The Anonymous Widower

Speculation Increases Over Use Of HSTs

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

This is the second paragraph.

GWR and ScotRail are both introducing modified four and five-coach HSTs on various duties, with GWR’s operating regional services and ScotRail’s Inter7City sets to be used on its core inter-city routes.

I’ve yet to take a ride in either of the GWR oe Scotrail version of the trains and I shall be looking forward to riding both, later in the year.

I’ve only seem one close-up once at Dundee.

But they seem to be very slow in coming in to service.

Abellio Scotrail’s Proposed Fleet

Abellio Scotrail seem to have 54 Class 43 locomotives and 121 Mark 3 coaches, which according to Wikipedia, will be formed into 26 sets: 17 five-car and 9 four-car trains.

Routes include connecting Scotland’s seven cities.

GWR’s Proposed Fleet

Great Western Railway seem to have retained 24 Class 43 locomotives and 48 Mark 3 coaches, which will be formed into 11 four-car trains.

Routes include between Cardiff and Penzance.

Will These Short HSTs Be Successful?

A number of factors will come into play.

  • The trains are liked by passengers and drivers.
  • They are an ideal size for a lot of routes.
  • They have an excellent ride.
  • They have a lot of capacity for oversized baggage, like bicycles, surf boards, sporting equipment and even some urgent or perishable freight.

Only time will tell, but it is my view, they have a good chance of being a success.

Do Short HSTs Have Any Problems?

The two big problems are their age and that they are diesel-powered I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the new franchises in the next few years, deciding to go all electric, with only a small number of diesel or hybrid trains.

Would Short HSTs be able to get an exception on heritage grounds?

The technology now is at a level, that by 2030, the UK railways could be diesel-free, with all trains electric, battery or zero-carbon hybrid.

Are There Any Other Routes Where Short HSTs Could Be Used?

I will break them down by franchis, in this incomplete list.

East Midlands Railway – Norwich And Derby

This new route for East Midlands Railway will be created by splitting the current service between Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

  • The route is 152 miles long.
  • I estimate that current trains will take three hours.
  • The service needs four-car trains at certain times.

Would it be possible for Short HSTs to do a Norwich and Derby round trip in six hours?

GWR – Cardiff And Portsmouth

If the Castles can work Cardiff and Penzance, could they work Cardiff and Portsmouth?

Scotrail – Far North Line

What has surprised me is that Abellio Scotrail are not going to use their Inter7City trains between Inverness and Wick stations on the Far North Line.

  • The distance is 174 miles
  • The current trip takes four and a quarter hours
  • The round trip is nine hours.

So could a short HST do the round trip in eight hours?

A single train could then run to the following schedule.

  • Leave Inverness at 0600.
  • Return from Wick at 1000.
  • Leave Inverness at 1400
  • Return from Wick at 1800

The train would arrive back in Inverness at 2200.

In Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?, I wrote about a proposal to introduce Class 230 trains between Wick and Thurso at the far north of Scotland.

This Far North Metro, would sit well with a two train per day service to Inverness.

  • Mark 3 carriages have large windows for sightseeing.
  • A buffet and small bar could be provided.
  • The trains have space for parcels, urgent and perishable freight.
  • The service could link with the ferries to the Orkneys.

A subsidiary objective would be to bring some prosperity to a remote region.

Scotrail – Kyle Of Lochalsh Line

If Short HSTs can work their magic on the Far North Line, I just wonder if they could provide services on the Kyle Of Lochalsh Line.

  • The distance is 83 miles
  • The current trip takes two hours and forty minutes.

So could a short HST do the round trip in six hours?

As with the Far North Line, there would be a much improved service for both those that live along the line and the many visitors.

Transport for Wales – Cardiff And Holyhead

Transport for Wales run a two-hourly service between Cardiff and Holyhead stations. The rolling stock for some services will be a rake of four Mark 4 carriages, a Class 67 locomotive and a driving van trailer.

Isn’t this in effect a train with a similar purpose to a Short HST?

Obviously, Transport for Wales have got good reasons for not running Short HSTs on this route, but the choice of rolling stock does show similar thinking that led to the creation of the Short HST.

Transport for Wales – Heart Of Wales Line

The Heart Of Wales Line runs between Llanelli in West Wales and Craven Arms in England.

  • It is around 150 miles long.
  • Trains take a few minutes over four hours between Swansea and Shrewsbury stations.

It is one of those rail lines, that could be a serious tourism asset.

Would Short HSTs add to the experience?

Transport for Wales -North Wales Main Line

The North Wales Main Line is another line, where iconic Short HSTs might attract passengers.

Conclusion On Routes

There are certainly several places where Short HSTs could be gainfully employed.

Could Any Other Trains Be Used?

The specification could be something like this.

  • Four or five carriages.
  • Diesel, diesel bi-mode or hydrogen bi-mode.
  • Quality interior
  • 100, 110 or 125 mph top-speed.

Trains could be either new build or a rebuilt and/or refurbished older train.

Class 802 Train

Hitachi’s Class 802 train is in service.

  • It meets the specification.
  • It can seat somewhere between 326-342 passengers.
  • It can use electrification if it exists.

It would do a good job.

Class 755 Train

Stadler’s Class 755 train will soon be in service.

  • It meets the specification.
  • It is only a 100 mph train, but I suspect it can be uprated to 125 mph, as the electric version can handle this speed.
  • A four-car train  can seat 227 passengers.
  • It can use electrification if it exists.

It should do a good job.

Could HSTs Have Any Parcel Or Freight Applications?

This is always being suggested, but anything concerning freight or parcels must have the following characteristics.

  • They must be reliable.
  • They must be able to stick to a timetable.
  • They must have a hard-wearing interior, as they will have a hard life.
  • The small single doors would need to be replaced.
  • They must be able to accept standard freight pallets.
  • They must be quick and easy to load.

My biggest worry would be over the last two points. Would the trains just need three much modification to make them suitable for freight and parcels.

Could HSTs Have Heritage Applications?

Already a rake of Mark 3 coaches is going to be used with the  60163 steam locomotive.

But could HSTs in their own right find use in the heritage sector?

I think, that there could be space in the market for a few HSTs, which may have the sort of appeal to the younger generation, that steam trains had to my generation.

After all, I’ve had some of the best meals in my life in an HST.

Conclusion

They may be applications, but each will only use small numbers of trains.

So I’m afraid that some of these trains will go to scrap.

But then no-one can say, that they haven’t done well!

 

 

 

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine there is an article about the Class 230 train demonstration in Scotland, that I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

This is a paragraph.

HITRANS Partnership Manager Frank Roach told RAIL that he was keen to interest Transport Scotland in using battery Class 230s to run shuttle services between Wick and Thurso.

I don’t live in the Far North of Scotland and I’ve never been further North on the mainland that Inverness, so I have no right to criticise the need for a new rail shuttle service between Thurso and Wick.

Consider.

  • Wick and Thurso are both towns with populations in the region of 7-8,000 people.
  • I suspect that if you live in Wick and want a new widget for your boiler, that it will be in Thurso. And of course, vice-versa!
  • Wick and Thurso get four trains per day to and from Inverness and the same number of trains each way between the two towns.
  • So it’s not very convenient if an elderly person, who can’t drive wants to go and visit their sibling or friend in the other town for the afternoon.

The two towns would appear to be twenty-nine minutes or twenty-one miles apart by rail.

The article also states that a battery-powered Class 230 train can run at up to sixty mph with acceleration similar to that of an EMU up to forty mph.

Each round trip would probably take an hour, so one train could provide an hourly service.

I would think, that using the fast charging system described in Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train at Thurso and Wick stations, that a single train could shuttle all day between the two stations with an intermediate stop at Georgemas Junction station.

I suspect the Inverness and the shuttle services could interface seamlessly in something like the following way.

  • The shuttle train would arrive in Wick and connect to the charging system.
  • The Class 158 train from Inverness would arrive behind the shuttle.
  • The Class 158 train would go to Thurso and back.
  • The Class 158 train would leave for Inverness.
  • The shuttle train would resume its shuttling between Wick and Thurso.

The Class 158 would have taken over one cycle of the shuttle.

The only works needed other than the installation of the charging system, could be to lengthen the platform to accommodate the two trains.

To try to predict the number of passengers that would use this shuttle will be very difficult.

  • The train would have a high novelty value for the locals.
  • The train could run seven days a week.
  • The train could become a quirky tourist attraction.
  • Train operators might like to see it for ideas for their problem lines.
  • It might encourage a whole number of new ideas.

If say it happened at times, that the train was full, then it could probably be lengthened to by adding a trailer car.

A big beneficiary could be Vivarail.

They would have a service that was providing an hourly shuttle in a remote area, which could show off the features and benefits of the train.

  • Remote servicing.
  • No diesel fuel required.
  • Hourly running
  • Fast charging.
  • Operation in cold and inclement weather.
  • An unusual demonstration location.

There’s even the local Wick Airport to bring in interested parties.

This idea reminds me of a story I heard many years ago. GEC were attempting to sell an Air Traffic Control Radar to a Middle Eastern country.

  • The most convenient installation of this radar in the UK was at Prestwick Airport, so the GEC salesman arranged for GEC’s corporate HS 125 business jet to take the prospective purchasers.
  • It turned out to be a glorious autumn day.
  • As the Salesman returned with his guests to the plane, he was pulled aside by the pilot.
  • The pilot told him, that there was no greater sight in the world, than the Scottish Highlands on a day like this, so would he like the Arabs to be shown the views.
  • They then flew around the Highlands for thirty minutes or so before returning to London.

Was that the most unusual favour, that secured an order?

 

 

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Business, Transport | , , , , , | 6 Comments

London To Thurso Direct

According to Edition 863 of Rail Magazine, LNER are thinking of doing a demonstration run on this route to show off their new trains.

But is it such a daft idea?

In Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh, I talked about a plan to operate a sleeper service on the route between Edinburgh and Thurso, which currently takes nine hours.

This journey time is definitely territory for those rail enthusiasts, who ride across America, Australia, Europe and Russia, but it is not for me.

But doing the route in day-long segments with a stop in a good hotel, in say Edinburgh and Inverness could open up an iconic tourism route to the Orkney Islands for an increasing number of intrepid travellers, many of whom, like me are past retirement age.

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and you meet lots of foreign tourists from all over the globe.

On all days except Saturday, there are two services between Inverness and London; a day train to and from Kings Cross and a sleeper to and from Euston.

To go North on Day 1, you take eight hours on a direct train to Inverness, with after an overnight rest, you take four hours to Thurso.

Route Proving For The New Class 800 Trains

So if nothing else it is route proving for Class 800 trains on the service between Kings Cross and Inverness, which because it serves so many places on the Highland Main Line, is an important route to the area.

From the current schedule, it looks like the train will take twelve hours, so there will surely be a lot of driver training possibilities.

It surely, will be a good marketing exercise.

Highland Main Line Improvements

This archived document was produced by Transport Scotland.

This is the first paragraph.

Upgrading the Highland Main Line is one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities. The long-term goal of the project seeks to achieve a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt with an average journey time of 3 hours and an hourly service by 2025.

A time of three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness could be possible with electrification to Perth.

Far North Line Improvements

The Far North Line between Inverness and Thurso doesn’t appear to be built for speed, as it takes a train about four hours to do the journey.

  • It is 167 miles from Inverness to Thurso.
  • It is mainly single-track with passing places.
  • There are twelve services on the line most days, with fewer on Sundays.

It should also be said, that Caledonian Sleeper are thinking of running a service between Thurso and Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, as I reported in

In the Wikipedia entry for the Far North Line, there is a section called Future Expansion, where this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop[note  with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch, more directly with Golspie. British Rail attempted to get funding for this when the road bridge was built, but the government declined.

Now this project would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway. Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

If an hour could be knocked off the journey time, I suspect it would be very beneficial, to both the local population and visitors.

What Time Could Be Achieved?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time between London and Inverness reduced by the Class 800 trains in a couple of years, as the new trains will be able to use electricity South of Stirling and possibly Perth.

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and better signalling on the East Coast Main Line, I could see a time between London and Inverness of under seven hours.

This would enable a civilised departure from London at say eight in the morning and still be in your castle, hotel or holiday cottage in time for dinner and a wee dram or several.

If improvements were made to the Far North Line, it might be possible to go from London to Thurso in ten hours.

Could The Class 800 Train Continue To Thurso?

A Class 800 train could continue to Thurso and LNER’s test run will probably prove whether it can or not!

It could arrive in Thurso, in time for the evening ferry to the Orkneys.

I think though, that the London service would not be extended to Thurso.

  • The train would have to be fully-replenished at Thurso for the trip South.
  • A nine-car train needed between London and Inverness would be too much capacity for the Inverness to Thurso section.
  • The current Inverness to London service starts at eight in the morning and passengers wouldn’t be happy to leave Thurso at three to go straight through to London.

But I can see the reduced journey time between London and Inverness attracting more passengers to the route.

Enter The Shortened High Speed Train

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail HSTs Enter Traffic On October 15.

This is the second paragraph.

Branded Inter7City as they will serve Scotland’s seven cities, the refurbished HST will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. More routes will follow as more sets arrive from refurbishment.

It also says that the refurbished HSTs will offer.

  • More seats,
  • Increased luggage space.
  • At seat power sockets.
  • Hospitality.

I would also expect wi-fi, comfortable seats, tables and big windows.

With their four or five Mark 3 coaches and two Class 43 power cars each with a diesel engine of around 2,200 bhp, these trains must have superb acceleration.

I estimate that a fully loaded four-car train carrying 250 passengers, will weigh about three hundred tonnes. This gives a power to weight ratio of 11.2 kW/tonne

By comparison, the the original 2+8 sets of the InterCity 125s have a power to weight ratio of 7.3 kW/tonne.

I will also add some other power to weight ratios.

  • New Routemaster bus weighing twenty tonnes with 137 kW – 6.85 kW/tonne.
  • Hummer H2 weighing 2.9 tonnes with 293 kW – 101 kW/tonne.
  • Mini One weighing 1.2 tonnes with 75 kW – 62.5 kW/tonne

Incidentally, my Lotus Elan weighed about 1050 Kg when I was driving and had power of 121 kW. This gives a power to weight ration of 115 kW/tonne.

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I described a memorable ride.

One thing I  noticed, was that the driver controlled the two engines with considerable precision, to make sure, the train was on time on what must be a challenging route, as it climbed, descended and twisted through the Highlands.

With the same amount of power in a train only half the length and weight, I suspect these trains could save time effortlessly, as a good driver in a sports car can on a twisting road.

Also, don’t underestimate the contribution, the replacement of the 1970s-style slam-doors with modern powered units, will contribute at every stop.

I looked at the actual times yesterday of the 12:00 between Kings Cross and Inverness and compared to my journey in the cab, there are less stops. So services are being speeded up and I suspect ScotRail’s trains stop more often.

Transport Scotland talked about a fastest time of two hour forty-five minutes between the Central Belt and Inverness.

When the route between Inverness and Perth has been fully modernised with passing loops, I have a feeling that times will be faster.

They will not only be an iconic forty-year-old train, but a tourist attraction in their own right, like Scottish mountains, tartan food and whisky.

Get Up In London And Go To Bed In The Orkneys

If LNER have an objective in testing London to Thurso with a Class 800 train,, it must be finding a civilised way, to be able to get between London and the Orkneys, by train and ship in both directions within a single day.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh leaves just after 06:00.
  • There has been an aim to run services between the two capitals in under four hours for as long as I can remember.
  • Modern in-cab signalling is being rolled out on the East Coast Main Line to enable 140 mph running.
  • The last ferry to the Orkneys leaves from Scrabster near Thurso at 19:00

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and electrification to Perth, three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness should be possible in a Class 800 train or a well-driven shortened HST.

This would give LNER options to get to Inverness at a reasonable hour of the day.

Run An Early Train From London To Inverness

This could be timed to leave London at 06:00 and it could be in Inverness at 13:00.

This would give a fast train on the Far North Line six hours, including transfer to move passengers between Inverness and Scrabster.

It looks that ScotRail have the train for the job, in the shape of the shortened HST.

They could also serve an early Scottish dinner, to prepare tourists, for what could be a breezy crossing.

Run A Pair Of Class 800 trains To Both Aberdeen And Inverness

LNER’s Class 800 trains come in two sizes; five-cars and nine-cars.

Two five-cars can run as a ten-car train, that can split and join as required, in under two minutes in a suitable station.

So could we see a pair of five-car Class 800 trains leave Kings Cross and run together to Edinburgh, where one train went to Dundee, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen and the other went to Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Aberdeen leaves at 07:00 in the morning.
  • The journey takes six hours.
  • There are three trains per day between London and Aberdeen.
  • The last direct train that is not a sleeper service leaves just before 15:00.
  • As with the route to Inverness, the route to Aberdeen is not electrified.

I think this option has advantages

There would be an early morning service to Edinburgh and many of the large towns and cities in Eastern Scotland.

The service only uses one path on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

If traffic patterns and passenger numbers are favourable, other Aberdeen services could split and join.

Running a five-car train to Inverness earlier in the day, before the main train of the day, may be a way to provide an economic service to Thurso.

  • A five-car train would probably be more affordable to run.
  • The train would be stabled at Thurso overnight.
  • It would leave for Inverness, Edinburgh and london about 10:00.
  • At Edinburgh, it could join up with an Aberdeen train at around 16:00.

Time-tabled properly, it could result in Inverness and Aberdeen getting an extra train to and from London every day.

Change At Edinburgh

Plans by various rail companies for services include.

  • LNER will continue to run two trains per hour (tph) between Edinburgh and England.
  • LNER would like to run services between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.
  • TransPennine Express will run more services to Edinburgh.
  • ScotRail will run hourly services between the seven major cities in Scotland.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness and Inverness to Thurso should both to become three hour journeys.

Edinburgh will become a very well-connected city.

If Edinburgh to Thurso could be achieved  in six hours, then any service leaving Edinburgh after about 14:00 would catch the last ferry at Scrabster for the Orkneys.

When trains between London and Edinburgh, are regularly achieving the four-hour journey, there will be several trains, that will give a change in Edinburgh suitable for passengers individual preferences.

A single change at Edinburgh could be the preferable route for many.

Conclusion

Because LNER, ScotRail and other train companies now have a large fleet of very capable trains on order, there are several possibilities to create a world-class train service to connect Scotland fully both internally on the mainland and to important destinations in the islands and England.

The renaissance of the HST as a train to provide high-quality services has been astounding.

  • ScotRail are creating twenty-six shortened HSTs for use within Scotland.
  • GWR are creating eleven similar trains for use between Penzance and Cardiff.

I would be very surprised, if more HSTs are not refurbished to modern standards.

Germany may have the Volkwagen Beetle, but we have the High Speed Train.

Could we see them on the following routes?

  • Oxford and Cambridge
  • Waterloo and Exeter
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Some Cross-Country services

There’s probably enough power-cars and coaches to make another fifty shortened HSTs, so if ScotRail’s trains are a success, I suspect we’ll see some imitation.

I suspect too, that just as engineers have found solutions to the problems in the coaches like the doors and the toilets, they will find a solution, that replaces the diesel engine in each power with some form of more eco-friendly hybrid power pack.

Consider.

  • MTU, which is a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, are developing hybrid power packs for diesel multiple units.
  • There is a lot of space in the engine compartment of the power car.
  • On most routes, 90-100 mph running will be sufficient.

Hitachi converted a power-car to work in this way ten years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh

This is the headline on an article in the John O’Groats Journal.

So is this a good idea?

Some of the comments to the article are cynical it would work, but I feel that it could be a runner.

The Current Service

There are two train services from Edinburgh to Thurso during the day, both of which need a change at Inverness.

  1. The 08:32 from Edinburgh arrives in Thurso at 17:50.
  2. The 13:34 from Edinburgh arrives in Thurso at 22:20.

Both services could be summed up like this.

  • The total time of the journey approaches nine hours.
  • The train is something like a Class 158 diesel multiple unit.
  • Both legs are between three and four hours.
  • There is a long wait in Inverness.
  • The second service does the second leg mainly in the dark.
  • London to Thurso in a day is possible, but it would be dark and tiring.

Although there are quicker routes with more changes, I can think of better ways of spending a day, travelling North from Edinburgh to Thurso.

Coming back, there are three practical one-change services

  1. The 06:50 from Thurso arrives in Edinburgh at 14:22.
  2. The 08:34 from Thurso arrives in Edinburgh at 16:25
  3. The 13:01 from Thurso arrives in Edinburgh at 22:28.

These services can be summed up like this.

  • The first two services are faster than the nine hours going North.
  • On a good day the morning services must give good views.
  • You would certainly be able to do Thurso to London by train in a day.

Certainly, as a practical train service to attract visitors, the Edinburgh-Thurso service is not a service that says you must go, like say Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, which I wrote about in Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh.

The Far North Line

The Far North Line connects Inverness with Thurso and Wick. This introduction from Wikipedia, is a good summary of the line.

The Far North Line is a rural railway line entirely within the Highland area of Scotland, extending from Inverness to Thurso and Wick. It is the northernmost railway in the United Kingdom. The line has many sections of single track, mostly north of Dingwall. In common with other railway lines in the Highlands and northern Lowlands, it is not electrified and all trains are diesel-powered.

The trains are typically Class 158 trains, which provide four trains per day all the way between Inverness and Thurso. Other services give a better service on the Southern part of the line including four trains per day to Kyle of Lochalsh.

Improving The Far North Line

Wikipedia has a section on Future Expansion of the line. This is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch) more directly with Golspie. This would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge[5] which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway.[6] Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

But these are expensive developments and is the traffic available.

The John O’Groats Journal has this paragraph.

I have spoken to Caledonian Sleeper and want to investigate the business case for a sleeper combination with freight.

So could Internet and other parcels traffic be a nice little earner for the line.

But then a lot of tourists venturing along the line will be heavily loaded with bicycles and heavy luggage.

Incidentally, In the 1960s, I used to work with a John Baxendale, who used to go surfing off the North Coast of Scotland, as he said it was some of the best surfing in the world.

Do surfboards feature on trains to the North, as they do on trains to Cornwall?

Trains For The North

So perhaps, this line, the Kyle of Lochalsh Line and the Inverness to Aberdeen Line need a fleet of specially configured Highland trains.

  • Four carriages.
  • A good buffet/restaurant car serving proper Sottish food.
  • Lots of space for luggage.
  • Big windows.

Abellio ScotRail are planning to refurbish twenty-six Inter-City 125s for longer routes, which fit this specification, as the rear sections of the Class 43 locomotives can be used for freight and oversized luggage.

Will we be seeing these trains on the routes out of Inverness?

Imagine a tourist day out from Inverness, where the morning train to Thurso and the evening return to Inverness offered the best breakfast, dinner and hospitality that Scotland can provide.

You never say never where Terry Miller’s iconic trains are concerned.

If ever a train will still be in main line service, a hundred years after it was built, it will be these trains.

Given their unique status, if they worked the Far North Line, they might just attract enough passengers to make line improvements worthwhile.

Factors Affecting The Edinburgh-Thurso Sleeper

In the following sections, I’ll detail a few factors that will surely affect ridership of a sleeper train between Edinburgh and Thurso.

Sleeper Trains Are Having A Revival

A few years ago, it was predicted that sleeper trains would be consigned to history in a few years.

But in the UK, the Caledonian Sleeper and the Night Riviera, seem to have ignored this advice, with the Scottish service ordering new rolling stock.

Deutsche Bahn thought sleeper trains were the past and they probably were, given the customer-unfriendly way DB ran them. But Austrian Railways are taking over the sleeper services and investing in new rolling stock.

In Sweden, there’s even their own Far North sleeper train from Stockholm to the Arctic Circle. Check out this map on the Swedish Railways web site.

The Curiosity Factor

Done properly, an Edinburgh to Thurso Sleeper would surely attract those, of which I’m probably one, who like to travel to out of the way places as some form of box-ticking.

My Reason For Using Sleeper Trains

I am one of those lucky people, who can sleep anywhere.

So if I’m coming down from a trip to Scotland, I will often have a full day and then catch the sleeper back down to Euston. If I book at the right time, I often find that my First Class sleeper ticket, is less than staying in say a Premier Inn in Edinburgh or Glasgow and buying a train ticket for the morning. I also arrive in London at a time, that hasn’t wasted half the day.

If say, I had to go to an important event in Glasgow or Edinburgh, if possible, I would take the first train to the North in the morning and then come back on that day’s sleeper.

The Edinburgh To Thurso Day Trip

If you look at the times for a train service between Edinburgh and Thurso, it would not be possible to go up and back in a day and have time for a worthwhile meeting or party.

I once drove from Ipswich to Aberdeen and back in a day, but I was in a Lotus Elan doing speeds at up to a hundred on the way.

But you couldn’t do those sorts of speeds now!

On the other hand, if there was a sleeper service between Edinburgh and Thurso, you’d arrive fresh and ready for the day or you could sleep off the Highland hospitality on the way back. Or of course vice-versa!

Why Not A Glasgow To Thurso Sleeper?

Once all the electric trains are running across the Central Belt, Glasgow to Edinburgh could be 36 minutes, with a train every 15 minutes.

So only one route would be needed, as passengers from Glasgow could just take a train across.

But for operational reasons, the sleeper service might start from anywhere in the Central Belt, like the new Edinburgh Gateway station, which is close to Edinburgh Airport.

Thurso To Edinburgh Airport

An Edinburgh-Thurso service would certainly stop at Edinburgh Gateway station, to give easy access to the Airport.

Suppose you were going on holiday or for business reasons to Caithness or somewhere on the Far North Line.

You would catch a convenient flight into Edinburgh Airport and perhaps board the Sleeper st around nine in the evening for the North.

Coming back, you’d catch the Sleeper in Thurso and arrive at Edinburgh in time for a morning flight.

Caithness Tourism

Tourism to Caithness and the North Coast of Scotland could be a big driver of passengers to an Edinburgh to Thurso Sleeper Service.

This page on the Visit Scotland web site gives more details.

There’s even pictures of surfers.

Conclusion

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

 

March 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments