The Anonymous Widower

Class 321 Renatus Trains At Wickford And On The Crouch Valley Line

This article on Rail Advent indicated that the platform extension at Wickford station had been completed, so that five-car Class 720 trains can work the Crouch Valley Line.

This morning I went to look at the progress and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 has been extended at the London end.
  2. The two trains working the branch were Class 321 Renatus trains.
  3. The stations on the branch seemed to have been spruced up.

I suspect Greater Anglia are expecting a lot more commuters and visitors.

  • But then the area is getting a lot more housing.
  • There are fast direct trains to and from London Liverpool Street on a railway with refurbished electrification.
  • Burnham-on-Crouch is one of the foremost yachting towns.
  • Remember the area is not far from Snowgoose Country.
  • The new Wallasea wetlands that were created with the tunnel spoil from Crossrail’s tunnels is not far away.

This Google map shows Burnham-on-Crouch and Wallasea Wetlands.

Note.

  1. Burnham-on-Crouch with its station in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Wallasea Wetlands are marked by the red arrow.

I don’t think it will be long before an appropriately-powered ferry is provided across the River Crouch.

I also have some thoughts.

The Class 321 Renatus Trains

The Class 321 Renatus trains may be a 2017 conversion of a 1990-built British Rail Class 321 train, but that doesn’t mean they are a cheap and nasty conversion.

So until all the Class 720 trains are in service, they are a more than adequate stand-in.

I was told that the Class 720 trains will be in service on the branch in September.

The Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is one of the great books of the Twentieth Century, written by the American; Paul Gallico.

This summary of the plot is from Wikipedia.

The Snow Goose is a simple, short written parable on the regenerative power of friendship and love, set against a backdrop of the horror of war. It documents the growth of a friendship between Philip Rhayader, an artist living a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse in the marshlands of Essex because of his disabilities, and a young local girl, Fritha. The snow goose, symbolic of both Rhayader (Gallico) and the world itself, wounded by gunshot and many miles from home, is found by Fritha and, as the human friendship blossoms, the bird is nursed back to flight, and revisits the lighthouse in its migration for several years. As Fritha grows up, Rhayader and his small sailboat eventually are lost in the Dunkirk evacuation, having saved several hundred men. The bird, which was with Rhayader, returns briefly to the grown Fritha on the marshes. She interprets this as Rhayader’s soul taking farewell of her (and realizes she had come to love him). Afterwards, a German pilot destroys Rhayader’s lighthouse and all of his work, except for one portrait Fritha saves after his death: a painting of her as Rhayader first saw her – a child, with the wounded snow goose in her arms.

It is not a book, you’d expect an American to write about the dark days of World War II in the UK.

But as Christopher Nolan showed in his film, Dunkirk was the battle in World War II, that stiffened up the sinews and summoned up the blood.

Wickford Station

The pictures show that Wickford station is being rebuilt.

I would think it needs a speed-free bridge.

 

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Airport Train For A Pandemic?

These pictures show one of Greater Anglia‘s new Class 745 trains on a Stansted Express service at Hackney Downs station, on the way to Liverpool Street station.

Stansted Express services do not usually use Platform 3, but it would appear that the service had started from Bishops Stortford.

The Future Of Stansted Express Trains

The previous Stansted Express trains; the more-than-adequate Class 379 trains are still waiting for a future, after being replaced.

Now because of the pandemic, the excellent Class 745 trains are running virtually empty.

Perhaps, it’s not a lucky route for trains.

June 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Does Harlow Need An Improved Train Service?

I ask this question, because I am increasingly seeing articles like this one on My London, which is entitled The Large Town Just Outside London Desperate For A London Underground Station.

The town is Harlow.

This Google Map shows the West Anglia Main Line, as it runs through the North of the town.

Note.

On the face of it the town seems well-served by the trains.

Harlow Town Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Town station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has four platforms.
  2. The station has full step-free access.
  3. The station has 697 parking spaces with 18 fully accessible spaces.

The station was built in the 1950s and is a Grade II Listed building.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 2 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale and Stansted Mountfitchet

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. The Stansted services are fast services and take 29 minutes between London Liverpool Street and Harlow Town.
  3. The other services seem to take a few minutes longer.
  4. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get six tph.
  5. Bishop’s Stortford gets a four tph service from Harlow Town.
  6. The two Cambridge stations only get two tph.

Harlow Town station has a fairly good service, but it could probably be improved.

Harlow Mill Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Mill station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station has step-free access to the London-bound platform only.
  3. The station has 29 parking spaces with 1 fully accessible space.

The station was built in the 1840s and gets about 13 % of the passengers compared to Harlow Town station.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 1 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get only two tph.
  3. Bishop’s Stortford gets two tph service from Harlow Mill.
  4. The two Cambridge stations only get one tph.

Unless you lived or worked nearby, I doubt you would be likely to use Harlow Mill station.

Recent And Planned Improvements

These improvements are planned and it is very unlikely they won’t happen.

Class 710 Trains

London Overground now runs new four-car Class 710 trains between London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt.

  • Each has 189 seats and can accept 489 standing passengers.
  • Busy services to Cheshunt will probably are pair of trains.
  • There are four tph between Cheshunt and London.
  • Will the trains shave a few minutes from journey times?

This massive increase in capacity and train quality must attract some passengers to change to and from the London Overground at Cheshunt.

Class 720 Trains

Greater Anglia has 133 new five-car Class 720 trains on order.

  • Each has 540 seats and can accept 145 standing passengers.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Busy services through Harlow will probably be a pair of these trains.

These new trains will be a massive increase in capacity and should attract more passengers to the route.

Class 745 Trains

Greater Anglia has recently introduced ten new twelve-car Class 745 trains on Stansted Express services.

  • Each has 767 seats.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They run a two tph service between Harlow Town and London Liverpool Street station and Stansted Airport.

These new trains should attract more passengers to the route.

Crossrail

Services through Harlow will connect to Crossrail at both London Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Will this mean that some passengers will switch from the Victoria Line to Crossrail for their onward journeys?

  • Crossrail will have more capacity than the Victoria Line.
  • Bond Street, Canary Wharf, Heathrow, Paddington and West London will be easier by Crossrail.
  • Victoria and Waterloo will probably be easier by the Victoria Line.
  • London Liverpool Street station’s new connection to the Northern Line will give easier access to parts of South London.
  • London Liverpool Street station will have much improved step-free connections to all London Underground lines.

Crossrail will certainly change the way many people travel between Harlow and London.

Four Lines Modernisation

This page on the Transport for London web site explains the Four Lines Modernisation. This is the first paragraph.

We’re transforming the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. When the work is done we’ll be able to run trains more frequently and reliably to make journeys faster and more comfortable.

The project should increase Peak Hour capacity by 33 %.

This will benefit those who change trains at London Liverpool Street between the West Anglia Main Line and the Circle and Metropolitan Lines.

Possible Improvements

These are possible improvements that may happen.

Crossrail 2

It is unlikely, that a start will be made on Crossrail 2 in the near future.

Victoria Line Improvements

The Victoria Line will continue to do, what it has done reliability for over fifty years.

But there could be improvements.

I also suspect that engineers will find a way to increase the frequency to forty tph.

Four Tracks On The West Anglia Main Line

There are two reasons for four-tracking sections of the West Anglia Main Line.

  • To separate Crossrail 2 trains from fast expresses to Stansted and Cambridge.
  • To speed up services to and from Stansted Airport.

However four-tracking the route between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations would probably be very beneficial.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge services could be speeded up.
  • Extra services could be run on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • It could make it easier to extend the Overground from Cheshunt.

Four-tracking will be needed for Crossrail 2, so there is surely the possibility, that it could be done earlier to bring benefits to those living along the Lea Valley.

ERTMS Signalling On The West Anglia Main Line

ERTMS Signalling could speed up services and increase their number on the West Anglia Main Line.

It might also enable four-tracking, which would be very disruptive to both train services and road traffic to be delayed.

Station Improvements On The West Anglia Main Line

The stations between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge are a poor bunch with only Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park, Meridian Water, Waltham Cross, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishop’s Stortford and Audley End having full step-free access.

Some of the other stations need refurbishment and step-free access.

As step-free access will be needed for Crossrail 2, why not setup a rolling program of station improvements.

Level Crossings On The West Anglia Main Line

There are four level crossings on the route to the South of Broxbourne, including three at Cheshunt, Enfield Lock and Brimsdown stations.

They all need to be removed for safety reasons.

New Trains And Capacity

The new trains being rolled out by Greater Anglia and the London Overground will certainly have effects on the services on the West Anglia Main Line.

  • The better performance could speed up services by a few minutes.
  • The capacity increase on the new trains should be welcome.
  • The trains will be of better quality than those they replace.

I also wonder, if the better quality of the trains and their facilities will surely attract more passengers. I suspect the train companies hope so!

Extending The London Overground

This map from cartometro.com shows Cheshunt station and Cheshunt Junction just to the South.

Note.

  1. The two platforms on the West Anglia Main Line and the single bay platform for the London Overground.
  2. The level crossing to the North of Cheshunt station.
  3. The comprehensive Cheshunt Junction which trains to go between the Southbury Loop and the West Anglia Main Line.

Cheshunt Junction is occasionally used by Greater Anglia trains to access the Southbury Loop.

It certainly seems to me, that the Overground could connect to the West Anglia Main Line.

  • All trains from London going to the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 2.
  • All trains to London coming from the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 1.
  • The bay Platform 3 would still be available to turn local trains on the Southbury Loop.
  • An extra crossover could probably be inserted to allow trains from London on the West Anglia Main Line to use Platform 3.

London Overground trains could run to a terminal further North.

Trains Between Cheshunt And London

It is worth looking at the number of trains between Cheshunt and London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport via West Anglia Main Line
  • London Overground – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt via the Southbury Loop

This means that the West Anglia Main Line has 10 tph and the Southbury Loop has 4 tph.

This suggests possibilities.

  • Move some services from the West Anglia Main Line to the Southbury Loop.
  • Extend some or all of the London Overground trains to the North of Cheshunt.
  • Stations like Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Harlow, Hertford East and Ware could get extra services to London.
  • The new services would connect to extra stations without changing trains.

Very little new infrastructure would be required.

Bishop’s Stortford Station As A London Overground Destination

Bishop’s Stortford station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Bishop’s Stortford station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • London Overground’s Class 710 trains only have an operating speed of only 75 mph.
  • The trains may need a speed upgrade to serve Bishop’s Stortford, as their speed could slow the Cambridge and Stansted Airport expresses.

If the London Overground services ran to Bishop’s Stortford station, all the smaller stations South of Bishop’s Stortford, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Bishop’s Stortford station may be a possibility, as a destination of two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Broxbourne Station As A London Overground Destination

Broxbourne station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North

Consider.

  • Broxbourne station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • As Broxbourne is only 3.2 miles and six minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Broxbourne station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Harlow Town Station As A London Overground Destination

Harlow Town station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Harlow Town station could probably easilyhandle up to an extra four tph.
  • If one is needed there would appear to be space for a turnback facility or an extra platform.
  • As Harlow Town is only 5.4 miles and eight minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

If the London Overground services ran to Harlow Town station, all the smaller stations South of Harlow Town, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Harlow Town station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to four tph on the London Overground route to London.

Hertford East Station As A London Overground Destination

Hertford East station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • There is an extra tph in the Peak.

Consider.

  • Hertford East station has platforms long enough for eight-car trains and may need modification to accommodate a pair of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.
  • Ware station would need to be remodelled to increase frequency above three tph.
  • As the route from Broxbourne is on a branch line, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Hertford East station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Conclusion

I think the best two destinations of the London Overground service to the North of Cheshunt would be Harlow and Hertford East.

  • Trains could terminate at Harlow Town station to connect with Stansted Express and Cambridge trains.
  • It appears that the slightly shorter Class 710 trains may have advantages when using the short platforms at Hertford East station.

Perhaps each destination should receive two tph.

  • Harlow Town would be connected to the Overground.
  • Passengers using stations between Hackney Downs and Cheshunt on the Southbury Loop would change at Harlow Town to and from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.
  • But the biggest benefit would be that two paths on the West Anglia Main Line would be released, as the two tph to Hertford East would be using the Southbury Loop.

I feel there are possibilities to increase the number of trains on the West Anglia Main Line without adding expensive extra tracks.

 

 

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hope For Wisbech Line Revival

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A partnership with Network Rail will speed up plans to re-introduce passenger services to Wisbech, according to James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

These are my thoughts.

Current Plan And Status

The current plan is as follows.

  • The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority has been developing plans on its own.
  • It will now work with Network Rail.
  • The initial service will be between March and Wisbech.
  • Hopefully, a viable plan will emerge.

A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service is an objective, once capacity has been improved at Ely.

Long Term Objectives

These longer term objectives are indicated in the article.

  • A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service.
  • A two trains per hour (tph) service between Wisbech and Cambridge.

These objectives will probably need capacity to be improved at Ely.

I used to play real tennis with one of Cambridge’s foremost thinkers about the long-term future of the city and the surrounding area.

He believed that Peterborough would increasing become a satellite city to Cambridge to provide housing and manufacturing capacity.

Based on my discussions with him, I believe that there should be at least two tph connecting Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, March and Peterborough stations.

Services Through March Station

These services go through March station.

  • Greater Anglia – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Ipswich and Peterborough
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cambridge and Birmingham New Street
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street.

Note.

  1. All trains stop at Ely.
  2. The Greater Anglia service also stops at Manea and Whittlesea.
  3. Greater Anglia promised to increase the frequency of the Ipswich and Peterborough service to hourly, in the new franchise agreement.
  4. The East Midlands Railway service does not stop at March.

In addition there are often around a succession of freight trains going to and from Whitemoor Yard and the Port of Felixstowe.

Even without major improvements at Ely, I suspect, that there could be three or even gour tph between Ely and Peterborough that stop at March, with Manea and Whittlesea served by at least one tph.

This frequency would do the following..

Improve services between Cambridge and Peterborough, if you were prepared to change at Ely, as there could be up to four tph between Ely and the three Cambridge stations.

Make it possible for a simple shuttle train to run between March and Wisbech and have good connections with services at March to both Peterborough and Cambridge.

Track Layout At March

This Google Map shows the track layout at March.

Note.

  1. March station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Ely is to the East.
  3. Peterborough is to the West.
  4. Whitemoor marshalling Yard is to North.

This second Google Map shows the Northern part of the map to a larger scale.

Note.

Whitemoor yard is to the North of the map.

There is a single track railway running North East  from Whitemoor junction  South of Whitemoor yard to the North East corner of the map. This is the disused Bramley Line between March and Wisbech, which will be reopened.

Between March And Wisbech

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the remains of the track between Whitemoor junction and Wisbech.

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line, just to the North of March.

Note.

Whitemoor Yard is to the West side of the map.

The Bramley Line shows as a green scar running diagonally across the map to the North-East cornet.

The blue dot marks a bus stop on the B1101.

The next three images were taken from Google Streetview.

This one shows the Bramley Line crossing the B1101.

In this one, the Bramley Line is crossing Long Drove.

And here it’s crossing Redmoor Lane.

I wouldn’t have thought, that turning the Bramley Line into a railway that would be safe for one of Greater Anglia’s three-car Class 755 trains would be a challenging project.

Approaching Wisbech

This Google Map shows how the railway approaches Wisbech.

Note.

At the Northern end of the map, there are the square white roofs of the Purina dog food factory, which appears to have been built on the site of the former Wisbech East station.

At the Southern end of the map, the railway crosses the A47.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows the Purina factory.

I don’t think it will be very easy to site a station in this area, without a great deal of friendly co-operation of Nestle, who own Purina.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows where the Bramley Line crosses the A47.

This image looking to the North from the A47, was taken from Google Streetview.

It definitely says that the Railway woz here!

This Google Map shows the A47 and what lies to the South of the road.

Note.

  1. The two-way A47 road across the map.
  2. The development to the South of the A47.
  3. The green scar of the former railway to the West of the development.

Looking at the route of the former railway and the A47, I must come to the conclusion that using the former route to access Wisbech would be extremely difficult and would require an expensive crossing of the A47.

A New Station At Wisbech

I think there are two solutions to providing a station for Wisbech; a Park-and-Ride station, where the former railay crossed the A 47 or find another site.

As a bridge over the A47 would be expensive, I would feel that the Park-and-Ride station could be the best option.

It could have a single platform like Felixstowe, which is shown in this image.

The train is one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains which would probably be used for services to Wisbech.

  • Adequate car parking could be provided at the station.
  • Secure bicycle parking would be provided.
  • There could be an electric shuttle bus to the town centre and the the North Cambridgeshire Hospital.

The only simple alternative, would be if it were possible to dig or bore a short single-track tunnel under the A47, so that the station could be put on the town side of the A47, where a lot of the land seems to be used for parking cars that are ready for the scrapyard.

Digging it should be possible given some of the traditionally dug tunnels, that have recently been built in the UK.

Would The Bramley Line Be Single Or Double Track?

The Felixstowe Branch Line is about the same length as the Bramley Line and is effectively a single-track line with a long passing loop to support a one tph passenger service.

So to support the desired two tph between March and Wisbech, I suspect that a mainly single-track route with a passing place in the middle will be needed.

Would There Be Any Intermediate Stations?

There used to be a station at Coldham, which is about halfway. Te Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

A plan by the Bramley Line to restore the line between Wisbech and March may see trains return to Coldham in some form.

This Google Map shows the village.

Note.

The road going to the West is called Station Road.

The green scar of the former railway can be seen passing North-South to the West of the houses.

This view from Google Streetview shows the former railway looking North from Station Road.

Could a double-track section be squeezed in here?

The Wikipedia entry for the Bramley Line shows two other stations, that were planned for a proposed heritage railway; March Elm Road and Waldersea.

This Google Map shows the area between March and Wisbech.

Note.

  1. March is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Wisbech is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Waldersea is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. Coldham is South of the red arrow.

Although March Elm Road and Waldersea might be ideal for a heritage railway, I suspect that the old British Rail layout of just a station, where trains can pass at Coldham would be the best layout.

What Trains Would Be Used?

I have assumed that Greater Anglia will use their three-car Class 755 trains.

  • They are new comfortable trains.
  • They are designed to carry bicycles.
  • When the route is extended to Cambridge, they would be able to use the electrification South of Ely.

I also feel that Greater Anglia planned their fleet size to include enough trains for a Wisbech service.

Could Battery Electric Trains Be Used?

The Class 755 trains are designed as modular bi-mode trains with a PowerPack in the middle, which contains diesel engines.

Stadler are building Class 756  tri-mode versions of these trains for Transport for Wales, which will have batteries and two diesel engines in the PowerPack.

In Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains, I stated that a three-car Class 756 train would have a 480 kWh battery capacity and the four-car would have 600 kWh. These figures came from a Freedom of Information Request. Not by me, I should add!

Batteries of these sizes would I feel give the Class 755 trains a range of up to fifty miles.

The various distances in the area are.

  • March and Ely – 15 miles
  • March and Peterborough – 15 miles
  • March and Wisbech – 12 miles

I think that Stadler’s and Network Rail’s engineers can come up with a very affordable plan, that will enable tri-mode Class 755 trains to run the following routes.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech and return.
  • Ely and Peterborough

As part of the works to improve capacity at Ely, I suspect there will be some renewal and extension of the electrification in the complicated junction.

So would the electrification be extended a few miles towards March, to remove any need for charging at Wisbech station?

What would certainly ensure battery-electric services to Wisbech would be the electrification of Ely and Peterborough via March.

I feel this is an important electrification infill, that should be done sooner rather than later.

  • It would be needed if it were decided, that all freight trains to and from Felixstowe were to be electric-hauled.
  • It would enable direct electric passenger services between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would help enable battery-electric operation between Peterborough and Norwich.
  • It would allow trains from the North to use Liverpool Street as an alternative terminal during engineering works or other blockades.

It might even make it easier to widen or replace the Digswell Viaduct, as it would offer a fully-electrified diversion route via Cambridge, during the inevitable long closure of the route.

Improvements At March Station

March station will need to be improved, if it is going to be used as an interchange station.

It will probably need a bay platform to turn the Wisbech trains.

I also think that step-free access will be needed for passengers, who need to cross the tracks and can’t manage the stairs.

Conclusion

I very much feel that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail can create a very useful branch line to Wisbech.

There is not much infrastructure to be built and upgraded.

  • A new station will be built at Wisbech, which I feel is likely to be a Park-and-Ride on the A47.
  • A bay platform will probably need to be reopened at March station.
  • March station will need to be step-free.
  • There may be a station and a passing loop at Coldham.
  • Track and signalling will need to be replaced.

But the big project needed is the remodelling at Ely, which will have to be done to increase capacity, through the bottleneck.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains would appear to be ideal for the branch and could operate on battery power.

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

My First Ride In A Class 720 Train

Today, I took my first ride in one of Greater Anglia‘s Class 720 train.

It was only between Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Notes and questions.

  1. Are all of the individual seats identical and can they be arranged as ones, twos or threes as required?
  2. Could this mean, that Greater Anglia could create a 2 + 2 version with tables. if they felt such a train was necessary for some routes?
  3. The details like luggage racks, wheelchair spaces and power sockets seem to be of a high standard.
  4. The ride seemed smooth. But if I was going between Liverpool Street and Norwich, I’d prefer to ride in one of Greater Anglia’s Stadler trains.
  5. The last picture is of the seats in a Class 345 train, as I wanted to judge a comparison.
  6. The Class 720 seat appears to my posterior to be slightly more comfortable, than the Class 345 seat.

This train is more than just a high-capacity suburban trundler.

February 22, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

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