The Anonymous Widower

Integration Of High-Speed And Commuter Services Out Of Paddington Station

The following appears to be happening to the Great Western Main Line (GWML)

  • All srvices to Oxford and Bedwyn, which have been run by slow diesels for years, will soon be run by 125 mph Class 800 trains, so they can join the herds of high-speed services on the dash using the fast lines between Reading and Paddington stations.
  • All slower passenger trains between Paddington and Reading, will use the slow lines. Most will be Crossrail services and freight trains.
  • ,Heathrow Express services, which will be four tph and run by upgraded 110 mph Class 387 trains, will use the fast lines between Paddington and Stockley Junction.

Some Class 800 trains achieve the thirty-six miles between Paddinghton and Reading in twenty-five minutes. This is a start-stop average speed of nearly ninety mph.

Frequency Between Reading And Paddington

I wonder what frequency of Class 800 trains can be achieved between Paddington and Reading.,

  • Most will run non-stop.
  • Up to 125 mph running could be possible between Stockley Junction (for Heathrow) and Reading, as all trains will be 125 mph Class 800 trains.
  • Up to 110 mph running xould be possible between Paddington and Stockley Junction, as some trains will be 100 mph Class 387 trains.
  • Digital signalling and possible automatic train control, could run the all trains to a precise timetable.
  • Class 800 trains that stop at Slough, could do this in a very fast time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least sixteen tph. Currently, the frequency is under ten tph.

If this frequency is achievable or even bettered, then this would be an impressive high-capacity service.

Class 387 Trains

Currently,, Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains.

Twelve are being modified, so they can run the Heathrow Express services.

But what happens to the other thirty-three trains?

Currently, some run a stopping service between Paddington and Didcot Parkway station, which stops West of Reading at Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring & Streatley and Cholsey stations, to give these stations a two tph service to Paddington.

The service between Reading and Paddington may be replaced by Crossrail in the near future offering four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.

It strikes me that the following ways could be

Appleford, Culham and Radley.

 

 

Conclusion

It looks like the dropping of electrification to Oxford and Bedwyn, which resulted in Great Western Railway ordering more Class 802 trains to replace the slower Class 387 trains has resulted in a simpler and faster operating philosophy for the trains between Reading and Paddington.

  • All GWR services will be Class 800/801/802 trains, using the fast lines.
  • All Crossrail services will be Class 345 trains, using the slow lines.
  • All freight services will use the slow lines.
  • Heathrow Express services will use the fast lines, which they will leave ande join at Stockley Junction.
  • All fast line services will be non-stop.
  • All passenger trains will be using the electrification on the route.

It appears to be an efficient system, that keeps high-speed and stopping commuter services separate, whilst allowing 125 mph commuter services to be handled as high-speed services.

If I’m right, that there may be extra capacity for more high-speed services into Paddington, it will allow GWR to run extra services.

I like what’s happening.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Tracks. New Platforms At Ipswich Station. And Faster Trains. Will East Anglia’s Rail Bosses Be Able To Deliver?

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the East Anglian Daily Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Rail bosses have outlined a bold new vision for the East Anglian network over the next 25 years at a major transport conference in Ipswich.

A number of possible projects were outlined.

New Tracks For The Main Line

Possibilities include.

  • Two new tracks between Shenfield and Chelmsford,
  • A third track between Witham and Chelmsford.
  • New tracks South of Colchester,
  • New tracks between Ipswich and Haughley Junction.

these are my observations South of Colchester.

  • Two extra tracks should be possible between Shenfield and Chelmsford, but there would be some bridge reconstruction and the problem of Ingatestone station.
  • The third track between Witham and Chelmsford should be possible with only one major bridge South of Witham station.
  • There would appear to be space to fit in two extra tracks between Marks Tey and Colchester.

Although much of the line is only double-track, it does run through mainly farming country and there appears to be fairly wide green spaces on either side for much of the route.

These are my observations between Ipswich and Haughley Junction.

  • The line goes through the towns of Needham Market and Stowmarket and it would appear putting in extra tracks would be difficult in places.
  • There are also several bridges and a couple of level crossings.

But it does look like much of the route between Stowmarket Haughley Junction could have extra tracks added.

Removing Bottle-Necks

Two bottle-necks were specifically mentioned.

  • Haughley Junction
  • The Trowse swing bridge just South of Norwich.

The later would allow more services into Norwich.

Expanding Ipswich Station

The article says this.

New longer trains could force Greater Anglia and Network Rail to lengthen platforms at Ipswich Station – and Greater Anglia is looking at the possibility of building new platforms on what is currently the freight depot next to Platform Four.

Expansion of the station would allow more service to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Peterborough.

Boosting Smaller Stations

The article says this.

The growth in passenger numbers at the largest stations on the GEML in Essex – Chelmsford and Colchester – has slowed while more passengers are using smaller stations with improved parking facilities. Marks Tey, Manningtree, Kelvedon, Ingatestone, and Hatfield Peveral have become more popular with commuters driving to stations because they don’t have to drive into the heart of large towns or cities to find an expensive parking space.

I used to live near to Dullingham station, which is a commuter station for Cambridge. When I last used the station, it could do with more facilities.

Will this policy be complemented by the reopening of sclosed stations?

The article also talks about faster services and the improving of regional services.

Conclusion

East Anglia is going to get much better rail services.

 

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail Are Treating Norwich And Ipswich Fans With Contempt

Over the last few years, I have gone to perhaps half-a-dozen Ipswich-Norwich Derbies.

Last season, I didn’t get to either match, as Network Rail, thought that these days were ideal to do engineering work on the Great Eastern Main Line.

As if, there hasn’t been enough in the time since I’ve moved to London in 2010.

Normally, I would have bought a ticket for the match on February 10th in Norwich at 12:00 in the morning.

But I have just looked up the train times to get there for a match start at that time on a Sunday.

The only service leaves Liverpool Street at 07:08 and arrives in Norwich at 10:12! It also involves an hour on a bus. I would probably arrive back home at around seven in the evening.

I have other things to do, like getting something to eat and as a coeliac, I can’t just pop into the average take-away, unless I wanted to spend another three hours sitting on the toilet.

Why is there no liaison between Network Rail and the two football clubs, so that essential work is done on less important days?

To make things worse, on Saturday the 2nd, they’re getting the buses out again. So that’s another match I’ll miss!

This season it has been easier to watch Away matches than Home ones.

When are Network Rail going to stop treating regular travellers with such downright contempt?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.

The February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Class 93 Tri-Oomph!, which has been written by Ian Walmsley.
This is the first paragraph.

Rail Operations Group has become known for the efficient haulage of EMUs around the country using very clever tranlation devices built into Europhenix converted Class 37 kicos. As I described in the March 2016 issue (“Lost in translation”) it looked at tens of millions of pounds worth of EMUs being dragged around unbraked, thought ‘this can’t be right’, and proceeded to make 50-year-old locomotives operate with state-of-the-art computer kit.

Rail Operations Group (ROG) had employed classicdisruptive innovation to create a new market, that was to everybody’s benefit.

As Ian reports, the company has grown a lot in the last few years and now does a lot more than just move new trains around.

  • Old trains are also moved.
  • Old trains are also stored safely.
  • Operations are all planned as a consultancy.

The company is already planning their next operational niche.

A Move Into Logistics

ROG is moving into logistics.

Ian talks about the inefficiency and polluting distribution system using trucks, that add to traffic congestion.
He talks about rail being a better way and then says this.

The difference with ROG is that the company is going to invest in two Class 769 (bi-mode 319s’) converted for parcel use, and while these are not my favourite trains, parcels are a lot less fussy than me about how long they take to get to top speed.
Using 769s’ means that your hubs can be almost anywhere; not necessarily on a 25 KVAC electrified siding, just close to a road system interchange area.

So what happens, if they don’t get a customer? The Class 769 trains will be delivered with seats, so they could be sub-leased for passenger use.

I wrote The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT) in May 2017, where I discussed the uses for this type of parcel carrier. This was my conclusion.

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.
If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

As to the secondary use of these trains as passenger trains, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we’ve all had our fill of the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I talked about the problems caused by late delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

The problem would have been eased, if two Class 769 trains in good condition could have been called up at a couple of days notice.

Surely, there are other applications.

  • I suspect that given the number of level-crossing accidents in the UK, they will find a lot of use.
  • I don’t think Porterbrook will mind, if ROG effectively offered a try-before-buy service to train operators.
  • There must also be a market for pop-up rail services to large sporting and cultural events.

Again, it appears ROG have found a niche and have invested in it.

Before leaving the subject of Class 769 trains, I must mention Brexit.

Could the trains find a use in a no-deal Brexit-world moving high-value freight from ports and airports to inland distribution centres?

Thoughts On The Class 93 Locomotive

These are some thoughts from the article.

Available Power

Ian starts by saying this about the operation of the Class 93 locomotive.

Apart from the obvious electric (4,000kW) and diesel (900kW), the third mode is a Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) battery (400kW), which can be used in conjunction with the diesel to give a power boost up to 1,300kW or 1,743hp in old money.
The extra oomph from the battery takes you from a Class 33 to a Class 37 in old locos but with minimal losses, and you don’t need full power for very long on most non-electrified routes.

I suspect there’s a clever control system, that optimises the use of the battery.

The Ultimate Thunderbird

The locomotive appears to have a unique feature of a variable height coupler, which enables it to haul rolling stock with all the five standard heights of coupler, that exist on UK railways.

How did this madness occur?

But as the locomotive can deal with them all, Ian argues that the Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Thunderbird or rescue locomotive.

Moving Trains In The Future

Ian argues that ROC’s collection of locomotives used for moving new and replaced trains is getting older and will soon be difficult to service.

The Class 93 locomotives would be ideal for this role.

But Ian sees this very much as a fallback position, if the locomotives do not find innovative new uses.

Ian finishes with this paragraph.

When we first saw Dr. Beeching’s new Freightliners(now ‘intermodal’) in the 1960s, they did 75 mph. They still do, but there are some really smart looking 100 mph flats available. Remember the path-ology. There are plenty of cross-country runs where a Class 37 equivalent is fine for the diesel bits, then pan up and 4,000kW is yours. Come on. Not excited by this? You must be in the wrong job.

As an example some freight trains go between Felixstowe and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester using the North London Line.

They are hauled all the way by a Class 66 diesel.

Put the containers on the smart looking 100 mph flats with a Class 93 locomotive on the front and the following happens.

  • The locomotive uses diesel between Felixstowe and Ipswich, with possibly some battery boost.
  • The locomotive uses electric power for most of the journey.
  • The locomotive might use diesel power at the destination for a short distance.
  • On the double-track 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line, the operating speed will not be far off the new Class 745 and Class 720 trains.
  • On the North London Line, the train will pass through some of the smartest parts of North London with lower levels of noise, vibration and pollution.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the train will be able to mix it with the new Class 730 trains on the slow lines.

Greater Anglia have the trains to run more services between London and Ipswich.

How many more could they squeeze in, if all freight trains had a similar performance to their express services?

Consider now, freight trains taking the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the North and Midlands via Peterborough.

  • With track improvements at Haughley and doubling of the line between Kennett and Ely, I suspect that timings on the flat lands of East Anglia using hybrid power would be approaching those of Class 66 locomotive-hauled stock.
  • With a faster cruise on the East Coast Main Line, would the trains take the direct route on the slow lines, rather than the diversion through Lincoln?

The Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Felixstowe Flyer.

Could it also be the freight locomotive that passenger train operators want reight operators to use, as it keeps freight trains out of the way of passenger ones?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Greater Anglia Buying So Many Class 755 Trains, So They Can Run A Better Service During Constant Works On The Great Eastern?

Yet again, they were rebuilding the Great Eastern Main Line, so I didn’t get to football at Ipswich yesterday.

It’s not that I mind the buses, but it means two things.

  • I have to leave so early, that I can’t do my weekly shop before I go.
  • I also get back so late that I will miss Strictly on the television.

There is also the problem, that Ipswich is one of the worst places to find a gluten-free meal, unless you go to Pizza Express.

I often have my lunch before I travel or take it on the train from Leon or M & S.

For some time now, I’ve suspected that Greater Anglia have ordered a lot more Class 755 trains, than they need, based on a train-for-train replacement basis

It now becomes obvious why!

At weekends, they will link four-car trains together and run four trains per hour on the following routes.

  • Norwich to Cambridge
  • Ipswich to Cambridge

One train in four will continue to and from London after Cambridge.

On the other hand, it could be a plot by Norwich fans in Greater Anglia’s headquarters in Norwich to annoy Ipswich fans!

 

 

September 23, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stadler Flirt DEMUs

Over a thousand Stadler Flirts have been sold to operators around the world. Most have been or will be built in Switzerland.

Greater Anglia

The first fleet in the UK, comprise fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car Class 755 trains for Greater Anglia.

This visualisation shows a Class 755 train in Greater Anglia livery, running through the typical flat lands of East Anglia.

These trains will enter service next year.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They can run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • They have a diesel power-pack, which can have up to four Deutz diesel engines, for running on lines without electrification.
  • The three-car trains have two diesel engines and the four-car trains have four engines.
  • They can change power source at line speed.
  • Length is easily changed, by adding or removing cars.
  • Three-car Flirts have 166 seats and four-car Flirts have 224 seats.
  • They are designed to handle two-hour plus journeys, like Lowestoft to London for Greater Anglia.

I suspect they are fairly powerful trains and I wrote about this in Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains Seem To Have Bags Of Grunt.

Comparing the trains with a Class 170 train, I said this.

But the four-car Class 755/4 trains have fifty percent more power per car, than the Class 170 train, so these will be no sedate rural trundlers.

I’m certain, that their performance, will allow them to mix it on the Great Eastern Main Line with the London-Ipswich-Norwich expresses.

KeolisAmey Wales

From the pictures, the trains, that will be delivered to KeolisAmey Wales, look very much like the trains, that have been ordered by Greater Anglia.

The trains will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and extending to Severn Tunnel Junction and beyond.

I would assume that the trains will use diesel, where there is no electrification. One current service goes between Maesteg and Cheltenham Spa stations. On the South Wales Main Line between Cardiff and Seven Tunnel Junction, the trains would use the 25 KVAC  overhead wires, but at both ends of the route, they would use diesel.

One great advantage of bi-mode trains like these Flirts, is that as more electrification is added, they can take advantage.

I’m certain, that their performance, will allow them to mix it on the South Wales Main Line with the London-Newport-Cardiff-Swansea expresses.

Aosta Valley

A European version of the train will start to operate soon in the Aosta Valley in Italy, so when the trains for Wales are delivered, there will be lots of operational experience. Especially with climbing steep hills!

Norway

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Bi-Modes In Norway’s Next Flirt Order.

The bi-modes will be used around Trondheim, on routes without elewctrification.

What does Norway have a lot of? Mountains!

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

OLE Upgrades Complete At Anglia As Part Of £46m Transformation

The title of this article, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

I hope this is actually the case.

  • I’ve had enough of rail replacement buses, when trying to get to football at Ipswich on a Saturday.
  • For at least the last three years, I’ve probably seen more away matches, than those at Portman Road.
  • Three hours each way to Ipswich, effectively means, the only pleasurable thing you do is see the match.
  • This work has probably hit attendances at both Norwich and Ipswich.
  • I’ve renewed my season ticket fort next season, but if it is as thin on home matches as this one has been, it will be my last season of travel.

What puzzles me, is why can’t Network Rail adjust their work schedule, so that at least important matches like the two Derbies have trains?

But then you wouldn’t rate Network Rail highly for Project Management!

 

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia’s Ten Point Wish List

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Greater Anglia to lobby government for investment in 10-point upgrade plea.

So what do they want?

  1. Haughley Junction upgrade.
  2. Ely area upgrade.
  3. Ely to Soham track doubling
  4. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  5. Long loops at Colchester and Witham to allow fast trains to pass slow ones.
  6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford.
  8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.
  9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program.
  10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverspool Street station.

Should we call it ambitious, greedy or sensible?

1. Haughley Junction Upgrade

This has been requested for years, so I suspect it has been thought about for a long time.

But the new East Anglia Franchise has plans that will affect the traffic through Haughley Junction.

  • Three express trains per hour (tph) between Ipswich and Norwich – Up from 2 tph.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds – Up from three trains per two hours.

To make matters worse, an increasing number of freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough will be going through the junction.

This Google Map shows the junction.

haughleyjunction

Note.

 

  • Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Ipswich are to the South.
  • There is a handy level crossing where station road crosses the tracks.
  • Diss and Norwich is to the North.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough are to the North West.

You could naively think, that around the junction is nothing but farmland and a few trees, but the owners of |Tiptree Fram probably have lived three for decades.

You are the driver of one of Greater Anglia’s new crack Stadler express electric multiple units scheduled to reach Norwich in ninety minutes from London

Going North, you have just stopped at Stowmarket station. But you can’t leave as Haughley Junction is blocked by one of the many long freight trains crossing the flat junction from the line to Peterborough to go South to Felixstowe.

So bang goes your schedule!

Going South, you have a similar problem, in that freight trains could delay progress, whilst they cross from the Peterborough Line.

Freight trains and passenger trains joining the Peterborough line from the South, would appear to not cause such a large problem, as they just turn left without crossing any lines.

In an ideal world, there probably needs to be a single-track flyover, so that trains from Peterborough to Stowmarket can cross the Norwich lines without delaying trains. A similar flyover at Hitchin cost £47million.

So it wouldn’t be cheap and would the locals fight the construction of such a structure in the midst of Suffolk countryside to benefit commuters from Norfolk?

A complete scheme would also add a loop line just to the West of Haugthley Junction, so that long freight trains could wait without getting in the way, until there was a suitable time to cross.

I suspect, that to keep costs down and avoid annoying the natives, all that will happen at Haughley Junction is a limited scheme so that trains can wait before crossing.

Over the last few years, Network Rail have developed some innovative junctions and crossings, so let’s hope that they come up with a scheme that’s efficient, affordable and can be built without closing either of the important routes through the area.

But whatever is done here will certainlt help Greater Anglia achieve their objective of three tph between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

Knowing the area well, I suspect that there will also be an enormous fight over if Network Rail decided to close the level crossing shown on the map.

2. Ely Area Upgrade

I looked at this in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

Whatever is proposed here will not be just a few millions and probably very disruptive to implement, but it is essential to acommodate the planned extra services through the area.

3. Ely To Soham Track Doubling

Upgrading this six miles of single track might appear to be easy across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, but the line does include a couple of level crossings and a couple of bridges.

This Google Map shows the ely end of the route at Ely Dock Junction.

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Note the single-track Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse.

Luckily, a freight train derailed on the original single-track bridge and virtually demolished it. The new bridge may be only single-track, but provision was made for a second track.

A few times, I’ve passed Ely Dock Junction on a train or stood on the platform at Ely and seen a freight train waiting at the Dock Junction to pass through the spaghetti at Ely.

Double-tracking would mean waiting freight trains wouldn’t delay Eastbound services on the Ipswich to Ely Line.

But will a chord be built so services can go directly between Cambridge North station and the Ipswich line?

This could enable Colchester Peterborough services to take a route of Bury St. Edmunds-Cambridge North

The Google Map shows the site of the original Soham station.

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

Note that the line reverts back to double-track, just South of the former station site.

So will doubling of line include provision for building a new station at Soham, as Cambridgeshire Council have proposed?

You can certainly see, why Greater Anglia want this section of line to be doubled.

4. Trowse Swing Bridge Replacement

The Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on the Great vEastern Main Line, as not only does it restrict operations into Norwich station, but it makes access to Crown Point Depot difficult.

It’s definitely the railway equivalent of having a single-lane section for both directions on a motorway.

In Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?, I proposed the following under An Affordable Alternative.

It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and  foot and cycle bridges.

As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.

Other bribes could be given to occasional users.

There will be many bridges to cross, before Trowse bridge is replaced with a modern structure, more suited to a modern railway.

Unless of course, the rusting and decrepit bridge decides to do the honourable thing and falls down of its own volition.

It’s probably too much to hope, that a freight train derails on the bridge, as one fortunately did on the Hawk Bridge at Ely.

5. Long Loops At Colchester And Witham

Colchester station is not a station that would win awards for efficiency.

This description of the platforms is from Wikipedia.

The “up” (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The “down” side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.

The new franchise has plans, that should make the station more efficient, but much busier.

  • Norwich to London trains will have a frequency of three tph.
  • A new one tph service will link Colchester and Peterborough, which would mean that Colchester to Stowmarket via Manningree and Ipswich would have a frequency of four tph.

But the interesting idea is to extend the service between Sudbury and Marks Tey stations to Colchester Town station via Colchester.

The  service between Sudbury and Colchester Town could be two tph, as the trains could pass each other between Colchester and Marks Tey, if the track allowed.

This Press Release from Network Rail is entitled More Reliable Railway For Essex As £100M+ Upgrade Is Completed.

This is said.

The last piece of the jigsaw included the commissioning of new ‘bi-directional’ signalling on the Great Eastern main line between Colchester and Marks Tey – meaning trains can now travel in both directions on both lines. This allows them to bypass problems should they occur and will improve flexibility and help reduce delays.

I have just flown my helicopter over the junction at Marks Tey and it looks like there is a short loop line of about a kilometre on the South side of the main line, which is connected by a series of crossovers to the \Gainsborough Line. On the other side of the main line, there would also appear to be a connection between the two lines.

So a train from Colchester Town could do the following.

  • Travel to Colchester station on the Sunshine Coast Line.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Colchester station.
  • Travel on the main line towards Marks Tey.
  • Switch to the loop North of Marks Tey.
  • Cross over the main lines and enter the Gainsborough Line to stop in Marks Tey station.
  • Travel to Sudbury and back.
  • After stopping at Marks Tey station return via the main line to Colchester and then on to Colchester Town.

Currently, a train is scheduled to go from Colchester Town to Marks Tey in 13 minutes, with the round trip from Marks Tey to Sudbury taking about 45 minutes.

If the service between Colchester Town and Sudbury was to be two tph, the Marks Tey to Sudbury round trip must be under thirty minutes, so that only one train is on the branch line at a time.

The service is currently run using various trains like a Class 153 train, which have a top speed of 75 mph and acceleration to match, whereas the mosdern Class 170 train has a 100 mph capability. The Gainsborough Line also has a speed limit of just 50 mph.

So I suspect, that with some judicious engineering on the branch and modern trains, that a thirty minute round trip is possible, thus making two tph on the Gainsborough Line a distinct possibility.

All these service changes could simplify the pattern of trains through Colchester station.

  • Most trains stop in the station and continue on their journey.
  • Peterborough trains could use the bay platform 5 or a reversing siding to turn back.
  • The bay platform 6 could be used as a terminus for trains from London as now.

So will the tracks be arranged so that there is an avoiding line between the platforms just as there is at Ipswich station and used to be at Chelmsford station?

The certainly would appear to be enough space.

 

This picture illustrates the problems at Witham station.

A Long Freight Train At Witham

Note.

  • The freight train was going towards London and was slowly going through the station.
  • The two lines in the middle are the two main lines, where trains generally stop.
  • When the new Stadler and Aventra trains enter service in a couple of years, there will be more trains going through the station.
  • At times, trains could be separated by just a few minutes.
  • As these trains are designed expedite stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more trains doing a Touch-and-Go.

This article on the EssexLive web site is entitled Witham loop could happen by 2024 with added faster trains to Liverpool Street.

It says that the loop will be built North of Witham station and would allow faster trains to pass slower ones by 2024, but that Simon Burns MP will be pushing to have it built sooner.

This Google Map shows Witham station and the line to the North.

Witham Station

Note the Braintree Branch Line going off to the North-West.

It does appear that there would be space for the necessary extra tracks to create passing loops North of Witham station.

These would mean that passing wouldn’t have to be dome with the slower train blocking a slow platform.

It certainly looks as if that both loops will be beneficial to all train operators and passengers.

6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London

Given the following on the Great Eastern Main Line South of Colchester.

  • Increased numbers of trains.
  • Speeds of 100 mph and possibly more.
  • The need to do very fast stops and maintain headway of a few minutes.
  • The trains will be new.

I suspect that digital signalling will be a necessity to maintain the required service frequency.

7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford

There is certainly pressure for this service from the local Councils in the area.

Would it include the preliminary works from the upgrade of Angel Road station?

8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne

This is important both for Greater Anglia services to Stansted Airport and Cambridge and Crossrail 2.

I wrote about this in Crossrail 2 ‘Cannot Go Ahead’ Without Four-Tracking Of West Anglia Line.

But it will be a large and very disruptive project.

9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program

I have been held up so many times by level crossing incidents, this can’t happen to soon.

10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverpool Street station

I thought that this was going to happen, as soon as the Crossrail trains go into the tunnels.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia are not asking for the stars and it is a generally sensible wish list.

Possibly the most expensive projects are the following.

  1. Ely area upgrade.
  2. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  3. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  4. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.

But some like the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line are not urgent, until Crossrail 2 gets an opening date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment