The Anonymous Widower

Nuggets From The Union Connectivity Review

The Union Connectivity Review has now been published and it can be read online.

This paragraph outlines the objective of the Review.

The UK Government asked Sir Peter Hendy CBE to undertake a detailed review into how transport connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Peter was also asked to make recommendations as to whether and how best to improve transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Sir Peter Hendy is the Chairman of Network Rail.

In no particular order, these are some nuggets from the review.

The Case For UKNET – A Strategic Transport Network For The Whole United Kingdom

This paragraph introduces the case for UKNET.

Having identified the importance of good connections across internal borders and the challenges that currently prevent a pan-UK strategic vision or investment strategy, the Review recommends that the UK Government develop UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole United Kingdom which would connect all the nations of the
UK, with appropriate funding and coordination with the devolved administrations to deliver it.

The creation only follows best practice from the European Union and large countries like the United States.

These three paragraphs sum up how UKNET would work and how it would bring benefits to the whole of the UK.

UKNET would provide a network into which transport investment would be made on a pan-UK basis to support economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion, across the nations of the UK, for the benefit of the whole country.

It would allow transport appraisals for schemes on the network to be undertaken on a UK-wide basis with all costs and benefits being fully accounted for. This would limit the risk of cross-border schemes being deprioritised.

The development of such a network would provide additional certainty for businesses and the private sector, allowing them to plan complementary investments in specific regions and to invest in the supply chain across the country.

I think overall that UKNET is sound thinking, but my only feeling is that it should also look at transport links to and from the whole island of Ireland.

The Case for Faster Rail Journey Times Between England And Scotland

These three paragraphs probably apply to most rail journeys in the world, that compete against air and road travel.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have previously agreed to develop options which could support a rail journey time between London and Scotland of three hours. A journey time improvement of this size, even when compared to expected journey times once HS2 opens, would dramatically increase the number of people travelling by rail.

There is a correlation between journey times and how many people choose to travel by rail over air. If it takes the same amount of time to travel by rail or by air, the evidence shows that people choose to travel by rail. Rail is typically favoured when the journey time is around three hours between city centres.

Work undertaken by Network Rail and HS2 Ltd on behalf of the Review has demonstrated the potential for increased trips by rail if journey times are reduced. For assurance purposes, two forecasting models were used to assess savings of 20, 35 and 50 mins on the journey times forecast for HS2 Phase 2b. The outcomes for both models were broadly similar and the approach built upon the changes in mode share observed between rail and aviation following previous UK and European rail investments.

Three hours between London and Scotland could be a tough ask.

Note these points about the East Coast Main Line.

  1. An InterCity 225 ran between London and Edinburgh on the 26th September 1191 in three hours and 29 minutes.
  2. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  3. There are improvements to come on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. As now, the review says two tph will run between London and Edinburgh.
  5. London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is 393 miles
  6. On the East Coast Main Line a non-stop train between would need to average 131 mph.

Three hours is tough but not impossible.

And these points about the West Coast Main Line.

  1. Trains will run on High Speed Two between London Euston and Crewe.
  2. High Speed Two are claiming fifty-six minutes between London Euston and Crewe.
  3. Full digital in-cab signalling will allow running at 140 mph.
  4. Crewe and Glasgow Central is 243.4 miles.
  5. Current fastest time between Crewe and Glasgow Central is three hours and five minutes.
  6. Between Crewe and Glasgow Central, a non-stop train would need to average 118 mph.

A well-driven InterCity 125, with a clear track, could average that speed between Crewe and Glasgow Central.

Three hours is tough but very possible.

This paragraph sums up the mode shift expected between air and road to rail.

These initial estimates indicated that a three-hour journey time was forecast to increase the number of passengers by around four million a year and increase rail mode share from the 2019 level of 29% to around 75%. It was also forecasted that journey times in the region of three hours would generate considerable transport user benefits and revenues over the lifetime of the scheme.

People travelling from the Midlands and North West England to and from Scotland would also get substantial reductions in journey times.

Linking High Speed Two With The WCML

The review says this about linking High Speed Two with the West Coast Main Line.

The UK Government has already acknowledged some of the issues identified by the Review. The ‘Golborne Link’—the current proposed connection between HS2 and the WCML—is expected to deliver quicker journey times and more capacity between England and Scotland and resolve some of the constraints between Crewe and Preston.

However, the ‘Golborne Link’ does not resolve all of the identified issues. The suitability of alternative connections between HS2 and the WCML have been considered by the Review. The emerging evidence suggests that an alternative connection to the WCML, for example at some point south of Preston, could offer more benefits and an opportunity to reduce journey times by two to three minutes more than the ‘Golborne Link’. However, more work is required to better understand the case for and against such options.

These benefits could also include additional operational flexibility when timing freight services and less disruption to the WCML than major upgrades as most construction could take place away from the railway.

An infrastructure philosophy is also detailed.

  • Replacing and enhancing track, signalling and power supply.
  • Possible new sections of line north of Preston.
  • Maximising of line speed.

My feeling is that for good project management reasons and to give faster journey times with the existing trains, that a lot of these improvements should be started as soon as possible.

Borders Railway

The Review says this about the Borders Railway.

Communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits they see resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle.

The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of a possible extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections to and from Scotland and with the WCML at Carlisle.

I would build this early, as when the West Coast Main Line is being upgraded between Carlisle and Glasgow, this would be available as a diversion route.

Perhaps too, the Glasgow South Western Line should be improved and electrified as well.

Air Passenger Duty

The Review has a sizeable session on Air Passenger Duty, where it concentrates on the problems of its application to domestic flights.

The Review makes this recommendation.

Where journeys are too long to be reasonably taken by road or rail, the UK Government should reduce the rate of domestic aviation tax.

I believe that before the end of this decade, there will be smaller zero-carbon airliners, that will be ideal for domestic routes, which could totally change the regime of domestic Air Passenger Duty.

Decarbonisation And The Future Of Flight

This is a section in the Review, where this is the first paragraph.

In July 2021, the Department for Transport published the Jet Zero Consultation: a consultation on our strategy for net zero aviation127, alongside the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. This includes the ambition to have zero-emission routes connecting different parts of the UK by 2030 and a commitment to assess the feasibility of serving PSO routes with low carbon aviation. The Review welcomes the commitments made in both publications to accelerate the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and develop low and zero-emission aircraft.

The Review goes on to make two recommendations.

  • Drive the uptake of sustainable fuels and zero emission technologies on domestic aviation through a combination of incentives, tax benefits and subsidies to make the UK a world  leader in developing these fuels and technologies.
  • Support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the United Kingdom that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

Note.

  1. PSO means Public Service Obligation.
  2. One of the world leaders in the field of sustainable aviation fuels is Velocys, which is a spin out from Oxford University.
  3. The Review also suggests building a sustainable aviation fuel plant in Northern Ireland.

The Review gives the impression it is keen on the use of sustainable aviation fuel

 

Conclusion

There are some good nuggets in the sections I have read in detail.

This post is not finished and there will be additions to the list.

 

 

 

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

East Kilbride Electrification Underway

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

These are the last two paragraphs.

As well as electrification, improvements on the line will include an upgrade of East Kilbride station, relocation of Hairmyres station 600 metres to the west, platform extensions and accessibility upgrades. The aim is to provide a four trains per hour eight-car electric service at peak periods. A parallel project will cover electrification between Busby Junction and Barrhead.

The Scottish Government’s plan is to decarbonise its passenger rail services by 2035, chiefly through electrification. It has recently been confirmed that partial electrification of the Borders and Fife Circle routes will follow after the East Kilbride and Barrhead lines, with battery EMUs deployed on these lines.

Because partial electrification is mentioned, it looks like Scotland is getting serious about using battery-electric trains.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the section of the Glasgow South Western Line, that includes Kilmarnock station and the branch to East Kilbride station.

The route North of Strathbungo continues to Glasgow Central station.

Which Sections Will Be Electrified?

I will take each of the sections in turn starting at the North.

Between Muirhouse South And Busby Junctions

This sentence is from the Modern Railways article.

Contractor SPL will commence on-site activities between Muirhouse South Junction and Busby Junction, including piling and construction steelwork foundations to support overhead masts.

On the map, Muirhouse South Junction is to the North of Stratbumgo and Busby junction is clearly marked and is where the East Kilbride branch joins the main line.

This section of new electrification is only around two miles long.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail: Strathbungo Locals Vote For New Footbridge.

There have been many bridge replacements for electrification, but this surely must be one of the first, where local people have voted for their preferred design.

The only other bridges on this section appear to be two substantial road bridges, where with any luck, it should be possible to squeeze the wires underneath.

Between Busby Junction And Barrhead Station

The other section listed for electrification is between Busby junction and Barrhead station.

This second section is only around 3.7 miles long and there are only two overbridges, both of which look modern.

Taking the two sections of electrification together they total under twelve track-miles and they are in a continuous straight line

I doubt, that together, they are the one of the world’s most challenging railway electrification projects.

Busby Junction and East Kilbride Station

There is no specific information about electrification between Busby junction and East Kilbride station.

  • The branch is 7.8 miles long.
  • There are fifteen overbridges on the branch.

In Plans To Introduce Battery Powered Trains In Scotland, Hitachi are quoted as saying that their trains will do sixty miles on batteries.

This should be more than enough range to run services to East Kilbride on battery power.

Barrhead and Kilmarnock Stations

There is no specific information about electrification between Barrhead and Kilmarnock stations.

  • The distance is 16.8 miles.
  • There are eleven overbridges between the two stations.

It would appear that Hitachi’s quoted sixty mile range, would be sufficient to enable battery-electric trains to run between the electrification at Barrhead and Kilmarnock station.

Operation

The various services between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride and Kilmarnock stations will probably operate as follows.

  • Glasgow Central To East Kilbride – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Crossmyloof station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power and gravity to Crossmyloof station and then electrification.
  • Glasgow Central To Barrhead – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Barrhead to Glasgow Central – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Glasgow Central To Kilmarnock – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Barrhead station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power to Barrhead station and then electrification.

Note.

  1. All power changeovers could be arranged to take place in stations.
  2. Gravity can be used to assist trains from East Kilbride to Glasgow Central.
  3. Glasgow Central and Barrhead services don’t need trains with batteries.
  4. The return trip between Crossmyloof and Glasgow central stations, should be more than enough to charge the batteries.

The project would appear to have been very well-designed for a fleet of battery-electric trains, with respect to reliability and electrical efficiency.

Onward To Carlisle And Stranraer

Hitachi’s system for discontinuous electrification, that I discussed in Solving The Electrification Conundrum, would appear to be ideal to extend electric trains to Carlisle and Stranraer.

Barrhead and Carlisle are 108 miles apart and Barrhead and Stranraer are 90 miles apart.

By adding two or three intermediate sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, it should be possible for electric trains to reliably travel between Glasgow Central and Carlisle or Stranraer.

Project Management

This electrification project could be a Project Manager’s dream.

Electrification projects in the UK can turn out to be nightmares, as if it can go wrong, it inevitably will.

But with this project, it appears that it is planned to get the often-troublesome job of erecting the gantries out of the way early.

The electrification between Muirhouse South junction and Barrhead station can even be completed first, so that passengers can see the benefit of electric trains and the electrification can be fully tested.

There are then a series of independent projects, that can be performed in the most convenient order.

  • Track upgrades.
  • Rebuild East Kilbride station.
  • Move Hairmyres station to its new position.
  • Platform extensions.
  • Improve accessibility.
  • Deliver the new battery-electric trains.

Note.

  1. It looks to me, that all of these smaller projects can be performed, whilst maintaining a full rail service on the railway. Doing that with conventional electrification usually results in some disruption.
  2. Late delivery of the battery-electric trains will not delay the overall project, if there are enough diesel multiple units to fill in.
  3. Passengers will see benefits and new facilities delivered in a stream, rather than all at once.

Similar processes can be used to extend the network to Carlisle and Stranraer.

Conclusion

This is a well-designed project.

 

August 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Through Settle And Carlisle Service Under Consideration

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Plans for a new Leeds to Glasgow through service via the Settle and Carlisle line are being developed, with CrossCountry and the Department for Transport starting to look at the possible scheme.

It sounds like a sensible idea to me.

The article also suggests the following.

  • CrossCountry is a possible operator.
  • CrossCountry are keen to improve services between Leeds and Glasgow
  • The trains could be InterCity 125s, freed up, by a the arrival of Class 221 trains from Avanti West Coast, when they receive their new Class 805 trains.
  • Maintenance of the trains wouldn’t be a problem, as this could be done at Neville Hill in Leeds or Craigentinny in Edinburgh.
  • Services could start in December 2023.

I have a few thoughts of my own!

The Route

The route between Leeds and Carlisle is obvious, but there are two routes between Carlisle and Glasgow.

Trains would probably choose a route and call at stations to maximise passenger numbers.

These stations are on the various routes.

  • Settle and Carlisle – Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite
  • Glasgow South Western – Dunlop, Stewarton, Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna Green
  • West Coast Main – Motherwell, Carstairs and Lockerbie

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

 Upgrading The InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry appear to have enough InterCity 125 trains to muster five in a two Class 43  power car and seven Mark 3 coach formation.

They may not be fully in-line with the latest regulations and there may be a need for a certain degree of refurbishment.

These pictures show some details of a refurbished Great Western Railway Castle, which has been fitted with sliding doors.

Will The InterCity 125 Trains Be Shortened?

Scotrail’s Inter7City trains and Great Western Railway’s Castle trains have all been shortened to four or five coaches.

This picture shows a pair of Castles.

Journey Times, Timetable And Frequency

The current journey time between Leeds and Glasgow Central stations via the East Coast Main Line is four hours and eight minutes with nine stops.

The Modern Railways article says this about the current service.

The new service would be targeted at business and leisure travellers, with through journey times competitive with road and faster than the current direct CrossCountry Leeds to Glasgow services via the East Coast main line.

I would expect that CrossCountry are looking for a time of around four hours including the turn round.

  • Stops could be removed to achieve the timing.
  • The trains could run at 125 mph on the West Coast Main Line.

This could enable a train to have the following diagram.

  • 0800 – Depart Leeds
  • 1200 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • 1600 – Depart Leeds
  • 2000 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • Before 2400 – Arrive Leeds

Note.

  1. A second train could start in Glasgow and perform the mirrored timetable.
  2. Timings would probably be ideal for train catering.
  3. Trains would leave both termini at 0800, 1200, 1600 and 2000.
  4. The timetable would need just two trains.

I also think, if a second pair of trains were to be worked into the timetable, there could be one train every two hours on the route, if the demand was there.

I certainly believe there could be a timetable, that would meet the objectives of attracting business and leisure passengers away from the roads.

Tourism And Leisure Potential

The Settle and Carlisle Line is known as one of the most scenic railway lines in England, if not the whole of the UK.

There are important tourist sites all along the route between Leeds and Glasgow

Many of the stations are used by walkers and others interested in country pursuits.

I believe that it is a route that needs a quality rail service.

Travel Between London and Towns Along The Settle And Carlisle Line

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It may seem fast compared to today, but I do believe it is possible.

With a timely connection at Leeds station, will this encourage passengers to places along the Settle and Carlisle line to use the train?

What About the Carbon Emissions?

The one problem with using InterCity 125 trains on this route, is that they are diesel-powered, using a pair of Class 43 locomotives.

But then there are over a hundred of these diesel-electric locomotives in service, nearly all of which are now powered by modern MTU diesel engines, which were fitted in the first decade of this century.

Consider.

  • The locomotives and the coaches they haul have an iconic status.
  • Great Western Railway and Scotrail have recently developed shorter versions of the trains for important routes.
  • There are over a hundred of the locomotives in service.
  • Companies like ULEMCo are developing technology to create diesel-powered vehicles that can run on diesel or hydrogen.
  • There is plenty of space in the back of the locomotives for extra equipment.
  • MTU have a very large number of diesel engines in service. It must be in the company’s interest to find an easy way to cut carbon emissions.
  • I believe that the modern MTU diesel engines could run on biodiesel to reduce their carbon footprint.

And we shouldn’t forget JCB’s technology, which I wrote about in JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

If they could develop a 2 MW hydrogen engine, it could be a shoe-in.

I believe that for these and other reasons, a solution will be found to reduce the carbon emissions of these locomotives to acceptable levels.

Conclusion

In this quick look, it appears to me that a Glasgow and Leeds service using InterCity 125 trains could be a very good idea.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?

As currently envisioned, High Speed Two is very much an English project, with the following routes

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Birmingham
  • London and Manchester Airport/Manchester via Birmingham and Crewe
  • London and Sheffield via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub
  • London and Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub

There are large numbers of mid-sized towns and cities that it won’t serve directly.

The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Crewe
  • London and Manchester via Crewe
  • London and Glasgow via Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle
  • London and Blackpool via Crewe, Wigan, Preston
  • London and North Wales via Crewe and Chester.

It could probably be considered a two or two-and-a-half nation line, as it serves the Western half of Scotland and the Northern half of Wales.

Add the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and you get a line, that serves a lot more places like Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, Stafford, Stoke and Wigan.

  • The current plan for both routes envisage them both being run by Avanti West Coast, so it looks like High Speed Two is being designed to work with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Destinations like Carlisle, Glasgow and Preston will be served using the West Coast Main Line.
  • Compatible trains will be built that can be run on both lines.
  • Some stations will be shared.

It does seem that there are advantages, if the two routes are considered as one system.

The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Cambridge
  • London and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • London and Lincoln via Newark.
  • London and Leeds via Doncaster
  • London and Hull
  • London and Edinburgh via Doncaster, York and Newcastle

The East Coast Main Line could become another high speed line.

Extra services could be added.

  • London and Norwich via Cambridge
  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Grimsby and Cleethorpes via Lincoln.
  • London and Sheffield via Doncaster.

Add the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and there could be a wider range of towns and cities served.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster could play the same role in the East as Birmingham and Crewe will play in the West.
  • The East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster will be upgraded to in-cab ERTMS signalling in a few years time, which will allow 140 mph running on several sections of the route.
  • Improvements are either under way or being planned to reduce bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If High Speed Two can handle eighteen trains per hour (tph), then surely the East Coast Main Line, which has a lot of quadruple track, can handle upwards of twelve 140 mph trains per hour between London and Doncaster, after the improvements to track and signalling.
  • I estimate that 140 mph running between London and Doncaster could save as much as twenty minutes.
  • I feel that Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York could all be reached in under two hours from London using the existing Azuma trains.
  • This morning the 0700 from Kings Cross is timetabled to reach York at 0852. Would it be possible for London and York to be around just ninety minutes?
  • Savings would also apply to trains between London and Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scotland and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour journeys between London and Edinburgh would be commonplace.

Note that the Internet gives a driving time of nearly three and a half hours between London and Leeds. Surely, two hours or less on High Speed Yorkshire would be much preferable.

I would add this infrastructure.

  • There might be a good case to create electrified routes to Hull and Sheffield and between Sheffield and Leeds, but they wouldn’t be needed to start the service or obtain the time savings. But they would ease operation, cut carbon emissions and save a few more minutes.
  • A station at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
  • A parkway station at Barnsley on the Dearne Valley Line with direct services to Doncaster, Leeds, London and Sheffield.

The two latter improvements have been proposed in Sheffield Region’s transport plans.

High Speed Yorkshire should be finished as soon as possible. A completion date of 2024 is not unreasonable.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a plan to build an East-West high speed line or at least a much faster one, than the overcrowded joke, that presently exists.

I discussed the latest thinking in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North and the latest thinking and my views can best be summarised as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will be an improved line with some new sections, between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will connect at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will share infrastructure.
  • The High Speed Two route to Manchester would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • The High Speed Two route to Liverpool would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Warrington
  • Hull will get a London service from High Speed Two via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds

The Oakervee review of High Speed Two is also underway and leaks are suggesting, that the report is recommending that High Speed Two be built in full, but differently.

One important thing, that is happening, is that Network Rail have started the procurement process to improve the current line between Leeds and Huddersfield, as I reported in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

  • Extra tracks will be built.
  • There will be some extra electrification.

I very much feel, that this is one of the most difficult TransPennine sections to improve.

The other sections are summarised as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester Airport via Warrington and High Legh is across the flat lands of North Cheshire and could follow the M56.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester will probably be a high speed tunnel.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield section could possibly be improved in the short term
  • Leeds and Hull and the required connections to the East Coast Main Line are in the flat lands of East Yorkshire.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have a plan in there to perhaps deliver improved services East of Huddersfield and radiating from Leeds in the next few years.

It certainly needs improvement, as the TransPennine route must be the worst main line in the UK.

A One-Nation Railway

I think these lines can be connected to create an integrated high speed network.

  • High Speed Two
  • West Coast Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail

But.

  • It doesn’t connect to the whole country and needs to be extended.
  • It won’t be fully developed until at least 2035.
  • Improvements are needed now!

So what could be substantially delivered of the core network, by say 2024, which is around the date of the next General Election?

  • Faster and more frequent services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • An electrified higher capacity and faster line between Leeds and Huddersfield and possibly between Leeds and Hull.
  • New East Coast Main Line services from London to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Nottingham, Scarborough and Sheffield and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour services between London and Edinburgh.
  • New local services to connect Blyth and Ashington to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle.
  • A Tees Valley Metro  connecting Bishop Auckland, Whitby and all in between to the East Coast Main Line at Darlington.
  • Improved local services between York and Leeds via Harrogate, Sheffield and Leeds via the Dearne Valley and on other lines in Yorkshire.

Effectively, the recommendations of this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, which apply to Leeds and Sheffield would have been implemented to connect to high speed services at Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Yprk.

Technology used would include.

  • Some more electrification using the power from the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Conventional electric trains and compatible battery trains.
  • Tram-trains feeding into the Sheffield Supertram.
  • ERTMS digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and the major branches to Hull, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There would also need to be an increase in LNER’s Azuma fleet. But that is already rumoured as I wrote in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

Could we see as many as twelve Axumas per hour between London and Doncaster? Yes!

Could it all be delivered by the 2024 General Election? Yes!

High Speed Scotland

The Scottish Nationalist Party is pushing for High Speed Two to be extended to Scotland.

I think that this will eventually be a feasible project, but it will be a very expensive and perhaps built around 2040.

These are my thoughts for the next few years up to 2024.

High Speed To Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh currently supports a half-hourly service to and from London.
  • East Coast Trains are proposing to add five trains per day to this route.
  • TransPennine Express will run an hourly service between Edinburgh and Liverpool, via Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, which starts at the December 2019 timetable change..
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Aberdeen and Plymouth.
  • It looks like Edinburgh and Newcastle have a four tph service.

All services, except the CrossCountry  are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802 or 803 trains.

  • Currently, services take ninety minutes for the 125 miles between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • The Hitachi trains are all capable of 140 mph with digital signalling.
  • The Hitachi trains have better acceleration.
  • The route is fully electrified. Although, there are reports it needs enhancing to be able to handle the current number of trains.

How many minutes can be taken off thjs route, with a new timetable on a line running only Hitachi high speed trains?

Probably not that many, but it would ensure all London and Edinburgh trains were under four hours.

But it will all happen by 2024?

High Speed To Glasgow

So Edinburgh is alright, but what about Glasgow?

Consider.

  • Glasgow currently supports an hourly service to and from London.
  • TransPennine Express run an hourly service to and from Manchester Airport
  • TransPennine Express will run a three trains per day service to and from Liverpool.

Glasgow has a much lower frequency service to and from England than Edinburgh.

Currently, London and Glasgow takes over four-and-a half hours and there is going to be no serious improvement, until High Speed Two opens to Crewe, when the time could drop to perhaps just over three-and-a half hours.

But that won’t happen until possibly 2030.

In Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?, I detail a cunning plan, that might allow London and Glasgow in four hours.

This was my conclusion in the other article.

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

There may be advantages in replacing the Pendelinos with the Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains on the London and Glasgow service as early as possible.

  • There would be a large increase of capacity between London and Glasgow.
  • What would be the possible speed of the Classic-compatible trains on updated track North of Crewe? I will assume 140 mph, but it could be more! That’s called engineering!
  • London and Glasgow timings would be improved, as soon as digital signalling is installed.
  • The trains would get a thorough testing before the opening of High Speed Two to Birmingham.

At least one platform at Glasgow Central would need to be extended to take a four-hundred metre long train.

According to Wikipedia, the Classic-compatible trains will be introduced from 2026.

I think by the December 2026 timetable change Glasgow could see a four-hour service to and from London.

But could it be 2024, if the Pendelinos can pick up time North of Crewe with digital signalling?

The Borders Railway

If High Speed Two is going to be a One Nation project, the Borders Railway must be extended from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.

Could this be done by 2024?

It would be a close-run thing! But possible!

The Glasgow South Western Line

The Glasgow South Western Line, is a secondary route between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It should be electrified early, so that during the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle it can be used as a diversionary route.

Scotland Could Have Two Four-Hour Fully-Electrified Routes To And From London

But it’s not just London that gets good connectivity to and from Scotland!

  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Carlisle
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Preston
  • Wolverhampton
  • York

All these cities will have direct connections to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow.

High Speed Midlands

Almost unnoticed and with little fuss, the Midland Main Line is being upgraded to provide 125 mph services between London and Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • New Hitachi bi-mode Class 804 trains will improve speeds and increase capacity
  • Over the last decade or so, the track has been upgraded for 125 mph running.
  • Electrification will reach between London and Market Harborough.
  • Market Harborough station has been remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • The Corby branch will be electrified with the trains running half-hourly.

I also think, that the Midland Main Line will link into all the improvements between Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield and provide the following.

  • A high speed route between Leeds and the East Midlands.
  • A route for a Barnsley and London service.
  • A second route for Leeds and London services..

It also seems that rail planners are getting innovative with the design of the Midland Main Line.

  • It appears that the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two’s spur to Sheffield will be combined into an electrified line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield.
  • An improved link to the East-West Rail link at Bedford could improve links between the North-East and the South of England.
  • The disused rail line between Market Harborough and Northampton could be reopened.

The line is a lot more than a connection between London and the East Midlands.

The upgrade should be complete by 2024.

East West Rail

East West Rail is still in a long planning stage, but it now looks likely to provide more than a passenger link between Oxford and Cambridge.

  • New freight routes for Felixstowe and Southampton.
  • Extra passenger services between Oxford and Reading in the West and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich in the East.
  • Connections to the Great Western Main Line, the Chiltern Line, West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.

It has also been suggested that East West Rail should be connected to High Speed Two at a new station at Calvert. This could give Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton good links to and from High Speed Two.

Great Western Main Line

At the December 2019 timetable change, there has finally been some good news in the saga of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

  • Services between London and Bristol have been improved.
  • The timetable has been improved.

Whether it will stand up is another matter.

Certainly by 2024, it will be a much better main line.

It could have full digital in-can signalling, which could result in 140 mph running and journey time savings.

Who knows?

But what excites me is the possibility of a connection between High Speed Two and East West Rail at Calvert, which will allow trains to run between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, in Wales and the West and the North on a mainly electrified high speed railway.

High Speed North Wales

Avanti West Coast is purchasing thirteen new Hitachi bi-mode trains to run services to Chester and North Wales.

I can’t see much speed improvement in the services, although if the West Coast Main Line gets digital signalling, this could save a few minutes between London and Crewe.

High Speed Ireland

The technology is now available to build a rail bridge between Scotland and the island of Ireland.

I laid out the arguments in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!.

The Lincoln Solution

Lincoln is a city, that has been ignored by UK railways for decades.

But not any more as LNER now run six return trips a day to the city on Mondays to Saturdays and five on Sundays.

I wrote about the improvements in The Shape Of Train Services To Come.

How many other cities and large towns would benefit from a Lincoln solution?

LNER have already launched a similar service to Harrogate at the December 2019 timetable change and I’m sure that more will follow.

Disability And Access Issues

A true one-nation railway wouldn’t exclude anybody from using the trains.

Strides have been made to put up step-free bridges, but some of the access between platform and train is truly dreadful.

This picture shows what can be achieved by good design on a Class 755 train.

And this is the step on one of Hitachi’s new trains.

Note that all doors on these Hitachi trains are also far too narrow.

Some train manufacturers can do much better.

Recurring Themes

In this analysis, there are factors that keep cropping up.

Digital Signalling Or ERTMS

This is the key to squeezing more trains into our overcrowded railway.

Between London and Doncaster on the East Coast Main Line, should be operational in a few years and I believe the following lines should follow as soon as possible.

  • East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York and possibly Newcastle.
  • East Coast Main Line North Of Newcastle
  • West Coast Main Line North Of Crewe
  • West Coast Main Line South Of Crewe
  • Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I believe that in-cab digital signalling is a major key to increasing capacity.

Faster Line Speeds

Some routes like TransPennine, have Victorian line speeds

Network Rail showed how it could improve line speed with the remodelling at Market Harborough station.

Bottlenecks, like the Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich need immediate removal, no matter what the Heritage Taliban and other Luddites say.

New Hitachi Trains

There will be several more orders for the next generation of Hitachi’s high speed trains.

I have been critical of Hitachi’s manufacturing processes for these trains in the past, but they seem now to be running well in fleet service.

A standard UK train on 125 mph lines, that can also handle 140 mph with digital signalling must be a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

New Feeder Services

Several new feeder services have been indicated and there should be a lot more of these to bring the benefit of the high speed network to more of the UK population.

Delivering The Improvements

Geographically, the places where improvements are needed are spread thinly around the country and vary from projects with a cost of tens of millions to those with costs of tens of billions.

In the UK, we tend to go for the big hit, when perhaps several smaller ones might give a better short-term improvement.

We also duck projects, which would annoy the noisy local interests.

We need to have fundamental rethink about how we deliver and pay for rail improvements.

Conclusion

I am fairly pleased overall in that I think by 2024, many places in the UK, will have a much better train service than they do now!

Delivery of High Speed Two, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible after 2024, will be the icing on the cake.

Will It Be A One-Nation Project?

I think it can be!

 

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments