The Anonymous Widower

Exploring The North Berwick Line

The service between Edinburgh and North Berwick stations is going to be one of the first to get the new Class 385 trains.

So I took a quick trip.

The North Berwick Line appears to be a well-maintained line with tidy, simple stations and copious car-parking.

North Berwick station shows how you can have a single-platform station handling two trains per hour (tph), where both are six cars.

The North Berwick Line is becoming increasingly busy and the six-car train I rode out of Edinburgh at ten in the morning was surprisingly busy.

New Class 385 Trains To North Berwick

The current Class 380 trains were built in 2009-2011, so why are the trains being replaced with Class 385 trains on this route?

Both trains have the following shared characteristics.

  • 100 mph running.
  • Three- or four-cars.
  • Modern interiors.
  • Ability to run in pairs with through gangways.

I think that the big difference is that the newer Hitachi trains will have wi-fi and possibly a 4G connection.

But other than that, the two trains would be interchangeable.

Glasgow To Edinburgh Services

There is also the fact that Abellio seem to be very expansive with the plans for their franchises in the UK.

As some of the North Berwick services start at Glasgow Central station, could it be that Scotrail are planning to use North Berwick as the terminal for a two tph Glasgow Central to Edinburgh via Motherwell service, in addition to all the other services going to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Effectively, by using North Berwick, they gain a much needed extra platform at Edinburgh.

ScotRail might have also decided that all Glasgow to Edinburgh services should be equipped with wi-fi and run by the new Hitachi trains.

Expansion Of Suburban Services East Of Edinburgh

Passenger numbers are rising at North Berwick station and last year there were over half a million passengers.

The single platform handling six-car Class 380 trains can probably handle several hundred passengers an hour.

But look at this Google Map of the station.

Is there enough car parking for this number of passengers?

When it is considered that with modern signalling, it might even be possible to inrease the frquency to North Berwick to three or even four tph, the platform would cope, but routes to the station probsbly wouldn’t.

There have been proposals to reopen a station at East Linton, a few miles away on the East Coast Main Line. In the Wikipedia entry for the station, this is said under The Future.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

As now the extra trains are being delivered, a station at East Linton must be increasingly possible.

Would a rebuilt Reston station be used as a terminus?

This Google Map shows the village of Reston with the A1 and the East Coast Main Line.

Could Reston station be rebuilt as a Park-and-Ride station with perhaps a bay platform for suburban services from Edinburgh?


  • Space doesn’t seem to be a problem.
  • Drivers from the South and West might be tempted to abandon their cars and use the train.
  • Reston could be a terminus for Glasgow to Edinburgh services.

Scotrail certainly have possibilities to develop an electric service between Edinburgh and Glasgow, that is a lot more than just a simple link between the two major cities.


The electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow service could develop into a fast and frequent Crossrail For Scotland.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will High Speed 2 Have Go-Anywhere Trains?

I ask this question as after writing Plans For Toton Station For HS2 Are Beginning To Emerge, I started to think about the specification of the trains that will work on HS2.

Extending North |From Toton Or East Midlands Hub Station

Extending HS2 to Sheffield from Toton will eventually be via a dedicated High Speed Line, where the trains can run at their design speed of 225 mph.

But Toton HS2 to Sheffield via Chesterfield will be linked by the Erewash Valley Line, where trains will be able to travel at least as fast as 125 mph.

The Erewash Valley Line will probably be electrified before HS2 opens to Toton HS2 around 2030, to bring Sheffield consistently under two hours from London.

Extending North From Crewe

Similarly Crewe to Liverpool will not be getting a dedicated High Speed Line, but there is already a route where at least 125 mph is possible.

As passengers won’t want to change trains, Liverpool will get two trains per hour (tph)from London on HS2.

The only work needed North of Crewe would be to create extra and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street, provided that the new HS2 trains can work on classic high speed lines like the West Coast Main Line.

These improvements at Liverpool Lime Street are actually underway and knowing Scousers as I do, you could bet your house on it being ready in 2027, as they would want to have HS2 services at the same time as Manchester, if not a couple of years before.

Learning From The French

We should also look at how the French do things.

If you travel from Biarritz to Paris via a TGV, the service runs on both High Speed and classic lines.

From the Liverpool and Sheffield examples, I suspect that we will adopt a similar philosophy.

Consider when HS2 opens, the places that could be served directly from Crewe.

  • Runcorn and Liverpool
  • Manchester Piccadilly, if there is platform space.
  • Warrington, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh – Why not?
  • Chester and Holyhead – If the North Wales Coast Line is electrified, as has been threatened!

Note most of the West Coast Main Line routes are covered.

Can this explain the decision to combine the HS2 and West Coast Main Line franchises and the early extension of HS2 to Crewe?

The new franchise could even use the same 225 mph trains for HS2 at a slower speed on the West Coast Main Line to replace the Pendelinos.

The only disadvantage would be that the new trains couldn’t take advantage of the more generous HS2 loading gauge, unless of course the classic lines, where they are to run have their gauges enhanced. This may already be the case, as many of these routes have a loading gauge of W10 to take large freight containers.

The Trains For HS2 And West Coast Main Line

I think we’ll be seeing a very interesting specification for the HS2 trains.

  • 225 mph capability on High Speed Lines
  • 140 mph Pendolino performance on classic lines where possible.
  • Short and long trains. Class 800 trains and others seem to be ordered this way, as five and nine/ten car units.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling of units, just as Class 395 trains do now!

As the trains won’t be delivered for nearly ten years,  wouldn’t be surprised to see that they have a 100 mph independently-powered capability of perhaps 100 miles. This would enable the trains to reach places like Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Blackpool, Inverness and Lincoln from the West Coast Main Line or Phase 1 of HS2.

Expanding The High Speed Network

It may seem strange to use perhaps onboard energy storage to extend services away from HS2. But this capability would probably only be given to the shorter trains that can join and split at Crewe or Birmingham International for fast running to and from London. Generally, when operating on onboard energy storage, the trains will be travelling at slower speeds. so less energy is needed.

This would mean that places like Barrow-in-Furnace, Blackpool, Cleethorpes and Lincoln could be easily added to the high speed network.

The High Speed network could also be expanded by improving the current network with selective electrification and the capability for higher line speeds.

All of these improvements on the classic lines,  would mean that local and freight trains were able to provide a better service too!

Coupled with HS2, they would make a wonderful marketing opportunity.

I estimate the following using new trains and HS2 from Crewe, when Phase 2a of HS2 is complete.

  • Glasgow-London would take under four hours for the journey as opposed to just over four and a half hours now.
  • Liverpool-London would come down from two hours twelve minutes to one hour 33 minutes.
  • Preston-London would down from two hours fifteen minutes to under a hundred minutes.
  • Wigan-London would come down from just over two hours to just 87 minutes.

And some commentators and politicians doubt HS2 is needed.


Certainly, the decision to extend as fast as possible to Crewe was a very good idea.

Consider going from Euston to Glasgow in say 2028.

  • The train would run from Euston to Crewe at full speed of 225 mph stopping if required at Old Oak Common and Birmingham International in a time of 58 minutes.
  • From Crewe to Glasgow, the train would run at least at 125 mph stopping as appropriately.
  • Selective improvements and in-cab signalling would reduce journey times from those of today to the North of Crewe.

Ten years or so later, the journey time will be even faster as the High Speed line was extended past Crewe.

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Every Local Politician Should Read This

I have never seen such a powerful argument for improving local transport links and especially trains than this article in the National.

It is written by a train driver turned local politician and he is talked about Glasgow.

But his arguments can be applied to any city in the world.

Read the article.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Carlisle To Glasgow By The Scenic Route

One of the reasons for my trip to Carlisle station, that I wrote about in Carlisle Station Gets A Makeover, was to explore the Glasgow South Western Line, which was the only line in the Borderlands, that I hadn’t explored.

These pictures tell the story.

My first reaction to the line is that, the well-maintained stations need more services.

I’ll put my thoughts in the following section.

More Services

Abellio Scotrail have ordered new electric Class 385 trains from Hitachi, which comprise eighty train sets, that total 192 carriages.

These can’t run on the Glasgow South Western Line, but will replace several modern diesel multiple units for service all over Scotland.

I suspect that if the Borders Railway gets four car trains, then there would be some lengthening and increase of frequency on this route.

Incidentally, the conductor on the train I took, said that more services will certainly come.

An Improved Diversion Route

What is more likely to drive improvements is the need for a diversion or alternative route for the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow and Carlisle.

Reasons could include.

  • The West Coast Main Line is very busy.
  • Diversions because of blockades or bad weather.
  • There is a need for more Anglo-Scottish freight services.
  • Freight services will be increasingly hauled by electric or bi-mode locomotives.

Unlike many diversion routes, the Glasgow South Western Line is an 80 mph line with sections of double-track and 100 mph maximum speed


Electrification of the diversion route, would probably be essential, as most traffic on the West Coast Main Line uses electric traction.

The conductor I spoke to, was surprised that British Rail hadn’t electrified the line in the 1970s, at the same time of the major West Coast Electrification.

As schemes go, it wouldn’t be the most expensive of schemes., as the line appeared to go through fairly easy countryside, with not many bridges and tunnels.

But the biggest advantage is that at both ends of the line, there are electrified lines, that can be used to provide power for the line at both ends.

Look at this Google Map of Gretna Green station‘s position with relation to the West Coast Main Line..

Gretna Green Station And The West Coast Main Line

Gretna Green Station And The West Coast Main Line

At the Northern end of the line, there is masses of electrification in and around Glasgow.

Electrification of the route must have other advantages.

  • Services could be provided by Class 385 trains.
  • Kilmarnock gets an electric train service.

But surely,  the biggest, is that modern electric trains would speed up the service considerably.






June 21, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Will The Canny Glaswegians Back Tram-Trains?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Glasgow Planning Airport Tram-Train. This is said.

A tram-train, which would operate between Glasgow Central Station and Paisley Gilmour Street before moving onto a new light rail line to the airport, is the preferred option.

This Google Map shows the relationship between Paisley Gilmour Street station and the airport.

Glasgow Airport Tram-Train Link

Glasgow Airport Tram-Train Link

Paisley Gilmour Street station is in the bottom right corner of the map and the Inverclyde Line runs past the Airport alongside the M8 Motorway, after passing through Paisley St. James station.

The article gives some interesting figures on the costs of the .link between Glasgow Central station and the Airport.

  • A conventional rail link would cost £317million.
  • A tram-train link  would cost £144million
  • A light rail rapid transit, which would need a change of vehicle at Paisley Gilmour Street would cost £102million.

These costs probably explain, why the Germans are building as many tram-train systems as they are!

Having seen tram-trains working in a number of German cities, I would choose a tram-train tomorrow.

These points should be noted.

  • The tram-train trial between Sheffield and Rotherham should highlight the changes that would need to be made to existing stations, signalling and operation.
  • The Class 399 tram-train, would probably be used. It is a standard German tram-train modified to run on our overhead line electrical voltage. Surprisingly, it is the Germans, who are non-standard.
  • When running as trams, tram-trains have all of the tram’s agility to go round tight curves and sneak into cramped sites.
  • When running as trains the performance of the Class 399 tram-trains is only marginally slower than the Class 314 trains, that current work the Inverclyde Line. So they would be able to mix it on the train line.
  • Passengers will probably think that they’re on a train, that is perhaps a bit different.
  • Liverpool are seriously thinking of using tram-trains to connect to Liverpool Airport.

The only unusual thing in the proposed Glasgow and Liverpool tram-train systems, is that tram-trains are running as trains for most of their routes, except for the branch into the airport.

Normally tram-trains run as trains outside of the City Centre and as trams inside it. But then both Liverpool and Glsasgow don’t have any other tram system.


November 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Will Glasgow Ever Get Crossrail?

I have a Google Alert for Grossrail and occasionally it picks up an article for Glasgow Crossrail, like this comment in The Scotsman entitled Glasgow Crossrail: Will the ‘missing link’ be built?

If you look at the major cities in the UK, many have cross-city links tying the railways on both sides of the city together.

London has several.

  • Thameslink
  • The East, North and West London Lines
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line

A major East-West link in Crossrail is being built and another Crossrail 2 is being planned.

Except for Manchester, where the Ordsall Chord is being built, I don’t know of a major city in England, where services are disconnected across the city.

In the last few years, I’ve walked across Glasgow a couple of times to connect between the South and East.

As a Sassenach, I can’t understand, why the Glassgow Crossrail is not given a high priority by the Scottish Government.

Perhaps the reason, is that one of the groups that would benefit most, would be English travellers  arriving in Glasgow, who wanted to go North to places like Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William.

Or could it be those old friends of the railways: the airlines, are lobbying against it, as it would allow services direct from Aberdeen and Inverness to Manchester?




November 7, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Manchester Now! Is Glasgow Next?

Look at most large English, Scottish and Welsh cities and there is usually at least one line through the city so that trains can pass from one side of the city to the other. Look at these examples.

1. London is upgrading the main North-South Thameslink route and building another East-West one.

2. Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Reading and Sheffield all have lines that fan out on either side.

3. Liverpool Lime Street is effectively a terminus on the coast, but a North-South line in the city connects stations in the North with others in the South.

When lines connect across a city, this means you don’t have so many terminal platforms in the centre of that city. As an example look at Brighton and Bedford, which have been connected for decades by Thameslink through London. There are several Central London stations where the train calls, so passengers have a lot of journey options. But there are no terminal platforms in Central London used by Thameslink.

Only two major cities don’t have a connection like this.

1. Manchester has two unconnected stations; Piccadilly and Victoria, with the former generally dealing with Southern services and Victoria dealing with the North and East.

2. Glasgow is the same with Queen Street dealing with the North and East and Central dealing with the South and West.

But with the announcement today of the final go-ahead for the Ordsall Curve in Manchester, as reported in this piece on the BBC, Manchester is finally getting the cross-city link it should have got with the building of the Picc-Vic tunnel. This plan was abandoned in 1977.

Will Crossrail Glasgow be announced before the election? I doubt it, as Alex Salmond would label it an English bribe.

But it is desperately needed!


March 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Crossrail

I saw this bus at Glasgow Central station, whilst I was awaiting a friend to go to the Games.

The Bus Connection Between The Two Stations

The Bus Connection Between The Two Stations

It connects the station to the other main one at Glasgow Queen Street.

It may work well, but it is needed in that Glasgow has effectively two rail networks; one going south and west from Central and another going east and north from Queen Street. This is illustrated, if you book a train from say Carlisle to the North of Scotland, where you either go via Edinburgh or use the bus to get across Glasgow.

London is adding the east-west cross city Crossrail to go with the current north-south Thameslink, which is being augmented and extended. Cross city routes have one big advantage in addition to the obvious one of linking places on either side of the city together, and that is that terminal platforms in city centres can be released for other purposes. Effectively in London, about half of the Midland Main Line platforms in St. Pancras, were released for Eurostar and High Speed services to Kent, by moving many services to Thameslink, where they effectively terminated at places like Brighton.

But it’s not just in London, that this technique of using a cross-city link to improve services and increase capacity is used.

  1. Liverpool has linked the Northern and Wirral lines to those going south through a tunnel, which also allowed the old Liverpool Central station to be redeveloped on its prime site as Central Village.
  2. Manchester is linking Piccadilly and Victoria stations, by means of new track and a bridge to create the Northern Hub.
  3. Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds don’t really have the two station problem, but many of them pair up services to save terminal platforms. The Valley and Local Cardiff routes are extensive and many services are end-to-end, stopping at Cardiff in the centre.

Obviously, as there are a lot of buildings in the way between Glasgow’s two station, a direct rail link would have to be tunnelled.

As I walked around Glasgow, I couldn’t help noticing two impressive structures. The first was the City Union Bridge.

City Union Bridge

And the second was this viaduct across the centre of the city.

The City Union Line

They were both part of the original City Union Line, which is now used for freight and empty stock movements. But it does appear to me to go from east to south across the city.

I had read about Glasgow Crossrail before, but I hadn’t realised that the missing link was so impressive and well-maintained. The Wikipedia article says this about the link.

Since the 1970s, it has been widely recognised that one of the main weaknesses of the railway network in Greater Glasgow is that rail services from the South (which would normally terminate at Central main line station) cannot bypass Glasgow city centre and join the northern railway network which terminates at Glasgow Queen Street station – and vice-versa for trains coming from the North. At present rail users who wish to travel across Glasgow have to disembark at either Central or Queen Street and traverse the city centre by foot, or by road.

Looking at the proposed project, it does seem that it might solve a few obvious problems with the rail system in Glasgow.

The proposal also includes the reopening of Cumberland Street railway station in the Gorbals, opening the area up to the passenger railway network for the first time since the 1960s and a link to the Glasgow subway at West Street station.

Amongst other developments the ability to go between the West Coast Main Line and the North of Scotland was listed.

I would be interesting to see the costs and benefits for Glasgow Crossrail.

On the first night at the Games, I went to the athletics and afterwards I needed to get to back to Edinburgh. The trains were totally overloaded and in a bit of chaos. Surely, Glasgow Crossrail might have allowed direct trains from the Hampden area to Edinburgh, which would have eased the problem, even if it meant a change of train at Central.

July 29, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Water In Glasgow City Centre

In this hot weather, I like to travel with a small bottle of water, so I went into this Co-operative store by Glasgow Central station.

Water In Glasgow City Centre

It was the weirdest shop I’ve ever been in as everything was behind glass partitions. As I couldn’t find any water and a couple of other things I needed, I gave up.

So I went round the corner to a Tesco Express. That was weird too, as it seemed to be full of alcohol and chocolate. I did get my bottle of water though, and I was able to eventually find some EatNakd bars and some tissues.

As in the Co-op, there seemed to be several visitors to Glasgow, wandering aimlessly around looking for what they needed.

July 29, 2014 Posted by | Food, World | , , | Leave a comment

Who Nicked Me Titfer?

I took this picture of the statue of the Duke of Wellington.

Who Nicked Me Titfer?

Who Nicked Me Titfer?

Someone has stolen the road cone, he usually wears as a hat!

There’s a report about this on Scotland Now!

July 29, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment