The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On LNER’s New Harrogate Service

I wrote about LNER’s improved service to Harrogate station in New Harrogate-London Rail Times Revealed.

If you look at each service, they have a very rel;axed stop at Leeds.

Northbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0733 – 8 minutes
  • 0933 – 7 minutes
  • 1133 – 7 minutes
  • 1333 – 7 minutes
  • 1533 – 11 minutes
  • 1733 – 13 minutes.

Sorthbound services are scheduled to take the following times.

  • 0736 – 11 minutes
  • 0936 – 10 minutes
  • 1136 – 8 minutes
  • 1336 – 9 minutes
  • 1536 – 8 minutes
  • 1736 – 9 minutes.

It seems a long time to pass through Leeds station.

But this is because the train reverses direction at Leeds station, so the driver has to change ends.

Will Azumas make any difference?

Azumas were designed around forty years after the current InterCity 125 trains that work the service. A five-car Azuma is also half the length of a two+eight InterCity 125.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the new timetable, the 7-9 minutes reverse are timed for Azumas and the longer times are to allow InterCity 125 trains to run the service.

The Azuma services to Leeds seem to be run by two five-car trains, running as a pair.

Could this be, so that the train can split and join at Leeds?

  • A pair of five-car Azumas would arrive in Leeds from London.
  • A second driver gets in the rear cab of the rear train.
  • The two trains automatically uncouple.
  • The rear train drives off to the West to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Skipton or wherever.
  • The front train can drive off to the East to perhaps Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Scotland or Sunderland.
  • If required the driver could change ends and continue to the East.

The process would be reversed when going South.

Possible Destinations

These are possible destinations, distances and times.

  • Bradford – 13 miles – 25 minutes
  • Harrogate – 18 miles – 30 minutes
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles – 35 minutes
  • Hull – 20 miles – 60 minutes
  • Middlesbrough – – 76 miles – 84 minutes
  • Scarborough – 67 miles – 75 minutes
  • Skipton – 26 miles – 43 minutes
  • York – 25 miles – 30 minutes

It looks to me that Leeds will become a very important station for LNER.

Their timetabling team will certainly be having a large amount of mathematical fun!

I can certainly see.

  • Bradford,, Chesterfield and Skipton having similar service levels to those starting to and from Harrogste in December.
  • Battery-electric Azumas handling the last few miles on battery power.
  • Journey times of under two hours between Leeds and Kings Cross.

I also feel that LNER and TransPennine Express will create an integrated network between Leeds and Scotland along the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

This arrangement gives a large range of destinations from London and the South.

Passengers and train operators would like it.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shape Of Train Services To Come

Today, I went to Lincoln, which as I reported in LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, is now a city, that has five trains per day to and from London.

It actually appears that from the timetable change on December 15th, 2019, the LNER timetable will be as follows.

  • On Mondays to Saturdays, there will be six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • On Sundays, there will be five tpd in both directions.
  • Services stop at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark Northgate.
  • All direct services are under two hours, by at least a couple of minutes.
  • Indirect services with a change at Newark are generally no more than ten minutes over two hours, with some under two hours.
  • All direct trains would appear to be five-car Class 800 trains.

I can’t see any cause for passenger complaint.

On The 10:06 To Lincoln

Today is a Friday and I had expected more people on this direct service to Lincoln Central station.

As this was the first direct Friday service at this time to Lincoln, perhaps the word has been slow to get around?

The train arrived on time in Lincoln, although it had been a few minutes late at Grantham.

I asked several people, including a knowledgeable journalist, if Lincoln had ever had a two-hourly service from London and all said the answer was never!

On The 13:23 From Lincoln

This train was very close to maximum capacity with only a few empty seats.

The only problem was a young Lady, although I hasten to add she didn’t behave like a lady, who was sitting on the other side of the carriage.

She was constantly shouting into her phone and using the F-word to boot.

An elderly gentleman politely asked her to calm it down and it made no difference.

I did say to the very large guy, who looked like a prop forward opposite me, that will you ram her phone down her throat or shall I? All it got was a few laughs all round.

Perhaps her mother, didn’t wash her mouth out with soap often enough?

Catering

The train had a buffet and we had a visit from the trolley on the way to Lincoln.

Coming back, there was no trolley, but the train might have been too busy to get it through.

First Class

Five-car Class 800 trains have forty-five First Class and two hundred and seventy Standard Class seats.

Given that some train companies are reducing the number of First Class seats, I wonder if LNER will follow suit on the service to and from Lincoln and perhaps replace them with Second Class seats.

Performance And Train Times

The journey is effectively in two parts.

  • 120 miles between Kings Cross and Newark, which is electrified.
  • 16 miles between Newark and Lincoln, which is not electrified.

A two hour trip between Kings Cross and Lincoln is an average of around sixty-eight mph.

The current two hour schedule is not a convenient time for an operator running a service. Something more under two hours would make timetabling easier.

Suppose, the train took an hour and forty minutes to do the trip and that twenty minutes were to be allowed for turnround and any short delays of a few minutes. This would enable a two-hourly clockface timetable, with a train both ways every two hours.

This would need an overall average speed of 81 mph, including all the stops.

Would this average speed be possible?

In the next few aub-sections, I’ll discuss various factors.

The Class 800 Trains

Consider.

  • The Class 800 trains have fast acceleration and deceleration.
  • Each stop currently takes about two minutes and probably with better systems and staff training could be improved.
  • Most of the time on the electrified East Coast Main Line, the trains are running at speeds in excess of 110 mph and at times up to 125 mph.
  • The trains can run at 140 mph with in-cab digital signalling, as their cousins; the Class 395 trains do on High Speed One.
  • Between Newark and Lincoln, the trains will be slowed by the maximum linespeed.
  • The trains will be running on diesel between Newark and Lincoln.
  • The next generation of AT300 trains are being designed for the Midland Main Line.

These trains will only get better.

In Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains, I laid out my thoughts about how they will develop.

One development will be battery-electric trains and these will use battery power between Newark and Lincoln. This will mean that the trains would only need one diesel engine for emergencies like overhead line failure.

The 140 mph East Coast Main Line

Digital in-cab signalling is planed to be installed on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster.

This will allow the following.

  • Closer control of the trains.
  • 140 mph running, where track and traffic allow.
  • More trains per hour (tph)

It was originally planned to be operational by 2020.

It should be noted that High Speed Two is planned to run at eighteen tph. Surely, the slower East Coast Main Line could allow an increase in frequency.

I estimate that this higher speed running could save upwards of ten minutes between Kings Cross and Newark.

Improvements Between Newark And Lincoln

Wikipedia says this about the line between Newark and Lincoln.

The line between Newark and Lincoln is currently only cleared for 50–70-mile-per-hour (80–100 km/h) speeds. Nottinghamshire County Council has paid for a study into 90-mile-per-hour (140 km/h) running.

From my helicopter, the line looks to be all double-track, fairly straight, in good condition, with signs of recent improvements. But there are also up to a dozen level crossings.

With improvements, I suspect that a 90 mph linespeed will be possible.

Summing Up Performance

My mathematical nous, feels that with the digital signalling and other improvements, that the required four hour round trip would be possible.

If this can be achieved, then just two trains would be needed to run a one train every two hours and between Kings Cross and Lincoln.

Other Services

The Wikipedia entry for LNER, says this about the services to Lincoln and other new destinations in the North.

An expanded service to Lincoln began on 21 October 2019 when four terminating services at Newark Northgate were extended into Lincoln. This is in addition to the sole one train per day service, which in all, now provides five out and back workings to and from London King’s Cross. LNER also plans for December 2019 timetable change that a sixth return service to London from Lincoln will be introduced and 5 extra services on a Saturday will begin from 7 December 2019. From December 2019, LNER will introduce a Harrogate to London service 6 times a day. LNER expects to introduce two-hourly services to Bradford and a daily service to Huddersfield in May 2020 when more Azuma trains have been introduced. The Middlesbrough service is expected to begin in December 2021 after infrastructure work required to run the service is completed.

That looks like a comprehensive increase in service to Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough

Conclusion

LNER seem to have made a good start on the increased service levels to Lincoln.

Harrogate would appear to be next!

It will be interesting to follow both places, to see if they benefit from an improved train service.

But I can certainly see a day in the not too distant future, when LNER’s or other operator’s Azumas and other 140 mph trains are running to multiple destinations via the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On The Next Generation Of Hitachi High Speed Trains

In Rock Rail Wins Again!, I started with this section, describing the new Hitachi AT-300 bi-mode trains for the Midland Main Line.

This article on the Railway Gazette, is entitled Abellio Orders East Midlands Inter-City Fleet.

The order can be summarised as follows.

  • The trains will be Hitachi AT-300 trains
  • There will be thirty-three bi-mode trains of five cars.
  • The trains will be 125 mph capable.
  • Unlike the similar Class 802 trains, the trains will have 24 metre long cars, instead of 26 metres.
  • They will have a slightly modified nose profile.
  • The new trains will have an extra diesel engine.
  • The new trains will cost a total of £400 million.

I also came to these general conclusions.

  • The trains may well have a more sophisticated diesel-electric system using regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Capacity of the trains is difficult to predict, as East Midlands Railway have said there will be lots of tables.
  • The new nose may improve aerodynamics.

I also suspect that the trains will still be able to automatically split and join, as Class 395 and Class 80x trains can do.

Summing Up The Class 80x Trains As A Passenger

I certainly don’t have any seriously negative comments, but I do think a new generation could address some problems.

  • I’d like to see level entry between train and platform.
  • There have been complaints about the carrying of bicycles.
  • Some passengers would like a buffet.

These are not major problems with the basic design of the train itself and surely could be improved reasonably easily.

Further Thoughts On The Car Length

The AT300 trains for East Midlands Railway have a car length of twenty-four metres, as opposed to the twenty-six metres of the Class 80x trains.

If you look at some of the new fleets that are starting to be delivered, they have car lengths as follows.

  • Class 710 trains – 20 metres
  • Class 720 trains – 24 metres.
  • Class 195 and 331 trains – 24 metres

Twenty metres has for decades been the UK standard length, so could it have been replaced with twenty-four metres?

It should be noted that a twelve-car train with twenty metre cars and a ten-car train with twenty-four metre cars are more or less the same length.

With respect to the Midland Main Line, this means that platforms built to take two five-car AT300 trains, will also take a twelve-car formation of Class 360 trains.

Augmenting And Possible Replacement Of The Class 395 Trains

Class 395 trains run Southeastern’s HighSpeed services between St. Pancras and Kent.

  • They are six-car trains.
  • Each set is 121.3 metres long with twenty metre cars.
  • Extra sets are needed for the proposed Hastings service and to possibly serve a second London terminus.
  • Independent power, which could be diesel or batteries is needed for the Hastings service.
  • The trains were built in 2007-2009, so still have plenty of life left.

Extra or replacement trains built with five cars, that were twenty-six metres long, could cause operational issues and possibly mean some platforms needed to be lengthened.

However, trains with a similar size specification to the AT300 trains for the Midland Main Line, might be ideal.

  • Five twenty-four metre cars.
  • A reprofiled nose for better aerodynamics.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.

But all or some of the diesel engines would be replaced by batteries. As with the Class 801 train, units may always have one diesel engine for use in case of power failure.

Has anybody got any statistics on how often the Class 801 trains that are in service have used their diesel engine?

If Class 395 Trains Were To Be Replaced, Where Would They Go?

These trains are too good to be scrapped, but I’m sure they will find a use.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn via Cambridge – This service uses the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line, which is going to be digitally-signalled to allow 140 mph running. Currently, the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn service is run by 110 mph trains. Class 395 trains could probably run this service and keep out of the way of the Azumas and other 140 mph trains.
  • Waterloo And Portsmouth Harbour Via The Direct Line – Because it is a challenging route, more powerful and faster trains may be an ideal train for this line. The Class 395 trains already have third-rail shoes.
  • Manchester And Blackpool Via The West Coast Main Line – This could be a possibility, especially if High Speed Two connects into Manchester from the West,

I suspect there will be other routes, which would welcome the speed and/or power of Class 395 trains.

Other Uses For Battery-Electric AT300 Trains

In Shapps Wants ‘Earlier Extinction Of Diesel Trains’, I gave this list of main-line services, which are run partly on electricity and partly on diesel.

  • London and Aberdeen – 126 miles
  • London and Bradford – < 27 miles
  • London and Chester – 21 miles
  • London and Cheltenham – 42 miles
  • London and Exeter – 120 miles
  • London and Fishgruard – 119 miles
  • London and Gobowen – 25 miles
  • London and Harrogate – <18 miles
  • London and Hereford – 106 miles
  • London and Holyhead – 108 miles
  • London and Hull – 45 miles
  • London and Inverness – 136 miles
  • London and Lincoln – 17 miles
  • London and Llandudno – 68 miles
  • London and Middlesbrough – 20 miles
  • London and Ocford – 10 miles
  • London and Paignton – 148 miles
  • London and Penzance – 252 miles
  • London and Plymouth – 172 miles
  • London and Shrewsbury – 42 miles
  • London and Sunderland 41 miles
  • London and Swansea – 46 miles
  • London and Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles
  • London and Worcester – 66 miles
  • London and Wrexham – 23 miles

Note.

  1. The distance given is between the end of the electrification and the final destination.
  2. I am assuming continuous electrification from London to Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Dunblane and Newbury
  3. Plans already exist from West Coast Rail to use bi-mode trains on the Holyhead route via Chester.

How far will an AT300 train go on battery power?

  • I don’t think it is unreasonable to be able to have 150 kWh of batteries per car, especially if the train only had one diesel engine, rather than the current three in a five-car train.
  • I feel with better aerodynamics and other improvements based on experience with the current trains, that an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle mile is possible, as compared to the 3.5 kWh per vehicle mile of the current trains.

Doing the calculation gives a range of sixty miles for an AT300 train with batteries.

As train efficiency improves and batteries are able to store more energy for a given volumn, this range can only get better.

Routes can be divided as follows.

  • Diesel Power Needed – Aberdeen, Exeter, Fishguard, Hereford, Holyhead, Inverness, Llandudno, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Worcester.
  • Battery Charge At Terminus Needed – Cheltenham, Hull, Shrewsbury, Sunderland and Swansea.
  • Battery Power Only – Bradford, Chester, Gobowen, Harrogate, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Oxford, Weston-super-Mare and Wrexham.

There are some interesting points dug out by my figures.

West Coast Rail Could Reach Chester, Gobowen, Shrewsbury And Wrexham On Battery Power

With a range of sixty miles on batteries, the following is possible.

  • Chester, Gobowen, Shrewsbury And Wrexham Central stations could be reached on battery power from the nearest electrification.
  • Charging would only be needed at Shrewsbury to ensure a return to Crewe.

Gobowen is probably at the limit of battery range, so was it chosen as a destination for this reason.

I feel that trains with a sixty mile battery range would make operations easier for West Coast Rail.

London To Lincoln

LNER have just started an augmented service between Kings Cross and Lincoln from today..

  • There are five trains per day in both directions.
  • The service runs seven days a week.
  • The service is being run using bi-mode Class 800 trains or Azumas to the marketing men.
  • The trains make intermediate stops at Newark North Gate, Grantham, Peterborough and Stevenage..

In some ways it is more of a long-distance high speed commuter, than an inter-city train.

It will get better in future.

  • Digital signalling will allow 140 mph running South of Newark and this will reduce journey times.
  • If demand grows LNER might be sable to extend another Newark train to Lincoln.

As Newark to Lincoln is only seventeen miles, I’m certain that this route could be handled by a battery-equipped train, if Hitachi develop one.

What would it do for Lincoln’s tourism from London, if the train service was advertised as a high speed battery train?

London To Middlesbrough And Sunderland

There has been plans to electrify between Northallerton and Midfdlesbrough for some years, but they never seem to get started.

If electrification were to be erected on the fourteen miles between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe, there would only be a six mile gap without electrification between the end of the electrification and Middlesbrough.

  • Battery-electric Azumas would be able to serve Middlesbrough from London.
  • They wouldn’t need a charging facility at Middlesbrough.
  • It might remove the need to electrify Middlesbrough station, if the proposed Tees Valley Metro could be run on batteries.

In December 2019, TransPennine Express will be extending their Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough service to Redcar Central station, which is just another five miles from Middlesbrough.

Currently, this service is run by a Class 68 locomotive and a rake of Mark 5 coaches, but surely an AT300 train with batteries could handle this end of the route.

There are four sections of lines without electrification between Redcar and Manchester Airport.

  • Redcar and Northallerton – 26 miles – Has been talked about for years.
  • Colton Junction and Leeds – 18 miles – Has been talked about for years.
  • Holbeck Junction and Huddersfield – 16 miles – Currently planned to be electrified.
  • Huddersfield and Stalybridge – 18 miles

It looks to me, that an AT300 with batteries could cross the Pennines, if the Holbeck Junction and Huddersfield section was electrified.

Electrification of this section would also benefit TransPennine services between Manchester and Edinburgh, Newcastle and Scarborough.

  • Some or all could be run by an AT300 train with batteries.
  • A substantial about of carbon emissions would be eliminated.
  • In an ideal world, Hitachi will have a route to add batteries to Class 802 trains.
  • Obviously, the more electrification the better.

It certainly looks as if, progress is being made on the North-Eastern section of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

London To Bradford And Harrogate

These routes are both short extensions from Leeds, that would be easily handled by AT300 trains with a battery capability.

Conclusion

I strongly believe that the next generation of the AT300 train will greatly rxtend the UK’s electrified network

A lot depends on how far it will go on battery power.

I have stated that the train will go for sixty miles on battery power and that it will have a single diesel engine, as does the all-electric Class 801 train.

But even a range of forty miles and charging stations at some terminals like Hull and Redcar could still have a major impact.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 7 Comments

Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2

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

This is the first paragraph.

The future of HS2 appears to be increasingly in doubt, as reports suggest that the forthcoming Oakervee Review will axe Phase 2b between the West Midlands and Yorkshire and possibly cancel the project entirely.

The article also says this about the first phase of the project.

Another possibility is that Phase 1 between London and Birmingham could be built more cheaply by lowering the maximum speed from the presently-planned 250km/h. Such a reduction would reduce the new line’s capacity and lengthen journey times but still ease the pressure on the West Coast Main Line, where paths are in short supply.

There are three suggestions in these two paragraphs and before I discuss them, I’ll detail the various phases of the project as they are current proposed.

The Phases Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will be two phases with the second phase split into two.

  • Phase 1 – London and the West Midlands
  • Phase 2a – West Midlands and Crewe
  • Phase 2b – Crewe and Manchester and West Midlands and Leeds

The plan improves links between London and several major cities in the Midlands and North.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

I am a great believer in holistic design and in the economies of doing several similar projects together or in a well-defined sequence, that delivers benefits in a stream.

For that reason, I believe that the equally-important Northern Powerhouse Rail should be designed in conjunction with High Speed Two, to achieve the following objectives.

  • A better railway, that connects more towns and cities.
  • A phased delivery of benefits.
  • Possible cost savings.

This report on the Transport for the North web site which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, advocates a much better approach.

  • High Speed Two would go from Crewe to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would go from Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • There would be a double junction at High Legh between Liverpool and Manchester, that connects the two routes.
  • London and Liverpool services would use the Western end of Northern Powerhouse Rail from High Legh.
  • There would be improvements East of Leeds to connect to Sheffield and the East Coast Main Line.

This map shows the high speed railways between Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington.

I discussed, what has been proposed by Transport of the North in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

Cutting High Speed Two To An Affordable Budget

I’ll take the three suggestions in the Rail News article.

Suggestion One – Cancel The Project

This is actually the second suggestion, but I think the article kills it in the second paragraph, that I quoted, when it says that High Speed Two is needed to ease pressure on the West Coast Main Line.

Cancellation would probably be a vote loser and a big stick with which to beat Boris, if he brought forward any environmental proposals.

I doubt cancellation will happen, unless we get someone like Nigel Farage as Prime Minister.

Suggestion Two – Cancel Phase 2b Between The West Midlands And Yorkshire

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

Northern Powerhouse Rail would offer a lot of improvements, which are shown in purple.

There are also these projects that will improve trains to and from Yorkshire.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • A possible connection between Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two at High Legh.
  • Midland Main Line upgrade with 125 mph bi-mode trains between London and Sheffield.
  • 140 mph running on the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster and onward to Bradford, Hull, Leeds and York.

I’ll add a few more flesh to the points.

High Speed Two To Hull

If High Speed Two connects to Northern Powerhouse Rail at High Legh it will join everything together.

  • High Speed Two trains would run between London and Hull via Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • Very expensive infrastructure would be shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Leeds and Manchester would be just twenty minutes apart, with trains from both lines on the same tracks.
  • Hull station has the space to handle the trains.

Combining the two routes should save billions.

Midland Main Line To Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield And Leeds

This is already ptoposed for the Midland Main Line.

  • New stations will be built at Rotherham and Barnsley.
  • Four fast trains per hour between Sheffield and Leeds can be delivered.
  • 125 mph bi-mode trains to Yorkshire via the East Midlands.

But what about the following?

  • Could the Erewash Valley Line be used instead of a new High Speed Two line between the East Midlands and Sheffield?
  • Could the Midland Main Line be electrified and upgraded to 140 mph running like the East Coast Main Line?

Similar connectivity to that of High Speed Two can be created at a lower cost.

Cancellation of the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b would mean there would be no improved link between the West and East Midlands.

Perhaps, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, would run only to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.

Increasing Capacity On The East Coast Main Line

In Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster, I did a crude calculation to see how many extra trains could be run between London and Doncaster on a digitally signalled 140 mph East Coast Main Line.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Extra trains could be run between Kings Cross and Bradford, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Estimated timings would be eighty minutes to Doncaster and under two hours to Leeds.

Suggestion Three – Reduce Speed In Phase 1

There is always a tendency for project promoters to make sure their project is the biggest and the best.

There will be an optimum speed for a London and Birmingham high speed line, which balances benefits, costs, noise and disturbance. One politician’s optimum will also be very different to another’s.

Such parameters like operating speed and capacity must be chosen with care.

Conclusion

I believe, that we need the capacity of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail  to move passengers and freight.

So we should design them together and with other improvements like the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster

The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with digital signalling to allow Azumas and other high speed trains to run at 140 mph for most of the route, starting with the section between London and Doncaster.

There is also a string of projects all along the line to improve operating speed, cut out slow trains and improve junctions and crossings.

Finsbury Park And Stevenage

In The New Fifth Platform At Stevenage Station – 11th October 2019, I talked about the improvements at the Northern end of the Hertford Loop Line, which I believe could allow the fast lines between Stevenage and Finsbury Park stations to be exclusively used by digitally-signalled 140 mph trains.

Currently, these passenger services run between Stevenage and Finsbury Park in a typical hour.

  • LNER – Edinburgh – 2 trains – #
  • LNER – Leeds – 2 trains – #
  • LNER – Newark or York – 1 train – #
  • Great Northern – Cambridge and Ely expresses – 2 trains
  • Thameslink – Cambridge stopping trains – 2 trains.
  • Thameslink – Peterborough and Horsham – 2 trains
  • Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton – 1 train
  • Hull Trains – 7 trains per day. – #
  • Grand Central – 9 trains per day. – #
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day. – From 2021. – #

The services can be divided into four groups.

140 mph Non-Stop Expresses

Services marked with a hash (#) will probably  be run by versions of Hitachi Class 80x trains or similar, which will be capable of 140 mph running under digital signalling, between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

The twenty-one services run by Hull Trains, Grand Central and East Coast Trains, will probably add up to less than two trains per hour (tph).

This means that there is a need to run seven tph between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely Expresses

Currently, these go non-stop between Kings Cross and Cambridge on the fast lines.

Surely, these should be 140 mph-capable trains, so they fit in with all the fast expresses.

After all, Oxford is served by 140 mph-capable trains, so why not Cambridge?

Cambridge Stopping Trains

The half-hourly Cambridge stopping trains have to stop in Welwyn North station,

  • They will have to use the fast lines between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations, as there are only two tracks.
  • Currently, trains are timetabled to take nine minutes to pass through the double-track section.
  • North and South of the double-track section, the services will use the slow lines, as they call at several stations

But these services still leave forty-five minutes in every hour, in which to fit the 140 mph services through the restricting double track section.

These services will be replaced by a two tph Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East stations.

Thameslink Cross-London Services

The two Thamelink Cross-London services between Peterborough and Horsham and Cambridge and Brighton, go non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

So could these three services use the Hertford Loop Line?

  • North of Stevenage, they use the slow lines.
  • South of Finsbury Park, they use the slow lines to access the Canal Tunnels for the Thameslink platforms at  St. Pancras.
  • Would calls at perhaps Alexandra Palace, Enfield Chase and Hertford North be worthwhile.

The only disadvantage would be that the route would be a few minutes slower, than using the main line.

Trains Terminating At Kings Cross Station

In each hour, it appears that the following trains will terminate at Kings Cross station.

  • Seven 140 mph expresses, that are going North of Hitchin.
  • Two 140 mph expresses, that are going to Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two stopping services, that are going to Cambridge.

The station has nine platforms in the main station and three in the suburban station at the side.

The Wikipedia entry for Kings Cross station, has a section entitled Future Remodelling, where this is said.

In January 2018, it was announced that half the station would close for 3 months from January to March 2020 for remodelling work to the station and its approach, expected to cost £237 million. This includes rationalisation of the tracks, reopening the third tunnel to the approach of the station and closure of platform 10.

The remodelling must allow an increase in numbers of trains terminating at Kings Cross, especially as the problems in the throat should be sorted.

These points should be noted about the High Speed Two platforms at Euston.

  • There are eleven platforms.
  • They can handle eighteen tph.
  • The trains will be up to four hundred metres long.

Considering that a nine-car Class 801 train is less than 240 metres long, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Kings Cross can handle eighteen tph.

Does that mean that Kings Cross station can accommodate another seven services?

Would The East Coast Main Line Be Able To Handle Eighteen 140 mph Expresses An Hour?

If Kings Cross station can handle eighteen tph, then the two fast lines of the East Coast Main Line must be able to handle this number of trains.

  • The two fast lines of the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster could be considered a smaller and slower version of High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two has a capacity of eighteen tph.
  • High Speed Two trains are almost twice as fast as those on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Signalling on the East Coast Main Line will have to deal with slower trains, where there are less than four tracks, as over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station.

This is just the sort of challenge, for which digital signalling has been created.

Spare Capacity South Of Hitchin

Suppose in a couple of years the following has been done.

  • Kings Cross station has been remodelled.
  • The Hertford Loop Line has been updated for more and faster trains.
  • Thameslink services can use the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Thameslink is running the full 24 tph service.
  • The Cambridge stopper has been changed into a Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.
  • Cambridge and Brighton has become a two tph service.
  • Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely expresses are run by 140 mph-capable trains.

This would mean the following frequencies, to the South of Hitchin.

  • Seven tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and the North, with some stopping at Stevenage.
  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Cambridge and Brighton routed via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Peterborough and Horsham routed via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Cambridge and Maidstone East routed via the East Coast Main Line. The slow line will be used except over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station.

Note.

  1. There will also be a two tph Thameslink service in the Peak between Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks. This can be discounted as it avoids the tricky bits of the East Coast Main Line.
  2. Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough would be routed via the Hertford Loop ine, at a frequency of four tph.
  3. All Thameslink services would be routed via the Canal Tunnels and St. Pancras station.
  4. Kings Cross would only be handling 140 mph-capable trains, at a frequency of nine tph.

If the capacity of the 140 mph fast lines is the same as the similar High Speed Two, then eighteen tph should be possible.

Planned trains could be as follows.

  • Seven tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and the North, with some stopping at Stevenage.
  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.

Does that mean another seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and Hitchin?

As only nine tph would be going into Kings Cross, the station should have no difficulty handling that number of trains. It could possibly handle another nine tph.

Spare Capacity North Of Hitchin

At Hitchin, the following services wukk go to and from Cambridge.

  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.

The other Thameslink services can be ignored, as they use the slow lines between Stevenage and Hitchin and the Hertford Loop Line, so they are out of the way of the 140 mph services.

Does that mean another ten tph can be accommodated between Hitchin and the North?

What Limits The Number Of Extra Trains?

My crude estimation appears to show the following.

  • Kings Cross station may be able to handle another nine tph.
  • Between Kings Cross and Hitchin may be able to handle another seven trains.
  • North of Hitchin may be able to handle another ten trains.

It would appear that the double track section over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station, limits the capacity of the whole route.

Estimated Timings

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I stated this.

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.

There could be a race to Leeds between High speed Two and Classic services on the East Coast Main Line.

Speculation On Extra Services

It would not be right, if I didn’t have a small speculation.

Cambridge Services

Consider.

  • Oxford and Cambridge both have two main routes to and from London.
  • Both have a fast service running at a frequency of two tph.
  • Both have other quality, but slower services.

It could be argued that extra fast services are run to Cambridge, but this would use up two valuable paths over the Digswell viaduct.

Perhaps it would be better to copy Greater Anglia’s solution for London and Norwich services and order a high quality purpose-designed train for the route.

  • 140 mph-capability
  • Digitally-signalled
  • 240 metres long
  • High quality interior

There would need to be some platform lengthening between Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

Leeds Services

Leeds currently has two tph from Kings Cross and Manchester Piccadilly has three tph from Euston.

Leeds also has a daily direct service to Aberdeen.

I suspect that there could be a sorting out at Leeds, which would mean it gets a third service from London.

Conclusion

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

The New Fifth Platform At Stevenage Station – 11th October 2019

Stevenage station is getting a fifth platform for the termination of Great Northern services to and from Moorgate station.

  • This platform will be on the down side of the station.
  • A single platform should be able to turnback at least four trains per hour (tph) and possibly as many as six tph, that have used the Hertford Loop Line to come North.
  • Wikipedia says that this will increase the capacity and freqiency on the East Coast Main Line and the Hertford Loop Line.

These are a few pictures of the works.

This page on the Network Rail we site is entitled Stevenage Turnback and it gives more details.

  • improved resilience and reliability is claimed.
  • Two kilometres of new track and a set of points will be added.
  • The embankment on the West side of the track will be strengthened.
  • The signalling will be improved.
  • Two bridges will be modified.

Everything should be completed by Summer 2020, so that the four tph from Moorgate to Stevenage can be resumed.

These are my observations.

  • The work on the West side of the East Coast Main Line seems to be to a very high standard.
  • There seems to be enough space for a possible double-track or a passing loop between the new platform and the Hertford Loop Line in future.
  • The embankment on the West side of the track is being strengthened.
  • Will trains still be able to come from the Hertford Loop and continue North?

It certainly appears to me to be built to allow expansion in the future.

What Frequency Will The New Platform Be Able To Handle?

There are several platforms in the UK, where four tph are turned back.

It looks to me, that there is no reason, why this frequency couldn’t be handled in the new platform at Stevenage.

Especially, as there appears to be at least one crossover between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

But could it handle more trains?

The Hertford Loop Line is scheduled to be updated with digital signalling. So in the future, this may be possible, if the need is there!

The Great Northern Metro

It should also be noted that in 2016, Govia Thameslink Railway published plans for a Great Northern Metro. They seemed to have dropped this idea, but I discussed the plan in The Great Northern Metro.

This is a brief summary of those proposals.

  • Fourteen tph in the High Peak.
  • In the Off Peak, there would be six tph to Hertford North, four tph to Welwyn Garden City and two tph to Stevenage.
  • Sunday services are four tph to both branches and two tph to Stevenage.

I do wonder what is the capacity of the Hertford Loop Line.

  • It has grade-separated junctions at both ends of the route.
  • It is double-track throughout.
  • It has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • It has a 75 mph operating speed.
  • It has turnback platforms at Gordon Hill and Hertford North stations.
  • It is planned to equip the route with digital signalling.
  • It is planned to upgrade the power supply.
  • It probably handles a maximum of about eight tph, which can include a couple of freight trains.

I suspect that this route can be improved to handle more and longer trains., at a higher speed than now!

Could Thameslink Use The Hertford Loop Line?

Could some Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough use the Hertford Loop Line, rather than the East Coast Main Line?

Consider.

  • The Hertford Loop Line will have an increased speed limit.
  • Digital signalling is to be introduced on the route.
  • Trains might only stop at Hertford North, Enfield Chase and Alexandra Palace.
  • Some current Thameslink services between London and Cambridge and Peterborough, run non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

Diverting some services to the Hertford Loop Line would have the following advantages.

  • It would relrease capacity on the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would reduce the number of trains using the two-track section over the Digswell viaduct.
  • It could give Hertford a direct link to Cambridge and Peterborough.

The disadvantage would be that services would be a few minutes slower.

140 mph Running On The East Coast Main Line

Under Planned Or Proposed Developments the Wikipedia entry for the EastCoast Main Line says this.

Most of the length of the ECML is capable of 140 mph subject to certain infrastructure upgrades. Below is the foreword of the Greengauge 21 report:

“Upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140 mph operation as a high priority alongside HS2 and to be delivered without delay. Newcastle London timings across a shorter route could closely match those achievable by HS2..

The section then goes on to describe a lot of improvements with the aim of running between London and Edinburgh in four hours.

The project has a code name of L2E4. There is more information at this page on the Network Rail web site.

South of Peterborough, there are infrastructure and rolling stock limitations, that will stop the Hitachi Class 800 trains running at 140 mph.

  • Extra tracks are needed between Huntington and Woodwalton.
  • There is a double-track section over the Digswell viaduct, through Welwyn North station and the Welwyn tunnels.
  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains that run services to Cambridge and Peterborough are only capable of 100 mph.
  • Great Northern’s Class 387 trains, that run services to Cambridge and Kings Lynn are only capable of 110 mph.
  • Hull Trains and Grand Central run services with trains that are only capable of 125 mph.

I will deal with these in order.

Extra Tracks Between Huntingdon and Woodwalton

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line says this about this project.

Re-quadrupling of the route between Huntingdon and Woodwalton (HW4T) which was rationalised in the 1980s during electrification (part of the ECML Connectivity programme). This also involves the closure and diversion of a level crossing at Abbots Ripton which was approved in November 2017.

This improvement, which will mean continuous quadruple tracks between Stevenage and Peterborough will mean.

  • A few minutes for all trains will be saved.
  • Slower stopping services between London and Peterborough, will be kept out of the way of the 140 mph expresses.

What sort of stink would there be, if a motorway closed in the 1980s was now being rebuilt, to provide what existed forty years ago?

But British Rail closed or simplified infrastructure, without properly looking at the consequences, mainly to please or under the direction of the Treasury.

Double-Track Over Digwell Viaduct And Through Welwyn North Station

This is one of the worst rail bottlenecks in the UK.

To make matters worse, a service between Kings Cross and Cambridge with a frequency of two tph stops at the station.

It means a fast train would have to do a pit stop at speeds nor far off those of a racing car.

I think we can say, that adding extra tracks through the area would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

But consider the trains that pass Welwyn North every hour.

  • LNER – 5 trains
  • Thameslink – 3 trains
  • Cambridge and Ely expresses – 2 trains
  • Cambridge stopping trains – 2 trains.
  • Hull Trains – 7 trains per day.
  • Grand Central – 9 trains per day.

If it is assumed that the Hull Trains and Grand Central add up to one train per hour, it looks like about thirteen tph go through the double track section.

If another couple of trains are added for luck, this means that the double track section will be handling a train every four minutes.

The double-track section is less than five miles long, so a 140 mph train will run between the quadruple track sections at Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations  in jut over two minutes.

Currently, the trains that stop at Welwyn North station are timetabled to take nine minutes between stops at Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.

Effectively, the stop at Welwyn North station blocks the double-track section for nine minutes..

This means that there are two twenty-one minute periods in an hour where the other trains can pass through.

So how can you maximise the use of these available periods?

  • The trains must arrive precisely at the right time – Digital signalling with automatic train control is probably the best way to ensure this.
  • All through trains must be running as near to 140 mph as possible.
  • Diverting of slower trains to alternative routes should be examined.
  • The stopping train should be able to execute a stop in the shortest possible time.

I believe that if the timetable is efficient, that as many as twenty tph could be handled.

Most would go through the double-track section at 140 mph!

I must add a point about safety.

Trains currently go through these platforms at Welwyn North station at a maximum speed of 125 mph.

Will more trains going through at a faster speed, necessitate the addition of a passenger protection system at the station?

Thameslink’s Class 700 Trains

I have heard East Midlands drivers moan about Class 700 trains on the Midland Main Line, as they are too slow at 100 mph to mix it with the 125 mph expresses.

It looks like the Treasury got the specification wrong again! Surprise! Surprise! Even a 110 mph capability, as is often specified for outer suburban trains would be better.

But these trains run non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations, so at 100-110 mph, they will be a bit of a hindrance to the trains running at 140 mph. It would be like granny and grandpa in a Morris Minor in the fast lane of a motorway!

If there is the capacity, then perhaps the Thameslink trains should run on an upgraded Hertfprd Loop Line along with the 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Once they rejoined the East Coast Main Line, they would take to the upgraded slow lines to go Cambridge and Peterborough.

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Cambridge is one of the UK’s world-class cities and it deserves a top quality service from London.

The current Class 387 trains are only 110 mph trains, so wouldn’t fit well with the herds of 140 mph trains running to and from London.

It would probably be best in the long term to replace these trains with 140 mph trains designed for the route.

After all if Oxford can have a commuter service to London using Class 802 trains, then surely these are good enough for Cambridge?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I discuss the possibility of digital signalling on the London and Kings Lynn route via Cambridge, based on reports in Rail Magazine.

If the Cambridge Line from Hitchin were to be upgraded for faster running, then London and Cambridge times might be reduced significantly.

Hull Trains And Grand Central

Hull Trains and Grand Central will want to participate in the 140 mph action between London and Doncaster.

Hull Trains have already made their move and have leased a fleet of Class 802 trains, which will shortly enter service.

Another Open Access operator; East Coast Trains has already ordered five Hitachi 140 mph trains.

Will Grand Central replace their fleet of Class 180 trains?

They will either buy 140 mph trains, cease trading or give up!

The other operators won’t want slow trains on the fast lines.

How Many 140 mph Trains Will Be Able To Run Between London And Doncaster?

I finish this section with a question.

I answered this question and a few others in Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster.

This was my conclusion.

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

That is certainly worth having.

Conclusion

The new platform at Stevenage station is a well-designed sub-project that enables  the Hertford Loop Line to be used to its full capability.

  • Up to four tph will be able to run between Moorgate and Stevenage stations.
  • The redesigned junction at Stevenage will allow services like Thameslink to use the Hertford Loop Line rather than run at 100 mph on the East Coast Main Line.

It is an important sub-project in turning the East Coast Main Line into a high speed line with a high proportion of 140 mph running.

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LNER Confirms Dates For Azuma Introduction Onto Highland Services

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

The dates when Class 800 trains will enter service to the Highlands are as follows.

  • Aberdeen on November 25th 2019.
  • Inverness on December 9th 2019

InterCity 125s are being replaced.

Soon there won’t be many of these iconic trains running on the East Coast Main Line.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

HS2 Railway To Be Delayed By Up To Five Years

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

These first few paragraphs indicate the current situation.

The first phase of the HS2 high-speed railway between London and Birmingham will be delayed by up to five years, Transport Minister Grant Shapps says.

That section of the line was due to open at the end of 2026, but it could now be between 2028 and 2031 before the first trains run on the route.

HS2’s total cost has also risen from £62bn to between £81bn and £88bn, but Mr Shapps said he was keeping an “open mind” about the project’s future.

The second phase has also been delayed.

What are the short term consequences of this delay in the building of High Speed Two?

  • No Capacity Increase Between London And Birmingham., until three or five years later.
  • Capacity increases to Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Preston will probably be five years or more later.

Are there any other things we can do to in the meantime to make the shortfall less damaging to the economy?

East Coast Main Line

Much of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) has been designed for 140 mph running. Wikipedia puts it like this..

Most of the length of the ECML is capable of 140 mph subject to certain infrastructure upgrades.

Wikipedia also says that Greengauge 21 believe that Newcastle and London timings using the shorter route could be comparable to those using HS2.

Track And Signalling Improvements

There are a number of improvements that can be applied to the ECML, with those at the Southern end summed up by this paragraph from Wikipedia.

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

Currently, services between London and Edinburgh take between twenty and forty minutes over four hours.

Who would complain if some or even all services took four hours?

To help the four hour target to be achieved Network Rail are also doing the following.

  • Building the Werrington Dive-under.
  • Remodelling the station throat at Kings Cross.
  • Adding extra tracks between Huntingdon and Woodwalton.
  • Devising a solution for the flat junction at Newark.

Every little helps and all these improvements will allow faster and extra services along the ECML.

Obviously, running between London and Edinburgh in four hours has implications for other services.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

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 81 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I suspect that North of Doncaster, improving timings will be more difficult, due to the slower nature of the route, but as services will go between Edinburgh and London in four hours, there must be some improvements to be made.

  • Newcastle – Current time is 170 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 137 minutes. My best estimate shows that on an improved ECML, times of under 150 minutes should be possible.
  • York – Current time is 111 minutes, with High Speed Two predicting 84 minutes. Based on the Newcastle time, something around 100 minutes should be possible.

In Wikipedia,  Greengauge 21 are quoted as saying.

Upgrading the East Coast Main Line to 140 mph operation as a high priority alongside HS2 and to be delivered without delay. Newcastle London timings across a shorter route could closely match those achievable by HS2.

My estimate shows a gap of thirteen minutes, but they have better data than I can find on the Internet.

Filling Electrification Gaps East Of Leeds And Between Doncaster And Sheffield

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this.

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.

In addition, the direct route between Doncaster and Sheffield should be electrified.

This would allow the following.

  • LNER expresses to run on electricity between London and Sheffield, if they were allowed to run the route.
  • Sheffield’s tram-trains could reach Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

A collateral benefit would be that it would bring 25 KVAC power to Sheffield station.

Better Use Of Trains

LNER are working the trains harder and will be splitting and joining trains, so that only full length trains run into Kings Cross, which will improve capacity..

Capacity might also be increased, if Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough services were run with 125 mph or even 140 mph trains. GWR is already doing this, to improve efficiency between Paddington and Reading.

Faster Freight Trains

Rail Operations Group has ordered Class 93 locomotives, which are hybrid and capable of hauling some freight trains at 110 mph.

Used creatively, these might create more capacity on the ECML.

Could the East Coast Main Line be the line that keeps on giving?

Especially in the area of providing faster services to Lincoln, Hull, Leeds, Huddersfield,Bradford Newcastle and Edinburgh.

Conclusion On East Coast Main Line

There is a lot of scope to create a high capacity, 140 mph line between London and Edinburgh.

An Upgraded Midland Main Line

Plans already exist to run 125 mph bi-mode Hitachi trains on the Midland Main Line between London and Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

But could more be done in the short term on this line.

Electrification Between Clay Cross North Junction And Sheffield

This 15.5 mile section of the Midland Main Line will be shared with High Speed Two.

It should be upgraded to High Speed Two standard as soon as possible.

This would surely save a few minutes between London and Sheffield.

140 mph Running

The Hitachi bi-modes are capable of 140 mph,  if the signalling is digital and in-cab.

Digital signalling is used by the Class 700 trains running on Thameslink, so would there be time savings to be made by installing digital signalling on the Midland Main Line, especially as it would allow 140 mph running, if the track was fast enough.

Extension From Sheffield To Leeds Via New Stations At Rotherham And Barnsley

Sheffield and Transport for the North are both keen on this project and it would have the following benefits.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley get direct trains to and from London.
  • A fast service with a frequency of four trains per hour (tph) could run between Leeds and Sheffield in a time of twenty-eight minutes.

This extension will probably go ahead in all circumstances.

Use Of The Erewash Valley Line

The Erewash Valley Line is a route, that connects the Midland Main Line to Chesterfield and Sheffield, by bypassing Derby.

It has recently been upgraded and from my helicopter, it looks that it could be faster than the normal route through Derby and the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

The World Heritage Site would probably make electrification of the Derby route difficult, but could some Sheffield services use the relatively straight Erewash Valley Line to save time?

Faster Services Between London And Sheffield

When East Midlands Railway receive their new Hitachi bi-mode trains, will the company do what their sister company; Greater Anglia is doing on the London and Norwich route and increase the number of hourly services from two to three?

If that is done, would the third service be a faster one going at speed, along the Erewash Valley Line?

I suspect that it could have a timing of several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion On An Upgraded Midland Main Line

There are various improvements and strategies, that can be employed to turn the Midland Main Line into a High Speed Line serving Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line is not such a fruitful line for improvement, as is the East Coast Main Line.

Digital signalling, 140 mph running and faster freight trains, may allow a few more trains to be squeezed into the busy main line.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Birmingham New Street

I’ve seen increased capacity between London and Birmingham quoted as one of the reasons for the building of High Speed Two.

Currently, both Virgin Trains and West Midlands Trains, have three tph between London and Birmingham New Street.

  • This is probably not enough capacity.
  • The line between Birmingham New Street and Coventry stations is probably at capacity.

These points probably mean more paths between London and Birmingham are needed.

High Speed Two is planned to provide the following services between London and Birmingham after Phase 2 opens.

  • Three tph – London and Birmingham Curzon Street stations via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2 tph)
  • Fourteen tph – London and Birmingham Interchange via Old Oak Common.

That is a massive amount of extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

  • It might be possible to squeeze another train into each hour.
  • Trains could be lengthened.
  • Does Birmingham New Street station have the capacity?

But it doesn’t look like the West Coast Main Line can provide much extra capacity between London and Birmingham.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Liverpool Lime Street

Over the last couple of years, Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled and the station will now be able to handle two tph from London, when the timetable is updated in a year or so.

Digital signalling of the West Coast Main Line would help.

Increasing Capacity Between London and Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station uses two platforms for three Virgin Trains services per hour to and from London.

These platforms could both handle two tph, so the station itself is no barrier to four tph between London and Manchester.

Paths South to London could be a problem, but installing digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line would help.

Conclusion On The West Coast Main Line

Other improvements may be needed, but the major update of the West Coast Main Line, that would help, would be to use digital signalling to squeeze more capacity out of the route.

The Chiltern Main Line

Could the Chiltern Main Line be used to increase capacity between London and Birmingham?

Currently, there are hourly trains between Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations and London.

As each train has about 420 seats, compared to the proposed 1,100 of the High Speed Two trains, the capacity is fairly small.

Increasing capacity on the route is probably fairly difficult.

Digital Signalling

This could be used to create more paths and allow more trains to run between London and Bitmingham.

Electrification

The route is not electrified, but electrifying the 112 mile route would cause massive disruption.

Capacity At Marylebone Station

Marylebone station probably doesn’t have the capacity for more rains.

Conclusion On The Chiltern Main Line

I don’t think that there is much extra capacity available on the Chiltern Main Line between London and Birmingham.

Conclusion

I have looked at the four main routes that could help make up the shortfall caused by the delay to High Speed Two.

  • Planned improvements to the East Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to Leeds and East Yorkshire.
  • The Midland Main Line will increase capacity to the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, when it gets new trains in a couple of years.
  • Planned improvements to the West Coast Main Line could provide valuable extra capacity to North West England.
  • The Chiltern Main Line probably has little place to play.

As Birmingham has been planning for High Speed Two to open in 2026, some drastic rethinking must be done to ensure that London and Birmingham have enough rail capacity from that date.

 

 

 

September 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Doncaster Sheffield Airport

Sheffield’s plans for Doncaster Sheffield Airport are ambitious.

This is said in the report.

The airport’s proximity to the ECML offers a deliverable short term solution to accelerate the growth hub’s
impact.

Doncaster Council, the SCR and the airport’s owner the Peel Group are working alongside Network Rail and TfN to progress delivery of a new ECML station at the airport’s site, through just 4.5 miles of new track off the mainline and rejoining via the existing Doncaster – Lincoln Line running adjacent to the top of the runway.

This Google Map shows the Airport and its relationship to Doncaster.

Doncaster is in the North-West corner of the map and the Airport is in the South-East corner.

The Airport has one very long North South runway, which was a designated emergency field for the Space Shuttle, although it was never used.

This Google Map shows the Northern end of the runway and the Doncaster-Lincoln Line running East-West across the runway.

And this Google Map, shows the relationship between the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and the Airport.

The ECML runs diagonally across the Western side of this map, passing to the West of the Northern Racing School, with its oval track.

Looking at the map of the area, I feel that a loop from the ECML could have the following route from South to North.

  • Leave the ECML to the South of the Northern Racing School.
  • Pass through the Airport parallel to the runway.
  • Stop at a station connected to the terminal.
  • At the North of the Airport connect to the Doncaster-Lincoln Line.

I think the design could give a lot of scope for services to the Airport.

  • Up to four trains per hour between Doncaster and the South.
  • Up to four tram-trains per hour to and from Sheffield, via Doncaster and Rotherham.
  • Several freight service per hour.

I have clipped this map of services from the report on Sheffield’s plans.

Some points to note.

New Tram-Train Stops

The tram-train extension from Rotherham Parkgate to Doncaster Sheffield Airport via Doncaster has new stations at Lakeside, Bessacarr and terminates at a new station at Bawtry.

Bi-Directional Connection To The Doncaster-Lincoln Line

This is a sensible idea.

  • It gives a direct passenger route to and from most of Lincolnshire.
  • If the Airport develops a substantial air-freight business, it connects the airport to the freight route between Peterborough and Doncaster, that has recently been created to take freight trains from the ECML.

There is also plenty of space in the flat lands South of the Humber.

Electrification

This is one line that will be electrified, so that the Class 800 trains can use the loop efficiently.

Electrification would also be used by the tram-trains.

The Tram-Trains Don’t Use The East Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • Only when they are threading their way through South of Doncaster, will the tram-trains affect the express trains on the ECML.
  • The tram-trains may need to reverse at Doncaster.

But I suspect, Network Rail have a cunning plan to run everything efficiently.

Times To And From London And The South

A fast time between Kings Cross and Doncaster-Sheffield Airport is important, if the Airport is to tempt travellers along the ECML to use the Airport.

I reckon, that the following times will be possible.

  • London and DSA – 90 minutes
  • Peterborough and DSA – 50 minutes

Note that the second time is under half the time it takes to get from Peterborough to Heathrow or Gatwick.

Conclusion

Developing Doncaster Sheffield Airport seems like an excellent idea to me.

 

July 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

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