The Anonymous Widower

Oakervee Review – Calvert Station

The Oakervee Review says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Could Suffolk Have It’s Own Version Of London’s Freedom Pass?

London has a travel pass for certain groups of passengers, like the elderly and the disabled called a Freedom Pass.

This is the introduction forthe Freedom Pass from Wikipedia.

Freedom Pass is a concessionary travel scheme, which began in 1973, to provide free travel to residents of Greater London, England, who are aged 60 and over (eligibility age increasing by phases to 66 by 2020) or who have a disability. The scheme is funded by local authorities and coordinated by London Councils. Originally the pass was a paper ticket, but since 2004 it has been encoded on to a contactless smartcard compatible with Oyster card readers.

I have a Freedom Pass, as I am seventy-two and it really gives me freedom, as my eyesight isn’t good enough for me to drive.

Other parts of the UK like Manchester and Newcastle have similar schemes that allow a degree of free travel on local trains, trams and light rail systems.

But generally English counties like Suffolk don’t have such a scheme.

East Anglia’s Rail Revolution

All of Greater Anglia’s trains are being replaced with new Stadler Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

In InterCity Quality For Rural Routes, I said this.

Greater Anglia are purchasing a fleet of 38 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

I don’t believe that Greater Anglia will park these trains in a siding, but use them to increase frequencies.

Greater Anglia are having signalling problems introducing the new trains, but we have already seen the following in Suffolk.

Four-car Class 755 trains running from Ipswich to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

As the frequency is still the same and train length has increased from one, two and three cars, this is almost a doubling of capacity.

The UK’s Contactless Ticketing Revolution

London started wide-scale contactless tickerting and in places, it is applied to rural routes like Iver and Reading on TfL Rail’s new Western branch, where frequencies are more Suffolk, than Central London.

I believe in the next few years, the average passenger going between say Newmarket and Ipswich in Suffolk, will touch-in at Newmarket with their credit card and touch-out at Ipswich, just as passengers do now, millions of times all over London, every day of the year.

London’s Freedom Pass looks to the readers in London, as just a different credit card, so it is able to allow passengers through.

I believe that once Suffolk goes contactless with ticketing, then it will be possible to overlay a Suffolk Free Travel Pass on the system.

What Lines Would Be Allowed To Be Used By Passengers With A Suffolk Free Travel Pass?

These are routes that are wholly or partly in Suffolk.

Ipswich And Cambridge

The Ipswich and Cambridge Line currently has one train per hour (tph) and is wholly in Suffolk, except for a short section at the Cambridge end of the route.

Would a Suffolk Travel Pass allow travel to Cambridge?

I suspect that both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk would have reasons for a compromise , as both counties could benefit from visiting Travel Pass holders.

I would include Ipswich and Cambridge in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich And Diss

The section of the Great Eastern Main Line, between Ipswich and Diss, currently has two tph and is wholly in Suffolk, except for a short stretch at Diss, which is just over the border in Norfolk.

I would include Ipswich and Diss in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich And Felixstowe

The Felixstowe Branch Line currently has one tph and is wholly in Suffolk.

But this route is planned to be upgraded as I wrote in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

  • Tram-trains would start at Ipswich station and run to \felixstowe.
  • Tram-trains could start on the forecourt of Ipswich station and could run through the streets of Ipswich, via Portman Road, the Town Centre, Christchurch Park, Ipswich Hospital, the proposed new housing at Westerfield and Ransome’s Retail Park before joining the Felixstowe  Branch, in the area, where it crosses the A14.
  • It could even do more street running in Felixstowe to connect to the Town Centre and the Sea Front.
  • Frequency would be four tph.

Removing the passenger service from the rail lines between Derby Road and Ipswich stations, would allow more freight trains to run through the area.

I would include Ipswich and Felixstowe in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich and Lowestoft

The East Suffolk Line currently has one tph and is wholly in Suffolk.

I believe that this line could be developed by adding a second hourly service to Aldeburgh.

I would include Ipswich and Lowestoft in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Colchester And Peterborough

The current service runs between Ipswich and Peterborough, and is a service of one train per two hours.

Greater Anglia plan to do the folloeing.

  • Increase the frequency to one tph.
  • Extend the route to run between Colchester and Peterborough.
  • It will terminate in a bay platform at Colchester.

The route will be mainly in Suffolk, with thends in Cambridgeshire and Essex.

  • Passengers for the North and Scotland will change at Peterborough.
  • Passengers for London will change at Colchester, Ipswich, Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • Passengers for Stansted Airport, Hertfordshire and West Essex will change at Cambridge.
  • Passengers for Sudbury will change at Colchester.

This route will become a very important connecting service.

Because of this connectivity, I would include Colchester and Peterborough in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Colchester Town And Sudbury

The Gainsborough Line currently has one tph and is an isolated line that is half in Suffolk and half in Essex.

I would include Colchester Town and Sudbury in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

How Would It Be Funded?

Wikipedia says this sabot the funding of London’s Freedom Pass.

The cost of providing the travel concession is negotiated between London Councils and the local transport operator Transport for London. It is funded through a mixture of national grant and council tax.

Although a similar process could be used for a county like Suffolk, other elements are present, that have effects on use and revenue.

Only One Train Operator

There is only one train operator involved; Greater Anglia.

This must make planning and operation easier.

Greater Anglia Should Benefit From Passengers Travelling Further

Will passengers use their passes to get to Ipswich and Peterborough to travel further?

If they do, then Greater vAnglia won’t be bothering.

Greater Anglia may be able to fill the twelve-car Clsass 745 trains in the Peaks, but filling them in the Off Peak will be more difficult.

Would a Suffolk Free Travel Pass attract passengers to the trains?

Modal Change

This is a big imponderable in any calculation.

If you live near a station, would you be more likely to use the train to go to work, shopping or a meal in Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds or Cambridge, if the train was free?

Only partly, but if the car parking was expensive or always full, that would be a deterrent.

People plan travel against a large range of parameters and cost is one of them.

Would a Suffolk Free Travel Pass take pressure off the roads.

Trips To The Coast

There are only two rail-connected coastal towns in Suffolk; Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Travel on a sunny day between Ipswich and Felixstowe and the train can be packed with passengers going for a stroll along the sea front.

With more capacity, this usev will increase and especially amongst those who would be eligible for a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Carbon Emissions

People are starting to take notice of carbon emissions.

But they’re not buying electric cars, as they worry about the range.

So taking the train is a sop to the pressure of their conscience or that of their children.

Stansted Airport

There are two tph between Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

Travelling from say East Suffolk to the sun, could start with a train to the nearest airport using a train at Cambridge.

East-West Suffolk Travel

Suffolk is not the largest county in England, but East West travel by road can take longer than the train.

Greater Anglia are planning two East-West services at a frequency of one tph.

  • Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely.
  • Ipswich and Cambridge viaNeedham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket.

Note that Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds stations will have a frequency of two tph.

The East-West Railway, currently being built between Oxford and Cambridge is proposing more improvements for Suffolk.

  • A new hourly Manningtree and Oxford service, via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  •  A new A14 Parkway station, where the Cambridge and Peterborough routes divide to the North of Newmarket.
  • Tram-trains at a frequency of four tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Note that Ipswich and A14 Parkway stations willl have a frequency of three tph.

I also think that operationally, there could be another improvement.

Ipswich station has a limited number of platforms and expanding it will be difficult.

But I believe that operations could be eased, if the Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Lowestoft services were to be combined into a single cross-Suffolk Cambridge and Lowestoft service, with a reverse at Ipswich.

These routes between Cambridge and Suffolk will spread the Cambridge effect across the county and in return Suffolk will provide the housing and other resources that Cambridge needs.

People Will Be Working Longer

We are going through an employment revolution for those past retirement age for various reasons.

  • Economic necessity.
  • Some people l;Ike and/or need the camaraderie of working.
  • Some people have much-needed skills.
  • Some business owners and self-employed prefer working to retirement.
  • Flexible and part-time working is expanding.

A Suffolk Free Travel Pass would be used by a lot of those who are still working and paying Income Tax.

Healthcare

I have no figures, but I suspect in London, Freedom Pass holders are bigger users of the NHS and hospitals.

Healthcare in East Anglia is changing, with increasing dependence on the three largest hospitals at Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

This means that going to hospital for a check-up often means a fifty mile drive and a long hassle over the limited parking.

Published plans mean that Cambridge and Ipswich hospitals will be rail-connected at each end of Suffolk.

Would it be easier to use the train from many parts of Suffolk?

It should also be noted, that those with health problems, that need regular hospital visits in London, are issued with a Freedom Pass for travel, as it’s cheaper than sending a car.

Any county bringing in a free travel scheme would surely use it to help those needing to go to hospital regularly.

Greater Anglia’s new trains are all step-free, as this picture shows.

I believe that good rail-connected hospitals can improve the efficiency of the NHS.

Summing Up Funding

All of these developments across Suffolk will see a large increase in Suffolk’s economic activity and the consequent tax take from Council Tax and Business Rates.

I believe that Suffolk could probably afford to fund their share of a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Given the reduction in carbon emissions, that would probably occur, surely Government would contribute a share.

As Greater Anglia would surely benefit from onward journeys to and from London, they can probably afford to do a good deal for free travel in Suffolk. After all, they’ve already built in the capacity to their business model.

Restrictions On Use

There may need to be restrictions on use, like some routes apply in London.

For instance, using trains to and from London to perhaps travel between Ipswich and Stowmarket, may be restricted in the Peak.

It will all depend on Greater Anglia’s capacity.

Would It Work For A Group Of Counties?

I don’t see why not!

Perhaps instead of Cambridgeshire, orfolk and Suffolk, all having their own Free Travel Passes, would an East Anglian one work better?

Conclusion

If London can have a Freedom Pass, then why not Suffolk? Or other English and Welsh counties for that matter?

I have rambled through several ideas and possibilities.

But I believe that Suffolk with the powerhouse of Cambridge in the |West can see an improvement in economic activity, can go a long way to funding a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

This in turn could generate further economic activity and the tax revenue that would be generated to pay for the scheme.

Suffolk though is lucky in that it aslready has the rail network and Greater Anglia have purchased enough trains. Only a hanful of extra stations and some branch line reopenings would be needed.

I shall return regularly to this post.

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?

As currently envisioned, High Speed Two is very much an English project, with the following routes

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Birmingham
  • London and Manchester Airport/Manchester via Birmingham and Crewe
  • London and Sheffield via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub
  • London and Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub

There are large numbers of mid-sized towns and cities that it won’t serve directly.

The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Crewe
  • London and Manchester via Crewe
  • London and Glasgow via Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle
  • London and Blackpool via Crewe, Wigan, Preston
  • London and North Wales via Crewe and Chester.

It could probably be considered a two or two-and-a-half nation line, as it serves the Western half of Scotland and the Northern half of Wales.

Add the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and you get a line, that serves a lot more places like Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, Stafford, Stoke and Wigan.

  • The current plan for both routes envisage them both being run by Avanti West Coast, so it looks like High Speed Two is being designed to work with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Destinations like Carlisle, Glasgow and Preston will be served using the West Coast Main Line.
  • Compatible trains will be built that can be run on both lines.
  • Some stations will be shared.

It does seem that there are advantages, if the two routes are considered as one system.

The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Cambridge
  • London and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • London and Lincoln via Newark.
  • London and Leeds via Doncaster
  • London and Hull
  • London and Edinburgh via Doncaster, York and Newcastle

The East Coast Main Line could become another high speed line.

Extra services could be added.

  • London and Norwich via Cambridge
  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Grimsby and Cleethorpes via Lincoln.
  • London and Sheffield via Doncaster.

Add the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and there could be a wider range of towns and cities served.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster could play the same role in the East as Birmingham and Crewe will play in the West.
  • The East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster will be upgraded to in-cab ERTMS signalling in a few years time, which will allow 140 mph running on several sections of the route.
  • Improvements are either under way or being planned to reduce bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If High Speed Two can handle eighteen trains per hour (tph), then surely the East Coast Main Line, which has a lot of quadruple track, can handle upwards of twelve 140 mph trains per hour between London and Doncaster, after the improvements to track and signalling.
  • I estimate that 140 mph running between London and Doncaster could save as much as twenty minutes.
  • I feel that Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York could all be reached in under two hours from London using the existing Azuma trains.
  • This morning the 0700 from Kings Cross is timetabled to reach York at 0852. Would it be possible for London and York to be around just ninety minutes?
  • Savings would also apply to trains between London and Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scotland and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour journeys between London and Edinburgh would be commonplace.

Note that the Internet gives a driving time of nearly three and a half hours between London and Leeds. Surely, two hours or less on High Speed Yorkshire would be much preferable.

I would add this infrastructure.

  • There might be a good case to create electrified routes to Hull and Sheffield and between Sheffield and Leeds, but they wouldn’t be needed to start the service or obtain the time savings. But they would ease operation, cut carbon emissions and save a few more minutes.
  • A station at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
  • A parkway station at Barnsley on the Dearne Valley Line with direct services to Doncaster, Leeds, London and Sheffield.

The two latter improvements have been proposed in Sheffield Region’s transport plans.

High Speed Yorkshire should be finished as soon as possible. A completion date of 2024 is not unreasonable.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a plan to build an East-West high speed line or at least a much faster one, than the overcrowded joke, that presently exists.

I discussed the latest thinking in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North and the latest thinking and my views can best be summarised as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will be an improved line with some new sections, between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will connect at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will share infrastructure.
  • The High Speed Two route to Manchester would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • The High Speed Two route to Liverpool would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Warrington
  • Hull will get a London service from High Speed Two via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds

The Oakervee review of High Speed Two is also underway and leaks are suggesting, that the report is recommending that High Speed Two be built in full, but differently.

One important thing, that is happening, is that Network Rail have started the procurement process to improve the current line between Leeds and Huddersfield, as I reported in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

  • Extra tracks will be built.
  • There will be some extra electrification.

I very much feel, that this is one of the most difficult TransPennine sections to improve.

The other sections are summarised as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester Airport via Warrington and High Legh is across the flat lands of North Cheshire and could follow the M56.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester will probably be a high speed tunnel.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield section could possibly be improved in the short term
  • Leeds and Hull and the required connections to the East Coast Main Line are in the flat lands of East Yorkshire.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have a plan in there to perhaps deliver improved services East of Huddersfield and radiating from Leeds in the next few years.

It certainly needs improvement, as the TransPennine route must be the worst main line in the UK.

A One-Nation Railway

I think these lines can be connected to create an integrated high speed network.

  • High Speed Two
  • West Coast Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail

But.

  • It doesn’t connect to the whole country and needs to be extended.
  • It won’t be fully developed until at least 2035.
  • Improvements are needed now!

So what could be substantially delivered of the core network, by say 2024, which is around the date of the next General Election?

  • Faster and more frequent services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • An electrified higher capacity and faster line between Leeds and Huddersfield and possibly between Leeds and Hull.
  • New East Coast Main Line services from London to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Nottingham, Scarborough and Sheffield and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour services between London and Edinburgh.
  • New local services to connect Blyth and Ashington to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle.
  • A Tees Valley Metro  connecting Bishop Auckland, Whitby and all in between to the East Coast Main Line at Darlington.
  • Improved local services between York and Leeds via Harrogate, Sheffield and Leeds via the Dearne Valley and on other lines in Yorkshire.

Effectively, the recommendations of this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, which apply to Leeds and Sheffield would have been implemented to connect to high speed services at Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Yprk.

Technology used would include.

  • Some more electrification using the power from the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Conventional electric trains and compatible battery trains.
  • Tram-trains feeding into the Sheffield Supertram.
  • ERTMS digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and the major branches to Hull, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There would also need to be an increase in LNER’s Azuma fleet. But that is already rumoured as I wrote in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

Could we see as many as twelve Axumas per hour between London and Doncaster? Yes!

Could it all be delivered by the 2024 General Election? Yes!

High Speed Scotland

The Scottish Nationalist Party is pushing for High Speed Two to be extended to Scotland.

I think that this will eventually be a feasible project, but it will be a very expensive and perhaps built around 2040.

These are my thoughts for the next few years up to 2024.

High Speed To Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh currently supports a half-hourly service to and from London.
  • East Coast Trains are proposing to add five trains per day to this route.
  • TransPennine Express will run an hourly service between Edinburgh and Liverpool, via Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, which starts at the December 2019 timetable change..
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Aberdeen and Plymouth.
  • It looks like Edinburgh and Newcastle have a four tph service.

All services, except the CrossCountry  are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802 or 803 trains.

  • Currently, services take ninety minutes for the 125 miles between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • The Hitachi trains are all capable of 140 mph with digital signalling.
  • The Hitachi trains have better acceleration.
  • The route is fully electrified. Although, there are reports it needs enhancing to be able to handle the current number of trains.

How many minutes can be taken off thjs route, with a new timetable on a line running only Hitachi high speed trains?

Probably not that many, but it would ensure all London and Edinburgh trains were under four hours.

But it will all happen by 2024?

High Speed To Glasgow

So Edinburgh is alright, but what about Glasgow?

Consider.

  • Glasgow currently supports an hourly service to and from London.
  • TransPennine Express run an hourly service to and from Manchester Airport
  • TransPennine Express will run a three trains per day service to and from Liverpool.

Glasgow has a much lower frequency service to and from England than Edinburgh.

Currently, London and Glasgow takes over four-and-a half hours and there is going to be no serious improvement, until High Speed Two opens to Crewe, when the time could drop to perhaps just over three-and-a half hours.

But that won’t happen until possibly 2030.

In Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?, I detail a cunning plan, that might allow London and Glasgow in four hours.

This was my conclusion in the other article.

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

There may be advantages in replacing the Pendelinos with the Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains on the London and Glasgow service as early as possible.

  • There would be a large increase of capacity between London and Glasgow.
  • What would be the possible speed of the Classic-compatible trains on updated track North of Crewe? I will assume 140 mph, but it could be more! That’s called engineering!
  • London and Glasgow timings would be improved, as soon as digital signalling is installed.
  • The trains would get a thorough testing before the opening of High Speed Two to Birmingham.

At least one platform at Glasgow Central would need to be extended to take a four-hundred metre long train.

According to Wikipedia, the Classic-compatible trains will be introduced from 2026.

I think by the December 2026 timetable change Glasgow could see a four-hour service to and from London.

But could it be 2024, if the Pendelinos can pick up time North of Crewe with digital signalling?

The Borders Railway

If High Speed Two is going to be a One Nation project, the Borders Railway must be extended from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.

Could this be done by 2024?

It would be a close-run thing! But possible!

The Glasgow South Western Line

The Glasgow South Western Line, is a secondary route between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It should be electrified early, so that during the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle it can be used as a diversionary route.

Scotland Could Have Two Four-Hour Fully-Electrified Routes To And From London

But it’s not just London that gets good connectivity to and from Scotland!

  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Carlisle
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Preston
  • Wolverhampton
  • York

All these cities will have direct connections to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow.

High Speed Midlands

Almost unnoticed and with little fuss, the Midland Main Line is being upgraded to provide 125 mph services between London and Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • New Hitachi bi-mode Class 804 trains will improve speeds and increase capacity
  • Over the last decade or so, the track has been upgraded for 125 mph running.
  • Electrification will reach between London and Market Harborough.
  • Market Harborough station has been remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • The Corby branch will be electrified with the trains running half-hourly.

I also think, that the Midland Main Line will link into all the improvements between Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield and provide the following.

  • A high speed route between Leeds and the East Midlands.
  • A route for a Barnsley and London service.
  • A second route for Leeds and London services..

It also seems that rail planners are getting innovative with the design of the Midland Main Line.

  • It appears that the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two’s spur to Sheffield will be combined into an electrified line between Clay Cross and Sheffield via Chesterfield.
  • An improved link to the East-West Rail link at Bedford could improve links between the North-East and the South of England.
  • The disused rail line between Market Harborough and Northampton could be reopened.

The line is a lot more than a connection between London and the East Midlands.

The upgrade should be complete by 2024.

East West Rail

East West Rail is still in a long planning stage, but it now looks likely to provide more than a passenger link between Oxford and Cambridge.

  • New freight routes for Felixstowe and Southampton.
  • Extra passenger services between Oxford and Reading in the West and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich in the East.
  • Connections to the Great Western Main Line, the Chiltern Line, West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.

It has also been suggested that East West Rail should be connected to High Speed Two at a new station at Calvert. This could give Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton good links to and from High Speed Two.

Great Western Main Line

At the December 2019 timetable change, there has finally been some good news in the saga of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

  • Services between London and Bristol have been improved.
  • The timetable has been improved.

Whether it will stand up is another matter.

Certainly by 2024, it will be a much better main line.

It could have full digital in-can signalling, which could result in 140 mph running and journey time savings.

Who knows?

But what excites me is the possibility of a connection between High Speed Two and East West Rail at Calvert, which will allow trains to run between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, in Wales and the West and the North on a mainly electrified high speed railway.

High Speed North Wales

Avanti West Coast is purchasing thirteen new Hitachi bi-mode trains to run services to Chester and North Wales.

I can’t see much speed improvement in the services, although if the West Coast Main Line gets digital signalling, this could save a few minutes between London and Crewe.

High Speed Ireland

The technology is now available to build a rail bridge between Scotland and the island of Ireland.

I laid out the arguments in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!.

The Lincoln Solution

Lincoln is a city, that has been ignored by UK railways for decades.

But not any more as LNER now run six return trips a day to the city on Mondays to Saturdays and five on Sundays.

I wrote about the improvements in The Shape Of Train Services To Come.

How many other cities and large towns would benefit from a Lincoln solution?

LNER have already launched a similar service to Harrogate at the December 2019 timetable change and I’m sure that more will follow.

Disability And Access Issues

A true one-nation railway wouldn’t exclude anybody from using the trains.

Strides have been made to put up step-free bridges, but some of the access between platform and train is truly dreadful.

This picture shows what can be achieved by good design on a Class 755 train.

And this is the step on one of Hitachi’s new trains.

Note that all doors on these Hitachi trains are also far too narrow.

Some train manufacturers can do much better.

Recurring Themes

In this analysis, there are factors that keep cropping up.

Digital Signalling Or ERTMS

This is the key to squeezing more trains into our overcrowded railway.

Between London and Doncaster on the East Coast Main Line, should be operational in a few years and I believe the following lines should follow as soon as possible.

  • East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York and possibly Newcastle.
  • East Coast Main Line North Of Newcastle
  • West Coast Main Line North Of Crewe
  • West Coast Main Line South Of Crewe
  • Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I believe that in-cab digital signalling is a major key to increasing capacity.

Faster Line Speeds

Some routes like TransPennine, have Victorian line speeds

Network Rail showed how it could improve line speed with the remodelling at Market Harborough station.

Bottlenecks, like the Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich need immediate removal, no matter what the Heritage Taliban and other Luddites say.

New Hitachi Trains

There will be several more orders for the next generation of Hitachi’s high speed trains.

I have been critical of Hitachi’s manufacturing processes for these trains in the past, but they seem now to be running well in fleet service.

A standard UK train on 125 mph lines, that can also handle 140 mph with digital signalling must be a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

New Feeder Services

Several new feeder services have been indicated and there should be a lot more of these to bring the benefit of the high speed network to more of the UK population.

Delivering The Improvements

Geographically, the places where improvements are needed are spread thinly around the country and vary from projects with a cost of tens of millions to those with costs of tens of billions.

In the UK, we tend to go for the big hit, when perhaps several smaller ones might give a better short-term improvement.

We also duck projects, which would annoy the noisy local interests.

We need to have fundamental rethink about how we deliver and pay for rail improvements.

Conclusion

I am fairly pleased overall in that I think by 2024, many places in the UK, will have a much better train service than they do now!

Delivery of High Speed Two, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible after 2024, will be the icing on the cake.

Will It Be A One-Nation Project?

I think it can be!

 

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Trip On The East Suffolk Line In A New Stadler Class 755 Train

Today, I took a round trip between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations, along the East Suffolk Line, in one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains.

These are my observations and comments.

Stations

The stations vary between the very good and the very basic.

  • I don’t think that any station has a step-free bridge to cross the line.
  • Many stations are just a single platform.
  • Crossing the line often involves a nearby level crossing.
  • Westerfield, Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth and Beccles have two platforms.
  • Lowestoft and Ipswich are both step-free from the street to the platforms.
  • There also appears to be step-free access between the new trains and the platforms.

Overall, from what I could see from the train, each stop was fairly efficient, although I do think that when the drivers and train staff, fully get to grips with the trains, that there is time to be saved on each of the ten stops.

Consider.

  • These trains have much better acceleration and deceleration, than the trains for which the timetable was written.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform. At Lowestoft, I saw an electric wheelchair roll out of the train at a smart speed.
  • These trains set the Gold Standard for step-free access.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a minute and possibly two minutes saved at each station.

That would reduce the current journey time of one hour and thirty minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich by perhaps ten minutes.

Level Crossings

Consider.

  • Over the years, Greater Anglia and its predecessors right back teyond British Rail have been plagued by accidents at level crossings.
  • Network Rail would like to close them all,
  • But there are always a lot of local objections especially in rural counties like Suffolk.
  • Removal is often expensive, as a new toad of several miles needs to be constructed.

I noticed perhaps ten crossings on my trip.

A big problem is that at many stations on the East Suffolk Line, there is a level crossing and it is often the only way to cross the line.

This Google Map shows Saxmundham station.

This is typical of the line. But here at Saxmundham, there is probably enough space to squeeze in a step-free bridge like this one, that won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition.

There are lots of rural stations like Saxmundham in the country, so why should suburban stations get all the investment?

How long will it be before one of the new Class 755 trains hits a vehicle on an East Anglian level crossing?

Other Traffic

The only other trains that I saw on the route were Greater Anglia trains going the other way, which we passed in stations like Beccles and Saxmundham.

Checking on realtrimetrains.co.uk, there appears to have been no trains other than the Lowestoft and Ipswich service all day.

It appears that although parts of the route are only single track, that a well-designed timetable operated by well-trained and well-performing staff can provide a reliable hourly service.

Line Speed

I brought my personal dynamometer car with me and the train trundled along at a very easy and leisurely 55-60 mph, which is around the operating speed of the line of 55 mph.

Consider.

  • The train gave me the impression, that all those 2,920 kW in the diesel engines could go a bit faster.
  • The timetable was probably designed around a Class 156 train, which has just 425 kW per car, as opposed to the 730 kW per car of the Stadler train.
  • I estimate that the Stadler train is about sixty percent heavier per car, but it does have a lot of electrical gubbins to carry around.
  • The weight of the Stadler train does appear to be lighter per car than a Class 170 train.

I would expect that a well-driven Class 755 train has the power and speed to skip from station to station along the East Suffolk Line at several minutes faster than the timetable.

The line is 49 miles long and trains typically take 90 minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich. That is an average speed of just under 33 mph.

The leg between Saxmundham and Darsham is just over four miles long and it takes nine minutes. This is an average speed of 27 mph.

Consider

  • The acceleration of a Class 755 train is 0.9 m/s², which means to get up to a line speed of 60 mph takes thirty seconds.
  • Four miles at 60 mph takes four minutes.
  • Driver assistance software can tell the driver exactly where to start slowing for the next station.

It might be possible to do the Saxmundham and Darsham leg in perhaps three or four minutes less than the current timetable.

How much time could be saved on the whole route between Lowestoft and Ipswich?

Trains Needed

Look at a typical Off Peak pattern.

  • An Off Peak train is the 1007 from Lowestoft, which arrives at Ipswich at 1136.
  • This train returns from Ipswich at 1217, which arrives in Lowestoft at 1343.
  • It then leaves Lowestoft for Ipswich at 1407.

The train takes four hours to do a round trip on the route, with forty-one minutes wait at Ipswich and twenty-four minutes wait at Lowestoft.

As trains are scheduled from Lowestoft at 1107, 1207 and 1307, four trains will be needed to provide the service.

This is very inefficient.

I feel that it is totally possible for the new trains to run between Lowestoft and Ipswich in around an hour and fifteen minutes, which would mean a saving of between one-two minutes on each leg of the journey.

Suppose though the trains could achieve this time, with an allowance of fifteen minutes to turn the trains at the two end stations.

This would mean that the round trip is now three hours and only three trains will be needed to provide the service.

The Possibility Of A Half-Hourly Service

The current timetable waits for awkward times in each of the end stations.

But my proposed hour and fifteen minute journey with a fifteen minute turnround could offer the possibility of a half-hourly service.

  • Suppose two trains left Ipswich and Lowestoft at identical times on the hour.
  • They would arrive at their destination an hour and fifteen minutes later at a quarter past the hour.
  • By the half-hour, they would be ready to return to the other station.
  • They would arrive back at the start at a quarter to the hour and fifteen minutes they would be ready to repeat the cycle.

The only problem would be to make sure all trains met each other at a place, where they could pass.

The half-hourly service would need six trains. or two more than the current service.

I don’t think that any major engineering works will be needed, although , there might be a need to adjust a passing loop or the signalling.

This is probably only one of many possibilities to provide a half-hourly services.

A Service Between Ipswich And Leiston And Aldeburgh

As I passed this branch the orange army was clearing the track of years of tree and other plant growth.

I’ve always thought that this would be a good idea and I wrote about it in A Station For Leiston.

  • A half-hourly service would need two trains.
  • It would add extra capacity between Ipswich and Saxmundham.
  • It would certainly be needed if Sizewell C is built.
  • Much of the route is double-track between Saxmundham and Ipswich.

It should also be noted that Sizewell has a high-capacity electricity grid connection and with the growtyh of offshore wind, Sizewell might be the ideal place for a large energy storage facility,

Cambridge And Lowestoft?

I took a train recently between Cambridge and Norwich and I noticed it went on to Cromer and Sheringham.

This was just Greater Anglia’s way of scheduling the trains for their convenience.

But could the same joining be done between these two services.

  • Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge

It would do the following.

  • Make better use of Platform 1 at Ipswich.
  • Improve train utilisation.
  • It might encourage day trippers to the coast to use the trains.
  • It would improve the link from East Suffolk to Stabsted Airport.
  • Create a comprehensive service, that connects all the major towns in Suffolk.
  • It would connect these Suffolk towns; Lowestoft, Beccles, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmund’s and Newnarket.
  • It would serve the proposed A14 Parkway station.
  • It would be an excellent feeder sewrvice for the East-West Rail Link.

It would be a true TransSuffolk railway.

Could There Be A Lowestoft And Great Yarmouth Service?

There has been talk of a new service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

There are two options to provide a service.

  • Reinstatement of the Reedham Curve that was closed in 1880.
  • By reversing the train in Reedham station.

I describe these options in Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns.

As the second option does not need any extra infrastructure, I think it is more likely.

This was my conclusion about the route with a reverse.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

It would appear that one train could run an hourly shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

A Scenic Route Between Norwich And Ipswich

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

It could be East Anglia’s version of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Onboard Catering

The East Suffolk Line service currently takes ninety minutes.

I feel that this service is one that could benefit from a coffee service from a trolley.

The service could be provided by Greater Anglia or as on the Settle & Carlisle Line, by the local Community Rail Partnership.

Conclusion

The arrival of Class 755 trains on the East Suffolk Line could be the start of something special!

 

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?

The leak of the Oakervee Report into High Speed Two published in today’s Times, says that extra stations might be added to High Speed Two and in particular one could be built at Calvert in Buckinghamshire, where it would also be an interchange  with the East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Calvert And The Current Railways

This Google Map shows the area around the village of Calvert.

Note.

  1. The two lakes in old clay pits to the North of the village; one for sailing and one for fishing.
  2. A massive landfill to the South.
  3. The route of the East-West Rail Lnk runs East-West to the North of the two lakes.

The enlarged Google Map shows the two lakes and the East-West Rail Link.

There is a distinct cross where the North-South Great Central Main Line crosses the former the East-West Varsity Line.

The Great Central Main Line from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station in the South, has a chord to the East and joins the disused track, that used to form part of the Varsity Line. This chord and line will be developed in the next few yeas to allow Chiltern Railways to open a service to Milton Keynes Central station.

Calvert And High Speed Two

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the possibilities in the area for High Speed Two.

The planned route of High Speed 2 (HS2) will run along the Great Central Railway north-south corridor in this area, past Calvert and the phase one Infrastructure Maintenance Depot will be located near Calvert. No passenger interchange between East West Rail and HS2 is proposed, since stopping high speed trains ‘too often’ reduces their high speed benefits, although in February 2017, the local MP called for the station to be built at the junction between East West Rail and the HS2 line, serving both lines.

Note how the track of the Grand Central Railway can be picked out on the second map.

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Calvert And The Oxford To Cambridge Expressway

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the trunk roads in the area.

Calvert sits in the strip of land which the Government announced in 2018 as its ‘preferred route’ for the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway road, which would link the A34, M40, and M1 trunk roads. It has been noted that the convergence of HS2, East-West Rail, and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway at this location would offer opportunities for future provision of a key regional facility, such as an airport, or a New Town.

I doubt there will be a new airport, but other forms of development would be better than landfill.

Oakervee’s Recommendation For Calvert

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Thoughts On A Possible Calvert Station

These are my thoughts on a possible Calvert station, that would be built to connect the East-West Rail Link and High Speed Two.

Changing Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert Station

This would be very easy to arrange in a well-designed station and would give a lot of stations a direct connection to High Speed Two.

  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea
  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance
  • Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth
  • Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich
  • Milton Keynes and Northampton

Bi-mode trains would run direct to Calvert station, where passengers would change to and from High Speed Two.

Could Trains Run Direct Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert?

In the leak of the Oakervee Report, The Times also says that it could be advantageous if existing trains could use the HS2 track.

Suppose Transport for Wales wants to improve services between South Wales and the Northern destinations of High Speed Two.

As I read the leak, they could obtain their own Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and perhaps run services to Birmingham, Manchester,  Leeds and other destinations.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be as follows.

  • Appropriate flyovers at Calvert.
  • Electrification between Calvert and Didcot.
  • Electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

The electrification would be needed, as I suspect trains running on High Speed Two would be unlikely to be bi-modes.

In fact, if the connection is built as Phase 1 of High Speed Two, Swansea and Birmingham via Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon and Oxford, could be one of the initial High Speed services on High Speed Two.

I estimate that a Swansea and Birmingham service would take about two and a half hours.

When the East-West Rail Link is completed between Calvert and Cambridge, services will also be able to turn East to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

How the services are arranged will depend on where passengers want to go and in what numbers.

Will There Be Commuters From Calvert Station?

Consider.

  • Calvert station will not be surrounded by large amounts of housing, with the exception of Milton Keynes perhaps fifteen minutes away.
  • Services on the East-West Rail Link will probably call at Calvert station.
  • The route of the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway could serve Calvert station.
  • I estimate that Euston and Calvert will have a journey time around twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Calvert might develop into a commuter station and not just to London and Birmingham.

A Calvert And Market Harborough Service Via Milton Keynes And Northampton

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about a proposal to reopen the Market Harborough-Northampton Line that was only finally closed in 1981.

I also included this map, which shows the link between Milton Keynes and link to Market Harborough.

So could we see a service linking High Speed Two at Calvert to the fast-expanding Milton Keynes Northampton and Market Harborough?

I feel that if there was a four trains per hour (tph) service between Calvert and Milton Keynes, this could mean a possible simplification of the services on the completed East-West Rail Line.

\services to Milton Keynes could be.

  • Two tph – Calvert and Market Harborough via Winsford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Wolverton and Northampton.
  • Two tph – Marylebone and Milton Keynes via Winsford and Bletchley.

East-West Rail Link services wouldn’t call at Milton Keynes Central, as this would mean a reverse.

Calvert Station Will Be A High Speed Station For The Local Area

If road access is good, the station will get used as a Park-and-Ride station for accessing High Speed Two for passengers living in the local area.

Useful Routes Via Calvert

Off the top of my head, these are a selection of routes, that could be run via Calvert station; either direct or with a change.

  • East Anglia (Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • South Wales (Cardiff, Newport and Swansea) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • West and South West England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance and Plymouth) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Southern England (Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Thames Valley (Oxford, Reading and Heathrow) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland

Journeys between areas like South Wales and East Anglia could be done with a change at Calvert.

Times To And From Calvert

These are my estimates of times to and from Calvert station.

  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 12 minutes
  • Baswingstoke – 68 minutes
  • Bedford – 49 minutes
  • Bicester Village – 14 minutes
  • Birmingham via HS2 – 19 minutes
  • Bletchley – 21 minutes
  • Bournemouth – 150 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 125 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 110 minutes
  • Cambridge – 91 minutes
  • Cardiff – 147 minutes
  • East Midlands via HS2 – 21 minutes
  • Euston via HS2  – 25-30 minutes
  • Exeter – 186 minutes
  • Glasgow via HS2 – 318 minutes
  • Leeds via HS2 – 60 minutes
  • Leicester – 74 minutes
  • Liverpool via HS2 – 66 minutes
  • Manchester via HS2 – 70 minutes
  • Manchester Airport via HS2 – 61 minutes
  • Market Harborough – 62 minutes
  • Marylebone via Chiltern – 77 minutes
  • Milton Keynes – 26 minutes
  • Newport – 133 minutes
  • Northampton – 42 minutes
  • Oxford – 29 minutes
  • Penzance – 360 minutes
  • Portsmouth – 146 minutes
  • Preston via HS2 – 54 minutes
  • Plymouth – 240 minutes
  • Reading – 52 minutes
  • Swansea – 203 minutes
  • Swindon – 85 minutes
  • Southampton – 103 minutes
  • Winchester – 83 minutes

I will improve and add to these figures.

As an example, I’ll take journeys from Leicester to the North West of England.

Currently, Manchester Piccadilly takes 140 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be four minutes longer, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, Manchester Airport takes 165 minutes with two changes, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter , with only a single change at Calvert.

Currently, Liverpool takes 170 minutes with one change at Birmingham New Street, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, the faster time to Preston is about 150-160 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be about 130 minutes with a change at Calvert.

My estimates were only crude, but ithey do indicate.

  • Changing at Calvert often means the journey only needs a single change.
  • Some journeys are up to thirty minutes faster.

Other HS2 interchange stations, like Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, East Midlands Hub and Preston will probably function in a similar manner.

Conclusion

Trying to predict what would happen if a station were to be built at Calvert is not easy.

But on balance, I very much feel that it would improve the connectivity of High Speed Two.

A Calvert station would also improve the East-West Rail Link, with faster trains and better connectivity.

High Speed Two should be for all and not just services to and from London!

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is The East-West Rail Link Going For The Freight Market?

I will deal with question in two main sections; West and East.

Freight In The West

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about the reopening of the Northampton and Marketharborough Line to connect the West Coast and Midland Main Lines..

  • Passenger services could run between Market Harborough or Leicester and Marylebone, Milton Keynes, Oxford or Reading.
  • Multi-modal services could run between freight terminals in the North Midlands and Yorkshire and Southampton Docks.
  • With electrification, it could create the Electric Spine, that was cancelled a few years ago.

Judging by Grant Shapps comments, I do wonder if this scheme is part of the East-West Rail Link.

Look at freight trains between Sheffield or South Yorkshire and Southampton Docks.

  • Currently, they seem to use a route via Chesterfield, Ilkeston, Toton, Burton-on-Trent, Bordesley, Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Banbury, Oxford, Reading and Basingstoke.
  • After the East-West Rail Link and the Northampton and Market Harborough Line are opened, the trains would go via Chesterfield, Ilkeston, East Midland Parkway, Loughborough, Leicester, Market Harborough, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Bicester, Oxford, Reading and Basingstoke.

The advantages of the new second route would appear to be.

  • It doesn’t involve a Grand Tour of Birmingham.
  • It only involves the next phase of the East-West Rail Link.
  • It is partially-electrified.
  • It would be relatively easy to electrify between Didcot and Bletchley.
  • Innovative locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive might be ideal for the route.

I do suspect that the new route will be substantially quicker.

Freight In The East

If the East-West Rail Link will improve freight services in the West, what will it do in the East?

I wrote about freight at the Eastern end of the route in Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket.

This was the introduction to that article.

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

I then examined the affects in detail.

My conclusions were that it will be a difficult project to get approved, as Newmarket won’t like a double-track freight railway through the centre.

Summary Of Freight Routes Using The East-West Rail Link

As far as I can see, these will be the major freight routes using the link.

Felixstowe and Birmingham

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Nuneaton and Castle Bromwich

Felixstowe and Bristol

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Oxford and Swindon

Felixstowe and Cardiff

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Oxford, Swindon and Newport

Felixstowe and Glasgow

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle

Felixstowe and Liverpool

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn

Felixstowe and Trafford Park

Ipswich, Newmarket, Cambridge, Bletchley, Stafford Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road

Southampton and Birmingham

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Nuneaton and Castle Bromwich

Southampton and Glasgow

Basingstoke, Oxford,  Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle

Southampton and Liverpool

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn

Southampton and Sheffield

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston and Chesterfield

Southampton and Trafford Park

Basingstoke, Oxford, Bletchley, Stafford Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road

Note, that I have ignored routes like Felixstowe and Leeds or London Gateway and Trafford Park, which will avoid the East-West Rail Link.

Conclusion

The East-West Rail Link is going to be a very important freight route.

Winners And Losers

Will there be objections in places like Cambridge, Market Harborough and Newmarket, which will see a large increase in freight traffic?

On the other hand, some places like Banbury, Birmingham and North London will see a reduction in freight traffic.

Others like Oxford would see little difference in the numbers of trains.

Electrification

The East-West Rail Link connects to five electrified main lines at Oxford, Bletchley, Bedford, Sandy and Cambridge.

For freight’s sake, I think it should be electrified to make the most of new motive power, like the Class 93 locomotive and reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

 

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps says he supports the reopening of routes closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

In the article, which describes proceedings in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps, says he was very supportive of opening the Market Harborough Line.

Digging around the Internet, I found this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Hrborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station could be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?

Consider.

  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

It looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?

Consider.

  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the Great Western Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?

Conclusion

Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Packway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.

 

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The East-West Rail Link Plans For Services Between Reading And East Anglia

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link.

This post is particularly about services to Reading and the report says this about services between Reading and East Anglia.

Proposed Core Train Services

This is a sentence.

It has been assumed that, by this stage, a half hourly service will operate on the Central and Western sections between Oxford – Cambridge.

The report then goes on to add.

25 minutes are added to the Oxford journey time to represent the option of one service being extended to / from Reading with a Reading – Oxford non-stop.

So that looks like there will be a core hourly service between Reading and Cambridge, which will take 98 minutes.

The report then goes on to detail how various towns and cities in East Anglia will be connected to Reading.

Bury St. Edmunds

2h16 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Great Yarmouth

3h14 hourly direct

Ipswich

2h43 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Lowestoft

3h30 hourly with change at Norwich and cross platform change at Reedham.

Norwich

2h40 hourly direct

Trains For The Route

It looks like there will be two direct hourly train services.

  • Reading and Great Yarmouth via Cambridge and Norwich, which will take three hours and fourteen minutes.
  • Oxford and Ipswich via Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, which will take two hours and nineteen minutes.

The long term service pattern, envisages extending the Oxford and Ipswich service to Manningtree, which would add twenty-five minutes.

These are long services and given the overcrowding that happens on the current service between Norwich and Liverpool, I would think that the trains should be as follows.

  • At least four or five cars.
  • An on-board buffet.
  • At least 100 mph operation.

I also think the trains should be bi-mode trains, able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification or onboard power.

How Many Trains?

It looks like the Reading and Great Yarmouth service would be a seven-hour round trip, which would need seven trains.

The future Oxford and Manningtree service would be a six-hour round trip, which would need six trains.

So add in an allowance for maintenance and a spare, I suspect the fleet should be sixteen trains.

 

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

Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock

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

Brief details of the fleet include.

  • Eleven trains.
  • Self-propelled.
  • Three cars.

Services are due to commence in 2024, serving Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Are Three Car Trains Long Enough?

New train services in the UK, especially those on new or reopened routes, seem to suffer from London Overground Syndrome.

I define it as follows.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The Borders Railway certainly suffered and the London Overground is still adding extra services on the original routes.

Three-car trains may be enough for the initial service, but provision must be made  for running longer trains.

  • The trains that are purchased must be capable of lengthening.
  • Platforms must be built for longer trains.

So often we don’t future-proof new rail routes.

What Performance Is Needed?

I’ll ask this question first, as it may affect the choice of train.

The trains will certainly be at least capable of 100 mph operation.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were capable of 110 mph or even 125 mph, as this would surely make it easier for trains to go walkabout on the Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

Faster East West trains might also get more services out of the fleet.

Appropriate acceleration and braking would be needed.

Conservative Or Innovative?

Will we get more of the same or will some of the responders to the tender offer trains based on innovative designs?

I would hope that as the line will eventually connect Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, the trains will take over the flavour of the route and be more innovative.

The Route

The eventual full route of the East West Rail Link will serve these sections.

  • Reading and Ocford – 25 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – 43 miles – Not electrified
  • Milton Keynes and Bedford – 20 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Bedford and Sandy – 10 miles – Not electrified
  • Sandy and Cambridge – 25 miles – Partially-electrified.

Note.

  1. The distances are approximate.
  2. With the exception of Oxford, all the major stations will be served by electric trains on other routes.

It is rather a mixture created out of existing and abandoned routes.

Could Battery Trains Run On The East West Rail Link?

Consider.

  • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
  • Sections of the route are electrified.
  • The route is not very challenging.
  • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I showed that to run at 125 mph, a train needs around three kWh per vehicle mile.

This would mean that to run between Oxford and Milron Keynes stations, would need a maximum power of around 40*3*3 kWh or 360 kWh.

This is only a 120 kWh battery in each car.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed battery train could run on the East West Rail Link.

The Usual Suspects

There are several train companies, who could be offering existing trains or their developments.

Alstom

Alstom don’t have a current design of train for the UK, but they are heavily into the development of trains powered by hydrogen.

By 2024, I suspect they will be offering a purpose-built hydrogen-powered train for the UK.

Also, by that time, I think it will be likely, that many buses in cities will be powered by zero-carbon hydrogen and the availability of this fuel would be much better than it is today.

An East West Rail Link running hydrogen-powered trains would go a long way to answer the electrification lobby.

Bombardier

Bombardier are developing a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, that they are proposing for various franchises in the UK, including the Midland Main Line.

I believe that by rearranging the components of this train, they could develop a train that would be very suitable for the East West Rail Link.

  • Three cars
  • At least 100 mph operating speed
  • In service by 2024 or earlier.

It could be a bi-mode train with batteries, or if battery and the associated charging technology has improved, it could be a battery-electric train.

The latter would certainly fulfil the flavour of the route.

Bombardier’s Aventra would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

CAF

CAF have recently introduced the Class 195 traincaf in the UK.

But would a diesel train be acceptable on a flagship route?

On the other hand CAF have been delivering battery-powered trams for several years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company, offer an innovative battery-electric train for the East West Rail Link.

Hitachi

Hitachi don’t make self-powered trains in the UK.

But in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about the company’s plans to use batteries as range extenders on their Class 385 trains.

I suspect that by 2024, these trains will be running in Scotland and they will probably be high-quality reliable trains.

So could these trains be able to run between Reading and Cambridge using battery power, topped up at the various sections of electrification along the route.

Hitachi’s development regime is cautious, professional and well-funded, so I suspect they could offer a version of the Class 385 train, for delivery in 2024.

Hitachi would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

Siemens

Siemens have a large number of modern electrical multiple units in the UK, but none are self-powered, except the diesel Class 185 train.

Siemens will have a factory in the UK to built London Underground trains by 2024.

But eleven trains could be an expensive order to fulfil, if it required a new self-powered train design.

Stadler

Stadler are an innovative company and their Class 755 train will shortly be starting passenger service in East Anglia.

  • It is three-cars, which is extendable if required.
  • It has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • It is a bi-mode; diesel and electric train.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered a diesel/electric/battery version.
  • There are rumours of hydrogen-powered versions.

Stadler could certainly deliver some of these trains by 2024.

Summing Up

I would suspect that the front runners are Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler, with CAF in fourth place.

  • All could probably develop a zero-emission train for the route using battery technology.
  • Stadler will have trains in service this year, and I suspect Bombardier and Hitachi will be running trains by 2022.

I think we could be seeing some very good trains on the route.

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Stowmarket Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Stowmarket station is on the list.

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Stowmarket Station, I said this.

The station is Grade II Listed, has the capability to handle the long London-Norwich expresses and probably only needs a step-free footbridge to be ready for the East-West Rail Link.

This picture shows the bridge.

Step-free access would create an easy interchange between stations.

  • On the Great East Main Line between Stowmarket and Norwich.
  • On the East-West Rail Link between Stowmarket and Cambridge/Peterborough and further West.

Journeys like between Diss and Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Cambridge and Peterborough will be so much easier.

Greater Anglia is already planning to increase services on both routes, so the step-free bridge will be well used.

Installing Step-Free Access

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 Stowmarket station?

  • I think this could be possible, if the existing bridge were to be removed.
  • At least there is a level crossing by the station, which could be used as an emergency means of crossing the railway.

I very much favour this approach. which surely could be installed on a weekend possession.

April 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment