The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

King’s Lynn Station

These pictures show King’s Lynn Station, which is Grade II Listed.

Note.

  1. It is not the normal design for a station in the UK.
  2. The station has two platforms, but could have add another.
  3. The facilities are at a high level for a station of this size, with a booking office, toilets and a cafe.
  4. The station was reopened by Michael Portillo. Who else?

Perhaps we should see more station designs, not in a standard corporate mould. Others include Birmingham Moor Street, Hanwell and Hebden Bridge.

The only problems with the station are that there aren’t enough trains and the information and signage for visitors could be better.

In an ideal world this would be the train service

  • At least two trains per hour in both directions.
  • Running between King’s Lynn and Cambridge, stopping at Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.
  • Good interchange with services to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport at either Ely or Cambridge.

King’s Lynn station certainly has the capacity for more frequent trains.

 

April 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia, The Fen Line And Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently operates two trains per day between King’s Lynn and Liverpool Street stations, in the Morning Peak

  • 05:17 – 07:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.
  • 06:17 – 08:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.

This is matched by three trains a day between Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn, in the Evening Peak.

  • 17:07 – 19:08 – 2 hr. 1 min.
  • 18:-07 – 20:10 – 2 hr. 3 min.
  • 19:07 – 21:05 – 1 hr 58 min.

Note.

  1. The two Morning Peak trains stop at Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Whittesford Parkway, Audley End, Bishops Stortford and Tottenham Hale.
  2. The three Evening Peak trains call similarly, but miss out Cambridge North.
  3. Services are run by Class 317  or Class 379 trains.

All the passenger trains on the Fen Line including Great Northern’s Class 387 trains, are four x twenty metre cars, which can run as four, eight or twelve cars.

Maximum Length Of Trains On The Fen Line

This article in the Eastern Daily Press is entitled Plans For Longer Trains Between King’s Lynn And London Could Be Delayed.

Reading it, I get the following impressions.

  • The Fen Line can currently accept four-car trains.
  • Eight-car trains are needed.
  • Plans have been or are being developed to lengthen all platforms to accept eight car trains.
  • Network Rail are quoted as saying “The King’s Lynn eight car scheme is amongst the CP5 projects that have funding.”

Extending further might well be out of the question, on grounds of cost and inconvenience to passengers, whilst the work is carried out.

Greater Anglia’s Trains And The Fen Line

There is a problem for Greater Anglia, as both the Class 317 and Class 379 trains are being moved on.

Class 745 Trains

The thirty x four-car Class 379 trains, that work the express West Anglia Main Line services are being replaced with ten x twelve-car Stadler Class 745 trains.

These trains will be too long for the Fen Line.

Class 720 Trains

Five-car Class 720 trains would fit the Fen line and as they are 100 mph trains, like the Class 317 and Class 379 trains, they could handle the current service.

Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently have the equivalent of twenty-eight assorted diesel trains in different lengths, which they are replacing with thirty-eight bi-mode Class 755 trains.

These are.

  • 100 mph trains.
  • Bi-mode trains with the ability to run on electric or diesel.
  • Compatible with the Class 745 trains.

Fourteen will be three-car trains and twenty-four will be four-car trains.

Greater Anglia, have already said they will run services to and from Liverpool Street from Lowestoft, so will they use the extra trains to run services to and from Liverpool Street to important East Anglian towns?

It is worth looking at the capacity of the various trains.

  • Class 379 train – four-car – 189 2nd/20 1st
  • Class 755 train – three-car  – 166 2nd
  • Class 755 train – four-car  – 224 2nd
  • Class 720 train – five-car – 430 2nd

Would a four-car Class 755 train have sufficient capacity for a service between  Kings Lynn and Liverpool Street?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, but a six or seven car train couple be created, by joining two trains together, if required.

So if the Class 755 trains can provide direct Liverpool Street services for Kings Lynn and Lowestoft, what other towns could get a direct service to London?

  • Bury St. Edmunds – Either via Newmarket and Cambridge or Stowmarket and Ipswich
  • Cromer/Sheringham via Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Ely and Cambridge
  • Peterborough via March and Cambridge
  • Yarmouth via Via Norwich and either Ipswich or Cambridge.

I can remember, when some of these towns had services to Liverpool Street.

Trains could also split and join at Cambridge and Ipswich to save paths on the main lines to London.

Could trains go up to London in the Morning Peak and return in the Evening Peak?

If there was sufficient demand, they could return in mid-morning and come back to Liverpool Street in mid-afternoon, in time for the Evening Peak.

If so, how many trains would be needed?

  • Bury St. Edmunds (35k) – 1
  • Cromer (7k)/Sheringham (7k) – 1
  • King’s Lynn (43k) – 3
  • Lowestoft (70k) – 1
  • Norwich via Cambridge – 2
  • Peterborough – 1
  • Yarmouth (47k)  – 1

The figures in brackets are the population

Considering, that my rough calculation, showed there were ten spare trains, these numbers seem feasible.

I have some questions.

  • How many Class 755 trains will be able to link together?
  • Will platforms needed to be extended at Liverpool Street
  • Could Lincoln be reached from London, via a reopened March to Spalding Line via Wisbech?
  • Could a Yarmouth and Lowestoft service to London be created by reopening the chord at Reedham?
  • Would it be a good idea to have a dozen First Class seats in the Class 755 trains doing the London commute.

I feel that Greater Anglia have ambitious plans.

Conclusion

From this rather crude analysis, it appears that Greater Anglia will be using the Class 755 trains as three and four car electric trains on the electrified lines to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich and then using their diesel power to create new direct routes to the capital.

I also suspect, trains will split and join at Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich to reduce the number of paths needed to and from London. After all one twelve-car  train is cheaper to run than three four-car trains!

Could Greater Anglia be bringing forward a timetable, where any town in East Anglia, with a population of over say 10,000, gets at least one fast train to London in the morning and back in the evening?

As the tracks, signals and stations are already there, away from the main lines, there may be little that needs doing.

If not, Greater Anglia have bought too many trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

The Fen Line

The Fen Line runs between Ely and King’s Lynn stations.

  • It is mainly single -track with a double-track section at Downham Market station.
  • The line has an operating speed of 90 mph.
  • The line is electrified.
  • All stations have two platforms.
  • Looking at the line from my virtual helicopter, I suspect that redoubling would be possible.
  • Passenger numbers are increasing at stations on the line.
  • There are several level crossings.

It also would appear that because of the complicated nature of timetabling trains on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Hitvhin, that there are often delays on the Fen Line, as there is only one passing place at Downham Market.

I therefore agree with the opinions expressed on the Fen Line Users Association, that restoring double-track could help reduce delays on the Fen Line.

The Cambridge Line

The Cambridge Line connects Cambridge to the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin.

  • It is double-track throughout.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • Kking’s Lynn to Kings Cross services use the line.
  • Currently four trains per hour (tph) run between Cambridge and Kings Cross.
  • This will be increased by two tph, when Thameslink is fully operational.

King’s Lynn to Kings Cross services use this line.

The Current Timetable

Trains seem to take around an hour and forty minutes to go from Kings Cross to King’s Lynn, where they take under ten minutes to turnround and then they take around an hour and forty minutes to return to Kings Cross. I suspect, it isn’t the easiest service for an operator to mrun, as a train could be sitting in Kings Cross for thirty minutes.

How Could The Service Between King’s Lynn and Kings Cross Be Improved?

From the Rail Magazine article, the views of the Fen Line Users Association and the details of the route, the following could help.

ERTMS And ETCS

ERTMS and the closely related;  ETCS sre digital systems that enable trains to run faster and closer together, which could increase the capacity of the line and reduce journey times.

The Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line says this about recent and future development of the signalling.

A new Rail Operating Centre (ROC), with training facilities, opened in early 2014 at the “Engineer’s Triangle” in York. The ROC will enable signalling and day-to-day operations of the route to be undertaken in a single location. Signalling control/traffic management using ERTMS is scheduled to be introduced from 2020 on the ECML between London King’s Cross and Doncaster – managed from the York ROC.

I would think it likely that if the whole route from King’s Lynn and Kings Cross were digitally signalled, there would be advantages.

  • It would help the merging of trains at Hitchin.
  • It would help in managing trains on the single-track sections of the Fen Line.

The Rail Magazine article mentions flighting trains on the single-track sections, where two or more trains in the same direction, went though in succession.

It would also allow closer spacing and higher frequencies on the East Coast Main Line.

All trains using the route, including freight trains, would need to be fully equpped for digital signalling.

Improving The Fen Line

The biggest improvement would come by redoubling the line between Littleport and King’s Lynn.

  • Trains could pass anywhere on the Fen Line.
  • It might also be possible to avoid complicated operating procedures.
  • Timetabling should be easier.
  • Extra services would be possible.
  • Delays should be reduced, as there would be less knock-on effects from problems on the East Coast Main Line.

But on the flat lands of the fens, it might also be possible to increase the operating speed.

Improving Ely

Ely is a mess, where trains always seem to be waiting for something.

Hopefully, improvements are on the way, as I wrote in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

According to an e-mail and comments on this post, Ely North Junction needs improvement.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Note.

  1. Ely station is to the South West.
  2. starting at the top-left and going clockwise, lines go to Peterborough, Ely and Norwich.
  3. The last set of lines are sidings.

There would appear to be two solutions.

  • Extra lines and flat junctions can be added. Flat junctions mean that trains have to cross each other.
  • From what I’ve read digital signalling is very good at handling junctions, by making sure trains present themselves correctly, so this may be a better solution.

Either solution could be make to work very well!

Improving The Cambridge Line

There don’t appear to be any projects on the Cambridge Line, but I suspect that Network Rail are looking for small things, that will save minutes here and there.

125 Mph Trains

Who’d have thought forty or fifty years ago, that someone would seriously suggest running trains capable of 125 mph to King’s Lynn?

The Class 387 trains are 110 mph trains and I have recorded one at that speed on the East Coast Main Line.

Would a 125 mph train, be able to use that speed South of Hitchin?

If it could then.

  • It could cruise on the fast lines with all the fast trains to and from the North.
  • It would cut a couple of minutes  from the journey time.

Once digital signalling is operational, the trains could be closer together, which would increase line capacity.

There are several fast electric multiple units, that have been built in recent years or are on order.

  • Bombardier Class 387 – 110 mph – In service.
  • Bombardier Aventra – 110 mph -In development for West Midlands Trains.
  • CAF Class 397 – 125 mph – In development for TransPennine Express.
  • Hitachi Class 801 – 125 mph On test for service entry this year.
  • Siemens Class 350 – 110 mph – In service.

Bombardier are also showing ideas for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra to various train operating companies, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

To build a 125 mph bi-mode train, you probably start with a 125 mph electric train.

So have Bombardier designed a 125 mph version of the Aventra?

It would appear, that Bombardier, Hitachi and possibly CAF and Stadler will be offering 125 mph electric multiple units, with a bi-mode version if needed, for lines without electrification.

But there are several routes in addition to Kings Cross to King’s Lynn

  • St. Pancras to Corby
  • Euston to the West Midlands
  • Liverpool/Manchester to Edinburgh/Glasgow
  • Leeds/York to Edinburgh/Glasgow.
  • Waterloo to Bournemouth/Southampton/Weymouth

Train travel could be getting faster?

Conclusion

The ultimate benefit would come if trains could do a round trip in under three hours.

This would probably need a journey time of perhaps an hour and twenty-four minutes between Kings Cross and King’s Lynn. It is certainly not possible now, but it might be with the following.

  • 125 mph-capable trains.
  • Digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and on the Cambridge and Fen Lines.
  • 125 mph running, where possible on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Improvements at Ely.
  • Full double-tracking of the Fen Line.
  • If possible, 100 mph running on the Cambridge and Fen Lines.

A three-hour round trip would allow the current service of one tph to be run with just three trains.

If both of the twice-hourly fast services between Kings Cross and Cambridge were extended to King’s Lynn, instead of the current one, this would mean that the following service could be possible with just six trains.

  • Two tph
  • Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Doenham Market and Watlington.
  • Ten x 23 metre cars or Twelve x 20 metre cars.
  • Possibly a bistro.

There is improvement to come between Kings Cross, Cambridge and King’s Lynn, if the financial case stacks up.

 

 

 

April 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 14 Comments