The Anonymous Widower

Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Edition 895 of RAIL Magazine.

The article is based on an interview with Ben Houchen, who is the Tees Valley Mayor.

Various topics are covered.

Hydrogen-Powered Local Trains

According to the article, the Tees Valley produces fifty percent of UK hydrogen and the area is already secured investment for fuelling road vehicles with hydrogen.

So the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) is planning to convert some routes to hydrogen.

The Trains

Ten hydrogen-powered trains will be purchased or more likely leased, as the trains will probably be converted from redundant electrical multiple units, owned by leasing companies.

The RAIL article says that the first train could be under test in 2021 and service could be started in 2022.

That would certainly fit the development timetables for the trains.

Lackenby Depot

A depot Will Be Created At Lackenby.

  • The site is between Middlesbrough and Redcar.
  • It already has rail and hydrogen connections.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note the disused Redcar British Steel station, which is still shown on the map.

I remember the area from the around 1970, when I used to catch the train at the now-closed Grangetown station, after visits to ICI’s Wilton site. It was all fire, smoke, smells and pollution.

Darlington Station

Darlington station will also be remodelled to allow more services to operate without conflicting with the East Coast Main Line.

Wikipedia says this under Future for Darlington station.

As part of the Tees Valley Metro, two new platforms were to be built on the eastern edge of the main station. There were to be a total of four trains per hour, to Middlesbrough and Saltburn via the Tees Valley Line, and trains would not have to cross the East Coast Main Line when the new platforms would have been built. The Tees Valley Metro project was, however, cancelled.

It does sound from reading the RAIL article, that this plan is being reinstated.

Would services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn, use these new platforms?

Saltburn And Bishops Auckland Via Middlesbrough and Darlington

Currently, the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington, with one tph extending to Bishop Auckland.

  • I estimate that the current service needs five trains.
  • If a two tph service were to be run on the whole route, an extra train would be needed.
  • I suspect, the limitations at Darlington station, stop more trains being run all the way to Bishops Auckland.

I could also see extra stations being added to this route.

The Mayor is talking of running a service as frequent as six or eight tph.

Thesenumbers of trains, will be needed for services of different frequencies between Saltburn and Darlington.

  • 2 tph – 6 trains
  • 4 tph – 12 trains
  • 6 tph – 18 trains
  • 8 tph – 24 trains

As the London Overground, Merseyrail and Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, find four tph a more than adequate service, I suspect that should be provided.

After updating, Darlington station, should be able to handle the following.

  • Up to six tph terminating in one of the new Eastern platforms, without having to cross the East Coast Main Line.
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland could use the other platform in both directions.

I would suspect that the design would see the two platforms sharing an island platform.

Alternatively, trains could continue as now.

  • Terminating trains could continue to use Platform 2!
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland stopping in Platforms 1 (Eastbound) and 4 (Westbound)

This would avoid any infrastructure changes at Darlington station, but terminating trains at Darlington would still have to cross the Southbound East Coast Main Line.

If the frequencies were as follows.

  • 4 tph – Saltburn and Darlington
  • 2 tph – Saltburn and Bishop Auckland

This would require fourteen trains and give a six tph service between Saltburn and Darlington.

Ten trains would allow a two tph service on both routes.

There would be other services using parts of the same route, which would increase the frequency.

Hartlepool And The Esk Valley Line Via Middlesbrough

This is the other route through the area and was part of the cancelled Tees Valley Metro.

  • Service is basically one tph, with six trains per day (tpd) extending to Whitby.
  • A second platform is needed at Hartlepool station.
  • There is a proposal to add a Park-and-Ride station between Nunthorpe and Great Ayton stations.
  • One proposal from Modern Railways commentator; Alan Williams, was to simplify the track at Battersby station to avoid the reverse.
  • Currently, trains between Whitby and Middlesbrough are timetabled for around 80-100 minutes.
  • Hartlepool and Middlesbrough takes around twenty minutes.

Substantial track improvements are probably needed to increase the number of trains and reduce the journey times between Middlesbrough and Whitby.

But I believe that an hourly service between Hartlepool and Whitby, that would take under two hours or four hours for a round trip, could be possible.

This would mean that the hourly Hartlepool and Whitby service would need four trains.

Providing the track between Nunthorpe and |Whitby could be improved to handle the traffic, this would appear to be a very feasible proposition.

Nunthorpe And Hexham Via Newcastle

There is also an hourly service between Nunthorpe and Hexham, via Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle, there would be two tph.

  • It takes around two hours and twenty minutes.
  • I estimate that five trains would be needed for the service.
  • I travelled once between Newcastle and James Cook Hospital in the Peak and the service was busy.
  • A new station is being built at Horden, which is eight minutes North of Hartlepool.
  • The service could easily access the proposed fuelling station at Lackenby.
  • It would reduce carbon emissions in Newcastle and Sunderland stations..

Surely, if hydrogen power is good enough for the other routes, then it is good enough for this route.

Hartlepool Station

Hartlepool Station could become a problem, as although it is on a double track railway, it only has one through platform, as these pictures from 2011 show.

Consider.

  • There is no footbridge, although Grand Central could pay for one
  • There is a rarely-used bay platform to turn trains from Middlesbrough, Nunthorpe and Whitby.

This Google Map shows the cramped site.

The final solution could mean a new station.

Nunthorpe Park-And-Ride

This Google Map shows Nunthorpe with thje bEsk Valley Line running through it.

Note.

  1. Gypsy Lane and Nunthorpe stations.
  2. The dual-carriageway A171 Guisborough by-pass running East-West, that connects in the East to Whitby and Scarborough.
  3. The A1043 Nunthorpe by-pass that connects to roads to the South.

Would where the A1043 crosses the Esk Valley Line be the place for the Park-and-Ride station?

The new station could have a passing loop, that could also be used to turn back trains.

Battersby Station

Alan Williams, who is Chairman of the Esk Valley Railway Development Company, is quoted in the RAIL article as saying.

If you’re going to spend that sort of money we’d much rather you spent it on building a curve at Battersby to cut out the reversal there.

Williams gives further reasons.

  • Battersby is the least used station on the line.
  • It’s in the middle of nowhere.
  • The curve would save five minutes on the overall journey.

This Google Map shows Battersby station and the current track layout.

Note.

  1. The line to Middlesbrough goes through the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The line to Whitby goes through the North-East corner of the map.

There would appear to be plenty of space for a curve that would cut out the station.

LNER To Teesside

LNER, the Government and the TVCA are aiming to meet a target date of the Second Quarter of 2021 for a direct London to Middlesbrough service.

Middlesbrough Station

Middlesbrough Station will need to be updated and according to the RAIL article, the following work will be done.

  • A new Northern entrance with a glass frontage.
  • A third platform.
  • Lengthening of existing platforms to take LNER’s Class 800 trains.

This Google Map shows the current layout of the station.

From this map it doesn’t look to be the most difficult of stations, on which to fit in the extra platform and the extensions.

It should also be noted that the station is Grade II Listed, was in good condition on my last visit and has a step-free subway between the two sides of the station.

Journey Times

I estimate that a Kings Cross and Middlesbrough time via Northallerton would take aroud two hours and fifty minutes.

This compares with other journey times in the area to London.

  • LNER – Kings Cross and Darlington – two hours and twenty-two minutes
  • Grand Central – Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe – two hours and thirty-seven minutes.

I also estimate that timings to Redcar and Saltburn would be another 14 and 28 minutes respectively.

Frequencies

Currently, LNER run between three and four tph between Kings Cross and Darlington, with the competing Grand Central service between Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe having a frequency of five trains per day (tpd).

LNER have also started serving secondary destinations in the last month or so.

  • Harrogate, which has a population of 75.000, is served with a frequency of six tph.
  • Lincoln, which has a population of 130,000 is now served with a frequency of six tpd.

Note that the RAIL article, states that the Tees Valley has a population of 750,000.

I feel that Middlesbrough will be served by a frequency of at least five tod and probably six to match LNER’s new Harrogate and Lincoln services.

Will LNER’s Kings Cross and York Service Be Extended To Middlesbrough?

Cirrently , trains that leave Kings Cross at six minutes past the hour end up in Lincoln or York

  • 0806 – Lincoln
  • 0906 – York
  • 1006 – Lincoln
  • 1106 – York
  • 1206 -Lincoln
  • 1306 – York
  • 1406 – Lincoln
  • 1506 – York
  • 1606 – Lincoln
  • 1906 -Lincoln

It looks to me that a pattern is being developed.

  • Could it be that the York services will be extended to Middlesbrough in 2021?
  • Could six Middlesbrough trains leave Kings Cross at 0706, 0906, 1106, 1306, 1506 and 1706 or 1806?
  • York would still have the same number of trains as it does now!

LNER certainly seem to be putting together a comprehensive timetable.

Could Middlesbrough Trains Split At Doncaster Or York?

I was in Kings Cross station, this afternoon and saw the 1506 service to York, go on its way.

The train was formed of two five-car trains, running as a ten-car train.

If LNER employ spitting and joining,, as some of their staff believe, there are surely, places, where this can be done to serve more destinations, without requiring more paths on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Splitting at Doncaster could serve Hull, Middlesborough and York.
  • Splitting at York could serve Scarborough, Middlesborough and Sunderland.

Scarborough might be a viable destination, as the town has a population of over 100,000.

Onward To Redcar And Saltburn

One of the changes in the December 2019 timetable change, was the extension of TransPennine Express’s Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough service to Redcar Central station.

The RAIL article quotes the Mayor as being pleased with this, although he would have preferred the service to have gone as far as Saltburn, which is a regional growth point for housing and employment.

But the extra six miles would have meant the purchase of another train.

Redcar Central Station

This Google Map shows Redcar Central station and its position in the town.

It is close to the sea front and the High Street and there appears to be space for the stabling of long-distance trains to Manchester Airport and perhaps, London.

TransPennine seem to be using their rakes of Mark 5A coaches on Redcar services, rather than their Class 802 trains, which are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

Surely, there will be operational advantages, if both train operating companies ran similar trains to Teesside.

Saltburn Station

Saltburn station is the end of the line.

This Google Map shows its position in the town.

Unlike Redcar Central station, there appears to be very little space along the railway and turning back trains might be difficult.

There may be good economic reasons to use Saltburn as a terminal, but operationally, it could be difficult.

Will Redcar And Saltburn See Services To and From London?

Given that both towns will likely see much improved services to Middlesbrough, with at least a service of four tph, I think it will be unlikely.

But we might see the following.

  • LNER using Redcar as a terminus, as TransPennine Express do, as it might ease operations.
  • An early morning train to London and an evening train back from the capital, which is stabled overnight at Redcar.
  • TransPennine Express using Class 802 trains on their Redcar service for operational efficiency, as these trains are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

It would all depend on the passenger numbers.

A High-Frequency Service Between York And Teesside

After all the changes the service between York and Teesside will be as follows.

  • LNER will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Middlesbrough.
  • Grand Central will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Eaglescliffe, which is six miles from Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express will have an hourly service between York and Redcar via Middlesbrough.
  • There will be between three and four tph between York and Darlington.

All services would connect to the hydrogen-powdered local services to take you all over Teesside.

Could this open up tourism without cars in the area?

Expansion Of The Hydrogen-Powered Train Network

Could some form of Hydrogen Hub be developed at Lackenby.

Alstom are talking of the hydrogen-powered Breeze trains having a range of over six hundred miles and possibly an operating speed of 100 mph, when using overhead electrification, where it is available.

In Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, I put together information from various articles and said this.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

  • A capacity of about three hundred seats.
  • A smaller three-car train would have 140 seats.
  • A near-100 mph top speed on hydrogen-power.
  • A 100 mph top speed on electrification.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • Regenerative braking to an on-board battery.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.

The trains could have the ability to run as pairs to increase capacity.

The distance without electrification to a selection of main stations in the North East from Lackenby is as follows.

  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Darlington – 21 miles
  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Durham Coast Line – 53 miles.
  • York via Northallerton – 27 miles
  • Doncaster via Northallerton and York – 27 miles
  • Leeds via Northallerton and York – 52 miles
  • Sheffield via Northallerton, York and Doncaster – 45 miles

I am assuming that the trains can use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.

From these figures it would appear that hydroigen-powered trains stabled and refuelled at Lackenby could travel to Doncaster, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield or York before putting in a days work and still have enough hydrogen in the tank to return to Lackenby.

Several things would help.

  • As hydrogen-powered trains have a battery, with a battery range of thirty miles all these main stations could be reached on battery power, charging on the East Coast Main Line and at Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Darlington and Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe.

I am fairly certain that a large proportion of the intensive network of diesel services in the North East of |England from Doncaster and Sheffield in the South to Newcastle in the North, can be replaced with hydrogen-powered trains.

  • Trains could go as far West as Blackpool North, Carlisle, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Southport.
  • Refueling could be all at Lackenby, although other refuelling points could increase the coverage and efficieny of the trains.
  • Green hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis from the massive offshore wind farms off the Lincolnshire Coast.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for re-opened routes like the proposed services from Newcastle to Blyth and Ashington.

The hydrogen-powered trains on Teesside could be the start of a large zero-carbon railway network.

The Alstom Breeze And The HydroFlex Would Only Be The Start

As I said earlier, the initial trains would be conversions of redundant British Rail-era electrical multiple units.

Thirty-year-old British Rail designs like the Class 319 and Class 321 trains based on the legendary Mark 3 carriages with its structural integrity and superb ride, may have been state-of-the-art in their day, but engineers can do better now.

  • Traction and regenerative braking systems are much more energy efficient.
  • Train aerodynamics and rolling resistance have improved meaning less energy is needed to maintain a speed.
  • Interior design and walk-through trains have increased capacity.
  • Crashworthiness has been improved.

Current Bombardier Aventras, Stadler Flirts or Siemens Desiros and CAF Civities are far removed from 1980s designs.

I can see a design for a hydrogen-powered train based on a modern design, tailored to the needs of operators being developed.

A place to start could be an electric CAF Class 331 train. or any one of a number of Aventras.

  • From the visualisation that Alstom have released of their Breeze conversion of a Class 321 train, I feel that to store enough hydrogen, a large tank will be needed and perhaps the easiest thing to do at the present time would be to add an extra car containing the hydrogen tank, the fuel cells and the batteries.
  • Alstom have stated they’re putting the fuel cells on the roof and the batteries underneath the train.

Although, it is not a hydrogen train, Stadler have developed the Class 755 train, with a power car in the middle of the train.

Stadler’s approach of a power car, must be working as they have received an order for a hydrogen-powered version of their popular Flirts, which I wrote about in MSU Research Leads To North America’s First Commercial Hydrogen-Powered Train.

I think we can be certain, that because of the UK loading gauge, that a hydrogen-powered train will be longer by about a car, than the equivalent electric train.

I can see a certain amount of platform lengthening being required. But this is probably easier and less costly than electrification to achieve zero-carbon on a route.

Batteries can be distributed under all cars of the train, anywhere there is space., But I would suspect that fuel cells must be in the same car as the hydrogen tank, as I doubt having hydrogen pipes between cars would be a good idea.

Alstom have resorted to putting hydrogen tanks and fuel cells in both driving cars and must have sound reasons for this.

Perhaps, it is the only way, they can get the required power and range.

As I understand it, the Alstom Breeze draws power from three sources.

  • The electrification if the route is electrified.
  • The electricity generated by regenerative braking.
  • The hydrogen system produces electricity on demand, at the required level.

Energy is stored in the batteries, which power the train’s traction motors and internal systems.

The electrical components needed for the train are getting smaller and lighter and I feel that it should be possible to put all the power generation and collection into a power car, that is somewhere near the middle of the train. Stadler’s power car is short at under seven metres, but there is probably no reason, why it couldn’t be the twenty metres typical of UK trains.

Suppose you took a four-car version of CAF’s Class 331 train, which has two driver cars either side of a pantograph car and a trailer car.

This has 284 seats and by comparison with the three-car version the trailer car has eighty. As the vpantograph car is also a trailer, I’ll assume that has eight seats too! Until I know better!

Replacing the pantograph car with a hydrogen car, which would be unlikely to have seats, would cut the seats to 204 seats, but a second trailer would bring it back up to 284 seats.

I actually, think the concept of a hydrogen car in the middle of a four-car electric train could work.

  • The five-car hydrogen train would have the same capacity as the four-car electric version.
  • The train would need an updated software system and some rewiring. Bombardier achieved this easily with the Class 379 BEMU trial.
  • There are several types of four-car electrical multiple units, that could possibly be converted to five-car hydrogen-powered multiple units.

Obviously, if an existing train can be adapted for hydrogen, this will be a more cost effective approach.

Conclusion

Overall, the plans for rail improvements on Teesside seem to be good ones.

I’m looking forward to riding LNER to Teesside and then using the network of hydrogen-powered trains to explore the area in 2022.

My only worry, is that, if the network is successful, the many tourists visiting York will surely increase the numbers of day visitors to Whitby.

This is a paragraph from the RAIL article.

Alan Williams says that the EVRDC’s long-term objective is to see the Esk Valley served at intervals of roughly every two hours, equating to eight return trains per day, but with Northern and NYMR services sharing the single line between Grosmont and Whitby, introducing further Middlesbrough trains during the middle of the day, brings the conversation back to infrastructure.

He goes on to detail what is needed.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

RENFE To Launch Avlo Low-Cost High Speed Rail For Everyone

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The title says it all and it looks like the Spanish are going the way of the French.

As High Speed Rail networks get larger,and able to handle more trains, it appears that the train operators, run out of premium passengers and turn to other markets.

SNCF have already launched a low-cost service called Ouigo, so it looks like the Spanish are following along similar lines.

In some ways is rail following air travel with low-cost companies offering a more affordable service.

On the whole, the UK, will find it more difficult to offer these services, as we don’t have the rail capacity. In part, this is due to the late development of high speed lines like High Speed Two.

But competitive services using a low-cost model are running or in development.

It should be noted that East Coast Trains and Hull Trains will be running similar new Hitachi trains to the dominant operator on the route; LNER.

But then Ryanair and easyJet fly similar planes to British Airways and Air France!

Conclusion

It does appear that low-cost operators are providing competition, just as they have done with the airlines.

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Budget Trains To Get Rail Network Flying

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in The Times.

It outlines how open access operators like Grand Central and Hull Trains, are being encouraged by the Office and Rail and Road to set up new services.

I think that these companies are a welcome addition to the UK rail network.

I don’t always use them, when one is available, but if their train is at the right time for my trip, I usually do.

Sometimes I save money and sometimes I don’t!

March 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Central Opts For Split And Join

An article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Grand Central Appies For Extra Services.

Grand Central wants to run the following services.

  • An extra daily round trip between Sunderland and Kings Cross.
  • An extra service from Bradford to Kings Cross.
  • An early morning service from Wakefield Kirkgate to Kings Cross.
  • A late evening service of two trains; one for Wakefield and one for York, whicj would split at Doncaster.

Cleethorpes would also be served by running West Riding services as two trains, which would split and join at Dncaster.

All this can be done with the current fleet of ten Class 180 trains, supplemented by four extra released by Hull Trains, on delivery of new Class 802 trains.

By running as pairs between Kings Cross and Doncaster, the operator cuts the number of paths needed, on a crowded East Coast Main Line.

Joining and splitting is not without problems.

  • Train timings need to be accurate.
  • Joining and splitting hasn’t been done on the East Coast Main Line before, so would need permission.
  • I suspect that, the process won’t be automatic, as on Hitachi’s trains.

But get it right and this would surely open up the possibility of extra destinations in the North, provided like Bradford, Cleethorpes, Sunderland, Wakefield and York, they are on railway routes North of Doncaster.

The Class 180 trains are 125 mph diesel trains, that are about fifteen years old.

All other operators on the East Coast Main Line in a few years will be running variants of Class 800 trains, which will be capable of running at 140 mph on large parts of the route, when in-cab signalling is up and running.

As these trains can split and join with ease, surely Grand Central will be looking for some suitable new trains.

Currently, the fastest trains take about around a hundred minutes between London and Doncaster.

A rough estimate says that savings of around ten minutes could result from all trains being 140 mph capable, which would benefit all services.

But all operators on the line would have joining and splitting, so expect some new destinations from Kings Cross.

i

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rather Ordinary Sunderland Station

The first impression given by a station when you arrive in a town or city is important.

Some like Cambridge, Kings Cross, Liverpool, London Bridge and Reading say you are arriving in a place that is important, but others fail to get over a positive message.

If you compare Sunderland station to those at Middlesbrough and Newcastle, it doesn’t score well.

This set of pictures shows the important Sunderland station, which serves a city of nearly 200,000 people.

it is very disappointing.

  • Passenger facilities are limited for a city, that is the size of Sunderland.
  • The lighting levels are not as high as the other Tyne and Wear Metro  stations, that are in tunnels.
  • It needs double escalators.
  • A coffee kiosk on the double platform would be welcome.

I get the impression that the station was designed down to a cost, rather than up to a passenger standard.

Station Capacity

The Metro currently runs five trains per hour (tph) between  NewcastleAirport and South Hylton stations. I suspect that the number of trains will increase when new trains run on this branch.

The Metro  has put forward proposals to run services on the Durham Coast Line to Seaham station. Four tph?

Northern will also be doubling the frequency of their hourly service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

These improvements could raise the train frequency from six to perhaps twelve tph.

Through trains will not be a problem, as with modern signalling and trains, the frequency of trains in both directions could be as high as the twenty tph, that will be running on the East London Line in a couple of years.

But would it be possible to turn Grand Central and Virgin services that terminate at Sunderland in the time available between Metro trains. The twelve minutes available at present with five Metro tph is obviously enough, but what if the Metro frequency were to be substantially increased?

As both Grand Central and Virgin would probably like to increase their frequencies to London, a solution will need to be found.

This diagram from Wikipedia, shows the track layout at Sunderland station.

This is the key to the diagram

  • Black lines: Track shared by Metro and mainline services, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Green lines: Track used by Metro services only, electrified at 1500 V DC overhead.
  • Blue lines: Track used by mainline services only, not electrified.
  • Grey area: covered station shed.
  • Maroon area: Platforms.
  • Platform 1: Southbound mainline services.
  • Platform 2: Southbound Metro services.
  • Platform 3: Northbound Metro services.
  • Platform 4: Northbound mainline services.
  • A: Towards Newcastle
  • B: From Newcastle
  • C: From South Hylton
  • D: To South Hylton
  • E: Electrified siding
  • F: Non-electrified siding
  • G: From Middlesbrough
  • H: Towards Middlesbrough

I think an engineer named Baldrick has been at work and they’ve devised a cunning plan.

If you arrive from the South on the 16:38 Grand Central train, it appears that it returns at 17:31.

So does it use time profitably, by sitting in the non-electrified siding labelled F, where it is refuelled and restocked, whilst the crew get a well-needed rest?

Consider,

  • Let us suppose the frequency through Sunderland is twelve tph or a train every five minutes.
  • A train from London arrives in Platform 4 and would have five minutes to reverse into the siding.
  • When it leaves for London, it would a five minute window to move into Platform 1, pick up passengers and proceed South.
  • The current service is five trains per day.

It certainly looks possible, but as there are two sidings and twelve five minute slots in an hour, I suspect that theoretically at least four tph could be turned back South if required.

Note that if the trains had a degree of automation, this would make a higher frequency attaining a higher frequency a lot easier.

, I also suspect the capacity of the East Coast Main Line restricts services to Sunderland, more than the actual capacity at Sunderland station.

Conclusion

The track layout at Sunderland station seems to have been designed to handle many more through trains than it does now!

In addition, it has a large capacity to turn trains from the South.

Obviously, modern trains and signalling is required.

Sunderland station may appear to be rather ordinary, but the track layout can cope with a lot of trains.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Across South Yorkshire On A Grand Central Train

If you take a Grand Central West Riding train between Kings Cross to Bradford Interchange stations, as I did, the route could be considered somewhat of a Cook’s Tour of the South of Yorkshire.

There are stops at Doncaster, Pontefract Monkhill, Wakefield Kirkgate, Mirfield, Brighouse, Halifax and Low Moor stations. I alighted at the last station, which only opened on the second of this month.

I took these pictures on the route between Doncaster and Low Moor

These are some notes on the journey.

Hambleton Junction

Hambleton Junction was created as part of the Selby Diversion, where the East Coast Main Line was diverted away from the possible subsidence, that could have been created by the giant Selby Coalfield.

This Google Map shows the layout of the junction.

The Grand Central train turned West at Hambleton Junction to take a South-Westerly route to Pontefract Monkhill station.

It should be noted, that the mistake of the 1980s, when the Selby Diversion was created off not electrifying the Leeds to Selby Line may be rectified in the near future, according to this section in Wikipedia. This is said.

In 2009 the Network Rail route utilisation strategy electrification paper identified the North Cross-Pennine route including the Leeds-Selby-Hull Line as a high ranking option for future electrification, in terms of benefits to passenger services.[70] In 2011 funding for the electrification in CP5 (see Network Rail Control Periods) of the section from Leeds to Micklefield was announced. Funding for the section of the line from Micklefield to Selby was added to the electrification schedule in 2013.

As with all electrification in the UK, I’ll believe it, when I see it.

Ferrybridge Power Stations

The power stations at Ferrybridge, have been a landmark on the A1 since the 1960s.

This Google Map shows the large site, surrounded by major roads.

There is now a Ferrybridge Multifuel power station, but at 68 MW compared to the 2034 MW of the 1960s-built Ferrybridge C., it isn’t very large.

For comparison, according to these statistics in Wikipedia, the UK had installed 11,562 MW of solar power, which generated 10,292 GwH or 3.4% of our total electricity consumption in 2016, which was a thirty-six percent increase on 2015.

Perhaps it was a better summer!

Pontefract Monkhill Station

Pontefract Monkhill station is a simple affair, with just two platforms and no permanent buildings or ticket machine.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

Note in the North West corner of the map is Pontefract racecourse, where C and I once had a winner.

I think it is true to say, that passenger use of Pontefract Monkhill station would improve with a few more facilities.

The train took the line past the racecourse on the way to Wakefield Kirkgate station.

Wakefield Kirkgate Station

Wakefield Kirkgate station, has been refurbished recently and whether it will see increased usage, is something on which I can’t or won’t speculate.

This Google Map shows the relationship between Kirkgate and Wakefield Westgate station, which is served by electric trains to Leeds and London.

Grand Central probably have a marketing problem with Kirkgate station, as to tickets too and from London, as they have only four trains per day and they take around two and a quarter hours, as opposed to Virgin’s two trains per hour, which take around two hours.

Their major weapon must be price.

Mirfield Station

Mirfield station is another simple station, with minimal facilities.

Brighouse Station

Brighouse station is a station that closed in 1970 and reopened in 2000.

That explains, why when I had to go to Brighouse to see a client of mine in the early 1970s, in the town, I had to drive.

It was typical of the projects, I got involved in at the time, as I was helping Allied Mills to optimise what flours they used to make bread. I was using simple linear programming with an objective function.

I can’t leave Brighouse without a few stories.

  • All the Senior Management I dealt with had been bakers and didn’t eat the company product, preferring to bake their own.
  • Bread was sold on commission to the delivery van drivers. As you could get more square sliced loaves in a van, they ignored fancy loaves, as it dropped their income. Did this infuence the UK’s like of bad bread?
  • Bread was sold on sale or return. The returned bread was put to use in animal and pet food.
  • Harold Wilson thought this was waste and banned the practice, meaning the secondary uses dried up and a lot of products became more expensive.
  • One particular recycled bread, was supposedly very suitable for grewyhounds.
  • Dartmouth Naval College insisted that the bread they received was yesterday’s as it discouraged cadets fromj eating too much!

If I remember a few more, I’ll add them.

Halifax Station

Halifax station is probably one of the busiest on the route.

This Google Map shows the station and the nearby Nestle factory.

Halifax station has a four trains per hour service to Bradford Interchange and Leeds. This is also said in Wikipedia.

On Sundays there is an hourly service to Manchester Victoria and to Blackpool North and one train every two hours to Huddersfield. New Northern Rail franchisee Arriva Rail North plans to introduce additional services to Leeds & Manchester in 2017, many of which will run through to either Liverpool Lime Street or Chester.[16][17] Through services to Manchester Airport will also operate once the planned Ordsall Chord is built.

So it will be getting better and Halifax could be the station where you go to to the West.

These extra services and after a couple of visits to the station, suggest to me that the station needs a bay platform or even a third one, that can act as bay platforms looking both ways.

This is said in Wikipedia.

In October 2014 plans were submitted to bring an old platform back into use to create three platforms together with signalling improvements.

Perhaps my feelings are correct.

Conclusion

It is a well-thought out route, through some of the least developed parts of Yorkshire, where I suspect car ownership is not on the high side.

The route, which goes in a curve from Bradford to Doncaster, South of the cities of Bradford and Leeds, does a similar job to that of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line in London, as a compliment to the radial routes.

But four trains per day is not enough and the route has the sense of dereliction that Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines had in London.

Perhaps the solution, is to run one of the Class 319 Flex trains every hour between Bradford Interchange or Halifax and Doncaster in both directions to tie everything together.

Currently, Grand Central’s Class 180trains take the following times.

  • Doncaster to Bradford Exchange – 90 minutes
  • Doncaster to Halifax – 75 minutes

The Class 319 Flex trains could probably match these times if they ran on electric power between Doncaster and Hambleton Junction.

Even if they stopped more often, they might even be able to run between Halifax and Doncaster in under ninety minutes. This would mean that three trains could provide a stopping service between Halifax and Doncaster.

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment