The Anonymous Widower

Lorry Bashes Into The Notorious Ely Railway Bridge – Again

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Ely Standard.

This picture was clipped from the article.

To describe the driver as an idiot, is an insult to all those with a low IQ.

The driver should be banned for a very long time and only allowed to drive again, after he has leaned to read.

To further illustrate his stupidity, I took these pictures at Ely last month, before they re-opened the bridge.

This must be one of the worst cases of stupid driving, I’ve ever seen.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Nervous Operators Force Network Rail To Defer King’s Cross Plan

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

King’s Cross station has to be closed for three months, so that tracks, electrification and signalling can be replaced and modernised for about 1.5 miles from the buffer stops at the station.

The original dates of the closure were to have been between December 2019 and March 2020, but now it looks like it could be delayed by up to a year.

The article on the web site, is a shortened version of the article in the magazine, where this is said.

Closure dates have yet to be announced, and NR is still developing a passenger handling strategy which could include long-distance services at Finsbury Park or some services terminating at Peterborough. Some trains could even be rerouted into London Liverpool Street.

I wonder, if Network Rail’s planners are cursing that the around thirty miles between Peterborough and Ely is not electrified.

If it were electrified, it would allow electric trains as well as diesel and bi-mode trains to access Liverpool Street station via the West Anglia Main Line.

What Benefits Would There Be From Electrifying Peterborough To Ely?

I can imagine Oxford-educated civil servants in the Department of Transport and The Treasury dismissing calls for more electrification in the backwater of East Anglia, after the successful electrification to Norwich in the 1980s.

But now Cambridge is powering ahead and East Anglia is on the rise, with the massive Port of Felixstowe needing large numbers of freight trains to other parts of mainland UK.

This East Anglian success gives reasons for the electrification of the Peterborough-Ely Line.

Direct Electric Trains Between Peterborough And Cambridge

I have met Cambridge thinkers, who believe that Peterborough is the ideal place for businesses, who need to expand from Cambridge.

Peterborough has the space that Cambridge lacks.

But the transport links between the two cities are abysmal.

  • The A14 is only a two-lane dual-carriageway, although a motorway-standard section is being added around Huntingdon.
  • Peterborough station has been improved in recent years.
  • The direct train service is an hourly three-car diesel service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport, which doesn’t stop at the increasingly-important Cambridge North station.

The road will get better, but the rail service needs improvement.

  • There needs to be at least two direct trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • They would stop at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely and March.
  • End-to-end timing would be under an hour.
  • Greater Anglia will have the four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains, which would be ideal for the route from next year.

If the Peterborough- Ely Line was electrified, Greater Anglia could use five-car Class 720 trains.

An Electric Diversion Route For The East Coast Main Line

The works at Kings Cross station, and the possible proposal to run some trains into Liverpool Street station, show that an electric diversion route would be useful, when there are closures or problems on the East Coast Main Line.

In the case of the Kings Cross closure, if Peterborough were to be used as the terminal for some trains from the North, then I suspect some high-capacity Class 800 trains could shuttle passengers to Liverpool Street.

If the date of the Kings Cross closure is 2020, then certain things may help.

  • Crossrail will be running.
  • Extra trains will be running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • Hull Trains will be running bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • There could be more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • There could be more capacity and some longer platforms at Liverpool Street.

What would really help, is the proposed four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

The latter could prove extremely useful, when Network Rail decide to bite the bullet and four-track the Digswell Viaduct.

Extending Greater Anglia’s Network

Greater Anglia have bought new bi-mode Class 755 trains.

This would appear to be more than enough to covering the current services, as they are replacing twenty-six trains with a total of fifty-eight coaches with thirty-eight trains with a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is 46 % more trains and 137 % more coaches.

The new trains are also genuine 100 mph trains on both electricity and diesel.

Obviously, Greater Anglia will be running extra services, but with the explosive growth around Cambridge, coupled with the new Cambridge North station, I feel they will be running extra services on the Peterborough to Cambridge route and perhaps further.

The new Werrington Grade Separation will make a difference.

  • It will open in a couple of years.
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln won’t block the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Leicester route could also be improved.

So services to and from Lincoln and Leicester would probably be easier to run from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

CrossCountry run a service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport stations.

  • The service stops at Coleshill Parlway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely and.Cambridge and Audley End stations.
  • The service doesn’t stop at Cambridge North station.
  • The service is run by an inadequate Class 170 train, which sometimes is only two coaches and totally full.
  • Trains take just over three hours ten minutes for the journey.

Will Greater Anglia take over this route? Or possibly run a second train as far as Leicester?

Their Class 755 trains with better performance and specification would offer the following.

  • Electric running between Ely and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Greater passenger capacity.
  • wi-fi, plugs and USB sockets.
  • A three hour journey both ways.
  • The extra performance would probably allow an extra important stop at Cambridge North station.

The new trains would certainly offer what passengers want.

CrossCountry run an extra train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester, so perhaps at the Western end, the Greater Anglia service need only go as far as Leicester.

At the Stansted end of the route, there will be an hourly train between Stansted Airport and Norwich, so there could be scope for perhaps cutting one the services back to Cambridge.

Obviously, time-tabling would sort it out to the benefit of the train operators and passengers, but I can envisage a set of services like this.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport – CrossCountry – 1 tph
  • Leicester and Cambridge – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Colchester and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Nottingham (Currently Liverpool Lime Street) – 1 tph

Adding these up you get.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge – 2 tph – As now!
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge North – 2 tph – New service!
  • Cambridge and Ely – 4 tph – At least!
  • Ely and Peterborough – 4 tph – At least!
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 2 tph – Up from 1 tph
  • Stansted Airport and Peterbough – 1 tph – As now!
  • Cambridge and Leicester – 2 tph = Up from 1 tph.

This pattern or something like it would be much better for all.

If the Ely-Peterborough section of the were to be electrified then it would enable the following.

  • A reduced journey time for electric or bi-mode trains.
  • If required Greater Anglia could run an extra electric service using Class 720 trains between Stansted Airport and Peterbough.

I said earlier that the Werrington Grade Separation will make it easier to run services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

So why not add an hourly service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I can envisage, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked at the southern end, that there might be enough capacity for a Liverpool Street to Lincoln service via Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.

But whatever happens Greater Anglia’s choice of bi-mode Class 755 trains, seems to give them the flexibility to match services to passengers needs.

Electro-Diesel and Battery-Electric Freight Locomotives

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel freight locomotive, that can use either power from overhead electrification or an pnboard diesel engine.

I believe that locomotives like this will become more common and that eventually, we’ll see a battery-electric heavy freight locomotive.

I wrote about the latter in Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive.

The Peterborough-Ely Line will see increasing numbers of trains hauled by these powerful electric locomotives, with either diesel or battery power to propel them over the gaps in the electrification.

Electrifying the line would speed these hybrid trains through and increase the capacity of the route.

Conclusion

Network Rail have annoyed the train operators with their planning and timing of the upgrade at Kings Cross station.

It looks to me, that the part of the problem, is that there is no viable electrified secondary route to London.

Bi-mode trains can use the Peterborough-Ely Line to go to Liverpool Street via Cambridge.

This line is one of those routes that sits in a sea of electrification, which carries a lot of traffic, that would bring several benefits if it were to be electrified.

  • Direct electric trains between Cambridge and Peterborough, would greatly improve the spasmodic service between the two cities, with large economic benefits to the county.
  • An electric diversion route would be created from Peterborough to Liverpool Street via Ely and Cambridge.
  • It would allow Greater Anglia to develop routes West of Cambridge to places like Lincoln and Leicester using their future fleet of Class 755 trains.
  • It would also make it easier for battery-electric freight locomotives to cover the busy freight route between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

I also feel that it wouldn’t be the most difficult route to electrify.

The Fens are flat.

There is no history of mining.

The track is fairly straight and simple.

I suspect that it could become a high-quality 90-100 mph, electrified line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Ely In A Class 387 Train

I’ve not used one of the Class 387 trains on this route before.

It was nice to get a table to be able to lay my paper flat.

I was going via Ely to Ipswich for two reasons.

  • Yet again, there was no direct service between Liverpool Street and Ipswich.
  • Ely makes a change from Cambridge and I wanted to photograph the level crossing.

These are some of the pictures I took.

Note.

  • With a bit of smartening up, the Class 387 train makes the newer Class 700 train, look very ordinary.
  • The Ely by-pass is coming on.
  • The level crossing by the station is one of the UK’s worst.

Ely is becoming a much more important interchange, with five train operating companies using the station.

 

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

New Station Collateral Benefits

In Cambridge Gets Its Own Mini-Crossrail, I wrote about the opening of the new Cambridge North station.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Great Northern completes refurb of Fen Line Class 387s and it details how Great Northern now runs air-conditioned trains through Cambridge to Cambridge North and Ely stations and then down the Fen Line to Kings Lynn.

It also appears that some of the fast Cambridge trains have now been extended to Ely with a second stop in Cambridge at the new station.

So the opening of Cambridge North station, seems to have given Ely and the Fen Line a better service to London.

Cambridge North is not a run-of-the-mill station.

  • It is large with lots of parking.
  • It is close to the Cambridge Science Park.
  • It is in the middle of a very affluent area, where train travel is used extensively toget to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

But perhaps most importantly, two major train operators; Great Northern and Greater Anglia,provide services to London.

Have Great Northern’s air-conditioned trains fired the first shots in the competition between the two operators?

Passengers will be the main beneficiary in the next few years.

 

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Relief For Ely

Ely station is not only a bottleneck for trains, but because the A142 only has a headroom of nine foot under the railway, a serious bottleneck for road traffic and an accident blackspot that stops both road and rail traffic.

But this article from the Cambridge News is entitled Work to start on new Ely bypass as final designs get the go-ahead.

This is the article’s simple description of the by-pass.

The new route will bypass the railway level crossing, as well as the accident prone low-bridge underpass, by providing a new link between Stuntney Causeway and Angel Drove to the south of the city.

Preparatory works are set to start on January 9 to mark out the site area to build the 1.7km of road, which will include two new bridges to cross the River Ouse and its flood plain, as well as additional railway lines.

I have been at Ely station a couple of times in the past week and these pictures show that work has now actually started.

The first four pictures were taken from an Ely to Ipswich train and the last one was taken from Plstform 3 at Ely station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Stuntley Causeway is the A142, which leads South-East from the station.
  2. The Great Ouse.
  3. The two railway lines meeting at Ely Dock Junction.
  4. Angel Drove is the road labelled A142, that curves from the city to the roundabout at the West of the map.
  5. The work site is in the angle between the Great Ouse and the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds, just to the West of the Hawk Bridge, where railway crosses the river.

As the new road crosses the river, the junction with Stuntley Causeway must be somewhere to the South-East of where the A142 currently crosses the river, which must make the road take a widish loop.

The project would appear to be a well-designed solution.

  • Is the wide loop of the road, to keep noise of heavy traffic away from the river and the city?
  • It should give relief for road traffic at Ely station.
  • Hopefully it will cut bridge strikes.
  • The viaduct over the railway and the river, incorporates a footbridge.

The question must be asked, if the building of the by-pass and the double-tracking of the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds are two projects that will co-operate.

The Hawk Bridge has already got space for a second track, so could this be laid first, so that it could be used as a siding to bring in the heavy components for the viaduct that will be built over the river? Or will they be floated in, using a barge on the river?

The order of construction on this project could be tricky, but the quality of project management has increased greatly in recent times.

 

March 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

Railways in Ely must be a bit of a problem as they have their own section in Wikipedia.

This map shows the lines in the area.

Ely Lines

Ely Lines

This is a Google Map of the area.

ely

The current Ely station is towards the South-West corner, with the iconic cathedral to the North. The main line goes South-West to North-East across the map with Ely North Junction alongside the white chalky area in the North-East corner.

What suggested that I write this post was this article in the Eastern Daily Press, which is entitled Talks in Downham Market hear work to end East Anglia’s rail bottleneck at Ely could begin in three years’ time.

Reading the title, is a good summary of the article.

So what are the problems at Ely?

Ely Station

Ely station was not designed for efficient operation.

The following services call at the station.

  • Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • Cambridge and Norwich.
  • London, Cambridge and King Lynn.
  • Stansted Airport and Birmingham.
  • Norwich and Liverpool.

To make matters worse. the Norwich-Liverpool service has to reverse in the station.

Connectivity between services can be bad and I have read that passengers between Kings Lynn and Ipswich may have to wait up to nearly an hour for a connection.

Because the station has only three platforms, organising the trains into a sensible pattern, for train operators and passengers. must be a difficult process.

The station is not step-free and relies on long ramps to cross the lines.

The Low Road Bridge On The A142 At Ely Station

This is said in Wikipedia about the low bridge just to the North of the station.

The height available for road traffic passing beneath the bridge is only 9.0 feet (2.7 m) which is unusually low for a bridge over an A-road. Despite the various warnings, the limited headroom is a frequent cause of accidents.[12] High vehicles must use a level crossing next to the bridge.

East Anglia’s legendary bad drivers, who seem to find new ways to cause chaos on the railways, must have real fun with this crossing.

According to this article on the BBC web site, the bridge was hit twelve times in 2015/16.

This Google Map shows Ely station.

elystation

Note that the level crossing is closed.

The Large Number Of Freight Trains Between Felixstowe And Peterborough

In Along The Felixstowe Branch, I said that the number of trains on the Felixstowe Branch could rise to 47. Not all will come through Ely station, but there could be a couple of long container trains in both direction every hour.

Note.

  1. The number of freight trains will increase.
  2. These freight trains can be up to 775 metres long and the average length will grow.
  3. Hawk Bridge over the  Great Ouse on the Ipswich-Ely Line is only single-track, as is several miles of the line to Kennett station, where the Cambridge and Peterborough branches join.

All of these trains have to pass over the low bridge and through the level crossing.

Ely North Junction

Ely North Junction is a busy junction, where services to Kings Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough split.

This Google Map shows the junction.

elynorthjunction

 

Note the tracks come from Ely station to the South-West and split into three separate lines.

There is also.

  • A single-track loop line called the West Curve, that allows traius to go between Peterborough and Norwich.
  • A distribution depot by the junction.

One of the problems is that freight trains between Peterborough and Felixstowe pass on the Southern side of Ely station and need to cross the lines to connect to Peterborough.

Footpaths

Footpaths and where they cross the railway  are a sensitive issue in the Ely area. This document on the Network Rail web site, illustrates some of the problems.

This is said in the document.

The railway at this level crossing carries passenger and freight trains with a line speed of 60 mph. There are generally 194 trains passing throughthis level crossing per day.

That sounds like a recipe for a serious accident to me.

The Opening Of Cambridge North Station

The new Cambridge North station is scheduled to open on the 21st May, 2017 and will initially be just a stop on all services passing through.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge is successful and overflowing.

Towns and cities like Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Haverhill, Huntington, Newmarket and Peterborough will increasingly find that they become satellites of the East Anglian Mega-Powerhouse.

These towns and cities will need good transport links to Cambridge.

Rail links to both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations will be important.

The New Greater Anglia Franchise

Greater Anglia have published plans that will affect Ely.

  • They will run an hourly service between Peterborough and Colchester via Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich to replace the current less frequent service between Peterborough and Ipswich.
  • They will run an hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport  to replace the current less frequent service between Norwich and Cambridge.
  • I have also read somewhere, that Greater Anglia would like to run a direct service between Cambridge North and Ipswich via Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Fordham and Soham stations could be reopened.

Some of these changes will put more pressure on Ely, but they will have two very beneficial effects.

  • A North-facing bay platform will be released at Cambridge station.
  • There will be two trains per hour (tph) between Kennett and Ipswich via Bury St. Edmunds.

I suspect that Greater Anglia will bring in other changes.

The Reopening Of March To Spalding Via Wisbech

Network Rail has spent £330million on upgrading the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Railway into a freight link between Peterborough and Doncaster, which I wrote about in Project Managers Having Fun In The East.

It might never happen, but why shouldn’t the route be extended from Spalding to March on the Peterbough-Ely Line via Wisbech?

This would open up two main possibilities.

  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and Doncaster would avoid the East Coast Main Line to the South of Doncaster.
  • A passenger service from Cambridge to Wisbech could be opened.

Other longer distance passenger services might be viable.

The East West Rail Link

The East West Rail Link will provide a new route from Cambridge to the West, via a new Cambridge South station.

It will add to the numbers of passenger trains through Ely, as services will probably go from Oxford to Norwich and Ipswich via all three Cambridge stations.

But will the East West Rail Link be used to route freight trains between Felixstowe and Wales and the West?

A Proposed Ely North Station

I have found this article on the Ely Standard web site, which is entitled Could railway revolution see new station built at Ely North?.

The article says a new four-platform station would allow.

  • Two tph on the Fen Line
  • Connections reduced to no more than eight minutes.
  • The introduction of a Kings Cross to Norwich service.

The new station would probably have the following.

  • More passenger-friendly features.
  • A lot more car parking.
  • Good walking access to the City Centre.
  • Trains between Norwich and Liverpool would stop in the station and would use the West Curve to avoid reversing in the station.

With all the water in the area, there must be scope for an architecturally excellent station.

From a project management view, this station is a good idea.

  • It could probably be built fairly easily without causing too much interruption to current services, as Cambridge North station seems to have been.
  • Once open, the current Ely station could be demolished or simplified.
  • The low bridge and the level crossing could then be replaced with a modern traffic underpass capable of handling trucks.
  • Ely Dock Junction and the lines South of the City could be remodelled to speed the freight trains through the area.

There might even be a dive-under to simplify operations.

I have no idea if the good people of Ely will like the idea of a new station.

Conclusion

The extra freight traffic and the published plans of the Greater Anglia franchise will mean, that substantial work will have to be done at Ely.

  • Network Rail have a long term ambition of dualling the whole route between Ely and Kennett including Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse, which would certainly ease the problems of the freight trains.
  • A new Ely North station may be created.
  • Closing the level crossing and creating an underpass for traffic at Ely station, would be an obvious thing to do, but could this be done without closing the railway for several months? Construction companies could always use the technique they did at Silver Street station in the 1990s, to get the North Circular Road under that station.
  • Eventually, there will be a need for a chord at Ely Dock Junction, so that trains can go direct from Cambridge to the Ipswich to Ely Line without a reverse in Ely station.

I’ll be interested to see what Network Rail propose.

 

January 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Cambridge North Station

Cambridge North station is being built to serve the North of the city and especially, Cambridge Science Park and other developments in the area.

This Google Map shows the area.

Cambridge Science Park And Cambridge North Station

Cambridge Science Park And Cambridge North Station

Note the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Ely, which cuts across the Eastern side of the map, at a right-angle to the main A14 dual carriageway. The rail line appears to split with a loop on the North West side by a green space. The station will go in this area.

These are pictures, I took from passing trains going to and from Ely.

From the pictures, the following seems to be apparent.

A long island platform is being built to the North West side of the tracks.

There is a lift tower by the car and cycle parks outside of all tracks.

There is a double-track loop that by-passes the platforms.

This is the only plan I can find on the Internet.

Cambridge North Station Pan

Cambridge North Station Pan

I know this about the station.

  • It is proposed to have three platforms according to Wikipedia.
  •  Thameslink will terminate two trains per hour at the station.
  • Most other services will stop at the station as they pass through.

The plan shows the main line going between the platforms, so will the double-platform in the pictures be used as a through platform for Cambridge to Ely trains and the far side as a terminating platform?

Unfortunately, when I returned to Cambridge, there were no seats on the other side of the train.

This article in European Railway Review is entitled New Cambridge North railway station taking shape – set for 2017 launch, has two pictures, which clearly show the second through platform on the South-East side of the tracks.

A few observations.

  • It would appear that to go between the car or cycle park and the trains, you always need to use the bridge.
  • My pictures show that the platforms are very long and will certainly handle the twelve-car Class 700 trains.
  • Passengers from Thameslink needing to go to say Kings Lynn or Norwich, will just walk across the platform to get their onward train.
  • Passengers from Kings Lynn and Norwich wanting to go South on Thameslink would probably change at Cambridge to avoid using the bridge.
  • On the current service pattern the station would only have a one train per hour service to Peterborough.
  • The station has no direct connection to Ipswich or Bury St. Edmunds.

I wonder if there are plans to allow Cambridge North station to act as a terminus for trains from the Ely direction.

Under the new East Anglian Franchise, Abellio are extending their Peterborough to Ipswich service to Colchester and making it hourly.

It is a pity, that this service can’t easily serve Cambridge North station.

This Google Map shows Ely station and the lines going South towards Cambridge.

Ely Station And The Lines To Cambridge And Ipswich

Ely Station And The Lines To Cambridge And Ipswich

Note how the line to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich branches off to the South-East.

If a chord were to be built allowing trains to go between Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, this would do the following.

  • Allow the Peterborough-Ipswich service to call at Cambridge North, with just a reverse at Cambridge North.
  • Give Cambridge North station a second train in an hour to and from Peterborough.
  • Create a direct hourly service between Cambridge North station and Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.
  • When the East-West Rail Link opens, it would allow freight trains to go between that line and Felixstowe without using the single-tack Ipswich-Cambridge route.

Strangely, it doesn’t appear that this chord has ever existed.

But, I do think it will be seriously considered in the future, with the main reason being the freight route from Felixstowe to the Great Western Railway at Reading.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Better East-West Train Services Across Suffolk

The east-west train service across Suffolk is better than it was, but I’ve just read in a Network Rail study entitled Improving Connectivity, about a radical proposal to greatly improve services.

At present at Ipswich station, in addition to the main line services, there are hourly services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, with a two-hourly service to Peterborough.

From a passenger point of view it is not good at times. In the past I have been irked by.

  • Trying to get between Newmarket and Felixstowe, which often means a not very short wait on Ipswich station.
  • The lack of a late night train back to Newmarket from Ipswich.
  • Bad connectivity between London services and the various branches.

It may be better now and some of the proposals in the latest franchise documents will certainly help.

One document I’ve read, talked about direct services between London and Lowestoft. When I moved to Suffolk in the 1970s, this route was served a couple of times a day.

But one proposal in the Network Rail study must be taken seriously.

The study proposes creating an island platform at an updated Newmarket station and running a direct service between Newmarket and Peterborough via Ely. The study describes the proposal like this.

To solve this dilemma,  The direct Ipswich to Peterborough service is replaced by a Newmarket to Peterborough service, running via a reinstated Warren Hill Junction – Snailwell Junction chord, as shown in Figure 3.2. A semi-fast Ipswich to Cambridge train connects into this service with a cross-platform connection at a reconstructed Newmarket station.

No services are duplicated and connections at Ipswich are simplified: the East Suffolk line arrival need only connect with the Cambridge train. This method of operation combines two markets on one train, achieving a 35 per cent reduction in train miles and halving the number of passenger train paths required on this busy freight corridor. In addition, Newmarket gains a direct service to Peterborough.

So one new short chord and a reconstructed Newmarket station, dramatically improve the passenger train services across Suffolk, whilst giving more much-needed space in the schedules for freight trains.

This map shows the area between Newmarket station and Warren Hill – Snailwell.

Newmarket's Railways, Racecourses and Training Grounds

Newmarket’s Railways, Racecourses and Training Grounds

Note that the line through Newmarket station goes in a tunnel under the training grounds of Warren Hill before turning to the East to connect to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich. The new chord would connect between the Newmarket to Bury Line and the Ely to Bury Line.

Hopefully, Network Rail has safeguarded the route and hasn’t sold the land to some, who would oppose the plan.

If I read Network Rail’s proposal correctly, there would be an hourly Newmarket to Peterborough service, which would provide a cross-platform interchange with an hourly semi-fast Ipswich to Cambridge service.

Given that Abellio Greater Anglia were part of the IPEMU tests between Manningtree and Harwich, I suspect that both the Peterborough to Newmarket and Ipswich to Cambridge services would be run with four-car IPEMUs.

In my view it is a very good starting plan, but it does raise a few questions and interesting possibilities.

  • IPEMUs would be faster than the current diesel trains and would also offer an increase in capacity.
  • Would IPEMUs take over the Cambridge to Norwich, Ipswich to Lowestoft and Ipswich to Felixstowe services?
  • Newmarket racecourse is an incredibly popular venue and the current Newmarket station has inadequate capacity for racegoers. More four-car IPEMU trains from Cambridge, Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough calling at the station can only increase total capacity.
  • As now, I suspect a shuttle bus will be provided, between station and racecourse.
  • A simple one-platform Newmarket Racecourse station could even be built on land owned by the Jockey Club on the single-line section of line to the West of the town, which would be about a kilometre walk from both racecourses.
  • Cambridgeshire County Council have had plans for a long time to reopen Soham station. This would be on the hourly Newmarket to Peterborough service, which would men that with one change you could be in Cambridge or Ipswich.
  • If Soham is worth reopening, why not reopen Fordham station.
  • How would the new station at Cambridge North fit in and affect services in the area?

I think that when and if the full proposals arrive, they will have some extra features.

An uprated service from Cambridge to Ipswich will require some reorganisation at Ipswich.

Over the last few years, freight traffic through Ipswich station has eased due to ther opening of the Bacon Factory Chord which allows diesel-hauled freight trains to go directly between the Felixstowe branch and the Midlands and North via Stowmarket.

The Newmarket reorganisation will also release extra paths through Ely and Peterborough and there could be scope for improving the efficiency of Ipswich station.

Given that services will arrive from and leave to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Felixstowe, every hour. Surely, a platform layout could be found, so that they all used the same part of the station and passengers just walked across.

Imagine the benefits to passengers if say you were going between Beccles and Peterborough and you just walked across between trains at Ipswich and Newmarket.

I suspect that Network Rail and Abellio have an excellent idea for Ipswich station, filed under Cunning Plans.

Would it also be worth improving patterns at Ely?

This Google Map is from Railways in Ely in Wikpedia.

Ely Lines

Ely Lines

It is complicated. These are my thoughts.

  • The layout would appear to work quite well now,but will it cope with Cambridge North station?
  • Cambridge North station will probably generate a lot of traffic and with some reorganisation, passengers might even be able to walk across or just wait for the next train at Cambridge or Ely, to be on their way.
  • But in some cases, changing will mean climbing over the bridge at Cambridge or using the subway at Ely.
  • Ely station should cope with any extra services on the lines to Ely and Norwich.
  • There is also the issue of a possible Wisbech branch at March.

So will we see changes to the track layout at Ely?

I think the answer is yes!

But upgrading Ely does throw up one important question.

When the Cambridge Guided Busway was built, I didn’t think it was the best solution, but I had no real idea what would have been best.

I now wonder, if the ideal transport system for the route of the Cambridge Busway has arrived in the form of the tram-train!

If you look at the route from Huntingdon through Cambridge to Addenbrookes, it’s very much linked to the railway lines through the city. Most of the extensions proposed for the busway could be performed by tram-trains in tram mode. One proposal from Huntingdon to Peterborough, is typical of many systems, I’ve seen in Germany.

But it is too late now to change that decision.

One thing though that surprises me, is the amount of undeveloped land there is on either side of the railway line, where the Cambridge North station is being built. It could be possible to create a a tram line to connect Cambridge North station to the Cambridge to Ipswich Line. Thus tram-trains could go from both Cambridge North and Cambridge stations to Newmarket and then on past Fordham and Soham to Ely, where with a short chord they could turn south to the Cambridge stations.

Obviously, a real route would be based on the proposed developments and passenger traffic, but there are a lot of possibilities to use tram-trains to serve the towns and villages around Cambridge from the existing heavy rail lines.

At the Southern end, how about Shelford to Haverhill and onto Sudbury to then take the Gainsborough Line to Marks Tey?

I suspect that a single-track tram with passing places could handle tram-trains on a route not far removed from the route of the old Stour Valley Railway.

A lot of serious thinking can be done!

October 25, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nottingham to Newmarket

This is one of those journeys that works, but because od the limited services in East Anglia, it takes a lot longer than it should. I got a direct train to Ely, but then it was another train to Cambridge and then another to Newmarket. But everything was on time and I met the booked taxi, which got me home about four hours after I left Nottingham.

At least though the train wasn’t very crowded after Grantham and I just sat there reading.

I did have to wait for perhaps twenty minutes at Ely and forty at Cambridge but it wasn’t cold and I had an excellent cappuccino from AMT at Cambridge.

So how could this jouney have been better?

East Anglia to the Midlands and the North needs more and bigger trains.  At present we have Stansted/Cambridge-Birmingham (hourly) and Liverpool/Manchester-Norwich (3-hourly) , all of which pass through Ely and Peterborough.  In addition, there is an hourly service from Ipswich to Peterborough. But even so, it is just not enough!

The trains that connect to these long distance services are not big enough either.  At least today, I got a two-coach, Class 156, to and from Cambridge, but sometimes it is just a decrepit single coach, Class 153.

I ope this all gets sorted out in the next few years.  But whatever happens, we need some bigger and better trains. But then as long as I can remember, East Anglia has always had evrybody else’s hand-me-downs.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Dullingham to Nottingham

I actually left fromy my local station at Dullingham, rather than my return destination of Newmarket as it was easier to get to at 9:15 in the morning.  The cost of the return ticket is the same at £27.65 from both stations, so ticketing was not a problem.

To get to Nottingham was a double change at both Cambridge and Leicester.  This is one of the problems about getting trains from East Anglia to the rest of the country.  Nothing is ever straightforward unless you drive to either Ely or Peterborough first and I can’t drive at present.

The second problem is that the East Anglia to Midlands and North trains are just too small.  The train was very crowded all the way to Leicester from Cambridge, but luckily I had a seat by the window.  After Leicester I was in one of the larger Meridean expresses to Nottingham.

Everything otherwise was fine and I arrived in Nottingham just a few minutes over three hours after I’d started my journey, which was as should have been expected.

The only problem I had, was that the station information at Leicester wasn’t up to the standard I usually find and I could have missed my connection, if I hadn’t guessed right.  It probably wouldn’t have been serious, as there are quite a few trains between Leicester and Nottingham.  But what if I’d been going the other way, where missing the connection would mean a sizeable wait.

I’d never been to Leicester on a train before today, which is surprising, as in the past I’ve used trains to quite a few cities in the Midlands.  I sometimes wonder if I’ve got a thing about the city, as it was one of the last trips C did by train for her business.  She had just finished the radiotherapy for her breast cancer and had gone there by train and she then took a train to London to see a friend sworn in as a judge. Except for the odd trip to London, I don’t think she ever went on a train again.  I also remember that I’d been to see Ipswich lose at Leicester. the day before she told me, that she had breast cancer. So perhaps it is a town for me to avoid!  Although they do have a Carluccio’s there now, so at least the food will be good.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments