The Anonymous Widower

A Pair Of Class 90 Locomotives Working Through Stratford

I spotted this pair of Class 90 locomotives at Stratford hauling a long but lightly loaded freight train.

Note.

  1. I was surprised to see the locomotives working as a pair.
  2. Was it an experiment, testing or driver training?
  3. The locomotives were still in the Greater Anglian white livery.
  4. They still had their names.

I was a bit slow to get my camera out.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia Trains Hit 10-year High For Punctuality

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on North Norfolk News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Greater Anglia has recorded its best figures for punctuality in a decade, latest figures have revealed.

More than nine out of every ten trains ran on time in November, helping the company achieve its best punctuality result for 10 years and second-best of the past 20 years.

That is very good, with punctuality figures very close to a hundred percent.

What the article doesn’t mention, is that Greater Anglia’s trains in Norfolk and Suffolk are now typically step-free, with those in wheelchairs to be able to roll in without a ramp.

How much has this feature contributed to the outstanding punctuality?

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia Amends Class 720 Order From Bombardier To Increase Flexibility

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

Greater Anglia is changing its order for Class 720 trains from a mixed fleet of 22 x ten-car and 89 x five-car to one of 133 x five-car.

The order is still 665 carriages in total.

In Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?, I tried to answer the question in the title of the post.

There have also been articles in railway magazines, questioning the practice of buying short trains and doubling them up.

In the UK, the following companies are running new trains in pairs.

  • Great Western Railway – Class 800 and Class 802
  • LNER – Class 800
  • London Overground – Class 710

The only creditable explanation I have heard was from a driver, who said that if one train in a pair fails, you can still run a short train.

Abd now Greater Anglia say it’s for increased flexibility!

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new £40 million platform and track at Stevenage station has been completed more than a year ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, it appears that the first scheduled train left Stevenage for Moorgate at 0502.

Will This Be Good For Travellers?

A few thoughts!

Stevenage Hospital

One of my old school friends lives in Cuffley. From that part of Hertfordshire, the hospital, patients use is in Stevenage. He can drive, but not everybody can!

LNER

Currently, LNER run an hourly service between Stevenage and Leeds, with an hourly service between Stevenage and Lincoln or York via Newark.

North From Enfield, Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Wood Green

If you live in Enfield or the old London boroughs of Southgate or Wood Green, it could be easier to pick up trains for the North from Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

Not Bad For Me Too!

Even, where I live now, which is a mile or so East of Highbury & Islington station, if the timing is right, I can walk or get a bus for four stops to Essex Road station and get a train to Stevenage and then change for Leeds and the North.

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains will be starting a fast, low-cost London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, which will call at Stevenage.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are currently shut down because of COVID-19, but will they call at Stevenage station, when they restart?

Hull Trains

Some Hull Trains services between London Kings Cross and Hull, call at Stevenage.

Hitachi’s Class 80x Trains

LNER, East Coast Trains and Hull Trains, all run versions of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains or similar.

These trains are built for performance and an extra stop at Stevenage station can probably be incorporated in the timetable without any penalty.

So will we see more trains stopping at Stevenage, if the train operators think it will be worthwhile?

Could Some Services From The North Terminate At Stevenage?

The Digswell Viaduct and the double-track section through Welwyn North station are the major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

But a train returning North at Stevenage wouldn’t go over the viaduct.

Stevenage already has or could have excellent connections to the following.

  • Cambridge, Stansted Airport and East Anglia
  • Moorgate and the City of London and Crossrail.
  • North East London

If keen pricing can encourage travellers to use Stevenage instead of Kings Cross, I can see operators wanting to run extra services, that could start at Stevenage.

I can also see Greater Anglia getting in on the act.

Could Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge service be extended to Stevenage via the planned Cambridge South and Royston stations?

Could the service be timed to offer cross-platform interchange with their Norwich and Stansted Airport, at Cambridge South station?

Four important extra services would be created with a step-free interchange.

  • Ipswich and Stansted Airport – 106 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station
  • Ipswich and Stevenage – 115 minutes – New direct service
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 107 minutes – Existing service
  • Norwich and Stevenage – 116 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station.

A large number East Anglian rail journeys would be simpler.

Car Parking

Will there be enough car parking at Stevenage station?

I suppose, it would be possible to build a Stevenage Parkway station between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note, that the railway seems to mark the development limit for the town.

The high performance of the Class 717 trains, would probably mean, that there would be no lengthened journey times.

Conclusion

This project appears to have been well-thought through!

 

 

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Mid Norfolk Railway has finished work on the refurbishment of the level crossing on Yaxham Road at Dereham.

The work is a first for the Mid Norfolk Railway as the technology has never been used at such a busy crossing on the entire rail system.

The new level crossing has been completed using a system that has been developed by Edilon Sedra, a Dutch railway infrastructure company.

By all accounts it appears to be a job well done,

It also appears Network Rail and Transport for London are very interested in what has been done.

Could this be, because it looks like the work has a fifty year maintenance-free lifespan?

This Google Map shows the site.

Note the single track railway running North-South under the flyover.

As you can see from some of the pictures in the article, the actual level crossing is under the flyover. Not the easiest place to work!

Conclusion

This appears to be another successful co-operation between a heritage railway, Network Rail and local interests.

Following on from the co-operation between the Mid-Norfolk Railway and Greater Anglia over train storage, that I wrote about in Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, could the rebuilding of the level crossing be part of a larger scheme to allow Greater Anglia to use Mid-Norfolk rails to run a commuter service to Dereham?

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Plans For Brandon Rail Station Upgrade Deemed Lawful By Local Council

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Train operator Greater Anglia has been allowed to press ahead with plans to complete £1m of improvements at Brandon railway station.

Work at Brandon station will include.

  • Demolishing of redundant buildings, that are not in the best of condition.
  • Install new shelters, LED lights, CCTV cameras and better drainage.
  • Increase car parking spaces from six to a hundred.
  • It looks like accessible car parking will be provided.
  • Provide a new bat roost.

The overall cost will be a million pounds.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. Cambridge and Ely is to the West and Norwich is to the East.
  2. The queues at the level crossing at the Western end of the station.
  3. I seem to remember, that it’s a Council Depot on the North side of the tracks.

At some time in the future the station will need a step-free footbridge.

Greater Anglia’s Norwich And Stansted Service

This is the main passenger service at Brandon station.

  • Trains are four-car Class 755 trains.
  • The service is hourly.
  • Trains take about thirty minutes between Brandon and Cambridge stations.
  • Trains take about an hour between Brandon and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Trains take forty-five minutes between Brandon and Norwich stations.

Will there be enough car parking spaces?

Could Brandon Station Ever Have A Half-Hourly Service?

If there’s one city that will dominate the economy of East Anglia, it is Cambridge and its need for premises and housing for workers, will mean that there will be increasing numbers of passengers using the trains into Cambridge.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a half-hourly service between Norwich and Cambridge.

Could We See More Brandon Stations?

As I travel round the country, I’ve visited several stations like Brandon. Many could be improved by a radical restructuring or a comprehensive refurbishing.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Plan Submitted For £18.6 Million Station At Soham

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

The new Soham station appears to be simple.

  • A single 102 metre long platform, that will be able to handle a four-car Class 755 train.
  • A car-park. Fifty spaces is mentioned on Wikipedia.
  • Trains on Greater Anglia‘s two-hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough service will call. This service is planned to go hourly, with some services extended to Colchester.
  • The picture in the article shows a bridge.
  • Opening could be in Spring 2022.

I’ve read somewhere that the station will have provision for adding a second platform.

  • Looking at the maps of the railway through Soham, it is double-track at the Southern end of the village and single-track at the Northern end.
  • The single track section, which reaches as far as Ely, will possibly be doubled before 2030.
  • East West Rail are also proposing a new A14 Parkway station at Chippenham Junction, which is close to both the A14 and the A11. I wrote about this in East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford.
  • The Mayor of Cambridge has plans for a direct service between the new Soham station and Cambridge.

It’ll all be happening in this part of East Anglia. Most is driven by the expansion and success of Cambridge.

It’s all a bit different to the dark days of the Second World War, when the town suffered from the Soham Rail Disaster.

Will there be a memorial at the new station?

A14 Parkway Station

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the section of East West Rail to the East of Cambridge.

The report recommends building a new station at Chippenham Junction, which is to the East of Newmarket, close to the junction of the A11 and the A14 . The station is referred to in the report as A14 Parkway station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The A14 going across the top of the map.
  2. The junction between the A14 and the A11 in the top-right corner.
  3. The triangular Chippenham Junction, pointing North to Ely, South to Newmarket and East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Having lived in that area for nearly thirty years, I believe that this is a much-needed station.

  • Stations in the area, with the exception of Cambridge North are short of car parking.
  • There would be two trains per hour (tph) to/from Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.
  • There would be one tph to Cambridge, Cambridge North, Cambridge South , Ely, Peterborough and the new Soham station.

I suspect that there could be shuttle trains to provide extra services to Cambridge and Ely.

A shuttle train could run between A14 Parkway, Cambridge South, Ely, Soham and back to A14 Parkway.

  • The service might be arranged so that trains reverse at Cambridge South, Ely and A14 Parkway stations.
  • As an alternative trains could reverse at Bury St. Edmunds instead of A14 Parkway.
  • Trains would call at all intermediate stations.

I believe that if the A14 Parkway station were to be built, that there would be no need to rebuild the Western track of Chippenham Junction to enable services between Cambridge and Soham via Newmarket.

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Will A Rail Link Be Built Between Pitsea And Ingatestone?

In Issue 903 of Rail Magazine, there is a long article, which is entitled Felixstowe: Is 47 Trains A Day Achievable?.

The article details a large number of improvements that could be carried out to attain this frequency.

This is an interesting paragraph.

If anything. long-term plans could entail the building of a new rail link between Pitsea and Ingatestone, so that London Gateway traffic can run via Ipswich instead of Stratford.

So could a rail link between Pitsea and Ingatestone stations be built and how would it be used?

The Route

If you look at a map, that shows Pitsea and Chelmsford, you’ll notice that the dual-carriageway A130 links the two places.

  • At the Chelmsford end it joins the A12 at junction 17.
  • At the Pitsea end it joins the A13 to the East of the town.
  • Sections of the road appear to have three-lane carriageways.
  • Much of the road has been improved in recent years.

I feel a lot of the route of the rail link could follow the A130, with the rail link running down the Western side of the road.

Use Of The Shenfield-Southend Line

The Shenfield-Southend Line could be used for part of the route.

  • It already connects to the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) at Shenfield, though a flying junction.
  • There is no connection between the Shenfield-Southend Line and the GEML to Chelmsford and Ipswich.
  • The Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130 in an area of farmland.

Between Shenfield and the A130 are two important stations Billericay and Wickford.

The Connection At Shenfield

This Google Map shows the junction between the GEML and the Shenfield-Southend Line.

Note.

  1. Shenfield station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The GEML goes straight in a North-Easterly direction to Ingatestone and Chelmsford.
  3. Ingatestone and Shenfield stations are about 3.5 miles apart.
  4. The Shenfield-Southend Line goes off to the East and connects to the GEML with a flying junction.

There would appear to be space to convert the flying junction into a full triangular junction by building chords, that allow access between the Shenfield-Southend Line and the GEML to Chelmsford.

Turning South At The A130

This Google Map shows where the Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130.

Note.

  1. The two major roads; the A130 and the A127 are clearly labelled.
  2. The Shenfield-Southend Line crosses the A130 from North-West to East.
  3. Billericay and Shenfield are to the North-West.
  4. Southend is to the East.

It looks like there is sufficient space to create a junction, which would allow trains to take a new rail line to and from the South, built alongside the A130.

The Connection At Pitsea Station

This Google Map shows the Southern section of the A130 that connects to the A13.

Note.

  1. Pitsea station is at the Southern side of the map.
  2. The A130 weaves its way North-South down the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The rail link could follow the A130.

The Google Map shows Pitsea station, the A13 and its junction with the A130.

Note.

  1. The A13 going across the Northern side of the map.
  2. The A130 going down the Eastern side of the map.
  3. Pitsea station in the middle of the Western side of the map.
  4. The c2c railway between Pitsea and Southend Central stations going East from Pitsea station and passing to the South of St. Margaret’s Church.

It appears to me, that there would be enough space to build a full triangular junction between the rail link and the c2c railway.

A full triangular junction would enable trains to go between Chelmsford and all stations as far as Shoeburyness.

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Will Passenger Trains Use The Rail Link?

Consider.

  • It would make it possible to create a direct train service that connected all the major towns in Essex; Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend.
  • Chelmsford is the county town of Essex.
  • Southend Central station has two West-facing bay platforms.
  • Colchester station has a South-facing bay platform.

I think that the route must be built to perhaps allow an hourly CrossEssex service in both directions, at some date in the future.

Would There Be Any Stations On The Rail Link?

The route goes through Billericay and Wickford stations and also has a connection to the Crouch Valley Line.

How Long Is The Rail Link?

I estimate, it’s just under seventeen miles.

How Long Will Freight Trains Take Between Pitsea And Ingatestone?

The Felixstowe Branch is about twenty miles long and trains take a few minutes over the hour.

Will The Rail Link Be Single Or Double Track?

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there are still about a dozen trains going in and out of London Gateway on a typical day.

  • This would be a train every ninety minutes in both directions on the rail link if they were all using it.
  • London Gateway will expand.
  • A passenger service on the rail link in the future, is a possibility.
  • The Shenfield-Southend Line is double-track.

I feel that a single track railway would be short on capacity, so for preference, I’d build a double-track railway.

Will The Rail Link Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • All passenger trains run by Greater Anglia and c2c to and from Southend are electric.
  • Essex is a county where all rail lines are electrified, except for the spur that leads into London Gateway.
  • The GEML and the lines to Southend have recently updated electrification.
  • Freight trains can be hauled on the GEML by electric or bi-mode locomotives.
  • Te section between the GEML and the A130 is already electrified.

It would be logical that the rail link should be electrified.

Thoughts About Capacity

Although a rai link between Pitsea and Ingatestone may be feasible, it doesn’t mean that it will be built.

  • Will there be enough capacity across the Midlands or on the various routes to the North?
  • Greater Anglia have ambitions and the trains to run more services.
  • Would digital signalling on the GEML create extra capacity?

Extra Infrastructure

 

 

 

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hardly Any Passengers – But Greater Anglia’s Trains Are More Reliable

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

This is the introductory paragraph.

It may be operating fewer trains and carrying a fraction of the passengers it was – but Greater Anglia’s trains are now much more reliable for essential workers, figures show.

Greater Anglia’s most punctual route was Manningtree to Harwich at almost 99 %.

April 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Greater Anglia has opened four sidings able to stable 12-car trains just outside Norwich station, with its first train using the facility on March 3.

Other information can be found in this and other articles.

  • It was Greater Anglia’s biggest infrastructure investment to date.
  • The sidings are on the South side of the Trowse Swing Bridge, that crosses the River Wensum.
  • The project took nine months to complete.
  • The sidings look to be fully electrified.

I would assume that each siding can take one of the following.

  • A twelve-car Class 745 train, which are 236.6 metres long.
  • A ten-car Class 720 train, which are 240 metres long.
  • Two five-car Class 720 trains, which are 122 metres long.
  • More than one Class 755 trains, which are 65 metres long (3-car) and 81 metres long (4-car)

They will certainly be able to pack in the trains.

 

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment