The Anonymous Widower

A Bid For The Return Of The Tweed Valley Railway Line Is At An Early Stage

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

This is the first paragraph.

A campaign for a multi-billion restoration of the Tweed Valley railway line is at an ’embryonic’ stage, a council committee has been informed.

The aim seems to be to take a restored Tweed Valley Line or Peebles Railway all the way to the Borders Railway at Galashiels station.

This map from Open Railway Map, shows the railway between Peebles and Innerleithen.

Note.

  1. The former Peebles Railway is shown as a dotted line.
  2. Peebles is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. Innerleithen is in the South-East corner of the map.

This Google Map shows part of the former railway.

Note.

  1. The A72 at the top of the map.
  2. The hotel and the golf course.
  3. The Peebles Railway has been converted into cycling and walking route.
  4. The River Tweed adds a touch of serenity.

From this first glance, it looks like it would be difficult to restore the railway.

This second map from Open Railway Map, shows the railway between Innerleithen and Galashiels.

Note.

  1. The Borders Railway is shown in yellow.
  2. The former Peebles Railway is shown as a dotted line.
  3. Innerleithen is in the West.
  4. Galashiels is in the East on the Border Railway.

This Google Map shows Galashiels.

Note.

  1. The Peebles Railway enters Galashiels from the North-West.
  2. Galashiels station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The Borders Railway is single-track through Galashiels and continues to the terminus at Tweedbank station.

These pictures show the Borders Railway through Galashiels and Galashiels station.

It was certainly a tight fit to rebuild the Borders Railway through Galashiels and there was only room for a single-track railway.

My Thoughts On A Restored Railway Between Peebles And Galashiels

These are my thoughts.

Single Or Double Track

It appears from Wikipedia that Innerleithen station was the only station between Peebles and Galashiels, that had two platforms.

Wikipedia doesn’t say, but I suspect that the Peebles Railway was single-track, except for at Innerleithen station, where there were two tracks and platforms to enable trains to pass.

I would expect that if the railway were to be restored, a similar layout could be used.

After flying my virtual helicopter along the route, I feel that it could be very difficult in some places to thread a double-track railway through the limited space.

As has been proven at Galashiels station, a well-designed single-platform station is step-free, can handle two trains per hour (tph) and is a more affordable option, as there is no bridge with lifts.

Service Frequency

I am fairly sure, that a single-track railway with a passing loop at Innerleithen, could handle two trains per hour.

But as the basic Off Peak service on the Borders Railway is hourly, I suspect that an hourly service between Peebles and Galashiels would be ideal and sufficient, as by intelligent timetabling, the interchange at Galashiels could be convenient for those going between Edinburgh and Peebles.

The Eastern Terminal

Galashiels station may only have one platform, but it is an interchange with buses to all over the Borders and there are some facilities.

One of the problems at Galashiels station, is that there may not be space for a second platform for the Peebles service, which will mean that the Borders Railway and the Peebles service may have to share the same platform.

A convenient service could probably be achieved by clever timetabling or having both trains in a lengthened platform at the same time.

You might see a sequence like this every hour at Galashiels station.

  • XX:18 – Train arrives from Edinburgh and stops in the Southern end of the platform
  • XX:20 – Train arrives from Peebles and stops in the Northern end of the platform
  • XX:22 – Train departs to Tweedbank
  • XX:32 – Train arrives from Tweedbank and stops in the Southern end of the platform
  • XX:34 – Train departs to Peebles
  • XX:35 – Train departs to Edinburgh

Note.

  1. All passengers changing trains get off one and get on the next one going to their desired destination, at the same platform
  2. Passengers going between Peebles and Tweedbank have two minutes to walk along the platform to change trains.
  3. The Borders Railway train is working the current timetable.
  4. The Peebles train is in the station for fourteen minutes, which should be long enough to charge the batteries, if it were a battery-electric train.

But it might be better to extend the service to Tweedbank station, where there are two platforms.

This could possibly make it easier to organise services if the Borders Railway were to be extended to Carlisle.

Journey Times

I estimate journey times could be as follows.

  • Peebles and Galashiels – 21 minutes
  • Peebles and Tweedbank – 25 minutes

Ideally, I suspect, if a round trip to Peebles could be under an hour, this would allow a single train to run the service.

Rolling Stock

Surely,the ideal train for this route would be one of the very light rail trains, proposed for Coventry by Warwick University, that I wrote about in Very Light Rail – A Revolution.

  • These trains are single-carriage, with a capacity of fifty.
  • They can run in pairs.
  • They are battery-electric powered.
  • They would be fast-charged at both ends.
  • They have a speed of 65 mph, with good acceleration and deceleration.
  • They will be highly automated.

But their biggest feature will be that they can run on a lightweight easy-to-install affordable track.

Hopefully, by the time, this railway would be installed, these trains or something similar will probably be a common sight on branch lines.

The Track

If the train can do a round trip between Peebles and Galashiels, including charging, inside an hour, then the track can be single all the way, with simple one-platform stations.

Signalling would be by the well-established principle of One-Train-On-Line, except in Galashiels station.

I also think, that if designers can get a hold on it, then an innovative design could provide all the protection needed to ensure safe operation.

Pedestrians And Cyclists

As parts of the route is now a walking and cycling track, there will probably be protests about converting the track back into a railway.

But if the design is right, I suspect that a track for walkers and cyclists can be provided alongside.

But there are other routes in the UK, where a route could be shared between very light rail, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Sheep

And then there’s the sheep!

One of the funniest scientific documents, I’ve ever seen was a serious study by Liverpool University in the 1960s, which discussed the problem of keeping sheep off the then-proposed M62 motorway. The Veterinary School of the University had done  studies, that had shown sheep could climb six-foot chain link fences.

Hopefully, Scottish sheep are more sensible and better behaved than English ones.

Conclusion

Peebles and Galashiels could be an ideal route for very light rail. But parts of the design would be challenging.

However, get that design right and other routes could be converted to affordable battery-electric railways.

 

 

February 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greenfield Station – 16th December 2021

Greenfield station is the nearest station to the West of the Standedge tunnels. In my meanderings between Middlesbrough and Mirfield, I went to have a look.

As the pictures show, this is a modern station with its own pub and an excellent cafe on the other side of the road.

But the access to the Huddersfield-bound platform is not step-free.

This Google Map shows the station.

It is a cramped site, but the road didn’t appear to be very busy.

Could A High Speed Line Go Through Greenfield Station?

As I said it is a cramped site, but if the platform by the road were to be made bi-directional, the station would be converted into a two train per hour (tph) step-free station.

This is possible as has been shown on the Borders Railway at Galashiels station.

Look at this picture taken from the bridge.

I feel that by removing the second platform and rebuilding the retaining wall and the road bridge, that two 125 mph tracks could be squeezed through.

Step-Free Access

If after two high speed lines through, will it be possible to have full step-free access?

It will certainly be the same for both directions, but what will the access be like between platform and train?

The picture shows a train in the current Huddersfield-bound platform.

It is not bad, but it could be better, as has been demonstrated at the recently-opened Soham station.

But with only one class of train calling in the station it could be a lot better.

The Station Brew Cafe

I had a late breakfast at the Station Brew Cafe opposite the station.

Excellent! And gluten-free too!

Note the small cup, which I assumed they used to microwave the beans.

Conclusion

It would be difficult but not impossible engineering to squeeze a high speed line through Greenfield station.

December 18, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The No Frills Station

I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.

  • There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
  • The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
  • The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
  • There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
  • The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
  • The station has been landscaped into the local environment.

But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opening Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.

We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments