The Anonymous Widower

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Northern Echo.

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Bread And Circuses Help Us Through COVID-19?

Bread and circuses is an old phrase that goes back to Roman times.

It looks like TV and on-line cooks and chefs and the supermarkets have given us the first, so do we need more of the second?

At the weekend, I enjoyed watching quality horse-racing on ITV, so wouldn’t it be sensible to get football on free-to-air television as soon as possible.

It might encourage people to stay-in, rather than gather in groups.

Would it cut the spread of COVID-19?

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, Sport, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

The Death Of The Duke Of Wellington

I used to use this pub occasionally, as it showed football on a large screen and served reasonable gluten-free pizzas.

But it is closed because of COVID-19!

How sad!

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Food, Sport | , | 3 Comments

A Medical Bulletin On Myself

About two on Saturday morning, I got out of bed to go to the toilet and tripped into the en-suite bathroom causing myself a serious head injury. I also cut my hand, but what on I do not know! I suspect, that I knocked myself out and when I woke up, my bedroom and living room was like a murder scene with blood everywhere.

The Royal London patched me up, putting a large plaster on my left hand and I stayed Saturday night in the hospital.

My son brought me home on Sunday and I slept that night at home.

On Monday, the cleaners tidied up the mess.

Tuesday, I called 999 again, as I was on the point of falling over and the Royal London found my blood pressure was low, when I stood up. It had been like that, when I had my stroke in Hong Kong and they had to resort to using old-fashioned mercury blood pressure meters.

There was no extra damage and I came home in a taxi.

I’m a bit more normal today, although I seem very sleepy and my INR is just 1.2. 111 told me to start Warfarin yesterday. Which I did!

I shall watch the football on the television and go to bed tonight.

 

 

March 4, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , | 9 Comments

Why Are Liverpool Good At Transfers?

This question was asked on BBC Radio 5, about Liverpool Football Club.

As an alumni, I raise money for cancer research at Liverpool University.

I get the impression, the University has no problem getting the best researchers to come to the Second City of England!

Everybody in the World has heard of Liverpool!

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter To Jamie Burles Of Greater Anglia

I will open by saying that this letter is not a complaint about your company, as you, like all your passengers and staff are just suffering collateral damage from the overwhelming incompetence of the real culprit.

I have been supporting Ipswich Town, off and on, since my parents retired to Felixstowe around 1960, when the next door neighbour used to take me to Portman Road.

In 2007, after living together in Suffolk for nearly forty years, my wife died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, followed in 2010, by our son, who died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer. I am coeliac and because of all this grief, I neglected my health, which caused me to have a serious stroke. Luckily, the only lasting problem, I suffered was a partial loss of vision, which meant I was unable to drive.

So I sold up in Suffolk and moved back to London, where I had been born in 1947.

For a couple of years, things went well coming out to Ipswich for matches by train. Typically, on a match day I would have a gluten-free lunch in London and catch the reliable 12:30 Norwich express and just arrive in my seat a few minutes before kick-off.

I should note, that there is only one reliable place for a coeliac like myself, who needs gluten-free food to eat in Ipswich and that is Pizza Express. But you can only eat so much pizza! I can get gluten-free sandwiches in Marks and Spencer, but as with the pizza, it means walking to the centre of town and at seventy-two now, that is not such an easy proposition, as it once was.

Over the last six years, the journey has got worse. The much longer journey  time on replacement buses, means I can’t eat properly or do any of the other things , I need to do in life on an average Saturday.

Consider.

  • Football may be important to me, but it is not that important.
  • I should say, that sometimes, I go via Cambridge, when replacement buses are in operation for a change, as I can have a meal in the city with friends or buy sandwiches in the Marks & Spencer in the station.
  • In all these years of disruption, it always seems that if Ipswich are at home on the Saturday, there would be a busification of the service, whereas on other Saturdays a full service operated.

When I first started coming out from London to see matches, there were quite a few supporters on the trains from London, including one guy in a wheel-chair. Over the years many seem to have fallen by the wayside, because of the constant disruption.

I had hoped that this season, Network Rail’s deplorable project management of the Great Eastern Main line, which often results in surprise closures,  would have been consigned to history.

But if ever, there have been more closures this season and the latest batch of nine closures starting on Saturday, are the last straw as far as I am concerned.

Saturday’s closure was particularly inconvenient, as Kings Cross was closed and the West Anglia Main Line was running a reduced service, so in the end, I had a late breakfast at St. Pancras and took Southeastern Highspeed to Ebbsfleet where a friend and fellow Ipswich season ticket holder, who lives nearby, gave me a lift  to the match. The home-to-home round trip , was actually almost as long, as that on the previous Saturday’s trip to Tranmere.

Looking at the next few Saturday Ipswich home games, I see the following.

  • Peterborough – 1st February – Normal service (?)
  • Burton Albion – 15th February – Buses
  • Oxford United – 22nd February – Buses
  • Coventry – 7th March – Buses
  • Portsmouth- 21th March – Buses
  • Rochdale – 18th April – Buses

I probably speak with more authority, than most, as the company I started in Ipswich; Metier Management Systems, is recognised as one of the companies, that changed project management completely, in the last three decades of the twentieth century. At times, half the major projects in the world were being planned and managed by software I wrote in a Suffolk attic.

I rate, Network Rail’s performance over the last few years in the wider UK, as one of the worst project management disasters I have known, alongside Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport, the legendary hospital built the wrong way round, and the Boeing 737 MAX.

January 26, 2020 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Call For Bank of England Executive To Quit Over Security Breach

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

A former member of the Bank of England has called for the resignation of its chief operating officer after it emerged an audio feed of sensitive information had been leaked to traders.his is the introductory paragraph.

In any form of speculation or betting, information is key and I would suspect, that some have made a lot of money, with this information.

Betting, is full of stories, where information has been used to advantage.

In one, well-known punters, had access to the team sheet of a famous football club before the players.

So I’m not surprised at the shenanigans at the Bank of England.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Welcome To The LNER Stadium… Train Operator Sponsors Lincoln City Football Club Stadium

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

Sincil Bank willnow be the LNER Stadium.

In LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, I detailed LNER’s plans to run five trains per day in each direction and also to increase weekend services.

I also speculated that LNER might extend the service to Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Conclusion

It does appear that the extra services between London and Lincoln and the sponsorship of the stadium are part of a larger plan.

This might fit in with an extension of the service to Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New White Hart Lane Station Opens

The new White Hart Lane station opened on Monday and I went along this morning and took these pictures.

Some points about the design.

  • The station has three entrances on the stadium side and two on the other.
  • Materials used include terracotta pots and weathered steel.
  • There is a pedestrian tunnel under the railway for those that don’t want to use the trains.
  • There are two sets of stairs to both platforms
  • There are lifts to both platforms.
  • The station can probably handle twelve-car Class 710 trains if required on match days.
  • There are solar panels on the roof.
  • The station  must have some of the tallest overhead electrification gantries in the UK.

From what one of the project managers told me, it appears that the station was built by cleaning, refurbishing and strengthening the viaduct and then erecting an independent steel frame on either side to form the station.

It looks like a technique that could be used on other stations on viaducts.

It’s certainly a better station with a larger capacity, than the previous one, that I used many times back in the 1960s.

The old station is to be demolished, at some point in the future.

Conclusion

It is an excellent station, that should serve its main function of getting supporters to and from Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

But will the station and the soon-to-arrive new trains have other effects.

  • As I said earlier, the design could be repeated with different cladding for other stations on viaducts.
  • I believe that good public transport infrastructure tends to calm crime and anti-social behaviour. Only the statistics will give a verdict.
  • Will the passenger numbers rise through the station?
  • Will the station and the stadium attract some better class retain premises and cafes, as the Emirates has done?

And perhaps most importantly! Tottenham Hotspur now has two new stations to serve the ground! Will this reduce the congestion caused by large crowds?

 

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Will People Look Back At the 14th of August 2019 As A Significant Day in History?

On the 14th of August, Stephanie Frappart refereed the 2019 UEFA Super Cup between Chelsea and Liverpool.

This article on the BBC, is entitled Stephanie Frappart: History-Making Referee Praised For Super Cup Performance.

The tone of the title is typical of the comments in various newspapers and on web sites.

There was some criticism for the penalty award to Chelsea, but then many fans and commentators don’t agree with penalty decisions.

I watched all of the match and she and her two female assistants, certainly did a better job, than some officials, I’ve seen in the top two English divisions.

I look forward to the day, when the gender of the referee is irrelevant and they are judged solely on their competence.

Was Wednesday’s Super Cup a first major step towards that goal?

Conclusion

We mustn’t forget that for most countries in the world, football is the most important sport, so the ramifications of Ms. Frappart’s performance, may be greater than we first think!

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment