The Anonymous Widower

Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 911 of Rail Magazine.

This is the opening paragraph.

On July 28, a South Western Railway train ran along the Fawley Branch Line. to make the case for reopening to passenger services after a 54-year gap.

On board were the Rail Minister; Chris Heaton-Harris, Network Rail Chairman; Sir Peter Hendy, Managing Director of South Western Railway; Mark Hopwood and Lord Montagu of Beulieu.

The article reports the trip and fills in more of the details, that make more sense of my sketchy post called Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line.

These are some points from the article.

The Infrastructure Needs Updating

This is a quote from the article.

The route has a line speed of 30 mph, with lower speed restrictions at level crossings, some of which are still hand-operated. Semaphore signals operated from by mechanical levers from Marchwood remain in use. A token is given to the driver to allow the train to run towards Fawley. All this would require updating.

Elsewhere the article says there are ten level crossings.

Housing Is The Game Changer

This is another quote from the article.

The big change is urban sprawl. In the half century since passenger services ended, housing estates for thousands of people have been built alongside the line. mostly for commuters into Southampton and the surrounding conurbation.

Up to 5,000 further new homes are planned, including an all-new small town on the site of the former Fawley power station on the southern tip of Southampton Water. Planning permission for at least 1,300 homes was granted the very evening before the Fawley train ran.

This Google Map shows the the town of Hythe and the giant Fawley Refinery.

Note.

  1. Hythe is towards the top of the map on Southampton Water.
  2. The refinery is the large beige blob in the middle on Southampton Water.
  3. The Fawley Branch runs close to the water and finishes inside the secure fence of the refinery.
  4. There will be stations at Marchwood, Hythe Town and Hythe & Fawley Parkway.
  5. The parkway station will be to the North of the refinery.
  6. The major housing site is on the former Fawley power station site, which is the Southernmost beige blob.
  7. The blue dot towards the West indicates the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

It looks to me, that an electric shuttle bus between Hythe & Fawley Parkway, Beaulieu and the various housing sites would be a good idea.

The Cost Of The Scheme

This is another quote from the article.

The campaign to open the line has been spearheaded by the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership.

Chairman Nick Farthing says:

“For £45m, you get the track, signalling and level crossings sorted. You get a 60 mph railway with three stations = upgrading Marchwood, a new station for Hythe, and Fawley park-and-ride (just beyond Holbury, where Hardley Halt used to be).

“Three Rivers commissioned a level crossing study from Network Rail, so we know what has to be done. We’ve used a rail-approved contractor to work out how much the three stations will cost.

Three Rivers have also identified some affordable diesel rolling stock.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

This plan seems to be coming together strongly.

All the partners like Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, Network Rail, South Western Railway and other local interests seem to be acting together and very professionally.

 

 

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Green Light For Revived West Midlands Passenger Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Passenger trains are set to return to the line between Walsall and Wolverhampton, having been withdrawn 12 years ago. Since then, the line has been used for freight.

These points are made about the proposed service.

The West Midlands Mayor; Andy Street is quoted as saying he’s pleased with the scheme.

And well might he be!

This to me is a classic reopening scheme.

  • There is a fully-electrified freight route, that runs between Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • There used to be three intermediate stations; Darlaston James Bridge, Willenhall Bilston Lane and Portobello.
  • The first two intermediate stations closed in 1965 and the last in 1973.
  • Network Rail have said, it will be possible to run the extra trains needed.
  • The direct Walsall and Wolverhampton service will complete an hourly or better triangular service between Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • This triangular route is also fully-electrified.
  • If extra rolling stock is needed, there are quite a few suitable electric multiple units, that are sitting in sidings or will be replaced by new trains in the next couple of years.

Except for the building of the new intermediate stations, nothing would appear to be high cost.

The project must have a high benefit cost ratio.

A Possible Extension From From Walsall To Aldridge

In the Wikipedia entry for Walsall station, this is said.

There are also plans to reopen a terminus single platform at Aldridge for trains to Birmingham New Street via Walsall but not to Sutton Coldfield and Water Orton.

This service would be on part of the freight-only Sutton Park Line between Walsall and Water Orton stations and is regularly used by freight trains avoiding Birmingham New Street station.

This Google Map shows the Sutton Park Line through Aldridge.

Note.

  1. The Sutton Park Line is double track and not electrified.
  2. The road running South of the railway is called Station Road.

There would appear to be space for a reopened station. between the railway and Station Road.

  • It could have a single platform.
  • There could be adequate car parking.
  • There would be no need for an expensive bridge.
  • The station could be designed to be converted into a two-platform station if a full service were to be run on the Sutton Park Line at a future date.

As the station would be no more than about five miles from Walsall station and its electrification, the extended service from Walsall could be run by a battery-electric train.

Conclusion

I predict, that if this route is reopened and it is a success, other parts of the UK will want to open more freight lines to passenger traffic.

These similar projects have already been widely mentioned.

Most of these reopening, would just need refurbishment and some new stations.

 

 

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

At first I wasn’t sure, which line was referred to as the Waterside Line. But then I looked at the Fawley Line on Wikipedia.

This is the opening paragraph.

The Fawley branch line, also known as the Waterside line is a standard-gauge railway line to Fawley, in the English county of Hampshire. It is on the opposite side of Southampton Water from the city of Southampton itself, in an area known as Waterside. For 40 years a passenger service operated, but this was withdrawn with the exception of the occasional enthusiasts’ railtour. The line serves the freight needs of Marchwood Military Port, having also served the same function for Fawley Refinery until 2016.

I explored this line in Reopening The Fawley Branch Line.

The Wikipedia entry, also gives details under Future, of a plan by the Association of Train Operating Companies to reopen the line.

The proposals in Wikipedia included.

  1. Reopening of all former stations along the line; Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley Halt and Fawley
  2. A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  3. A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.

The service was planned to run half-hourly during peak times and hourly at other times.

The Route

This Google Map shows the area of the Waterside Line

Fawley Branch Line

Note.

  1. The line starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.
  2. All the places with stations are named on the map.
  3. The line is about seven miles in length.
  4. From my helicopter, it looks to be single-track most, if not all the way.
  5. There is a ferry between Hythe and Southampton.

This picture shows where the Waterside Line joins the main line.

 

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I took these pictures, when I visited Hythe in February 2017.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

As the Waterside Line was still fully in use to Esso Fawley until four years ago, I should suspect that updating the track and signalling for passenger trains wouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

The Trains

Wikipedia says this about the trains to be used.

The service would be operated by the then franchisee; South West Trains using diesel multiple units (DMUs)

This means they will be Class 158 or Class 159 trains, as South West Trains doesn’t have any other DMUs.

This picture shows a newly-liveried Class 159 train at Corfe Castle station.

The Class 158/159 trains would certainly do a job, but I believe that any solution must be zero-carbon, to meet the UK’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The Use Of Battery Trains

Consider.

  • Fawley and Totton West Junction are seven files apart. As there are five stations, I will assume three minutes per station of a journey of fifteen minutes.
  • Totton West and Eastleigh are ten miles apart and fast trains take seventeen minutes.
  • Eastleigh and Romsey are seven miles apart and fast trains take fourteen minutes.
  • Only the section between Totton West and Eastleigh is electrified.
  • Adding up the times gives a journey time between Fawley and Romsey of forty-six minutes.
  • Add in fourteen minutes to turn the trains and each Fawley and Romsey takes an hour with a two-hour round trip. This is all very convenient!
  • For example, an hourly service, would need two trains and they could leave Fawley and Romsey at the same time.
  • It could also be arranged, that only one train was on the single-track Waterside Line at any one time.
  • The fourteen minutes being used to turn the train, could also be used to charge the batteries on a battery-electric train.
  • In each two-hour round trip between Fawley and Romsey, trains would spent thirty-four minutes connected to electrification and twenty-eight minutes connected to chargers. This means that there is plenty of time to charge the batteries.
  •  It should be noted that the train runs on a busy main line between Totton West and Eastleigh, so good acceleration and 90-100 mph capability would probably be needed, by any trains shuttling between Fawley and Romsey.

With charging facilities at Romsey and Fawley, I would be certain, that a two battery-electric trains could provide an hourly service on the route.

Candidates would probably include battery-electric versions of a Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, a CAF Civity or a Siemens Desiro City. I doubt, that the performance of a Class 230 train is enough to keep out of the way of fast expresses.

The Use Of Hydrogen Trains

The route could also be worked by a hydrogen-powered train with enough performance.

The Stations

There would need to be new stations at Totton West, Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.

As the first is new and the others were closed in the 1960s, they would be complete builds, rather than an easy refurbishment.

Fawley Waters

In the Wikipedia entry for Fawley station, there is a section called Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In August 2018, it was revealed that plans to reopen the Fawley Branch Line had been resurrected as part of the redevelopment known as Fawley Waters. It proposed a half-hourly service on a Monday to Saturday from Southampton Central to Fawley. At Marchwood the journey time would take 12 minutes and the linespeed would be 60 mph (97 km/h). Fawley station, if reopened, would be known as Hythe & Fawley Parkway which would serve both Hythe and Fawley.

Now, there would appear to be two plans for the operation of the Waterside Line.

  • The Association for Train Operating Companies plan, which has an hourly service to Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey, from five stations on the branch.
  • The Fawley Waters plan, which has a half-hourly service to Totton and Southampton Central, from just two stations on the branch.

One plan would probably appeal to existing residents and the other to those, who bought new properties in Fawley Waters.

Conclusion

Future studies funded by the successful bid, could decide, which plan is best.

Overall though, this is a simple plan, that opens up an area to the West of Southampton for development.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reopening The Fawley Branch Line

The Fawley Branch Line is a freight-only branch line alongside Southampton Water in Hampshire.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Line, this is said.

On 16 June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies announced it was looking into the reopening of the railway as far as Hythe, with a possibility of a further extension to Fawley if agreement could be reached with Esso, which owns the land where Fawley railway station once stood.

A lot more detail is also given, which has these major points.

  • Reopening of all former stations along the line.
  • A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  • A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.
  • Hourly train service.
  • Possible future electrification

The section to be reopened would be about seven miles in length.

This Google Map shows the area of the branch line.

Fawley Branch Line

Fawley Branch Line

It starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hsardley and Fawley.

Rolling Stock

The current proposals talk about using diesel trains, which would probably be Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

Given that Totton station is on the electrified South Western Main Line, other trains that can work on partly electrified lines may be able to work services on the Fawley Branch Line.

Class 319 Flex train could use electric power on the main line and diesel power on the branch.

Battery trains like an Aventra with onboard energy storage, could use electric power on the main line, where they would also charge the batteries. Batteries would then be used on the branch, with a possible top-up charge from something like a Railbaar at Hythe station.

A Trip To Hythe

To look at the Fawley Branch Line, whilst I was in Southampton, I took a trip on the ferry to Hythe and had a look round.

The Fawley Branch Line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

The Design Of The Line

This picture shows where the Fawley Branch Line joins the main line.

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The quoted route from Fawley or Hythe via Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford to Romsey is only electrified between Totton and Eastleigh, as the Fawley Branch Line and the Eastleigh to Romsey Line are not electrified.

But it is an interesting route, as one of its effects will be to double the frequency of services between Eastleigh and Romsey, where it is probably needed to serve new housing.

I reckon that it would take about forty-five minutes to go from Fawley to Romsey or vice-versa.

It would also be a route for using some form of train with new technology.

  • A bi-mode train able to use third-rail electrification would be a possibility.
  • A Class 319 Flex train would manage the route with ease.
  • Perhaps, a battery train based on a third-rail multiple unit could make the route.

The battery train could be very suitable for the route, as an hourly service would need two trains, which would have around fifteen minutes to charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Current Status

Currently, the project is on hold, but given the location, where some very nice waterfront housing might be built, circumstances could change.

 

 

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments