The Anonymous Widower

Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018

In Issue 865 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled NR Primed To Start Work On £200m ECML Dive-Under.

This is said about construction of the dive-under.

Devegetation has already commenced in the area, while work compounds and access roads are due to be constructed before the end of the year (when the main construction sequence is expected to begin).

The dive-under is expected to enter service in 2021.

The article also says that the Cock Lane footbridge will be replaced with a longer truss bridge to span the widened alignment.

These pictures show the current Cock Lane footbridge.

Whilst I took the pictures there was a lot of noise from chain saws and other machinery, as the vegetation was cleared.

The Track Layout

Note how the tracks are divided into a set of two on the Western side and three on the Eastern.

The Western pair are the so-called Stamford lines, which go off to the West through Stamford station.

A diagram in Rail Magazine shows how they will be moved apart and twenty-five metres to the West. This will enable the two new tracks to be laid between them, which will then dive under the East Coast Main Line and connect to the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line towards Spalding, Sleaford and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Cock Lane Bridge as it crosses the tracks.

The Cock Lane Bridge is at the bottom of the map.

Doing The Work

It looks a simple plan, that NR believes could be executed with a nine-day closure of the East Coast Main Line. This would be needed to tunnel under the three tracks of the main line.

But I suspect that Network Rail could have a series of cunning plans to keep a limited service going.

  • There will probably be a number of bi-mode Class 800 trains available.
  • Some of the sixteen InterCity 125 trains could be retained.

The diesels and bi-modes could be able to use the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line and other routes without electrification to sneak through.

They might also use an interim layout of lines at Werrington to keep the service going.

Extra Electrification

It appears to me that not all tracks are electrified.

The Northbound Stamford Line certainly has electrification, but it appears that the Southbound doesn’t.

Given that in the next decade, it is likely that battery/electric or electro-diesel trains or locomotives will use the route throughStamford station to Leicester and Nuneaton, would it be worthwhile to fully electrify the Stamford Lines.

This image captured from a Network Rail video, clearly shows the new Cock Lane footbridge and that the following lines are electrified.

  • The Northbound Stamford Line on the left.
  • The three tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the right.

The actual dive-under and the Southbound Stamford Line appear not to have electrification.

Retention Of Diesel Trains

But surely, if there are a few extra diesel trains around for a couple of years or at least until the end of 2019, would it help to sort out some of the other problems on the East Coast Main Line.

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Services To Lincoln

Lincoln is one of those places, where, companies have promised better train services for years and they’ve never appeared.

The Wikipedia entry for Lincoln station under Future Services reads like a catalogue of broken promises and very little progress.

I think that it is time to think out of the box to provide a better service for the City.

Sorting Out Newark

Newark is an important interchange to get good services to and from Lincoln.

Because of the notorious Newark Flat Crossing, the railways around the town need improving.

Currently there are two fast trains to and between Lincoln and London a day in both directions, an hourly service to Newark and various other random services.

To make matters worse, the change at Newark Northgate station is often fifteen minutes or so.

These pictures were taken as I changed trains at the station for Lincoln on a fine day.

Is an hourly single coach Class 153 train between Lincoln and Newark Northgate an adequate service?

There are other services to Newark Castle station, but the two stations are separated by the notorious flat junction at Newark, which slows services on the East Coast Main Line.

I think in a well-thought out solution, the following will be achieved.

  • Trains on the Nottingham to Lincoln  Line will pass Newark without inconveniencing trains on the East Coast Main Line, possibly by means of a flyover or a dive-under.
  • These trains would ideally call at both Newark stations.
  • Hopefully lifts and stairs will make the changebetween the two lines step-free.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very unconventional solution to the problem.

Newark Northgate station could be closed and a flyover could take the Nottingham to Lincoln Line over the East Coast Main Line to the North of the town, where a new out-of-town station could be built, which had platforms on all lines and they were connected by lifts. I have called this arrangement A Four-Poster Station in the past.

The new station could also be a transport hub, with lots of car parking.

I changed twice at Newark Northgate today and in both instances I waited nearly fifteen minutes.

So why not just build a simple single-track flyover or dive-under and provide a comfortable electric shuttle bus between Northgate and Castle stations, that meets all trains and does the journey in less time, than the current wait?

Remember that Castle station is closer to the town centre.

It would be a cheaper flyover and the money saved might purchase some bigger new trains.

The service from Nottingham could even be run by tram-trains or like in Zwickau by diesel multiple units, which left the Nottingham to Lincoln Line at Castle station and then went walkabout in Newark.

The only certainty about the sorting of Newark, is that there are innumerable ways to do it and some could be unusual.

I doubt though, that we’ll see much improvement at Newark until after 2020.

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

In Project Managers Having Fun In The East, I talked about hoe the Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line (GNGE) has been upgraded to be a valuable diversion route for freight trains travelling up and down the East Coast Main Line.

£230million has been spent to create a high-quality railway from Werrington Junction just North of Peterborough to Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

Given the increasing traffic on the East Coast Main Line and the long wait for any relief in the shape of HS2 to Leeds, the North East and Scotland, I think we will see further development of the GNGE.

  • I reported in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington, how plans are ongoing to improve the Southern connection of the line to the East Coast Main Line.
  • The latest details on Werrington Junction are here on the Network Rail web site and talk about a 2020 completion.
  • Could a new Lincoln Avoiding Line be built, so that freight trains avoid going through Lincoln Central station and the level crossings?
  • The GNGE has lots of closed stations and some have been reopened in the last few years. Could more be reopened?

All these developments lead me to the conclusion, that there will be improved passenger services on the Peterborough to Doncaster route via Lincoln.

As the GNGE is now a high-class modern route, the single coach Class 153 train will be replaced by something like a two-car Class 158 train or Class 170 train.

The speeds of the three trains are.

  • Class 153 – 120 kph
  • Class 158 – 140 kph
  • Class 170 – 160 mph

As Inter-City 125s are released by the arrival of new Class 800 trains, could we even see shortened versions running between Kings Cross and Yorkshire via Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster? These magnificent trains certainly perform well on secondary routes, as anybody, who has ridden in the cab between Edinburgh and Inversion can testify.

I wonder what times a well-driven Class 170 train could achieve. Currently Peterborough to Lincoln takes eighty minutes and Lincoln to Doncaster takes two hours.

I estimate that a Class 170 train could do the journey between Lincoln and Peterborough in about an hour, which is about the fastest time that can be achieved changing at Newark.

An estimate for the time between Lincoln and Doncaster could be about ninety minutes.

All of this speed improvement could probably be obtained without any major infrastructure improvements, but updating Werrington Junction and creating a new Lincoln Avoiding Line would improve things further.

Faster connections to Doncaster and Peterborough would bring various benefits.

  • At Doncaster, it would give access to the East Coast Main Line services to the North East and Scotland.
  • From 2018, at Doncaster, it would give access to the the improved TransPennine services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
  • At Peterborough, it would give access to services to London, East Anglia and the South Midlands.
  • From 2018, at Peterborough, there will be a connection to Thameslink, to take passengers all over London and the South East.

Surely these connections will benefit Lincoln most, but a fast service to Peterborough would also do something to improve connectivity at places like Sleaford and Spalding.

I suspect that when the new East Midlands Franchise is announced next year or when suitable trains are procured, we will see significant speed, frequency and comfort improvements on this route.

Reinstating The Complete Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

With the next East Anglian Franchise, it is rumoured that there will be a marked improvement in train services in the region with new and refurbished trains everywhere, running many more services.

One possibility, is that the Bramley Line to Wisbech will be served by passenger trains, as a network of local services are improved and created around Cambridge with expansion and development needs and its soon-to-be-two stations.

I think that the possibility exists that the line between March and Sleaford might be reinstated to give freight trains to and from Felixstowe, direct access to the GNGE to get to Doncaster, avoiding Peterborough and the East Coast Main Line South of Yorkshire.

If you look at Google Maps, then the old rail line is clearly visible for most of the way between March and Sleaford. However, Whitemoor Prison has been build over the route.

If this Southern part of the GNGE were to be reinstated, could we see passenger services between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I think we would, as the engine of growth that is Cambridge, would then be directly connected by train to all the cities and larger towns of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

I should say, that just as London dominates the South East, I believe that Cambridge with all its skills, ambition and success will dominate the East of England.

Lincoln to Cambridge could be about ninety minutes using a fully developed GNGE, as opposed to two hours now.

Conclusions

I have come to the following occlusions.

  • The record of train companies in getting more direct services to Lincoln says a lot and I’d be very surprised if Lincoln sees more direct services to London.
  • Newark is a basket case and sorting it will be difficult and probably expensive
  • The best bet for improved services is to put faster trains on the upgraded Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, which could mean Peterborough in an hour and Doncaster in ninety minutes from Lincoln.
  • The trains for this should be available in 2018.

In the long term, I can see benefits in connecting March and Sleaford.

Ironically, the GNGE was built to bring coal to East Anglia from Yorkshire and it could be used to bring freight between Felixstowe and the North, in an efficient ,manner.

The Victorians seem to have got the route of the GNGE correct.

Just as they did the Varsity Line and the Borders Railway.

 

 

August 4, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Railways East Of Nottingham

As an engineer, I’m always of the view that a lot of engineers, do the jobs they do because they like creating things on the one hand and because it’s great fun on the other.

Although, I’ve been much more in a support role to engineers in many varied industries, I’ve loved the solving of problems and the creating of products all my working life. It might have been stressful at times, but it has been tremendous fun!

It strikes me that the rail projects centred on Nottingham in the last few years, have been done well and with a great deal of style and innovation.

There has been a lot of them in recent years.

Network Rail are following these with other projects in the area.

Only the Ilkeston station project has started, although not much trackwork needs to be done for the two new routes.

There would appear to be little work either done or proposed to the East of Nottingham.

But that would ignore the big project about thirty miles to the East – the updating of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNGE). I wrote about that project in Project Managers Having Fun In The East.

Effectively, £230million has been spent to create a high-quality line for freight between Doncaster and Peterborough, so that there is a higher capacity for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line.

So what could happen in the area?

Poor Lincoln – Level Crossings

I say poor Lincoln, as the city has suffered for years because there is a busy level crossing used by very large numbers of people, vehicles and trains, right in the centre of the City on the High Street. This article from the Lincolnite talks about the start of a £12m project to create two footbridges over the railway. Reading the comments to the article is an informative exercise.

If you want to read more about this project, there are more details on this page on Network Rail’s web site.

This Google Map shows the two level crossings to the West of Lincoln Central station.

Lincoln Level Crossings

Lincoln Level Crossings

As an East West relief road is also being built, according to this article in the Linconite, the two projects might improve the problems in the City centre for a few years.

Before I leave the level crossings at Lincoln, take a look at this article from Rail Magazine. This is said about the level crossings.

Early Network Rail figures suggest that by 2030, with all freight paths being used and all East Anglian ports running at maximum capacity, the barriers in Lincoln could potentially be down for 40 minutes in every hour. The resulting road traffic problems are likely to increase local discontent.

So something serious must be planned for the future.

Poor Lincoln – Passenger Services

Lincoln also deserves sympathy for the poor passenger service that the City has to connect it with the rest of the UK. By comparison, Norwich is perhaps fifty percent bigger than Lincoln, but has a half-hourly service to Ipswich and London, and an hourly service to Cambridge.

Lincoln has an hourly shuttle to Newark and a few direct trains to London. There is also an irregularly-timed shuttle to Newark for London trains.

I think a city with the population and status of Lincoln deserves better.

North and South Through Lincoln

I have read the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for the East Midlands and searched it for references to Lincoln. Two sections are of note. This is said in the RUS.

In addition, the interaction between passenger services terminating at Lincoln and freight trains passing through the station area has been identified by the RUS as a constraint to future growth. The RUS recommends that the  great Northern/Great Eastern (GN/GE) Joint Line scheme, which will provide additional capacity between Peterborough and Doncaster (via Spalding) in CP4, considers whether or not combining terminating services at Lincoln (to create more through services and reduce congestion in the station area) would free up sufficient capacity to accommodate growth.

With my scheduling hat on, I think this simple matter of joining services together could give some needed additional paths to improve passenger services. In many places in the UK, like Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, this has been done to provide cross-city services, that release platform space in the station.

This was also said about improving services between Lincoln and Peterborough.

Peterborough and Lincoln by providing an improved service using existing resources once the upgrade of the GN/GE Joint Line has been completed.

After the upgrade of the GNGE, I wonder if any changes have been made to the passenger services between Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster.

I think not!

From my travels in Germany, the Peterborough to Doncaster and/or Sheffield/Meadowhall via Lincoln, is just the sort of route on which the Germans would run a regional service.

I think the RUS is hoping that someone will do this, but it would seem it’s just the same old slow service.

There may have been an improvement between Lincoln and Peterborough, as the service is roughly hourly and takes eighty minutes with four stops. There may be an improvement to come, when Werrington Junction, where the GNGE joins the East Coast Main Line, is improved. I wrote about this junction in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington.

But if you look at the services from Lincoln and Doncaster, some go direct in forty seven minutes and others go to everywhere in Yorkshire and take over two hours.

Lincoln To Nottingham via Newark

To improve services between Lincoln and Nottingham, the RUS recommends doing something about the notorious flat junction at Newark, which is best described as a cross roads, where a B-road crosses a motorway. This is said.

Of the remainder, the RUS recommends that the provision of a flyover at Newark is further developed in CP4 to refine the infrastructure costs and potential benefits. It is recognised that the development of the East Coast Main Line Intercity Express Programme service requirements beyond those proposed for LDHS services from May 2011, combined with freight growth beyond 18 freight trains per day on the east – west corridor, may drive the requirement for the flyover in CP5.

I have now looked at this Victorian railway relic in The Newark Crossing

 

Local Services Between Nottingham And The East

As I said earlier, Network Rail and the various local councils have done a lot of work to give Nottingham a first class tram systems and Nottingham station has been upgraded to accept extra services. They are now starting to improve services to the West and North.

So what will happen to services to the East of the city?

There are rumours about tram-trains being introduced in Nottingham and this is said in the section on Future Routes in the Wikipedia entry for the Nottingham Express Transit.

The document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Gedling is on the line to Newark and Bingham is on the line to Grantham.

So one option would be to use tram-trains on the routes to Newark and Grantham, where the services run into the city as far as Bingham and Gedling as trains and then run as trams, to join the main tram network at either Nottingham station or some other convenient point.

One interesting observation is that as tram-trains can take much tighter curves than trains, is that a Nottingham to Newark tram-train might be able to call at Newark Castle, then cross the East Coast Main Line and then do a tight turn to call in the bay platform at Newark North Gate station before reversing and going on to Lincoln. This Google Map shows the Newark Crossing in detail.

Newark Crossing Close-Up

Newark Crossing Close-Up

It is a very crowded place, but there may just be space for a tram-train coming from Nottingham to turn and go to Newark North Gate. It would appear to be no tighter than the Tinsley curve that will be used by Sheffield’s tram-trains to Rotherham.

Going the other way from the spur to Nottingham, might be more difficult, but I think it would be possible.

So could using tram-trains to Lincoln, give that city a much better service to and from Nottingham, but also take some pressure off the design of any solution at Newark?

I would suspect that if tram-trains went to Newark/Lincoln and Grantham, there would be a half-hourly service to and from Nottingham.

The Class 399 tram-train would also provide a faster service than the current trains.

Conclusion On The Newark Crossing

I only come to one conclusion about the solution to the Newark Crossing. Everybody should prepare for the unexpected.

 

 

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Problems Of Upgrading Railways

The East Coast Main Line from Kings Cross to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Doncaster and York may be a High Speed Line that allows trains to run at 200 kph. The trouble with the line is that it doesn’t have enough capacity for all the passenger and freight trains that want to use the line.

The French or Spanish would have probably built a new line, but we don’t have the space they do, and it is questionable in this country, if high speed trains are popular with the general public.

But on the East Coast Main Line, there was already a decrepit bypass called the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Peterborough to Doncaster. I’ve talked about this line before in Project Managers Have Fun In The East.

This article in the Rail Engineer is the story of upgrading that line, so that in particular freight trains can be diverted to free up space on the East Coast Main Line.

The line has been virtually rebuilt, resignalled, level crossing have been removed and stations have been improved, at a cost of around three hundred million pounds.

There is still work to do and in a few years time, the following could have happened.

1. A better connection at the Northern end at Doncaster.

2. A diveunder or flyover at Werrington Junction near Peterborough, to remove a bottleneck.

3. There might even be a direct link across the Fens from Spalding to March. This would allow freight trains between Felixstowe and the North to join or cross the East Coast Main Line at Doncaster.

4. The line might even be electrified, in part to cut the noise of the dreaded Class 66 diesel locomotives.

 

June 4, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

To Dive Or Fly At Werrington

Network Rail are doing their bit to speed up trains on the East Coast Main Line. Over the last few years they have upgraded the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Werrington Junction, just north of Peterborough,  to Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln, so that the number of freight trains on the East Coast Main Line can be reduced and the passenger services can be speeded up. This page on Network Rail’s website describes the work.

But all these freight trains have started to get up the locals noses. This article in the Peterborough Telegraph is entitled Werrington And Peakirk Residents’ Plea On Rail Plans. It starts like this.

Two petitions signed by 752 people in Peterborough opposed to plans to increase freight services on the railway have been presented to Parliament.

Householders in Werrington and Peakirk have signed the petitions calling on the Government to start talks with rail operator Network Rail about the proposals.

The line is also noted for its numerous level crossings and proposals to shut them and according to this article in the Lincolnshire Echo, there is opposition to the closure of at least one crossing.

So now Network Rail want to create a flyover or a dive-under at Werrington Junction to speed northbound freight trains turning on to the line through Lincoln. This map from Network Rail, shows the two options.

Werrington Junction

Werrington Junction

The dive-under is shown in red and the flyover in blue.

I have a feeling that the decision for this much-needed junction and its construction will be a long-time coming.

I also think that it is complicated, by the fact that Peterborough is very much a city, where only losers use public transport, so any local vote would not be in favour of improving the railway, unless perhaps it improved commuting to London.

Perhaps the solution to these problems, could be a bit of bribery in the form of some strategically-located new stations and a very much improved rail service between Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln.

 

April 19, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

What Will A Reopened March And Wisbech Railway Mean?

It was mentioned in the blog on Rail News, that a study will look at the reopening of the route from March through Wisbech.

The main reason is that it will allow freight trains between Felixstowe and the North to totally bypass the East Coast Main Line by using the upgraded GNGE.

But will it create better opportunities for passenger services around East Anglia and the Fens?

Getting between Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge and the North of England and Scotland is not easy, as it means a slow train across East Anglia to Peterborough or a long detour via London.

As an example, going from Ipswich to Manchester takes over four hours and routing is via London. I know a lot of keen Ipswich fans use that route to get to away matches, as the cross country routes are totally inadequate and very crowded.

In a few years time, the TransPennine routes will be electrified, so to get to Liverpool and Manchester from Ipswich, it might be quicker to travel via Doncaster, perhaps changing at Peterborough.

Opening up the route from March to the GNGE would allow direct passenger trains from Ipswich and Norwich to go via Ely and Lincoln to Doncaster.

Lincoln is getting better connections to Nottingham according to the blog in Rail News, so these direct trains might give East Anglia better connections to the East Midlands as well.

But of course, all of this thinking is pie-in-the-sky, as where is the money for shiny new trains?

On the other hand, there might be a glut of hand-me-down InterCity 125s from the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines, as they get replaced by Class 800/801 trains.

So will we see these trains working cross country routes and giving much needed extra capacity out of East Anglia and the Fens?

It’ll be a bit like your mini-cab company saying we couldn’t send the new Nissan, so we sent this immaculate 1970s Jaguar instead. Although the lines wouldn’t be high speed ones, they wouldn’t be slow and mountainous ones, like those through the North of Scotland, where these trains show how good they are.

Repening the line through Wisbech could be unlocking a real box of delights for the East.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Will The Updated GNGE Affect Lincolnshire?

I ask this question because my Crossrail Google Alert picked up this article from Geoff Ford in the Grimsby Telegraph. He starts by saying this.

Have you noticed that most major transport projects are concentrated in the South, the West Midlands and the North West? And then berates the Chancellor for leaving Lincolnshire off the list of those getting big transport projects!

He has a point

If I have a bone to pick with Geoff, then it is that he doesn’t talk about The Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNGE) , that I talked about in this post. But then I hadn’t heard that such a large project with a value of £330million was taking place in Lincolnshire, until a couple of weeks ago.

The project is certainly an unexpected place to bury that sum of cash.

But the project will be completed before the end of the year and will hopefully stop most of the freight trains on the East Coast Main Line from imposing lower speed limits on passenger trains on the line.

People in Lincolnshire, should be asking the question of “What will the GNGE do for us?”

I’ll start with a negative, as all those freight trains will create noise and also increase congestion at some of the level crossings on the route. Lincoln will still be a problem and there are probably a few old British Rail employees, who cautioned against the closing of Lincoln St. Mark’s station and the associated by-pass line in 1985. But hopefully some clever engineers have got an affordable scheme that will help get the endless camels through the eye of Lincoln.

If I was a Logistics Manager for a company that was importing loads of stuff from China, that was destined for my company’s shops in Scotland and the North and I needed a distribution centre, then Lincolnshire is now on the list of acceptable places to build it. Especially, if the site is close to the GNGE and a decent road to the M62. But that is rather hypothetical, until the first company takes the decision and I think I know a lot more about project management, than I do about logistics.

Some things that the upgraded GNGE will offer is faster journey times for both passenger and freight, through higher speed limits, fewer level crossings and much improved signalling. So will these improvements allow more passenger trains up and down the various parts of the line from Peterborough to Doncaster, via Spalding, Sleaford,  and Lincoln?

Currently, on the southern part of the line from Peterborough to Lincoln, there seems to be about one train every hour or so, which takes about ninety minutes to do the trip.

Perhaps more interestingly, is that it takes two hours from Lincoln to London if you change at Newark and thirty minutes longer if you change at Peterborough. So if nothing else is done, with judicious timetabling, the upgraded GNGE might even give extra two hour train journeys to London from Lincoln via Peterborough. It might even open up the market for an easier route for a direct train to London from Lincoln, which has been promised for years.

In one area though there may be an improvement. Wikipedia says this about Sunday services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

The line has a regular weekday daytime service but is closed between Sleaford & Spalding in the evenings (due to the high staffing costs associated with the large number of manned level crossings on this section) and has no Sunday service.

So as there will be fewer level crossings, will the line see an evening and a Sunday service?

Going between Lincoln and Doncaster seems more difficult, but hopefully after the line is finished, journeys will all take the quickest time achieved now.

Those that work out the timetables are going to have a complicated problem on their hands.

June 27, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Project Managers Having Fun In The East

A lot of people moan that London and the South East get all of the rail infrastructure investment, but next time you travel up and down the country from Edinburgh or Newcastle to London, moaning why the A1 is such an inferior road or your train seems always to be held up, then you should perhaps be pleased that things might be getting a bit better due to one of the largest rail projects in the UK, that will be commissioned later this year.

The Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNGE) It ran from Doncaster to Cambridge via Lincoln, Sleaford and Spalding a dozen or so miles to the east of the East Coast Main line. It was built primarily as a freight line to get coal from Yorkshire to East Anglia.

Some southern parts of the line and the by-pass around Lincoln have been closed, but the rest of the line was used by passenger trains although gauge limitations meant that moving large freight trains was difficult.

One of the problems of the East Coast Main line is the number of freight trains that need to use the line. Between Peterborough and Doncaster, a lot of the line doesn’t have four tracks, so the fast express passenger trains have to mix it with much slower freight trains, which need to be passed.

This problem could have been solved by just four-tracking the main line, but Network Rail found that it would be cheaper to enable the GNGE to take all the freight traffic.

So a £230m project was started to upgrade the GNGE and provide the line with new track and signalling. As a by-product of the work tens of level crossings on the route will be eliminated.

This may seem a lot of money for essentially creating a freight by-pass from Peterborough to Doncaster, but according to this article in Rail Engineer it is a major project. Here’s what they say about the scope.

The first thing that strikes is the surprising scale of the scheme – some £330 million pounds is being spent on a stretch of railway which does not come across as particularly high profile. The changing pattern of freight has seen the route drop below the horizon and it is the resurgence in the last few years that has brought awareness of its potential to support, and help capacity, on the main East Coast route south of Doncaster. That scale can be summed up as 86 miles of route between Werrington and Doncaster and the renewal of 27% of the track and 53% of the point ends.

On top of the trackwork itself there are 49 underbridges, 19 overbridges and 82 culverts to be dealt with. There is even a tunnel where there is a 66 metre track-lowering job.

By comparison, the Borders Railway south from Edinburgh is a 50 km stretch of reopened railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and is budgeted to cost £348m. It should open in 2015.

The completion of the updated GNGE line later this year, should have some major benefits.

As many of the freight trains will be removed from the East Coast Main line between Peterborough and Doncaster, this will mean that passenger trains on the line will have more paths and will be less likely to be slowed. So this should mean more and faster trains up and down from London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The ease of getting freight trains between Peterborough and Doncaster should mean that more traffic from Felixstowe and London Gateway to the North will be able to go by rail.

In the longer term, will it mean that more passenger services are run from Peterborough to Lincoln and from Lincoln to Doncaster?

The only problem I can see, is that all these freight trains trundling through the level crossing at Lincoln are going to create a lot of congestion. I discussed this infamous crossing in this post. A new footbridge has been approved which could help, but this level crossing really needs to be bypassed and closed.

 

June 15, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 10 Comments