The Anonymous Widower

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

‘Compelling Case’ Put Forward For £4bn Metro Network For Cambridgeshire

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

There is a “compelling case” for a metro scheme for Greater Cambridge after a feasibility report has claimed it could create 100,000 jobs and 60,000 new homes, but could cost £4bn.

The feasibility study was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), and mayor James Palmer declared there was a compelling case for the new regional transport network covering 88 miles.

Other details of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro include.

  • Turn-Up-and-Go service.
  • It would use trackless electric vehicles.
  • Across Cambridge in twelve minutes.
  • 7.5 miles of underground corridors under the City.
  • Cambourne, Haverhill, Huntingdon, Mildenhall, St. Ives, St. Neots and Waterbeach would be served.

I think that the route network is feasible and if any City in England can fund such a scheme it is Cambridge.

I can see the point about trackless electric vehicles, as illustrated by this picture.

It looks to me, that the track is just a road with a cycle track alongside.

But would it be better to use tram-trains and the Karlsruhe model?

  • This would enable the system to use the heavy rail tracks to Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, March, Newmarket and Wisbech.
  • Bury St. Edmunds certainly needs a frequent service to Cambridge.
  • East West Rail Consortium has a plan for a Parkway station on the A14, which needs a frequent connection to Cambridge.
  • The technology is proven.

Hopefully, tram-trains have been rejected for good reasons.

But does the proposed system fit well with the East-West Rail Link.

 

 

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

More Than A Thousand People In This Town Want A Rail Service To Cambridge

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

t’s a town talked about more for its struggling market than its booming businesses.

But more than a thousand people in St Neots have signed a petition wanting to see that end.

The petition, which was started by Michelle Woodbridge, a resident from the town, wants the ‘forgotten’ area to be part of a new rail connection between Oxford and Cambridge – which people believe may revitalise the area.

St. Neots station is on the East Coast Main

  • It is to the East of the town.
  • The station has a new footbridge with lifts.
  • It has an half-hourly Thameslink service between Peterborough and Horsham, with extra services in the Peak.
  • There is a bus connection to Cambridge

This Google Map shows the Eastern area of the town around the railway station.

Note.

  1. The large area of development to the East of the station.
  2. The A428 road running across the bottom half of the map.
  3. The A428 is being upgraded and could become a dual-carriageway route to Cambridge via Caxton Gibbet, Cambourne and Madingley.

The East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge is planned to cross the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and then take a Southerly route to Cambridge South station.

The Route Option B is described like this in Wikipedia.

Route B involves running from the Marston Vale line to a new Bedford South station before then running to a relocated Sandy (to the north Tempsford area or south of St. Neots). The route heads east to a new station in Cambourne before swinging south to join the existing line northbound to Cambridge.

It does seem a bit of a roundabout route, but the new station at Tempsford could be a well-placed Park-and-Ride station for Cambridge.

I don’t think that the choice of route between Bedford and Cambridge will be easy.

However, certain factors may help in the design of the route.

An Improved A1 Road

The A1 road runs North-South to the West of the East Coast Main Line.

The road is only a two lanes in each direction and probably needs improvement.

So the improvements could be done in conjunction with the building of the East-West Rail Link.

The East Coast Main Line Is Four Tracks

Much of the East Coast Main Line is four tracks or could be made so, through St. Neots and Sandy stations.

Both stations have four platforms.

Sandy Station Could Be An Interchange Between The East-West Rail Link And The East Coast Main Line

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandy station developed into a comprehensiove interchange station, either in its present position or slightly closer to St. Neots.

It would  be served by the following services.

  • East Coast Main Line services between Kings Cross, the North of England and the East of Scotland.
  • Tramslink services between London and Peterborough.
  • East-West services between Cambridge and Oxford via Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It would also be a Park-and Ride station for London, Bedford and Cambridge.

The East Coast Main Line Will Be Digitally Signalled

This must help increase the numbers of trains on the Route.

Greater Anglia Are Ambitious

I just wonder if there was a flyover at Sandy station, if trains could use the East Coast Main Line and the East West Rail Link to create a new service from Cambridge to Peterborough via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

It would suit Greater Anglia’s ambitions and the 100 mph Class 755 trains could handle the partially-electrified route with ease.

There could even be a circular service, where trains returned from Peterborough via March, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.

  • The trains would not terminate at Cambridge, but would go through the three Cambridge stations in order.
  • Four trains per hour (tph), with two going via Sandy and two via Ely could be handled in a single platform at Peterborough.

I estimate the following times are possible

  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Sandy – 60 minutes
  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Ely – 50 minutes

Two tph doing the circular route in both directions would need eight trains. All stations would get at least two tph service to Cambridge and Peterborough.

Conclusion

I can see a time when there is a direct service between Peterborough and Cambridge via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

St. Neots would have a two tph service to Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Peterborough.

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

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?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – What Trains Will Run On The East-West Rail Link?

In my discussions at Newmarket and as I passed through stations like Ipswich, Norwich and Stowmarket, I got to thinking what type and size of train will be used by the East-West Rail Link.

Bi-Mode Trains

The trains will undoubtedly be some form of bi-mode train, as electrification of the whole route has been ruled out.

But the ability to use electrification would undoubtedly be useful, as parts of the route and some stations already have 25 KVAC overhead wires.

  • Reading to Didcot
  • Milton Keynes to Bletchley
  • Around Bedford
  • Around Sandy
  • Cambridge North to Cambridge
  • Around Norwich
  • Haughley Junction to Manngtree

With a few other sections likely to be electrified, I suspect that automated pantograph control would be useful.

Operating Speed

Wikipedia states this about the operating speed of the Western section.

In May 2014, Network Rail announced that the line will be opened to 125 mph (200 km/h) running, the current top speed for InterCity services. It is proposed that CrossCountry services, along with Chiltern Railways and London Northwestern Railway services will use the route.

If it is a 125 mph line in places, then surely the trains will have this speed capability.

The 125 mph East-West Rail Link would also open up some fast 125 mph routes, from the South West and South Wales to the East Coast Main Line.

Train Length

The following stations East of Cambridge will be seved by East-West Rail Link trains.

  • A14 Parkway
  • Attleborough
  • Brandon
  • Bury St. Edmunds *
  • Cambridge *
  • Cambridge North *
  • Dullingham
  • Ely *
  • Elmswell
  • Ipswich *
  • Kennett
  • Manningtree *
  • Needham Market *
  • Newmarket
  • Norwich *
  • Stowmarket *
  • Thetford
  • Thrston
  • Wymondham

I am fairly sure that stations marked with an asterisk can already take trains with at least eight cars.

It doesn’t appear that there are any stations to the East off Cambridge, that will have a serious restriction on train length.

I would suspect that five, six or eight cars will be used.

I would also suspect that all platforms would be capable of taking two hundred metre long trains. London Overground was caught out, by making the initial platform length too short and it would be tragic, if the East West Rail Consortium made the same mistake.

Will The Trains Be Walk-Through?

The first long-distance walk-through trains will start to appear this year.

As they offer more passenger space, I think that the trains will be walk-through.

Conclusion

I am pretty sure that the trains for the East-West Rail Link will be 125 mph-capable bi-modes of whatever length the East West Rail Consortium thinks is needed.

Consider.

  • Many of the Eastern stations already take two hundred metre trains.
  • Reading and possibly Oxford can take two five-car Class 800 trains, which have a length of 260 metres.
  • Intermediate stations like Bedford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes all have long platforms.
  • Other stations will be newly built or like Newmarket will need rebuilding of the platforms.

I think we might see the East-West Rail Consortium, buying the longest trains, they could possibly need.

Trains from the Hitachi Class 800-family must be in the running for the order, but I feel that this order could be ideal for the 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, which has been proposed to Cross-Country. I wrote about this train in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Stowmarket Station

After Newmarket, I travelled on to Norwich, changing trains at Stowmarket station.

It was an easy change, as I waited about half-a-dozen minutes after arriving from Newmarket for the Norwich train.

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.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Newmarket Station

I went to Newmarket station for two reasons; to assess if the East West Rail Consortium’s plans for Newmarket were feasible and also to see a friend, who trains racehorses in the town, to tell him about the plans.

I should say, that I haven’t been to Newmarket for perhaps six years and it struck me that the town was much more crowded with traffic, with a lot of full car-parks. Around the station, there were lots of cars parked. How many were owned  by commuters going to Cambridge.

The Plans Of The East West Rail Consortium For Newmarket

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.

So would it be possible to create a double-track railway through Newmarket station?

These are pictures that I took of the station.

It does appear that there is space for another track on the other side of the current track to the platform.

Newmarket station has some positive attributes.

  • It is in the centre of the town.
  • There is enough shelter and storage for cycles.
  • The platform will be long enough for Greater Anglia’s new four-car Class 755 trains.
  • There is a wide, spacious platform.

But these are outweighed by these drawbacks.

  • The vehicle access is terrible.
  • There is no Kiss-and-Ride facility.
  • Car parking is in the surrounding streets and as it’s free, the local roads will get choked, especially when Greater Anglia’s larger trains are introduced later this year.
  • The East West Rail Link will introduce a two trains per hour (tph) through the station.
  • Will the platform at Newmarket be long enough for the East West Consortium trains, which will be running between Ipswich and Oxford? Probably not!
  • There is no coffee kiosk, shop or toilets.

But above all it is not a destination station., that gives a good impression for visitors and tourists, who could make up a proportion of travellers.

The East West Rail Consortium are planning a parkway station on the A14 to the North of Newmarket and this will surely solve the problem of traffic and parking, that blocks the local streets,

But I believe that Newmarket needs a station, that will attract visitors.

My pictures, show the previous station building still standing next door to the current station.

  • This could be converted into a first-class station with excellent passenger facilities.
  • There could be a large taxi rank.
  • There could be passenger drop-off and pick-up facilities.
  • There is space for a bus connection to the race-course on race-days.
  • Limited car-parking of a short-term nature.
  • A two-hundred metre  long platform could be built to accommodate the longest-possible trains.

This Google Map, shows the combined site of the current and previous stations.

Both stations are effectively side-by-side, with the current station to the East.

The large area behind the stations is parking for horse-boxes during the numerous sales at Tattersalls. For much of the year, it is virtually empty.

I’m pretty sure, that with some management, the area could serve both its current purpose and as a forecourt to a landmark station,, that would enhance the town and the racing industry.

I don’t think that a second platform would be needed for the following reasons.

  • Adding the step-free access to the seond platform would cost a seven figure sum.
  • Commuters into Cambridge would be encounraged to use the A14 Parkway station.
  • Probably only on race days, would there be large enough numbers of passengers to need to accommodate two trains in the station at the same time..

However space could be left, if a second platform were to be needed in the future.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The current Newmarket station is totally inadequate for the current service of one three-car train per hour in both directions.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains could be a car longer and will certainly attract more passengers to use Newmarket station, as new trains always do!

I feel that in the next couple of years, possible additional trains, more passengers and lack of car parking will create problems at Newmarket station.

I would recommend the following actions.

A14 Parkway Station

Work should start as soon as is practical for the A14 Parkway station, proposed by the East West Rail Consortium.

This station would have the following Greater Anglia services.

  • Peterborough and Colchester – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – 1 tph

These two services would give the following frequencies to these places.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph direct
  • Colchester – 1 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Ipswich
  • Diss – 1 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Ipswich – 2 tph direct
  • London – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge and 1 tph with a change at Ely
  • Newmarket – 1 tph direct
  • Norwich – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge, 1 tph with a change at Ely and 2 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Peterborough – 1 tph direct and 1 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stowmarket – 2 tph direct

A14 Parkway station sitting at the junction of two of the busiest roads in East Anglia; the A11 and A14, and two important rail routes,would be one of the most important stations in the East.

The station could only be named after Ancient Britain’s most famous queen, who by repute once lived in the area.

Upgrade Newmarket Station

Hopefrully, the A14 Parkway station would ease the problems at Newmarket station and this would enable work to progress on the design of an upgraded Newmarket station, that would serve the town, the racing industry and the towns tourist attractions.

Improved Train Services To/From Cambridge

Once the East West Rail Link opens between Cambridge and Oxford, the current service between Ipswich and Cambridge, could eventually be replaced with a service between Manningtree and Oxford or possibly Reading, that calls at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St. |Edmunds, A14
Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bicester, Oxford and several smaller intermediate stations.

The three Cambridge stations of Cambridge, Cambridge North and Cambridge South will also increasingly be connected to the surrounding stations like A 14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambourne, Ely, Kings Lynn, March, Newmarket and Peterborough. Services will be at a frequency of at least two tph, with some as high as four tph.

In addition, there could be new services to Haverhill and Wisbech.

Newmarket will get a share of these services and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these frequencies from Newmarket station to the three Cambridge stations.

  • Cambridge – 4 tph direct
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Cambridge South – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in Europe and Newmarket can benefit by holding on to big sister’s skirts.

West Suffolk And London Services

If you look at the sizeable towns in Suffolk, the following ones that are rail connected, do not have a direct train service to London.

  • Beccles
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Halesworth
  • Lowestoft
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Woodbridge

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains, will be running three trains per day, between Liverpool Street and Lowestoft, which will reduce this list to just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury

If Felixstowe is discounted as it is on a  branch line busy with freight trains and Sudbury because it is on a single track branch line, we are left with just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Newmarket

Add in the proposed A14 Parkway station and is it feasible to run a service between London Liverpool Street and Bury St. Edmunds via Cambridge, Newmarket and A14 Parkway.

I calculate that a round trip would be possible in around four hours, thus making three trains per day possible.

I suspect, there would be capacity problems on the Southern section of the West Anglia Main Line, but if this were to be four-0tracked as is proposed, this would ease that problem.

So a service between West Suffolk and London, is probably one for the future.

A Final Conclusion

Newmarket can benefit from East West Rail, but the two parties must agree objectives that don’t cause problems for the other.

 

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common

I took the spacious three-car Class 170 train from Cambridge to Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area, where the Cambridge to Ipswich Line via Newmarket leaves the main Cambridge to Ely route.

The Cambrifge-Ipswich line is the loop at the bottom of the map crossing the green space of Coldhams Common.

These are pictures, I took as my train passed.

The East West Rail Consortium have plans for this rail line.

In this document on their 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.

So would it be possible to fit, the required chord between the two railway lines?

I suspect that a double-track chord would be preferred and there might be some extra tracks between Cambridge and Ely.

This Google Map shows the area in more detail.

Note the level crossing shown in my pictures.

The main problems in the way of a double-track chord that would allow trains to pass between the routes to Ely and Newmarket, would appear to be the industrial Buildings and the level crossing that gives access across the rail line.

But I don’t think that this will be the major problem, as industrial premises can always be relocated, especially if the compensation is good.

I estimate that it is likely, that two heavy freight trains in every hour in both directions should be passing across the quiet green space of Coldhams Common.

Would this be acceptable to the nearby residents and the users of the Common?

  • The East West Rail Consortium are well funded and I suspect they have a cunning plan here, that could put a double track railway through this sensitive area.
  • If the landowner of these industrial buildings happened to be Network Rail, that would surely help, as they would co-operate.
  • There also appears to be very little housing alongside the Cambridge-Ipswich rail line.

I could see a solution, where more of the industrial buildings than needed were removed and some of the land given over to extend Coldhams Common.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment