The Anonymous Widower

Just Look How The Port Of Felixstowe Has Grown

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Capacity Enhancement Goes Live.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Funded by the Strategic Freight Network, with a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK (HP-UK), a £60.4 million investment to create a new 1.4km loop on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk was successfully brought into service on 29 May 2019, on time and on budget. It facilitates an increase from 33 to 47 freight train paths a day in each direction on this key artery, carrying the highest freight tonnage in the country and serving the largest container port in the UK.

High Speed Two it is not, but if you read the article, you’ll see that a substantial amount of work has been done, involving track, footbridges, level crossings and signalling.

I can remember the Port of Felixstowe, when it was a just a small basin, with the Little Ships Hotel, a couple of warehouses and the giant seaplane crane. A couple of times, I used the Harwich Ferry to cross the harbour to Harwich on the Brightlingsea.

In some ways Felixstowe has come a long way in those sixty years.

With the increase in capacity on the Felixstowe Branch Line, the rail link can handle the container traffic through the Port better!

Note this about trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

  • 47 freight trains per day between Ipswich and Felixstowe is roughly two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • The current passenger service is one tph.
  • In addition, there is an hourly Ipswich and Lowestoft train, which shares track between Ipswich and Westerfield Junction.
  • The new Class 755 trains are faster and will have shorter dwell times than the current trains.

Between Ipswich and Westerfield, there are four tph.

  • The route is double-track.
  • Not all trains stop at Westerfield
  • The level-crossing at Westerfield station has been improved and is now is a Manually Controlled Barrier with CCTV
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box.

Between Westerfield and Felixstowe, there are three tph.

  • The route is single track with loops to the East of Derby Road and the West of Trimley stations.
  • The level crossings have been improved and three have been converted to Manually Cntrolled Barriers.
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box..

It looks to my untrained eye, that these service pattern are possible.

So what will happen in the future?

In the next few sections, I talk about the future.

Could More Passenger Trains Be Run To Felixstowe And Lowestoft?

I suspect here, that the limiting factor will be platform capacity at Ipswich station.

Ipswich station will have at least four tph running between Stowmarket and Colchester (3 x London and Norwich and 1 x Peterborough and Colchester), that will use Plstform 2 at Ipswich station. I suspect that this means Lowestoft and Felixstowe trains will have to share the Bay Platform 1.

With good signalling and precision driving, I suspect that the single platform could handle 2 tph to both Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

There would only ever be one train in Platform 1 at Ipswich station, unlike now, where two trains share. The new Class 755 trains will be just too long.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The current timetable is as follows.

  • Leaves Ipswich at XX:58 and arrives Felixstowe at XX:24
  • Leaves Felixstowe at XX:28 and arrives Ipswich at XX::54

Note.

  1. The clock-face nature of the timetable.
  2. Both journeys are 26 minutes
  3. There is four minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

This service would need two trains and if there’s one thing that Abellio Greater Anglia aren’t short of, it’s three-car Cl;ass 755 trains.

If the trains had the branch to themselves, there could be a two tph service between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

But they have to share it with freight trains running at two tph.

This would mean the following.

  • Five tph between Ipswich and Westerfield
  • Four tph between Westerfield and Felixstowe.

As two tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe is likely to be on Greater Anglia’s wish list, I suspect the new track layout was designed with this service in mind.

Currently, there is one or two cars per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe, but a two tph service would mean a minimum of six cars per hour or a massive increase in capacity.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Lowestoft?

The current timetable between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations is as follows.

  • An almost clock-face hourly service in both directions.
  • A journey time of just under one-and-a-half hours.
  • There are nine stops on the route.
  • There are several minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

When the new Class 755 trains are working the route, the following will apply.

  • The Class 755 trains are faster and have a shorter dwell time in stations.
  • There will be four London and Lowestoft services per day.

I think it is true to say, that journey times will be reduced.

I suspect that the following could be possible.

  • A journey time of perhaps one hour and twenty minutes.
  • Trains would leave Lowestoft at XX:07
  • Trains would leave Ipswich at XX:37

This or something like it, would be an acceptable clockface timetable.

I strongly believe that an improved service will be possible between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

  • I feel that two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft might be difficult to achieve without extra works on the track.
  • Extra capacity can be added by using four-car Class 755 trains on the route.
  • Faster services will certainly be introduced, as the train’s faster speed and shorter dwell times will knock several minutes from the journey.

I also think, that it may be possible to introduce a second service on the Southern section of the route, which runs to perhaps Leiston or even Aldeburgh. This would give the busier Southern section of the route two tph.

So Platform 1 at Ipswich station could see the following trains.

  • Two tph Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • One tph Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • One tph Ipswich and Leiston/Aldeburgh

I believe that timetabling of the route would not be a difficult task!

Four Trains Per Day Between Lowestoft and London

The London and Lowestoft service could be arranged as follows.

  • Lowestoft station has three platforms., so one could be reserved for the London service.
  • If the last service arrived back late or the first service needed to leave early, the dedicated platform could be used for overnight stabling.
  • When running between Ipswich and Lowestoft it would take over, one of the Ipswich and Lowestoft paths.
  • The trains will stop at all stations between Ipswich and Lowstoft, as there will be jealousy between users.
  • It would call in the through platforms 2 and 3 at Ipswich station..
  • The trains would make as few calls as possible South of Ipswich, as the Lowestoft train will be a fourth fast London service in the hour.

No new infrastructure would be required.

Could London And Lowestoft Services Be A Dedicated Shuttle Train?

This may have marketing advantages, as the train could have its own livery and perhaps a buffet or a catering trolley.

If you assume that the working day for a train is 0600-2400, then this means the following.

  • A round trip must be performed in four and a half hours.
  • A London and Lowestoft time of two hours and fifteen minutes,.
  • The journey time would include the turnround time at the destination.

As Ipswich and London times of an hour are possible with a 100 mph trains, like the Class 755 train, Ipswich and Lowestoft would have to be run in a time as close to an hour as possible.

Consider.

  • The only trains on the East Suffolk Line will be Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Class 755 trains may be able to stop at stations in under a minute.
  • Line speed could possibly be increased, as the route appears reasonably straight
  • Some level crossings could probably be removed.
  • The current average speed on the line is around 35 mph.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia have run tests with the current Class 170 trains, which are 100 mph trains to determine what times are possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if using a single shuttle train to run the four trains per day between London and Lowestoft, is possible.

  • Services could leave Lowestoft at 06:00, 10:30, 15:00 and 19:30
  • Services could leave Liverpool Street at 08:15, 12:45, 17:15 and 21:45

The last service would arrive back in Lowestoft at midnight.

Tram-Trains Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four tph  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

It looks like the plan is to fully-double the branch line to the East of Derby Road station.

To the West of Derby Road, the line is mainly single track until it joins the East Suffolk Line close to Westerfield station.

The problem is that the single-track railway goes over the over the Spring Road Viaduct. Rebuilding the viaduct to add the second track, would be something that everybody would want to totally avoid, as how would the containers from forty-seven freight trains per day in both directions, be moved in and out of the Port of Felixstowe?

If the capacity can’t be increased, the demand will have to be reduced.

A Possible Tram-Train Proposal

The East West Rail report is proposing that the 1-2 tph passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe should be replaced by a four tph tram-train service.

  • The tram-train service would start at Ipswich station, running as a tram.
  • It would probably meander through Ipswich, serving places like Portman Road, the Town Centre< Christchurch Park, the new housing in the North, Ipswich Hospital and the Retail Parks in the East.
  • If Ipswich gets a new Northern Ring Road, the tram-trains, might run on the original by-pass, that goes past Ipswich Hospital.
  • It would then join the double-track section of the Felixstowe Branch Line on the Eastern outskirts of the town.
  • Extra stops might be built between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • At Felixstowe station, the tram-trains could revert to tram mode and might even go as far as the sea-front, using battery-power.

There are a lot of possibilities to give Ipswich and Felixstowe, one of the best local transport links in the world.

There will be some collateral benefits.

  • Extra freight trains can probably be squeezed through.
  • Ipswich Hospital will get the updated transport links, that it badly needs.
  • Road traffic would be reduced.

I also believe that the tram-train could be added to the Felixstowe Branch Line without disrupting trains, freight or passengers.

Electrification

I can remember reports from the 1960s, which said that felt the Felixstowe Branch Line would be electrified.

  • With a frequency of four tph, the route would surely be electrified for the tram-trains.
  • It would probably be electrified at 25 KVAC, so that freight trains could take advantage.
  • When street running in Ipswich and Felizstowe,, 750 VDC electrfication or battery-power could be used.

There would be no extra electrification needed to enable all freight trains going via London to be electric-hauled.

Freight Locomotives

I think it likely, that increasingly, we’ll see Class 93 locomotives and other electro diesel locomotives with a Last Mile capability taking freight trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

These new breed of 110 mph locomotives will be able to take maximum-length freight trains on routes to, from and through London, but a new locomotive will be needed to take trains across East Anglia to Ely and Pryrtborough and then on to the Midlands and the Notth.

Conclusion

The Port of Felixstowe and the railways connecting it to the rest of the UK have come a long way in sixty years and they will expand more in the next decade or two!

August 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – The Future Of Ipswich Station

Ipswich station is going to get a lot of extra services over the next few years and may need extra platforms.

In a few years the services at the station could include.

  • Greater Anglia – London and Norwich – Three trains per hour (tph)
  • Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Lowestoft – One tph (Three trains per day are London and Lowestoft)
  • Greater Anglia – Colchester and Peterborough – One tph
  • Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Felixstowe – Four tph (tram-trains)
  • East West Rail – Manningtree and Oxford/Reading – One tph

In a typical hour there will be five tph going through the station, with some hours having an extra train between London and Lowestoft.

So in this timetable that means that Ipswich station will only be handling one through train every 10-12 minutes in each direction, three of which will be twelve cars long.

Only one Lowestoft trains and four Felixstowe tram-trains will terminate at Ipswich station  There is a long-enough convenient platform 1 for the Lowestoft trains, but where would the Felixstowe service be turned round?

I took these pictures as I passed through Ipswich station.

As often happens, the Felixstowe train had to be turned back in the vSouthbound through Platform 2. Not a particularly good procedure!

Building a new platform at Ipswich station will be difficult.

  • To build it next to Platform 1 will mean that there will be a lot of reorganisation of the station behind Platform 1.
  • Building it on the far side of the station will be expensive and also mean Felixstowe services will have to cross the main lines, which will cause disruption.

I would expect that sorting Ipswich station could be a sum of at least £5million and possibly a lot more. There would also be a lot of disruption during the rebuilding.

As the pictures show, there would be space outside the station to put a tram stop, that would be capable of handling four tram-trains per hour to Felixstowe.

Conclusion

If this happens and the Ipswich and Felixstowe service is replaced with a frequent tram-train, it will be a big boost to the economy for both Ipswich and Felixstowe.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Could A Tram/Train Run Through Felixstowe?

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

On my trip round East Anglia, I deliberately walked from the sea-front to Felixstowe station, taking these pictures.

Would it be possible to run a tram-train through the town?

To my mind there are three places for the tram-train to Felixstowe to terminate.

The Current Platform In Felixstowe Station

This picture shows a Class 153 train in the current platform.

To say that it is safe and boring would be an understatement.

The Tram-Train Breakout

If the operator is running four tram-trains per hour to Felixstowe, then surely they should be taken to somewhere more interesting.

So would it be possible for the tram-trains to go through the station and perhaps use a single track railway to the Town Centre?

This Google Map shows the station and the old station buildings, which are now a Shopping Centre.

Would it be possible for a tram-train, running as a tram to run North of the Shopping Centre and turn onto the station forecourt, from where it would go walkabout?

These pictures show where the tram would run.

These pictures show the station buildings, which have been turned into a a Shopping Centre.

It looks very much like the shops would not need to be disturbed.

How Far Could The Tram-Train Go?

If a single-track extension were to be built through the station, the time-table could be arranged so that the outgoing and the incoming passed in the current island platform at Felixstowe station.

The simplest system would be for the tram-trains to go to the shops in the Town Centre and reverse outside by the shared space.

The picture shows the location. Trams would be timed to take fifteen minutes for the trip from Felixstowe station and the return.

  • Only one tram-train would be on the single-track route at any time.
  • Tram-trains would work on battery power.

It would be a very simple use of a tram-train to move a terminus of a branch line to a better place.

According to a tram driver in Sheffield, the Class 399 tram-trains as used in the City have bags of grunt and handle hills with ease.

So why not run a single tram line through the Town Centre and then take the route via Convalescent Hill to the sea-front, where a terminus could be by the Pier and the Leisure Centre?

The Pier stop would have the following.

  • Two platforms, so that two tram-trains could pass.
  • A charging facility.

So that the single-track through the Town Centre would work, tram-trains would need to go between Felixstowe station in perhaps ten minutes.

This would give ten minutes for a turnround with a charge at the Pier stop.

The Number of Tram-Trains Needed

Four tram-trains per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe stations would need four vehicles.

Extending it to Felixstowe Pier would need another two tram-trains for a similar service.

Conclusion

A tram-train serving Felixstowe sea-front running on battery power through the Town Centre., looks to be feasible.

 

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Felixstowe Beach Station And The Dolphin Hotel

Felixstowe Beach station closed in 1967 and I can remember seeing the station buildings in the 1960s.

I can also remember sitting in the car outside the Dolphin Hotel, drinking an orange juice, whilst my father was inside having a quick beer.

These days, I suspect that in many pubs the children would have been allowed into the pub.

My reason for visiting the area of Felixstowe Beach station was to investigate the possibility of using the site as a terminus for the proposed tram-train to Felixstowe.

I doubt it is a feasible plan.

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

Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

I should declare an interest here of my teenage self, who spent some very boring summers in, what was then, the small coastal resort and dormitory town of Felixstowe.

There was only so many places you could cycle and as my school friends were all in London, I used to avoid going to Felixstowe if possible.

I can remember going from London to Felixstowe several times on the train.

I would cycle from our London house in Cockfosters to Liverpool Street station and put my bike in the guard’s van for the trip to Ipswich.

From Ipswich, I would ride the dozen or so miles along the A45 (now the A14) to Felixstowe.

I suspect, that I could have used, the two-car diesel shuttle from Ipswich to Felixstowe, but I never did.

Perhaps, it was because it was not the most frequent of services.

The frequency was certainly a lot less than the current hourly service.

A Tram-Train To Felixstowe

This report on the East West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

So how feasible is this proposal?

The Proposed Frequency

People travel between Ipswich and Felixstowe for several reasons.

  • It is an important dormitory town for Ipswich and increasingly for London,
  • The Port of Felixstowe is an important employer.
  • There is a large amount of leisure traffic between the two towns.

Currently, much of the travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe is by car on an increasingly crowded A14.

Four tph seems an eminently sensible frequency.

Why Propose A Tram-Train?

If a train, like a Class 170 train or one of the new Class 755 trains were used for the route,  it would mean the following.

  • Four tph in the single platform at Felixstowe.
  • Four tph in a dedicated platform at Ipwich.
  • Four trains would be needed for the service.
  • An extra six tph using the route between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.

The stations should be able to cope, but I doubt that the extra trains could be fitted into a busy route with the following services.

  • Ipswich and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft

If you add in the up to forty freight trains per day, that will use the route, something will have to give.

The Route Od The Tram-Train

It would appear that the plan is to replace the train, with a tram-train running on the streets of Ipswich.

This could be a possible route for street running.

  • Ipswich Station
  • Portman Road
  • Ipswich Town Centre
  • Ipswich Hospital

It would then join the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line in the area of Derby Road station or the retail parks on the East of Ipswich.

This Google Map shows Derby Road station and Ipswich Hospital.

Note.

  1. Ipswich Hospital is in the top-right of the map.
  2. Derby Road station is at the left side of the map in the middle.
  3. The Ipswich-Felkixstowe Line can be seen going South-Easterly across the map to the well-known St. Augustine’s roundabout.

A tram-train would have the following benefits.

  • It would link the town centres of Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • It would create a step-free link across Ipswich Town Centre to the all-important hospital.
  • Extra stations can be added where they are needed in Ipswich without decreasing capacity on the rail line.
  • It would surely encourage more people to use the trains from Ipswich station.

I suspect too, that Class 399 tram-trains could be used as they are in Sheffield and will be on the South Wales Metro.

Between Ipswich And Derby Road Stations

This extract is from the Wikipedia entry for the Felixstowe Branch Line.

The train now enters a section of double track through Derby Road station (6.10 miles (9.82 km) from Ipswich station by train, but only 1.5 miles on the map) where trains can pass.

It is very significant, that going through the houses between the two stations is a route that is shorter by eight-and-a-half miles.

Could it be that the time that would be saved by the shorter route is balanced by the slower progress of on-street running, which means that the current twenty-six minute journey time can be maintained?

Doubling Between Derby Road And Felixstowe

I’ll repeat what is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe.

Doubling of about a mile of the Felixstowe Branch to the West of Trimley is ongoing and doubling further to the West looks to be fairly easy from my helicopter.

But there is one major problem.

This Google Map shows, where the rail line goes over the Ipswich by-pass.

Note that provision has been made for a second track.

So hopefully, it won’t be much more expensive to add a second bridge and track, than to add points either side of the existing bridge.

There would be some extra bridge works between the A14 and Derby Road station, but doubling all the way from Derby Road station to Felixstowe doesn’t look to be the world’s most difficult railway engineering.

Extra Tram-Train Stops Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

There used to be an extra stop at Orwell station. It was little-used and closed in 1959.

Looking at the station, it is now a large private residence and I suspect there is no point in reopening, as there isn’t much housing in the area.

But there could be a case for a station at Futura Park, which is shown in this Google Map.

Lots of the usual out-of-town stops are there including a Waitrose and a John Lewis.

The railway runs to the South of the A1156 Felixstowe Road and there is surely the possibility of a station in this area.

There is also the possibility, that the tram-train could join and leave the Felixstowe Branch Line at this point, after and before street running to Ipswich station.

Would The Tram-Trains Go Walkabout In Felixstowe?

Felixstowe used to have two other stations; Felixstowe Pier and Felixstowe Beach. Both are now closed.

  • I can remember Felxstowe Beach station, as occasionally in the 1950s, we stayed nearby at the Cavendish Hotel.
  • Felixstowe Pier station was towards Landguard Fort and even served steam vessels going to Germany.

Both stations were served by trains reversing at the main station, which is impossible now as the chord has been removed.

This Google Map shows the current rail lines in Felixstowe.

The line to/from Ipswich splits into two in the top-left corner of the map.

  • The branch going East goes to Felixstowe station.
  • The branch going South used to serve the two other Felixstowe stations and now serves the Port of Felixstowe.

The missing chord is visible to the West of the playing fields of Felixstowe International College.

I would rate reinstatement of the chord as highly unlikely.

  • The only reason, the chord would be reinstated, would be if the Port of Felixstowe wanted to have a four tph passenger service.
  • The Port wouldn’t want to have all those extra movements on what is a busy and exclusive freight line.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out extension into Felixstowe Town Centre.

This Google Map shows the Town Centre.

Note.

  1. The one-platform station is at the top of the map, behind a small Co-op supermarket and the Listed station buildings, which are now a small shopping centre.
  2. The High Street, which is part -pedestrianised leads down from the station to the top of the cliffs, where Bent Hill leads down to the sea-front.
  3. Halfway along is a triangular garden, where a local road splits off toward the Southern part of the sea-front and the Port.
  4. The pattern of retail shopping is changing and Marks and Spencer in the town will be closing soon.

My plan would be as follows.

  • Rebuild the Co-op supermarket to allow a single-track tram line to squeeze through to the High Street.
  • Trams would then continue down the High Street to the triangular garden.
  • A second platform face could be added at Felixstowe station to allow trams to pass and give flexibility.

Done properly, it could improve Felixstowe’s appeal as a leisure destination.

I also think, that as the extension is only short, the current Ipswich to Felixstowe timing could be maintained.

Future Services At Ipswich Station

Listing all the services proposed at Ipswich station gives the following.

  • 3 tph – London Liverpool Street and Norwich – Greater Anglia
  • 1 tph – Colchester and Peterborough – Greater Anglia – Replaces current Ipswich and Peterborough service.
  • 1 tph – Manningtree and Oxford via Cambridge – East West Rail – Replaces current Ipswich and Cambridge service
  • 1 tph – Ipswich and Lowestoft – Greater Anglia – Some services extend to London
  • 4 tph – ipswich and Felixstowe – Greater Anglia – Proposed tram-train service.

If the Felixstowe tram-train service were to terminate outside the station, as trams tend to do, there would only be a need for one bay platform at Ipswich, that would handle hourly Lowestoft services, that didn’t go to/from London.

Ipswich station would become more of a through station with the following through trains.

  • Five tph going between Manningtree and Stowmarket
  • Two tph between Manningtree and the proposed A14 Parkway station via Bury St. Edmunds.

This would all save the expense of rebuilding large parts of Ipswich station.

Although, there would be a certain amount of remodelling of the station forecourt to accommodate the tram-trains.

Conclusion

It is a classic application of tram-train technology and I’m sure that a good route can be devised between the two towns.

 

 

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment