when we watched streaks at speed on that same gentle curve.

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Better News Day For New Trains

Yesterday, was a better news day for new trains, with articles with these headlines.

All are significant for passengers.

Class 710 Trains

The authorisation of the Class 710 trains is particular importance to me, as they will be running locally to where I live.

It will be a couple of months before they enter passenger service.

But the trains have mainly been delayed by software problems and now that appears to have been fixed and as there are twenty trains already built, I could see them entering service, as soon as drivers have been trained.

It should be noted that eight trains are needed for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and six for the Watford DC Line, so if twenty have been built, I would expect that these two routes could be converted to the new trains by the summer.

Class 801 Trains

LNER’s Class 801 trains will be a significant introduction, as they will enable the cascade of the Mark 4 coaches to other operators, like Trains for Wales and East Midlands Railway.

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service

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

This is the first paragraph.

FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The trains are Class 802 trains, similar to those used by FirstGroup companies; Hull Trains and Great Western Railway.

These are some points from the article.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

These are my observations.

Earlier Start

I suspect that the service can’t start earlier, due to one of the following.

  • The lead time in building the trains.
  • Completion of the new Werrington Junction.
  • Completion of the sorting of Kings Cross.
  • Completion of the works at Stevenage station.

The track works will probably be needed to create the extra paths needed on the East Coast Main Line.

Electric-Only Trains

Most other Class 802 trains are bi-mode trains, but will these be electric-only?

Capacity Issues

If the trains prove too small, they can just add extra carriages or two trains can run as a pair.

Timetables

Trains will probably take nine hours for a round-trip, allowing 30 minutes for turnround.

This would mean that two trains leaving London and Edinburgh at six, would arrive back at home after two round trips around midnight.

Conclusion

I think it will be a successful service.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Integration Of High-Speed And Commuter Services Out Of Kings Cross Station

The East Coast Main Line ECML) has the following services on the Southern section between Kings Cross and Peterborough.

  • Express services capable of at least 125 mph running from LNER , Grand Central, Hull Trains and other Open Access operators.
  • Great Northern services capable of 110 mph running between Kings Cross and Cambridge and Ely.
  • Great Northern services to Peterborough appear to have been discontinued.
  • Thameslink services capable of 100 mph running between Kings Cross and Cambridge and Peterborough.

It would appear that the slower  Great Northern and Thameslink services will get in the way of the faster trains, if they need to use the fast lines.

The Digswell Viaduct

A particular problem will be the double-track section of line through Welwyn North station and over the Digswell Viaduct.

There are two Great Northern and  six Thameslink services in each hour, that are not capable of operating at 125 mph on the double-track section.

Following the logic of Oxford and Bedwyn services out of Paddington, which are now run by 125 mph Class 802 trains, I feel that timetabling would be easier on the ECML, if there were 125 mph trains running Great Northern and Thameslink services to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.

I explored 125 mph services to Kings Lynn in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, after reading about a proposal in Rail Magazine. They certainly look like they’d give advantages.

Some idiot decided that Thameslink services were fine with a 100 mph top speed. They should have been 110 mph or even faster trains, so that they could cross the Digswell Viaduct without slowing high speed services.

Digital Signalling

Digital signalling will be installed on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line

This could ease the problem of the double-track section, as all trains should eventually be timed more precisely.

More Use Of The Hertford Loop

Perhaps some or all of the six 100 mph Thameslink services, could use an upgraded Hertford Loop Line, which will be fitted with digital signalling.

125 mph Trains

In a last resort, it would surely be more affordable to run 125 mph commuter trains to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough, than put put two extra tracks on the Digswell Viaduct.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments