The Anonymous Widower

Extending The Elizabeth Line – An Extension To Southend Airport

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, has a section for an extension to Southend Airport, where this is said.

Stobart Aviation, the company that operates Southend Airport in Essex, has proposed that Crossrail should be extended beyond Shenfield along the Shenfield–Southend line to serve Southend Airport and Southend Victoria. The company has suggested that a direct Heathrow-Southend link could alleviate capacity problems at Heathrow. The extension proposal has been supported by Southend-on-Sea City Council.

I have written about extending Crossrail to Southend before in Council Launches Campaign To Extend Crossrail To Southend-on-Sea.

In that post, I gave these reasons.

  • Extra capacity between London and Southend
  • A more intensive service to Southend Airport
  • A twenty-four hour service to Southend Airport
  • Enabling housing
  • Taking pressure from Liverpool Street

I came to the conclusion, that extending the Elizabeth Line to Southend could have a lot going for it.

But that post was written nearly four years ago and times change and they will change more in the next few years.

The Elizabeth Line Trains Are Shorter Than The Liverpool Street And Southend Victoria Trains

This has also happened and the pair of five-car Class 720 trains, that Greater Anglia use for Southend Victoria services are over thirty metres longer than the Elizabeth Line’s nine-car Class 345 trains.

This would mean that there would be no need for platform lengthening along the route to Southend Victoria.

Zero-Carbon Aircraft Are Under Development

Zero-carbon aircraft like the Heart Aerospace ES-19 could be in service by 2027. These aircraft will probably have a limited range of around 400 km and a charge time of 40 minutes.

  • Southend Airport’s position on the East side of London would enable the creation of zero-carbon flights to places like Amsterdam, Brussels, Lille, Paris and Rotterdam.
  • A quick estimate indicates that aircraft like the ES-19 could fly from Southend to Amsterdam and recharge in around two hours.
  • Intensively scheduled, these electric aircraft could make several round trips per day.
  • Would almost silent electric aircraft be able to fly twenty-four hours per day?

These flights could seriously increase the number of passengers to Southend Airport before the end of the decade.

The Great Eastern Main Line Will Have Full Digital Signalling

More and more trains will be running on the Great Eastern Main Line and like other main lines in the UK, it will receive full digital signalling, which would probably be applied to the Shenfield and Southend Line.

This would give the extra capacity to Southend Victoria, that running the Elizabeth Line to Southend Airport and Southend Victoria would need.

Conclusion

I think it will be unlikely that the Elizabeth Line will be extended to Southend in the next few years, but before the end of the decade, I can certainly see limited  Elizabeth Line services going all the way to Southend Victoria.

June 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

First Order In For Revolutionary Modular Railway Footbridge

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

Greater Anglia seem to have ordered the footbridge for Stowmarket station, without seeing a real one.

A prototype is also being installed at the former Widmerspool station on the Old Dalby Test Track.

I wrote about the proposed footbridge at Stowmarket in Stowmarket Station To Go Step-Free.

June 1, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Diss Station – 19th May 2022

I went to Diss station for the first time today on a train, although I have caught a train from the station a couple of times.

These are my thoughts.

Long Platforms

Consider.

  • The platforms are long enough to take two full-length twelve-car Class 745 trains, which are nearly 240 metres long.
  • I suspect the platforms can also accept a pair of five-car Class 720 trains, which would be 244 metres long.

If this is true at all Inter-City stations, this must mean that Greater Anglia can still run a full service, if they are short of Class 745 trains.

Car Parking

This Google Map shows the extensive car parking at Diss station.

Note.

  1. There are two tracks and two platforms, with the London-bound platform on the Eastern side.
  2. There is parking on both sides of the tracks.
  3. According to the National Rail web site, there appears to be 316 parking bays on the London-bound side.
  4. A sign in the tenth picture shows a £2.50 All-Day parking deal on the Norwich-bound platform.
  5. The Internet shows a lot of competitively-priced parking around the station.

Commuters to London, Ipswich or Norwich will have to cross the line in the morning or evening and there are no lifts to make that easy.

A Step-Free Bridge At Diss

Network Rail had a competition a few years ago in conjunction with RIBA to design a stylish, affordable and easy-to-install footbridge and this was the winner.

This design is also under development.

I think one of these bridges could possibly be installed at Diss station at the Northern end of the station.

  • Both bridges would appear to have small footprints.
  • They are designed to clear 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Both bridges appear to be able to be built to a flexible width. I suspect this might allow one end of the bridge could be in a car park and the other on the opposite platform.
  • Both are fully step-free.
  • The composite bridge might be better because of a lower weight.
  • The first bridge appears to be enclosed, so would work better in Manchester.
  • I suspect that both could be installed after creating an appropriately-sized concrete base on either side of the tracks, by lifting in the bridge by means of a rail-mounted crane.

It is now over three years since the first design won the Network Rail/RIBA competition. That is just too long to get a prototype bridge built and installed.

Toilets

The toilets at the station were of an excellent standard. But this is getting increasingly common these days.

 

 

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Norfolk Wind Farms Offer ‘Significant Benefit’ For Local Economy

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

This is a comprehensive article, which looks at the benefits of the huge Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard wind farms will have to the economy of Norfolk.

The last section is devoted to Norfolk Nimby; Raymond Pearce.

This is the section.

Following the re-approval of the decision by the government, Mr Pearce says he is considering a new appeal over what he calls “a very poor decision”.

He is also sceptical of claims the two new wind farms will bring the economic gains promised by Vattenfall.

“It’s renewable energy at any cost and the cost here is to the environment in Norfolk,” he says.

“I don’t blame them for being positive about it, it’s their industry but they’re not looking at it holistically.”

He says he is not against renewable energy but thinks a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

It’s his money if he appeals, but we do need more wind, solar and other zero-carbon energy to combat global warming and its effects like the encroachment of the sea around Norfolk.

I believe, that building wind farms off the coast of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk is a good move, as in the future, if we have spare electricity, it will be easy to export energy to Europe, through existing interconnectors.

But I do agree with him, that a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

A Norfolk Powerhouse

This map from Vattenfall, the developer of the two wind farms, shows the position of the farms and the route of the cable to the shore.

Note.

  1. The purple line appears to be the UK’s ten mile limit.
  2. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  3. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  4. Cables will be run in the grey areas.
  5. Both wind farms are planned to have a capacity of 1.8 GW

Landfall will be just a few miles to the South of the Bacton gas terminal.

Bacton Gas Terminal

Bacton gas terminal is much more than a simple gas terminal.

With the need to decarbonise, I can’t help feeling that the Bacton gas terminal is very much on the decline and the site will need to be repurposed in the next few years.

Blending Hydrogen With Natural Gas

If you blend a proportion of hydrogen into natural gas, this has two beneficial effects.

  • Gas used in domestic and industrial situations will emit less carbon dioxide.
  • In the near future we will be replacing imported natural gas with hydrogen.

The hydrogen could be produced by a giant electrolyser at Bacton powered by the electricity from the two Norfolk wind farms.

At the present time, a research project call HyDeploy is underway, which is investigating the blending of hydrogen into the natural gas supply.

  • Partners include Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, the Health and Safety Executive, Keele University and ITM Power and Progessive Energy.
  • A first trial at Keele University has been hailed as a success.
  • It showed up to twenty percent of hydrogen by volume can be added to the gas network without the need to change any appliances or boilers.

Larger trials are now underway.

A Giant Electrolyser At Bacton

If hydrogen were to be produced at Bacton by a giant electrolyser, it could be used or distributed in one of the following ways.

  • Blended with natural gas for gas customers in Southern England.
  • Stored in a depleted gas field off the coast at Bacton. Both Baird and Deborah gas fields have been or are being converted to gas storage facilities, connected to Bacton.
  • Distributed by truck to hydrogen filling stations and bus and truck garages.
  • Greater Anglia might like a hydrogen feed to convert their Class 755 trains to hydrogen power.
  • Sent by a short pipeline to the Port of Great Yarmouth and possibly the Port of Lowestoft.
  • Exported to Europe, through one of the interconnectors.

Note.

  1. If the electrolyser were to be able to handle the 3.6 GW of the two wind farms, it would be the largest in the world.
  2. The size of the electrolyser could be increased over a few years to match the output of the wind farms as more turbines are installed offshore.
  3. There is no reason, why the electrical connection between Bacton and the landfall of the wind farm cable couldn’t be offshore.

If ITM Power were to supply the electrolyser, it would be built in the largest electrolyser factory in the World, which is in Sheffield in Yorkshire.

A Rail Connection To The Bacton Gas Terminal

This Google Map shows the area between North Walsham and the coast.

Note.

  1. North Walsham is in the South-Western corner of the map.
  2. North Walsham station on the Bittern Line is indicated by the red icon.
  3. The Bacton gas terminal is the trapezoidal-shaped area on the coast, at the top of the map.

I believe it would be possible to build a small rail terminal in the area with a short pipeline connection to Bacton, so that hydrogen could be distributed by train.

How Much Hydrogen Could Be Created By The Norfolk Wind Farms?

In The Mathematics Of Blending Twenty Percent Of Hydrogen Into The UK Gas Grid, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

Each of the Norfolk wind farms, if they were working flat out would produce 43.2 GWh  of electricity in a day.

Dividing the two figures gives a daily production rate of 782.6 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

But what happens if the wind doesn’t blow?

This is where the gas storage in the Baird, Deborah and other depleted gas fields comes in.In times of maximum wind, hydrogen is stored for use when the wind doesn’t blow.

Conclusion

I believe a plan like this, would be much better for Norfolk, the UK and the whole planet.

Using the existing gas network to carry the energy away from Norfolk, could mean that the electricity connection across Norfolk could be scaled back.

 

 

February 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains

This post is to try to get some logic into everybody’s comments on UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service, which are about the Class 379 trains.

Here are my thoughts about the current situation.

Class 379 Trains

I regularly use Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations.

A few months ago, you would see Class 379 trains on services to Cambridge and Hertford North.

At the present time, you rarely see them, as these services now seem to be run by new Class 720 trains, with the Stansted services being run by Class 745 trains.

There are also articles like this one on Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled Greater Anglia’s New Rolling Stock Helps To Drive Record Autumn Results.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Greater Anglia’s new rolling stock has helped drive the operators record-beating autumn performance results over the challenging autumn months.

During autumn 2021 Greater Anglia recorded an overall punctuality score of 94.48% from 19th September 2021 – 8th January 2022.

This was the best autumn performance ever recorded by the train company.

It would appear that Greater Anglia are pleased with their new stock, which surely means that the thirty Class 379 trains can be moved on, stored or converted to battery-electric operation.

c2c’s Class 387 Trains

c2c has six Class 387 trains, which are similar to the Class 379 trains.

Currently, because of cracks in Class 800 trains, three of them are on loan to GWR.

But in the next year or so, these six trains will be moved on or stored as c2c have ordered twelve Class 720 trains to replace the Class 387 trains.

Southern’s Class 387 Trains

Southern has twenty-seven Class 387 trains for the Gatwick Express, of which three are used by Great Northern, who are a sister company of Southern, and six are on loan to GWR

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Great Northern has twenty-nine Class 387 trains of its own and three on loan from Southern.

These trains are used mainly on Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn services out of King’s Cross.

Great Western Railway (GWR)’s Class 387 Trains

Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains of its own, three on loan from c2c and six on loan from Southern.

The Battery-Electric Class 379 Train

I rode this prototype train in 2015.

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

I think it is reasonable to assume, that as battery technology has improved in the seven years since I rode this train, that converting Class 379 trains to battery-electric operation would not be a challenging project.

Creating A Battery-Electric Class 387 Train

If the Class 387 train is as internally similar to the Class 379 train as it outwardly looks, I couldn’t believe that converting them to battery-electric operation would be that difficult.

Conclusion

I feel the way to proceed is to create a small fleet of both battery-electric Class 379 and Class 387 trains and assess their performance, reliability and customer acceptance.

 

 

February 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Flirt Akku And Class 755 Train Compared

This article on Focus Transport is entitled 224-kilometre Battery Range For FLIRT Akku – Stadler Sets World Record For Guinness Book Of Records.

These facts about the record run are given.

  • The route was from from Berlin to Warnemünde.
  • It appears to have been independently verified.
  • The distance was 224 kilometres or 139 miles.
  • This distance is more than London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.
  • It is reported that the temperature was around zero, which is not very battery-friendly.

No mention was made in the article of the number of passengers on board or the average speed.

Various articles have stated that the Flirt Akku is a three-car train, but I was not sure, if it included a PowerPack car like the Class 755 train.

So I flew my virtual drone over the route and got this picture.

Compare the front end with this picture of a Class 755 train at Lowestoft.

And the side view with this diagram of the trains, that I clipped from Wikipedia.

I can come to these conclusions.

  • The two front ends are very different, although the basic layout of doors and windows appears the same.
  • The Akku seems to have a flatter side.
  • The Akku lacks the PowerPack of the British train.

It also looks like the Greater Anglia train has better step-free access between between train and platform. But then you never seem to find good step-free access on German trains.

Some extra information and thoughts .

Testing The Flirt Akku

This article on Railvolution is entitled FLIRT AKKU Research Project Completed.

The article comprehensively described the testing process  and gave more details of the train.

  • The train was running at 140 kph or 87 mph.
  • This speed is available from the catenary or battery.
  • Battery charging takes twenty minutes.
  • The train seats 154 passengers in a 2 + 2 configuration.

The train appears to be roughly the same size and performance as a three-car Class 755 train.

Range On A Battery-Electric Class 755 Train

The battery range needed on various Greater Anglia routes are as follows.

Ipswich and Cambridge – 41.3 miles

  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 15.6 miles
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – 48.9 miles
  • Ipswich and Peterborough – 71.2 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18.3 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 53.7 miles
  • Marks Tey and Sudbury – 11.8 miles

Note.

  1. Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough are stations with full electrification.
  2. I suspect some services will need charging at the remote station.

It looks like to handle all routes will need a train with a range of around 80 miles or around 129 kilometres.

Conclusion

I don’t think that it would be impossible for Stadler to create a battery-electric Class 755 train with enough range.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Soham Station – 14th December 2021

I visited the new Soham station today.

I took four trains in total.

  • The 11:12 from King’s Cross, which arrived at  Ely at 12:23
  • The 12:31 from Ely, which arrived at  Soham at 12:39
  • The 12:51 from Soham, which arrived at  Ely at 12:59
  • The 13:18 from Ely, which arrived at King’s Cross at 14:33

The outward journey took  87 minutes, with the return taking 102 minutes.

I took these pictures at Soham station.

Note.

  1. The train is a three-car Class 755 train.
  2. There is only a single platform.
  3. There are dropped kerbs everywhere on the walking routes.
  4. There is plenty of car parking.
  5. There are disabled car parking spaces.
  6. There is a circular turning area in front of the station, which forms a high-capacity Kiss-and-Ride, with space for a couple of buses.
  7. The track towards Ely is single-track
  8. The track towards Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich is double-track.
  9. The bridge is ready for a second platform, should it be needed and/or installed.
  10. The station is unmanned.

These are some further thoughts.

Is Soham The Ultimate Step-Free Station?

Consider

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains are level with the platform, as they have gap fillers.
  • Walking from the car parking to the train is step-free.
  • There are lots of dropped kerbs and tactile pavements.

I suspect it is one of the few stations in the UK, where if you arrive on foot or by car or bus, that there is no step to the train.

This document on Network Rail says this about the footbridge.

A stepped footbridge across the railway to connect to an existing public right of way, designed for future installation of lifts if a second platform is constructed.

It looks like Network Rail have all eventualities covered.

The Station Has Adequate Parking

This picture from the gallery shows the parking to the South of the station.

The Network Rail document says that the car park can accommodate 50 vehicles and has four spaces for blue badge holders.

But looking at this picture, there could be space for more parking.

The Station Is Well-Connected To The Road System

This Google Map shows the town of Soham.

Note.

  1. Soham has a by-pass around the Eastern side of the town.
  2. The railway passes to the West side of the town.
  3. The station is marked by the small blue dot to the left of the word Soham in the middle.
  4. The old road goes through the centre of the town.
  5. Soham is a town of nearly eleven thousand people.
  6. I suspect the town is fairly flat and many will walk or cycle to the station.

Hopefully, the station will attract a lot of passengers.

Does The Station Need A Second Platform?

Network Rail have shown with the Borders Railway and the Avocet Line, that two trains per hour (tph) can be run reliably on a line with sections of single-track and some stations with only one platform.

One of the problems with a second platform at Soham, would be that lifts would be needed for many to cross the track.

It is not the cost that is the problem, but lifts do not have a hundred percent reliability.

Would installing lifts mean providing staff at the station?

I think, that unless the station attracts a lot of passengers, the second platform will never be built.

Would A Second Track Be Provided At Soham Station?

This is a different question, with possibly a different answer.

A large number of freight trains pass through Soham station each day and to increase their number Network Rail have proposed double-tracking the route between Soham and Ely.

As Soham and Ely are just over five miles apart, I wonder if Network Rail are thinking of putting a freight loop through Soham station, that continues to Ely.

These pictures show a long freight train waiting in the freight loop at Ely station before proceeding to Peterborough and the West.

I think that this loop is bi-directional.

Could the new freight loop be built, so that the following happens?

  • The freight loop starts to the South of Soham station.
  • The freight loop connects to the freight loop at Ely station.
  • All passenger trains use the current single-track.
  • All freight trains use the freight loop.
  • Both tracks would be bi-directional.
  • Freight trains don’t pass through the current platform at Soham station.

It stood be noted that passenger  and freight trains take less than ten minutes between Ely and Soham stations.

As both freight and passenger trains would have their own tracks, I suspect that a total of at least four passenger tph and four freight tph would be able to pass between Soham and Ely.

The A14 Parkway Station

I wrote this section originally in Soham Station Aims For December 2021 Opening, but it still applies.

The A14 Parkway station is a proposal from the East West Railway.

  • It would be just to the East of Chippenham junction and would be served by both Greater Anglia’s services between Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • It would also be close to the major road junction, where the A11 and the A14 meet.
  • It would be a Park-and-Ride station.

I believe it could be a major factor in cutting road mileage in East Anglia, as drivers going to Cambridge from Ipswich, Norwich, a large area of North-East East Anglia and North Essex could find that using the A14 Parkway station an easier and faster route. But the A14 Parkway would need a frequent service to the soon-to-be-three main Cambridge stations.

A Soham and Cambridge service could reverse at the A14 Parkway station or by careful timetabling, passengers would be able to change trains in a minute or two.

A Cambridge And Soham Service

I do wonder, if Cambridge could benefit from a triangular metro.

The three points of the triangle would be A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The three legs would have the following stations.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – Newmarket, Dullingham, Six Mile Bottom *, Fulbourne *, Cherry Hinton * and Cambridge
  • Cambridge South and Ely – Cambridge, Cambridge North and Waterbeach
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – Soham and Fordham *

Note.

  1. Stations marked with an asterisk (*) are possible new stations.
  2. The basic frequency would be one tph.
  3. Trains would reverse at A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The triangular nature of the service may mean that to avoid the driver constantly changing ends, that automation and video technology may allow driving from either end of the train.

These existing services would fit in with the triangular service.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough via A14 Parkway, Soham and Ely
  • Ipswich and Cambridge via A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Dullingham
  • Wisbech and Cambridge via Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.

Note.

  1. All services would probably be one tph.
  2. Some services currently terminating at Cambridge, may be extended to Cambridge South.
  3. There will be other services from East West Railway.

The frequencies on the various legs would be as follows.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – 2 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Cambridge South and Ely – 5 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – 2 tph

The route between A14 Parkway and Cambridge would need to be improved, but this is planned by East West Railway.

Would It Be Possible To Commute From Soham To London?

My timings of around ninety minutes are probably well within the endurance of the average commuter.

Conclusion

Soham station is not your run-of-the-mill rural station.

 

December 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is There A Case For A Round-The-Wash Service Between Doncaster And Ipswich/Norwich?

I suggested this service in The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line.

Effectively, it would join East Midlands Railway’s Doncaster and Peterborough service with Greater Anglia’s Cambridge and Ipswich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Stowmarket.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Suffolk.
  • The service would not use the East Coast Main Line, but would use the new Werrington Dive-Under and the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  • The frequency would be one train per two hours (1tp2h).
  • Ideal trains could be Class 755 trains, perhaps running on batteries or hydrogen.

It would be paired with a new Doncaster and Norwich service, that could partly replace East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool and Norwich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Norfolk.

As with the Ipswich train it would not use the East Coast Main Line and have a frequency of 1tp2h.

The Objectives Of The Service

I believe this service could have several objectives.

Remove Slower Trains From The East Coast Main Line Between Peterborough And Doncaster

There aren’t many except freight, but this plan could provide a better solution to the Liverpool and Norwich service.

Providing Better Connections To The Biggest Growth Point In The UK – Cambridge

Cambridge needs better connections, so that it can bring in the staff and workers, that the high-tech capital of the UK needs.

Better Connection Of East Anglia And Lincolnshire To Northern England And Scotland

In Peterborough and Doncaster the route has two main interchanges to bring about these connections.

Promoting Tourism

For a start the route has five cathedrals; Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Lincoln, Norwich and Peterborough and the historic city of Cambridge.

But I do believe that there are numerous places, where tourists might stay on the route and use it to explore the East of the country.

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Would The Route Be Electrified?

I don’t believe it will be fully electrified for two reasons.

Freight locomotives will increasingly become hydrogen-powered and also be able to use electrification, where it exists.

Plans by the likes of Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Furrer and Frey are likely to enable discontinuous and battery-electric trains to be able to work the route.

This philosophy would avoid all the disruption and reconstruction of structures of electrification and probably be much more affordable.

Would York Or Leeds Make A Better Northern Terminal For The Route?

Both have possibilities.

  • York would need running on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Leeds would probably need trains capable of 125 mph running.

On the other hand both Leeds and York would have superb connectivity.

Conclusion

I feel this would be a very valuable new service and it could be created without building any new infrastructure other than perhaps some strategic stations.

November 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would A Lumo-Style Service Work Between King’s Cross And Norfolk?

This is a bit of a fantasy and you’ll never know the real reason why I have written it!

With the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line to full digital signalling, there will be a problem South of Hitchin with 140 mph Azumas and Hitachi Class 802 trains and similar from Grand Central , Hull Trains and Lumo hogging the fast lines to and from King’s Cross. I first wrote about it in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

One solution would be to replace the current Class 387 trains with a 140 mph train , such as a Hitachi Class 802 variant. This would enable these fast King’s Lynn and Cambridge trains to join the 140 mph trains on a fast run to and from King’s Cross.

The Future Of Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the UK’s four world cities, with its heritage and lately its high position in any technology league table.

The Current Rail Service Between London And Cambridge

Currently, it has a good service into King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and St. Pancras.

  • Great Northern – two tph to King’s Cross – A stopping train using Class 700 or Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between Ely and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink  – two tph to Brighton – A semi-fast train using Class 700 trains.
  • Greater Anglia – two tph to Liverpool Street – A semi-fast train using Class 720 or Class 379 trains.

Note.

  1. tph means trains per hour.
  2. The similar Class 387 and Class 379 trains are both late-model Bombardier Electrostars with sensible seats and a large number of tables. Both train types can or could be modified to run at 110 mph.
  3. The Class 700 trains are unsuitable for the route, as they have ironing-board seats and no tables. These are only 100 mph trains.
  4. The Queen’s bottom doesn’t like the Class 700 trains.

A large proportion of the passengers and commuters between to and from Cambridge work in high-tech or information-rich businesses and I believe if the trains were more geared to this market they would attract passengers away from the roads.

The Cambridge Employment Problem

Fast-growing Cambridge is taking over the region and it is always looking for towns and villages to develop as places for dormitories and to build premises for the hundreds of high-tech businesses.

This is one of the reasons why Greater Anglia acquired new Stadler Class 755 trains to run services from Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport.

If you’re going to lure Cambridge’s well-paid high-tech commuters out of their cars, you must give them an equivalent seat to their car. The Class 379, 387 and 755 trains do this.

Living In Norfolk And Suffolk And Working In Cambridge

This has always been the choice of many who work in Cambridge, but using rail into Cambridge didn’t really take-off seriously until modern three-car Class 170 trains replaced the single-car Class 153 trains.

Greater Anglia have followed the upward trend in passenger numbers, by running hourly  four-car Class 755 trains from Cambridge to both Ipswich and Norwich.

Before the pandemic, it was starting to look like Norwich and Cambridge would soon need a second service, especially with the planned opening of the new Cambridge South station in 2025.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital And The Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cambridge South station is being built to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which intend to be create the foremost medical research cluster in the world.

Staycations And Holiday Homes In East Anglia

Life is changing because of the covids and more people are taking staycations or buying holiday homes.

And many are following the example of the Queen and going to Norfolk for their relaxation.

The Undoubted Need To Improve Rail Services Between London King’s Cross And Norfolk Via Cambridge

These factors convince me that there is a need for a new or repurposed rail service  between London King’s Cross and Norfolk via Cambridge.

  • The need to provide a high-class commuter service between London and Cambridge.
  • The need to bring workers into Cambridge from Norfolk.
  • The need to provide a fast high-class rail link to Cambridge South station with all its medical research.
  • The need to provide a comprehensive working environment on the trains.
  • The need to cater for all those people relaxing in Norfolk after a hard week in London.

It is my view, that a radical design of train is needed for this route.

  • It would need to have a high-class interior.
  • It would need at least a 125 mph capability, so that it can use the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross.
  • The train may need the ability to split and join.
  • It would need an independent power capability for running on the Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich.
  • Because of Cambridge and because East Anglia is easy country for cycling, it would need a sensible capacity for cycles.

I also believe that because of the need to decarbonise, the train should be zero-carbon.

These are my thoughts.

Operating Speed

Because of running on the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross with the 140 mph trains from the North, I suspect that an operating speed of at least 125 mph is needed. But if the Hitachi trains of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and in the future possibly other operators like Grand Central, will be capable of 140 mph, this speed could be desirable.

Speed limits once the trains have left the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin North junction are as follows.

  • Hitchin and Cambridge – 90 mph
  • Cambridge and King’s Lynn – 90 mph
  • Ely and Norwich – 75-90 mph

I can see Network Rail using their expertise to raise the speed limit on sections of these lines.

Flighting Of Trains On The East Coast Main Line

To increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line, I believe that at some point in the not too distant future that trains will be flighted. This will involve two or more trains leaving King’s Cross in a sequence and proceeding with all trains at a safe distance from each other.

I can envisage a flight like this from King’s Cross.

  • An Edinburgh train with York as the first stop – Leaves at XX.00
  • A Leeds train with Doncaster as the first stop – Leaves at XX.03
  • A Lincoln train with Peterborough as the first stop – Leaves at XX.06
  • A Cambridge train with Stevenage as the first stop – Leaves at XX.09

Note.

  1. The Edinburgh train would set the speed.
  2. Trains would maintain their time behind the lead train.
  3. Everything could be controlled by the digital signalling.
  4. Gaps between the trains would be sufficient for a safe stop.
  5. No train in the flight would make a station stop unless it was the last train in the flight.
  6. The last train in the flight would drop off and go to their destination.

As there are at least two tph to Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, there would be two main flights per hour leaving King’s Cross, with the second flight perhaps incorporating a service to Hull.

Digital signalling and precise driving would enable the flights to be built in the opposite direction into King’s Cross.

The big advantage would be that instead of needing eight paths per hour on the East Coast Main Line, only two would be needed.

All trains would need to have similar performance, so this is another reason why the Cambridge trains need to be at least 125 mph trains.

Train Interiors

Lumo has broken new ground in train interiors.

  • It is one class.
  • Everybody gets a decent seat.
  • Everybody gets good legroom.
  • Everybody gets some form of table.
  • There are decent-sized overhead racks for hand-baggage and coats.
  • There is space for bicycles and heavy luggage appropriate to the route.

This can be built on to provide a good working and playing environment suited to the passengers who would use a fast King’s Cross and Norfolk service via Cambridge.

  • Lots of tables for four, as in the high-class Electrostars.
  • Better bicycle storage.
  • Better alignment of seats with windows.

Hitachi could obviously produce a train to this specification.

But what about other manufacturers.

Stadler’s Class 755 trains are surely a possibility.

  • A senior driver from Greater Anglia told me that the design speed for a Class 755 train is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • They have good seats.
  • They have flat floors.
  • They have large windows.
  • They have step-free access between train and platform.
  • Like the Hitachi trains, they are in service.

I believe the closely-related Class 745 trains are probably the best commuter trains in the UK and are the only alternative to the Hitachi trains on a125 mph fully-electrified route.

Bridging The Electrification Gap Between Ely And Norwich

Between Norwich and Ely stations is 53.8 miles and this section is not electrified, although both stations have full electrification.

The line is not heavily used with typically only two passenger trains and the occasional freight trains in each direction in an hour.

This Hitachi infographic describes the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

A 90 km. range could be sufficient to cover the gap between Norwich and Ely.

Could Hitachi build a Class 802 train or similar with a battery range of 90 km or 56 miles?

Certainly, a speed of 100 mph would probably be sufficient to bridge the gap in a decent time.

Improving The Breckland Line

The Breckland Line is the route between Cambridge and Norwich.

  • Cambridge and Norwich is 68.5 miles
  • Only the sixteen miles between Cambridge and Ely North junction is electrified.
  • There are thirteen stops between the two cities.
  • A typical time is 79 minutes
  • This is an average speed of just 52 mph.
  • The operating speed is 75-90 mph.

I am sure that Network Rail can squeeze a few minutes here and there to get the operating speed up to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

But the big problem at Norwich is the Trowse swing bridge.

It is only single track and it is likely that this bridge will be replaced soon.

This Google Map shows Trowse junction, a short distance South of the swing bridge.

Note.

  1. The electrified double-track of the Great Eastern Main Line goes across the map from North East to South West.
  2. The double-track railway to the East of the main line is the unelectrified Breckland Line to Cambridge, which turns West and goes under the main line.
  3. On the West of the main lines are the Victoria sidings that I wrote about in Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project.

As the replacement of the swing bridge will require some work to be done to the electrification, I wonder if at the same time Network Rail would electrify the Norwich end of the Breckland Line.

There must be a balance point adding electrification or batteries to the trains.

As the Breckland Line has few freight trains, electrification is not needed for freight.

Ticketing

A high-speed high-capacity service as I’m proposing must be easy to use.

It is a classic route, where nothing short of London-style contactless ticketing will do, as I’m certain this encourages people to use the trains.

As East Anglia is self-contained and has few services that don’t terminate in the area or in London, I am certain that this could be achieved.

If you remove First Class as Greater Anglia has done on many services, you actually simplify the ticketing, so a Lumo-style mid-class is ideal.

High Speed Train Services

Currently Great Northern run two tph from King’s Cross to Ely via Cambridge.

  • One service is extended to King’s Lynn.
  • I could see the second service extended to Norwich.

Both services would need to be run by 125 mph trains because of the speed of other trains on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I think duch a system would be possible.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carbon Emissions Cut With The New Trains In East Anglia

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

The article explains the various ways Greater Anglia’s new trains cut carbon emissions.

The picture shows a PowerPack car of a Class 755 train.

 

The article indicates that these cars are more intelligent than I thought.

  • Regenerative braking can be used to power the trains systems.
  • The trains have a coast mode to cut emissions.
  • The article also confirms, that with time some diesel engines will be replaced with batteries.

It will be interesting to see how much carbon emissions are saved, when the trains have batteries and software developments are complete.

 

The picture sh

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment