The Anonymous Widower

Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

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

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

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

This is the start of the news item.

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

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

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

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

The Times also says the following.

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

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

At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail

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

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

My Thoughts

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

A Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line

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

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

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

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

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

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

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

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

This second Google Map shows the area around High Lrgh.

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester Piccadilly

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

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

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

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

This tunnelled approach has the following advantages.

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

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

Liverpool And Manchester Journeys

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

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

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

The Castlefield Corridor

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

Why should the Castlefield Corridor routes be any different?

It’s just another cross-city line!

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

The Future Of The West Coast Main Line

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

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

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

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

Two alternative routes are proposed.

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

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

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

The next two sections give my thoughts on these options.

Upgrading The Huddersfield Line

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

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

Manchester And Leeds Via Bradford Low Moor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upgrade Or Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds?

Obviously, the tunnel would take several years to bore.

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

At a future time, the tunnel would be constructed.

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

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

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

All passengers would get the service they need.

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

High Speed Lines East Of Leeds

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

The three Junctions labelled on the map are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool and Hull Timings

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

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

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

Hull Station As A High Speed Terminal

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

This Google Map shows the station.

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

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

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

Using Hull as a terminal probably has other advantages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Trains To Sheffield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheffield And Hull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There certainly seems to be some innovative Project Management at work

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

Sheffield and Grimsby Via Doncaster and Scunthorpe

This route is shown on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map.

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

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

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

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

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

Sheffield And Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheffield And Manchester

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

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

Will the Hope Valley Line be electrified?

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

 

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

High Speed Two Routes

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

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

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

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

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

Building High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

There is an old Project Management phrase about

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row!

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

These are my thoughts on the project order.

Devise An Intelligent Electrification Philosophy

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

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

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

Every trick will need to be employed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lines East Of Leeds

These are the lines East of Leeds.

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

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

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

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

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

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

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

Midland Main Line Between Clay Cross Junction And Sheffield

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

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

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

Completing this sub-project early would give benefits.

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

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

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

Electrification Of The Hope Valley Line

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

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

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

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

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

Improvement And Possible Electrification Of The Huddersfield Line

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

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

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

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

Building The Liverpool And Manchester High Speed Line

This will be a large and complex project.

It will involve building the following.

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

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

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

Good Project Management Is Needed

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

 

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Future Of Class 378 Trains

This post is a musing on the future of the Class 378 trains.

The Thames Tunnel

The Thames Tunnel is the tail that wags the East London Line, when it comes to trains.

  • For evacuation and safety purposed, trains running through the tunnel, must have an emergency exit through the driver’s cab.
  • It hasn’t happened yet, as far as I know, but a version of Sod’s Law states if you ran trains without this emergency exit, you’d need to use it.
  • London Overground’s Class 378 trains have this feature, but their Class 710 trains do not.

So it would appear that until Bombardier build an Aventra with an emergency exit through the driver’s cab, that the existing Class 378 trains must work all services through the Thames Tunnel.

Incidentally, I can’t think of another long tunnel, that might be served by the London Overground, so it could be that Class 378 trains will be the only trains to go through the Thames Tunnel, until they wear out and need to go to the scrapyard.

Six Car Trains On The East London Line

I covered this in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six-Car Trains? and I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Network Rail’s original plan on six-car trains on the East London Line happens in the next few years.

It might happen in the future, but it would need expensive platform extensions at Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations.

Increased Frequency On The East London Line

If five-car Class 378 trains are the limit, the only way to increase capacity of the East London Line would be to increase frequency.

The current frequency of the East London Line is sixteen trains per hour (tph)

There are four tph on each of these routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Two increases are planned.

  • 2018 – 6 tph – Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • 2019 – 6 tph – Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

This would increase the frequency of the East London Line to twenty tph.

It will probably mean an updated digital signalling system on the East London Line.

Eventually, I think it likely, that a full ERTMS system as is fitted to Thameslink and Crossrail will be fitted to at least the East London Line, but possibly the whole Overground network.

Digital signalling would certainly allow the twenty-four tph frequency of Thameslink and CXrossrail, which could mean that the four routes all received a frequency of four tph.

But Thameslink and Crossrail are theoretically capable of handling thirty tph or a train every two minutes, through their central tunnels.

If the two modern multi-billion pound tunnels can handle 30 tph, why can’t their little brother, that started life as a half-million pound pedestrian tunnel in 1843,

The Number Of Trains Needed For The Current Service

If I go through the routes of the original Overground, I find the following.

Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

Trains take 46 minutes to go South and 44 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Dalston Junction And New Cross

Trains take 22 minutes both ways and a round trip would take an hour.

This means that the current four tph service would need four trains.

A six tph service in the future would need six trains.

Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace

Trains take 44 minutes to go South and 43 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Trains take 52 minutes both ways and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

This means that the current four tph on all four routes needs twenty-eight trains.

The Proposed 2020 Service

This will have two extra tph to Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction and will need thirty-six trains.

Six Trains Per Hour On All Four Routes

as each route terminates at both ends in a single platform, which can handle six tph, with the right signalling, I feel that this could be the design objective of the East London Line, when it was built in the early-2010s.

This could be achieved with forty-two trains, leaving perhaps twelve to fifteen trains for other duties, depending on how many are needed on stand-by or are in maintenance.

What Could Be Done With Twelve Trains?

As I calculated earlier, three routes need twelve trains to provide a six tph service.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

All three services take between 44 and 52 minutes.

So could another six tph service that takes around this time be added to the current four services?

Willesden Junction As A Northern Terminal

Trains could take the North London Line to Willesden Junction and terminate in the Bay Platform 2.

I estimate the following timings from Willesden Junction.

  • Highbury & Islington – 27 mins
  • Dalston Junction – 31 mins
  • Whitechapel –  – 41 mins
  • New Cross – 49 mins
  • Crystal Palace – 64 mins
  • Clapham Junction – 73 mins.
  • West Croydon – 74 mins

It would appear that the only possible Southern terminal of the current four, would be New Cross, as that is the only terminal within the 44-52 minute range of journey time.

So could a service between Willesden Junction and New Cross replace the current one between Dalston Junction and New Cross?

  • It would need to be run using dual-voltage trains
  • Voltage changeover could be at Highbury & Islington station.
  • Extending the New Cross service would free up a bay platform at Dalston Junction station.
  • It should be possible to have a frequency of six tph.
  • Serious modifications or additions to infrastructure would probably not be required.

As running to Willesden Junction was talked about before the Overground opened, I wonder if the numerous crossovers on the North London Line, already allow trains from the East London Line to terminate at Willesden Junction.

Southern Terminals Via New Cross Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at New Cross station.

Note how the double-track East London Line, shown in orange, arrives from Surrey Quays station arrives in the North-Western corner of the map, becomes a single-track and then goes under the main lines before going into the bay platform D.

This Google Map shows the same area.

The London Overground track is clearly visible.

Could extra track be added, to enable the following?

  • Southbound trains could join the main line and stop in Platform C
  • Northbound could leave the main line after stopping in Platform A and go towards Surrey Quays station.

If this is possible, then trains could run between Dalston Junction and Lewisham stations.

Once at Lewisham they would have choice of Southern terminal,

Hayes As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Hayes stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 53 minutes.
  • Hayes station has two terminal platforms

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

Orpington As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Orpington stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 47  minutes.
  • Orpington station has three terminal platforms.

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

A Combined Hayes And Orpington Service

As a case can be made for services to both Hayes and Orpington via Lewisham, I think the ideal service could be two tph to both Hayes and Orpington.

  • There would be four tph between Dalston Junction and Lewisham.
  • Stations on the East London Line would have access to the important interchange station at Lewisham.
  • Several stations on the routes to Hayes and Orpington would have a two tph service to Crossrail and the Jubilee Line.

Other Stations Via New Cross

Looking at rail maps, there would seem to be several possibilities including with their times from Dalston junction station.

  • Beckenham Junction – 41 mins
  • Bromley North – 40 mins
  • Gove Park – 35 mins

There are probably others.

Southern Terminals Via Peckham Rye Station

As an example Streatham Common station is planned to be a major interchange and is 43 minutes from Dalston Junction.

Would a bay platform work here as an East london Line terminal?

Conclusion

If all fifty-seven Class 378 trains worked the East London Line, they could run six tph on the current routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

It would need forty-two trains.

Suppose the Dalston Junction and New Cross service was replaced with a Willesden Junction and New Cross service.

  • This would provide a useful direct four tph service between East and North London.
  • Changing at Highbury & Islington station would be avoided for a lot of journeys.
  • The journey time wold be around 49 minutes.
  • A two tph service would need four trains.
  • A four tph service would need eight trains.
  • A six tph service would need twelve trains.
  • Many journeys between North and South London would now be possible with just a single same platform interchange.

To run the following frequencies on this route would mean these total frequencies on the East London Line and total numbers of trains.

  • 2 tph – 20 tph – 40 trains
  • 4 tph – 22 tph – 44 trains
  • 6 tph – 24 tph – 48 trains

I think that if the figures are juggled a bit, there is enough trains to run extra services to one or more Southern destinations from Dalston Junction.

My preference would be a split service of 2 tph to both Hayes and Orpington via New Cross, where some new track would be needed.

This would do the following.

  • Create a frequent connection between South-East and North-East London.
  • Both areas would be connected to Crossrail and several Underground Lines, including the future Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • The Hayes Line would be shared between Overground and Southeastern trains.

No more new trains or large amounts of new infrastructure would be needed.

I suspect that London Overground and the new Southeastern franchise can do better than my musings.

 

 

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ProRail And Arriva Launch Automation Trials

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

I have posted this article, because it lays out in a simple way, the benefits of digital signalling and Automatic Train Operation.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Latest On The Class 717 Trains For The Great Northern

This is another tweet from the South East Rail Group.

Because of centre door of the cab some start signals can’t be sighted by the driver. Thus SDO will be used and trains stopped short. Once ERTMS is installed (the trains already have the in-cab signalling displays to go with it) then fixed signals and triphandles will be removed.

They also say that squiadron service is could be on March 11th.

Effect Of ERTMS

The tweet also confirms that ERTMS will be available on this line, after the first stage of installation of ERTMS on the East Coast Main Line.

Currently, the service to Moorgate station is twelve trains per hour (tph) in the Off Peak, with extra services in the Peak.

As Thameslink and Crossrail will be running twenty-four tph in a couple of years, so when ERTMS is working on the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line and on the Northern City Line into Moorgate station, how many trains per hour will be possible to Moorgate?

The current twelve tph means that turning the trains at Moorgate must be done in five minutes, which having watched the process is fairly relaxed.

Fifteen tph and a four minute turnround is certainly possible, as that is sometimes achieved in the Peak with the ancient Class 313 trains.

With a fleet of twenty-five trains, and a frequency of twenty-four tph possible under ERTMS, I suspect that twenty tph and a three minute turnround at Moorgate could be achieved all day.

Highbury & Islington Interchange With The Victoria Line

With Dear Old Vicky gamely plugging on at thirty-six tph, the typical maximum wait in a cross-platform interchange will be as follows.

  • Victoria to Northern City – three minutes
  • Northern City to Victoria – one minute and forty seconds.

How many passengers will use this route to the City rather than use the London Overground?

Interchange With Crossrail At Moorgate

The Northern City will be my link to Crossrail, as I can walk or get a bus to Essex Road station.

The interchange between Crossrail and the Northern City Lines will be high capacity, feature a lot of escalators and be fully step-free.

Conclusion

London’s forgotten underground line with its tragic history of the Moorgate Tube Crash, will become a new star in the broad firmament of London’s railways.

It just needs some improvements to some of the stations.

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

ERTMS Rollout Between London-Paris-Brussels Agreed

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

This is the first paragraph.

An agreement has been reached by the infrastructure managers of the high-speed railway between London, Paris and Brussels – one of Europe’s busiest routes – to coordinate the rollout of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Rollout of ERTMS on these important routes must surely be a good idea, if it can enable extra and faster services on these busy routes.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

First ‘717’ In UK In June

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

The first Class 717 EMU, built by Siemens for Govia Thameslink Railway’s Great Northern suburban services into Moorgate, is due to arrive in the UK in June.

The article also makes these statements, about the new Class 717 trains.

  • The first unit is planned to enter service in September.
  • The full fleet of 25 x 6-car units will be deployed in Winter 2018.
  • The current Class 313 trains will be replaced.
  • The new trains will have no toilets or First Class.
  • The new trains will have power points and wi-fi.

By virtue of the cross-platform connection between the Northern City Line and Victoria Line, these trains will improve a valuable link between North East London and the City of London.

When Crossrail opens in December 2018 at Moorgate station, the Northern City Line will have a step-free below-ground connection to Liverpool Street station and all the Underground lines serving the two stations.

Ducking and diving will move to a whole new level.

What Will The New Trains Do For Me?

For my own part, if the frequency on the Northern City Line is increased, I shall use the line from Essex Road station to get to Moorgate for Crossrail and the Central Line.

I suspect my house will go up in value!

How Will The New Trains Affect The Service?

The New Trains Are Faster

The current Class 313 trains are 75 mph trains, whereas the new Class 717 trains are 100 mph trains.

This increased operating speed will have two effects, when running on the East Coast Main Line and to Letchworth Garden City.

  • Time might be saved.
  • As their operating speed is the same as Thameslink’s closely-related Class 700 trains, they might make keeping to time easier.

Time savings on the Hertford Loop Line, will be more difficult, as the line only has a 75 mph operating speed.

However, speed improvements on the Hertford Loop Line would surely result in faster trains to Hertford, Letchworth Garden City and Stevenage.

The New Trains Could Change Voltage Faster

Trains on the Northern City Line need to change voltage at Drayton Park station. I have observed Class 700 trains, do this on Thameslink and they do it without fuss and very reliably.

The Class 717 trains will probably use the same pantograph, so we could be seeing a smoother and faster changeover.

The New Trains Will Probably Be Ready For ERTMS

The Class 700 trains are fitted for ERTMS, so they can work the Thameslink tunnel under Automatic Train Operation.

As this method of signalling and control will be fitted to the East Coast Main Line to improve caacity, the new Class 717 trains will probably be ERTMS-ready.

It should be noted that the Hertford Loop Line has been used as an ERTMS test track and I suspect engineers know the performance improvement ERTMS would bring to the line.

I suspect in a few years, the Northern City Line and services out of Moorgate will be run automatically, with the driver monitoring the system.

The New Trains Will Stop In A Shorter Time At Stations

The new Class 717 trains will have the these advantages of modern trains over the current ones.

  • They will be able to accelerate to line speed in a shorter time.
  • They will be able to brake faster.
  • Wider doors and larger lobbies will enable shorter loading and unloading times.
  • The trains will have better systems to help the driver.

These will all result in time savings at each stops.

Currently, the four destinations have the number of stops to Moorgate.

  • Hertford North –  49-53 minutes – 12 stops
  • Letchworth Garden City – 75 minutes – 19 stops
  • Stevenage – 68-72 minutes – 14 stops
  • Welwyn Garden City – 47-48 minutes – 16 stops

Because of the high number of stops, saving a minute at each stop would speed up the train service.

Less Trains Could Be Needed For The Current Service

As an example, take the Moorgate to Letchworth service.

The current service is one train per hour (tph), which takes 75 minutes. In its simplest form, allowing for turnround at both ends, trains take up to three hours for the round trip, so three trains are needed for the service.

But if the faster Class 717 trains can save a minute at each stop and run faster on the East Coast Main Line, it might be possible to reduce the round trip to several minutes under two hours. If that is possible, then only two trains would be needed for the route.

Improve The Hertford Loop Line

With its low operating speed of 75 mph, the new Class 717 trains can’t take full sadvantage of their increased speed.

There are already plans for new bay platforms at Gordon Hill and Stevenage stations, so what other plans are being progressed to improve the Hertford Loop Line?

The New Trains Could Have Less Seats And More Capacity

I can only give a rough estimate for this as I can’t find the capacity of a Class 717 train.

These are cars, car length and capacity for various trains.

  • Class 707 trains -five x 20 m. – 275 seats + 533 standing
  • Class 717 trains – six x 20.2 m. – No figures.
  • Class 313 trains – three x 20.2 m. – 232 seats
  • 2 x Class 313 trains – six x 20.2 m. 464 seats

A rough calculation for the Class 717 train using the figures for a similar Class 707 train and adjusting for another ytailer carriage gives the following.

339 seats + 657 standing = 996 total

Incidemtally, I’ve stood on a crowded Class 707 train, and it was not an unpleasant experience, as there were plenty of handholds.

This picture shows handholds on the seats and between carriages.

I hope the Class 717 trains have 2 + 2 seating, like the Class 707 trains.

Improved Services To And From Moorgate

Current services to and from Moorgate station are as follows.

  • Three tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Three tph to Hertford North, with one tph extended to Letchworth Gsrden City.

This means that there are six tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

From the May 2018 timetable change, the service levels will become.

  • Four tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Five tph to Hertford North, with two tph extended to Stevenage or Watton-at-Stone.
  • No direct services will run to Letchworth Garden City. Change seems to be a cross-platform interchange at Finsbury Park.

The service termination at Watton-at-Stone station is only temporary until Network Rail build a new bay platform at Stevenage station.

These changes mean  that there will be nine tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

This frequency is already achieved in the Peak, from Monday to Friday. But it now appears, it will be running all day from the May 2018 timetable change.

I found this document on the Rail Delivery Group web site, which is entitled 6,400 Extra Trains A Week To Run To More Places, More Often.

It says these services will be added in 2019.

  • An increase of 2 Hertford Loop trains per hour, Moorgate-Hertford
  • An increase of 1 Hertford Loop train per hour, Moorgate-Stevenage
  • An increase of 1 train per hour, Moorgate-Welwyn Garden City

In the May 2018 edition of Modern Railways, this is said.

New Class 717 EMUs will eplace the current Class 313s on these services from the autumn, with a further frequency boost planned in May 2019.

Adding this all together gives the following.

  • Five tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Seven tph to Hertford North, with three tph extended to Stevenage.

This means that there will be twelve tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations. Or a train every five minutes.

It would appear that the overall effect of what Govia Thameslink Railway is doing is as follows.

  • Restricting the running of Moorgate services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Provide a five tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Welwyn Garden City.
  • Provide a seven tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from  Hertford North.
  • Provide a six tph Turn-Up-And-Go Thameslink service from Stevenage.
  • Provide a three tph service to Moorgate from Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone. Could it be expanded to a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • Stations North of Stevenage will be served by Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • Thameslink services will stop at Stevenage and Finsbury Park for interchange with Moorgate services.

Will all of of this, downgrade Welwyn North station, by offering better services at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations?

Consider.

  • Welwyn North station handles about 600.000 passengers a year.
  • Welwyn North station only has a service of two tph.
  • Welwyn North station lies on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.
  • Knebworth station handles 600,000 passengers a year, but is on a four-track section of the line.
  • Watton-at-Stone station, which is perhaps four kilometres to the East handles 100,000 passengers a year, but appears to be short of car parking.

I’m pretty certain, that if Welwyn North station could be closed, then the notorious bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct could be eased.

So are Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway working towards a situation, where this will be able to happen.

They could do the following.

  • Provide more car parking at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations.
  • Build a new Park-And-Ride station in South Stevenage on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Improve timings between Stevenage and Moorgate.
  • Extend more Hertford North services to Stevenage. Six tph would probably be the limit for a single bay platform at Stevenage.

Shutting Welwyn North station would be controversial and heavily resisted.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

In May 2019, I think the service will be as follows.

  • Five tph to Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • Four tph to Moorgate to Hertford North,
  • Three tph Moorgate to Stevenage.

I’ll now look at each separately.

Moorgate To Welwyn Garden City

Trains take just under around 47-48 minutes and there are sixteen intermediate stops.

Currently, I suspect a train takes two hours to do a round trip, which would allow up to 12-13 minutes to turn round at each end.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

But supposing the Class 717 trains, with faster running on the East Coast Main Line and faster stops could reduce this to under thirty minutes with a round trip of an hour.

  • Four tph would need four trains.
  • Five tph would need five trains.

Note.

  1. Currently, all trains are turned in Platform 4.
  2. Will Platform 4 be able to handle four tph after the May 2018 timetable change?
  3. Will Platform 4 be able to handle five tph after the May 2019 timetable change?
  4. There are sidings easily accessible to the North of Platform 4.
  5. Trains leaving Welwyn Garden City for Moorgate use a flyover to cross to the Up Slow line.

If five tph with just five trains is possible, it’s well worth achieving. But it could be a hard ask!

Moorgate To Hertford North

Trains take around 49-53 minutes and there are twelve intermediate stops.

This service would be another two hour round trip.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

The new Class 717 trains couldn’t probably do the trip in thirty minutes, but a ninety minute round-trip would surely be possible.

  • The proposed four tph would need six trains.

Note.

  1. Four tph is the frequency that will be running from May 2019.
  2. Four tph could also be easily handled in the bay platform at Hertford North station.

Any track improvement would help.

Moorgate To Stevenage

Trains take around 68-72 minutes and there are fourteen intermediate stops.

The new Class 717 trains with their faster running  and faster stops, should be able to do this trip under the hour, with a possible two-hour round trip.

If this could be achieved the service would need the following trains.

  • The proposed three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.

Improving the Hertford Loop Line, so that the Class 717 trains could fully use their 100 mph operating speed could be key.

Summarising The Trains Needed

Summarising gives.

  • Three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage would need six trains.
  • Four tph between Moorgate and Hertford North would need eight trains with a two hour round trip.
  • Cut that to a ninety-minute round trip and six trains could be needed.
  • Five tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City could possibly be run with five trains or need as many as ten.

A pessimistic answer for the number of trains could be as high as 24, which fits well with a fleet of twenty five trains.

But an optimistic solution might need.

  • Six trains for Stevenage
  • Six trains for Hertford North
  • Five trains for Welwyn Garden City

This would leave several trains for increasing frequency.

Increasing The Service After May 2019

Improving The Hertford Loop Line

If the Class 717 trains could use their speed, this would enable faster journeys and could allow extra paths for more trains.

ERTMS On The Moorgate Lines

It is already used by Thameslink and is scheduled to be used on the East Coast Main Line.

Will it be added to the Hertford Loop Line and on the Northern City Line?

ERTMS and a degree of Automatic Train Control, could be a game changer.

Fitting the necessary equipment to the Class 717 trains, shouldn’t be the most difficult of jobs, as the system is already fitted to Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Increased Frequency Into Moorgate

Consider.

  • Currently, in the Peak, the Class 313 trains running under control of conventional signalling manage 11 tph at times.
  • From May 2019, Gover Thameslink Railway will be running 12 tph into Moorgate all day.
  • Thameslink and Crossrail should be handling 24 tph, by the end of 2019.
  • Brixton station on the Victoria Line handles upwards of thirty tph with two platforms.
  • Transport for London and Londoners have a lot of experience about loading and unloading trains.

Look at this schematic of the vast Crossrail complex linking Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.

Note the Northern City Line in dark blue at the left, with a new pedestrian tunnel linking to Crossrail. This will help handle the passenger flows between Crossrail and the Northern City Line.

With ERTMS and Automatic Train Control, I wonder what, is the maximum number of trains that can be handled at Moorgate?

Twelve is obviously possible with the current infrastructure, as it is only one more than what is currently achieved in the Peak.

My experience says that with good electronic and organisational systems, that fifteen tph should be possible in both directions between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations.

An Extra Train To Stevenage

Current plans envisage three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage.

The new bay platform at Stevenage would easily handle four tph and if the sufficient trains are available, I could see this extra service implemented.

The following frequencies would be achieved.

  • Four tph – Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone.
  • Eight tph – Hertford North.

The Northern City Line would obviously need to be able to handle the extra train.

Gordon Hill Station As An Extra Terminus

Gordon Hill station is sometimes used as an extra terminus to turn trains from Moorgate in the Peak.

I can see this continuing, as surely it increases the capacity at the Moorgate end of the line.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to swee how this line develops in the future.

 

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Crossrail Go Up The West Coast Main Line?

This report on the BBC from August 2014, is entitled Crossrail Extension To Hertfordshire Being Considered.

This is the opening paragraph.

Proposals to extend Crossrail to Hertfordshire are being considered by the government, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced.

But then in August 2016, the proposal was cancelled as being poor value for money.

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail has a section called To the West Coast Main Line, under Extensions.

This is said.

Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. This would provide a direct service from the WCML to the Shenfield, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail’s capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the north. Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph)

That sounds all very sensible. So why was the scheme cancelled?

I will look at various factors to see if I can get an idea!

Current Local Services To Milton Keynes

London Midland currently runs five trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Milton Keynes Central stations using Class 350 trains capable of 110 mph.

The new operator; West Midlands Trains will replace these trains with 110 mph Aventras.

Note that both these trains have to be capable of running at 110 mph, as this is necessary for efficient operation of the West Coast Main Line.

Crossrail Local Services To Milton Keynes

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are only capable of 90 mph running, but then again, West Midlans Trains will have Aventras capable of 110 mph.

So for a start, the current Crossrail trains would be unable to work services to Milton Keynes in an efficient manner.

I would estimate around twenty trains  would have to be updated for 110 mph running to provide eight tph.

An Upgrade Of Milton Keynes Central Station

With a fast eight tph running to and from Central London, the nature of the train services at Milton Keynes would change dramatically.

How many of Virgin’s passengers to and from the North would prefer to change to a local train at Milton Keynes, rather than lug heavy baggage on the Underground?

HS2 would have an unexpected competitor.

ERTMS On The West Coast Main Line

Would ERTMS need to be installed on the West Coast Main Line to accommodate al these trains?

This will probably happen soon anyway, but Crossrail to Milton Keynes could bring it forward.

Connecting Crossrail To The West Coast Main Line

Look at this map from carto.map.free.fr, which shows the lines in the Old Oak Common area.

Note.

  • The West Coast Main Line is the multi-track railway towards the top of the map.
  • The Great Western Main Line is the multi-track railway towards the bottom of the map.
  • The Slow Lines on both main lines are on the Northern side of the tracks.
  • The Old Oak Common station will be on the Great Western Main Line, just to the West of the North Pole Depot.

This all means that a flyover or a tunnel must be built to connect the two pairs of Slow Lines. It’s not simple!

This Google Map of the area illustrates the problem.

Note.

  • The Great Western Main Line going across the bottom of the map.
  • The North Pole Depot alongside the Great Western Main Line.
  • The Dudding Hill Line and the West London Line at the Western side of the map.
  • Crossrail’s newly-built depot is the large grey rectangular building.
  • There’s also some housing to the North-West of Crossrail’s Depot

I doubt that a flyover could pass over all that.

But a tunnel starting at the surely soon-to-be-redundant Heathrow Express Depot , that turned North-West would be a possibility.

A tunnel could emerge to the North-West of Harlesden station.

This Google Map shows that area.

Note.

  • The silver building in the top-left corner is the Princess Royal Distribution Centre.
  • The West Coast Main Line runs diagonally across the map.
  • The Dudding Hill Line runs up the Eastern side of the map.

I suspect that space for a tunnel portal can be found.

  • Twin tunnels would probably be bored.
  • I estimate that they, would need to be just over two kilometres long.
  • I suspect too, that they could be build without an additional ventilation shaft in the middle.

Looking at these maps, I’m very much of the opinion, that boring a tunnelled solution, would be possible, but what would be the cost?

The Lee Tunnel in East London is about twice as long and larger in diameter. From the cost of that tunnel, which was opened in 2016, I feel that the two tunnels could be built for just under a billion pounds.

A Tunnel-Free Solution

This Google Map shows Old Oak Common between the Great Western Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

The Crossrail station would be at the bottom just above the North Pole Depot.

I wonder if a line could go through or behind the Heathrow Express site and then follow the North London Line behind the Crossrail Depot to Willesden High Level Junction.

This Google Map shows Willesden High Level Junction and the tracks of the London Overground as they pass over the West Coast Main Line.

I suspect modern three-dimensional design and structural analysis can create a connecting viaduct.

I doubt the track will be much more than a kilometre long and I suspect with the right signallinmg and a degree of Sutomatic Train Control, eight tph each way could be handled on a single track.

Conclusion

It looks like updating the Class 345 trains, ERTMS and building a tunnel under Old Oak Common could be a sizeable bill.

Have cost estimates been such, that the project was not deemed to be value for money?

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?

This may seem an outrageous idea.

But I think it could be possible.

Can Class 345 Trains And Class 700 Trains Use The Same Tracks And Platforms?

Crossrail may use Class 345 trains and Thameslink may use Class 700 trains, but can the two trains use the same tracks and platforms?

Recently, Cambridge North station has opened and it will certainly be compatible with Class 700 trains and Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains, which are closely related to the Crossrail trains.

Heathrow’s platforms do not have platform-edge doors.

Both trains are designed to work at high frequencies using ERTMS.

So I think the answer to my question is a solid yes!

How Would Thameslink Trains Get To Heathrow?

The original plan for Heathrow Express envisaged using both Paddington and St. Pancras as terminals in Central London.

It would have used the Dudding Hill Line as a connection between the Great Western Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

This Google Map shows the tracks to the East of Acton Main Line station.

Note.

  • The four tracks of the Great Western Main Line run through Acton Main Line station.
  • The most Southerly pair of tracks are the fast lines, whilst the next pair are the slow lines as used by Crossrail.
  • The tracks shown in orange are the North London Line.
  • The two extra lines to the North of Acton Main Line station are the Goods Lines, connect at Acton Wells Junction to the North London Line, so freight trains can go across London between the Great Western Main Line and Stratford.

After crossing over the Central Line, the route splits with the North London Line going East to Stratford and the Dudding Hill Line going North through Acton Canal Wharf Junction.

To get to and from Heathrow, the services would take the same route as Crossrail to the West of Acton Main Line station.

The services would use the existing Cricklewood Curve Junction to connect with the Thameslink route to the North of Cricklewood station.

What New Infrastructure Would Be Required?

The infrastructure needed would not be of the sort of scale needed for Crossrail or Thameslink.

  • The Dudding Hill Line is would need to be electrified.
  • The Dudding Hill Line is double-track throughout.
  • The 30 mph speed limit of the Dudding Hill Line would need to be increased.
  • Would Harlesden and Dudding Hill stations be reopened or other new ones built?
  • The stations at Heathrow could probably handle Class 700 trains without too much difficulty.
  • There might be a need for a flyover to sort out the tangle of lines between Cricklewood and St. Pancras.

But nothing is too complicated or difficult.

What Frequency Of Thameslink Trains Would Serve Heathrow?

Currently, the following services are provided

  • Heathrow Express has four tph to Terminal 5 via Heathrow Central
  • There is a shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4, run by Heathrow Express.
  • Heathrow Connect run two tph to Heathrow Central.

When Crossrail opens in December 2019, the service to Heathrow will be four trains per hour (tph) to Terminal 5 and two tph to Terminal 4.

Crossrail will also provide the shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4.

It is certainly not a system designed by any individual or committee with any sense of good design.

At least, both Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 stations have two terminal platforms, so the two stations should each be able to handle up to eight tph.

If they did this would mean up to sixteen tph on the Heathrow spur, which would be well within the capability of the route and trains running using ERTMS, which will handle up to 24 tph on both Crossrail and Thameslink in the few years.

Under current plans, it appears that when Crossrail opens, the stations will get the following services.

  • Heathrow Central – 10 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 2 tph plus shuttles
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 8 tph

I’m assuming that Heathrow Connect will quietly fade away.

With a bit of reorganisation of the services, it should be possible to squeeze another six tph into the airport, without building any new terminal platforms.

So I feel that say four tph Thameslink trains to Heathrow would be possible.

Could Crossrail Handle The Extra Trains?

The Thameslink trains would have to run on the Crossrail tracks between Acton Main Line station and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Currently Crossrail are proposing running 12 tph on this section, so as ERTMS can handle double this, I suspect there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Could Thameslink Handle The Extra Trains?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Thameslink Signalling Update, says this about possible Thameslink frequencies.

To meet the specification of 24 tph through the Thameslink core section, it is necessary to deploy Automatic Train Operation (ATO). This will provide a peak theoretical capacity of 30 tph, thereby creating a reliable 24 tph service with acceptable recovery margins.

So an extra six tph could be possible.

Would A Service Between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports Be Possible?

In my view it would be the logical service.

It would certainly be possible!

And it could also be a journey without any change of train!

Would There Be Any Other Useful Connections?

These are a few thoughts and ideas.

Same Platform Interchanges

Cross-city lines like Crossrail, Merseyrail’s Northern Line and Thameslink, have the advantage, that if you are going in the right direction, but are on a train to the wrong destination, you can just get off the train and wait for the correct train.

So if you leave Heathrow on a Gatwick train and you need to go to Maidstone East, you would get off at any of the stations in the central core and wait until the next Maidstone East train arrives.

Everybody will have their own favourite interchanges. Mine would probably be Blackfriars station, as it is above the Thames, has lots of seats and there is a large coffee shop on both platforms.

The ability to do this will mean that all stations South of West Hampstead  Thameslink station will have a very easy link to and from Heathrow.

Reversing Stations

Crossrail has several stations where you can reverse your direction of travel by just walking across the platform. Whitechapel station will allow passengers to go between Abbey Wood and Shenfield stations without going up or down any steps or escalators.

Thameslink only has one reversing station at London Bridge station, although St. Pancras Thamslink has escalators and lifts to allow passengers to change direction in a short time.

West Hampstead Interchange

If plans for a West Hampstead Interchange materialise, this will link the following lines.

  • Chiltern Railways
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Midland Main L:ine
  • North London Line

Note.

  1. This could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.
  2. West Hampstead Interchange would be a good alternative until Old Oak Common station is built.
  3. Passengers going between Heathrow and stations on the Midland Main Line to the North could change here.

Those like me living along the North London Line would find it a convenient way to get to and from Heathrow.

Kings Cross And St. Pancras Stations

The massive complex at Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations currently links the following lines.

  • Eurostar
  • Midland Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Southeastern Highspeed services
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line

But the only way to get directly to Heathrow is a nearly hour long journey on the Piccadilly Line. Thameslink could be just over half that time, in a less cramped train.

Blackfriars Station

I use Blackfriars station a lot, as it is my the Tate Modern.

But others will use it as a same platform interchage for reasons I outlined erlier.

London Bridge Station

London Bridge station is another important interchange, with links to the following lines.

  • Southeastern services to Kent
  • Southern services to Surrey and Sussex.
  • Jubilee Line
  • Northern Line

Note.

  • This new station is well-equipped and interchange is totally step-free.
  • It is also a short walk to the city across London Bridge.
  • This station will be a very good same platform interchange.
  • The station allows passengers to reverse direction by just walking across the platform.

As with West Hampstead, this could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon Stations

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon stations, which are important local hubs, would all be well-connected to Heathrow.

Collateral Benefits

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is planning to have a Euston St. Pancras station, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

It would be a “mega station” serving the existing Euston, King’s Cross and St. Pancras main line stations. If funded and completed, it will be one of two such stations on the Crossrail 2 route (the other being Dalston).

If this station is designed properly, I am sure it will have the following.

  • A step-free and convenient link to both Thameslink and Eurostar.
  • Some form of high-capacity hi-tech people-mover, stretching under Euston Road, linking Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston stations.

I believe a station design is possible that makes the connection between HS1 and HS2 a no-hassle transfer for all passengers in less than ten minutes.

The people-mover should be in place when HS2 opens in December 2026, so that a credible HS1 to HS2 link opens at the same time.

Gatwick, Heathrow, HS1 And HS2 Will Be On One Rail Line

This could be of tremendous benefit to Londoners, travellers, tourists, rail companies and airlines, but Heathrow might not like it, as it could undermine their dominant position.

If Crossrail 2 opens around 2030, this will bring Stansted into the hub.

The Most Important Railway Station In The World

Eventually, Euston St. Pancras station will become the busiest and most important railway station in the world.

How Will Terminal Development At Heathrow Affect Crossrail And Thameslink?

Heathrow are disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.

I believe that this rebuilding could start in the next few years.

Heathrow will make sure they future-proof rail access, so we could see.

  • More terminal platforms at both Heathrow East and Heathrow West
  • Through platforms at Heathrow West to allow trains to go West from both terminals.
  • Freight shuttles bringing in provisions for the airport, the airlines and the aircraft.

This will allow Crossrail, Thameslink, Heathrow Express and other operators to have as many services as is thought necessary.

The biggest constraint will be the capacity of the Great Western Railway and the two tracks used by Crossrail.

Will Other Operastors Be Allowed Use Heathrow?

This probably depends more on politics than anything else, but technically these facts apply.

Bombardier Aventras

Bombardier have hinted that the design of an Aventra can provide commuter trains like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains and 125 mph expresses.

So it would be likely that a 125 mph Aventra of appropriate length would be able to serve Heathrow, if that were thought necessary!

All Trains Would Be Electric

I suspect that regulations would mean all trains would be electric, as you don’t want diesel or hydrogen fuels in the tunnels under Heathrow.

ERTMS

I also suspect that all trains using the eathrow stations would need to be equipped with ERTMS.

Possible Routes

Who knows what routes will become possible, but as the list of trains grows that are acceptable to Heathrow, various possibilities will arise.

  • Great Western Railway to Bristol
  • Great Western Railway to Cardiff
  • London Overground to Clapham Junction station
  • London Overground to Stratford
  • South Western Railway to Southampton
  • East Midlands Trains to Bedford/Kettering/Corby
  • West Midlands Trains to Watford/Milton Keynes/Birmingham

After Heathrow terminals are updated to East and West, there would be scope for cross country routes going vaguely South-West to North-East calling at both terminals in Heathrow.

 

Will Thameslink And Crossrail Strangle Heathrow Express?

I wonder if a ink to Thameslink will be more valuable to Heathrow, than Heathrow Express.

  • Abandoning Heathrow Express would release valuable platform space at Heathrow and Paddington.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink together would have connections all over London, rather than just Paddington.
  • Crossrail to and from Paddington would only take about five or six minutes longer.
  • Heathrow Express will have to update their trains with ERTMS and to compete with Crossrail.
  • Heathrow Express usually means a taxi to your hotel to and from Paddington.
  • Crossrail will connect the West End, The City and Canary Wharf to Heathrow.

Convenience and cost will eventually strangle Heathrow Express.

Conclusion

The following statements would appear to be true.

  • Class 345 and Class 700 trains can use the same infrastructure.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink both use ERTMS.
  • The stations at Heathrow,the Western section of Crossrail and the Thameslink core have spare capacity.

This means it should be possible to extend Thameslink services to Heathrow with a frequency of at least four tph, using an electrified Dudding Hill Line.

Some new infrastructure would be required, but nothing as comprehensive, as that for Crossrail and Thameslink.

 

 

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments