The Anonymous Widower

Leicester Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at Leicester station today.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Long Straight Platforms

The two main platforms for trains to and from London are long and straight and can easily accommodate the longest trains that do or will use the station.

Wide Spacious Platforms

The two island platforms are wide and spacious.

In my time at the station, I didn’t see any trains use the outer platforms and I do wonder if the station is used to the maximum capacity allowed by the layout.

The Station Could Have More Trains And Be A Better Interchange

When you arrive at Ipswich station on a fast train from London, one of the half-hourly services has an easy connection to either Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and/or Peterborough. and staff and information screens are there to speed you on your way.

Leicester station doesn’t seem to welcome you to continue your journey elsewhere

Abellio And Ipswich Station

Abellio with their new trains and timetable, will be increasing frequencies, so that Suffolk’s County Town with a population of 133,000, will have the following services.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Bury St. Edmunds. – Doubled from current.
  • One tph to Cambridge – A second hourly service will be available with a change at Ely.
  • One tph to Felixstowe – Might be doubled, now thst the Felixstowe branch has more capacity.
  • Three-four tph to London – Faster and up from two expresses and a stopping train per hour.
  • One tph to Lowestoft – Better timetable and faster.
  • Three tph to Norwich – Up from two tph
  • One tph to Peterborough – Doubled from current one train per two hours.

The creation of the East-West Rail Link will see a doubling of the service to Cambridge and one train per two hours to Oxford.

Applying Abellio’s East Anglian Rules To Leicester

Leicester is a city and County Town, with a population of 330,000.

These appear to be the current services.

  • Two tph to Birmingham
  • One tph to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport
  • Two tph to Derby
  • One tph to Lincoln – Stopping train via Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Four tph to London
  • Two tph to Nottingham
  • Two tph to Sheffield

Leicester doesn’t seem to have the sort of train service the City deserves.

This is the London, Ipswich and Norwich philosophy as proposed by Abellio and in the process of being delivered.

  • New maximum-length and maximum-speed high-capacity Class 745 trains will provide more seats on the route.
  • A fifty per-cent increase in train frequency from two tph to three tph.
  • Four express services per day, only stopping at Ipswich, have been introduced, giving a ninety minute service between London and Norwich.
  • Four trains per day between Lowestoft and London.

What would a similar philosophy for London Midland Main Line, look like at Leicester?

  • Three tph to Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • Six tph to London
  • Three tph to Nottingham
  • All trains would be maximum-length with a capacity at least similar to a 2+8 HST.
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 745 trains will have 757 seats in two classes and a buffet. Expect a similar specification on the Midland Main Line.
  • Services will be faster, with I suspect no trains taking longer than an hour from Leicester to London or Sheffield.
  • Could there be a couple of non-stop trains every hour between London and Leicester?

This service would be a lot better and it only needs.

  • An extra tph between London and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • An extra tph between London and Nottingham.
  • Enough new maximum-length trains, which will probably be bi-mode trains, that are scheduled to arrive in 2022.

Four tph between London and Sheffield and London and Nottingham would surely be the ideal, but there just isn’t the capacity to the South of Kettering and in St. Pancras station.

So will we see extra services on the Midland Main Line to boost services North of Leicester?

  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Sheffield via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway, Ilkeston, Langley Mill, Alfreton and Chesterfield.
  • One tph between Leicester and Nottingham via Louthborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.
  • The one tph Leicester to Lincoln service could also be included.

The services would be as follows.

  • Trains would probably be shorter versions of the maximum-length bi-mode Midland Main Line trains.
  • They would use the outer platforms at Leicester station to give cross-platform interchange with the frequent London trains.
  • Services could possibly be extended past Sheffield to Leeds and past Nottinghm to Newark or Lincoln.

Leicester’s excellent platform design would see an increase in the number of trains and hopefully passengers.

Leicester And East-West Services

I also think, that there is sufficient capacity in Leicester station to add the following East-West services.

  • Four tph to Birmingham
  • Four tph to Cambridge
  • Four tph to Peterborough

The following should be noted.

  • Abellio has a substantial interest in all three stations and Leicester.
  • The routes are often run by two-car Class 170 trains.
  • The trains are often full.
  • There is only short sections of lines that are electrified.

I believe that there should be the  following service between Birmingham and Cambridge.

  • Four tph
  • At least four-car bi-mode trains.
  • At least a 100 mph capability.
  • Stops would include Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March and Ely.
  • At the Birmingham end, services could go via Birmingham International and Coventry.
  • At the Cambridge end. perhaps two tph could be extended to Audley End and Stansted Airport.
  • At Leicester there would be an easy interchange to London, the East Midlands and Sheffield.
  • At Peterborough, there would be an easy interchange to London, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland

It could be argued that if there is a need for a Cambridge and Oxford rail link, then Britain’s fastest growing high-technology hub, needs to have a high quality rail link to Birmingham via Leicester, Coventry and Birmingham International.

One overcrowded hourly two-car diesel train is not suitable for this important rail route.

Currently, trains take two hours forty-five minutes between Birmingham and Cambridge, which means with a fifteen minute turnround at either end, twenty-four trains would be needed for the service.

So it is probably not feasible, but I suspect it could be an aspiration for Abellio.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abellio try to take over the Birmingham and Stansted Airport service from CrossCountry.
  • Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains would double the capacity and be able to use electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Greater Anglia have a few spare Class 755 trains, so is this takeover in their ambitions.
  • Would the service be easier for Abellio to run, than CrossCountry?

This is a service to watch over the next couple of years.

Class 755 Trains In The East Midlands

I also suspect that Class 755 trains could be in Abellio’s plans for the East Midlands. Lincolnshire’s railways are little different to those of East Anglia.

The Bridges At The Southern End Of The Station

An East Midlands Trains driver told me, that one of the problems of electrifying through Leicester station with 25 KVAC overhead wires, is that the bridges at the Southern end of the station are a problem.

The general impression, I got was that the structure under the bridges is so complicated, that there would need to be a massive reconstruction of the railway.

So if this meant that the railway had to be closed for a number of months, is this the reason for only electrifying as far as Market Harborough?

Surely, if the Midland Main Line is only to be partly-electrified, then Leicester would surely be a better changeover point.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

Leicester station with the two tracks between widely-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

Leicester station is a station, that suits the ambitions of the City.

But the unimaginative train service as provided by Stagecoach, is very fourth-rate and has left Abellio with a lot of scope to improve the train service throughout the East Midlands.

Stagecoach have only themselves to blame for losing the franchise.

 

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What More Could Passengers Want?

The latest Press Release on the Stadler web site about the new trains for Greater Anglia is entitled Milestone For The UK: First Stadler FLIRT train Receives Approval.

These are the last two paragraphs.

With 20 per cent more seats, which have been designed to be as comfortable as possible, trains will feature
low flooring to make them accessible for people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs. Windows will be bigger
and ‘picture style’ to improve the passenger experience and create a more airy and spacious feel.
Mobile phone reception will be better and plug and USB sockets will be installed at every seat. Wifi will be
free and faster than previously. All trains will be fully air-conditioned and have disabled toilets and bicycle
spaces.

What more could passengers want?

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Future Stansted Airport Train Services

Currently, the following services go to Stansted Airport station, in trains per hour (tph)

  • Four tph – Stansted Express – Liverpool Street
  • One tph -CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street via Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester
  • One tph – Greater Anglia – Cambridge via Audley End and Whittlesford Parkway

Greater Anglia have plans to change the services.

  • Extend the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.
  • Reintroduction of a Stansted Express service between the Airport and Stratford is mentioned in Wikipedia.

With two very long and one shorter platform, the Airport station has plenty of capacity.

Stansted Express Journey Times And Trains Required

Currently, Stansted Express services run at a frequency of four tph, that take fifty minutes between London and the Airport.

If a turnround time of ten minutes is added, then it takes trains two hours to do a round trip between London and the Airport.

So this means that thse numbers of trains are needed for the following frequencies.

  • One tph – Two trains
  • Two tph – Four trains
  • Four tph – Eight trains

As Greater Anglia have ordered ten Class 745/1 trains for Stansted Express, these would be able to provide a reliable service with eight in service, one as a spare and one in maintenance.

A Stansted Express service to Stratford would take the same time and would need similar numbers of trains.

Norwich and Stansted Airport Journey Times And Trains Required

The timing for the proposed service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, can be estimated by taking the timing of current services.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes

Both services are run by reasonably-modern 100 mph diesel trains.

Add in a ten minute turnround at both ends of the route and it should be possible to schedule a Stansted Airport and Norwich round trip in four hours.

Greater Anglia is introducing new bi-mode Class 755 trains on this route.

  • The trains will be designed for fast stops.
  • The trains will run on electricity on the nearly forty miles between Stansted Airport and Ely and around Norwich.
  • The trains will run on diesel between Ely and Trouse Junction, just to the South of Norwich.
  • The trains will probably be abe to achieve 100 mph on a good proportion of the route.
  • The trains will probably be four-cars.

It would need four trains to run the proposed one tph service.

The current Norwich and Cambridge service probably needs three trains, so extending to Stansted Airport will need an extra train.

This seems to be good value for passengers, the Cities of Cambridge and Norwich, Stansted Airport and Greater Anglia.

Could There Be A Norwich And London Service Via The West Anglia Main Line?

I can remember seeing steam-hauled expresses thundering between Liverpool Street and Norwich in the 1950s, through places like Brimsdown.

They are long gone, but they gave places like Wymondham and Thetford a direct rail link to London.

Greater Anglia’s future plans will connect these towns and others directly to Stansted Airport, but could they go all the way to London?

What do the mathematics show?

The section timings of a Norwich and London service via Cambridge and Stansted Airport would be as follows.

  • Norwich and Cambridge – One hour 20 minutes
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 30 minutes
  • Stansted Airport and London – 50 minutes

This is just two hours and forty minutes.

Add in a few minutes for the reverse at Stansted Airport and the turnround at either end and I believe a round trip could be comfortably within six hours.

It would therefore mean that six trains would be needed to run an hourly service between London and Norwich.

  • Stops could be Tottenham Hale, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford, Stansted Airport, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and all stations to Norwich.
  • The London terminal could be Liverpool Street or Stratford.
  • If Stratford were to be used, trains could be turned round in the High Meads Loop.
  • Trains would be Class 755 trains, which are bi-mode and capable of 100 mph running.
  • Between London and Ely, the trains would take advantage of the electrification.

The service would give a lot of stations a direct connection to Stansted Airport, that would be complimentary to the Stansted Express.

It would require just two more trains, than the planned Norwich and Stansted Airport service.

The advantages of the service would be.

  • Stations between Thetford and Norwich would get direct London and Stansted Airport services.
  • Stratford would get a very useful direct service to Stansted Airport.

Greater Anglia would serve two markets with the extended service and just two extra trains, over the planned service.

If Greater Anglia say a London and Norwich via Stansted Airport service will never happen, they are being economical with the truth.

Could Class 755 Trains With Batteries Bridge The Electrification Gap,Between Ely And Trowse Junction?

The distance between the electrification at Ely station and Trowse Junction, South of Norwich, is just under fifty-three miles.

I believe that the tri-mode four-car Flirts for Trains for Wales are similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, with three of the Deutz diesel engines replaced with 100-120 kWh batteries.

Would this be enough power to take the train across the electrification gap?

Consider.

  • There is electrification at both ends and the batteries could be full, on entering the unelectrified section.
  • The route is very gentle.
  • There are a few stops, but the trains will have regenerative braking to charge the batteries.
  • The trains could retain a single diesel-engine,, should livestock on the line cause the service to be suspended.

For these and other reasons, I suspect that in a couple of years, diesel will be relegated to emergency use only between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

The Herd Of Wannabe Unicorns In The Room

Other places have elephants, but the City of Cambridge has herds of wannabe unicorns.

For those of you, unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines unicorn like this.

A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.

Cambridge is expanding at a fast rate and it needs public transport systems to bring in the workers, visitors and investors.

  • A new Cambridge North station has been built.
  • A guided busway linking Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to the City Centre has been built.
  • A new Cambridge South station is being planned.
  • The East-West Rail Link will connect Cambridge to Oxford.

Road travel in the local area is not an option.

Currently, most rail services radiate from Cambridge station, but like London and other cities are proving, Cambridge needs Cross-City services.

A high-frequency North-South route is being created  across the City.

  • To the North of the City is Ely station.
  • North of Ely station, lines fan out to Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Norwich.
  • From North to South across the City, there will be Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South  stations.
  • South of Cambridge South station, lines will fan out to Bedford and Oxford, Royston, Hitchin and Kings Cross and Audley End, Stansted Airport and Livepool Street.

In addition routes to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Felixstowe reach out to the East.

The current North-South train services include.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph – Kings Lynn and Kings Cross
  • 1 tph – Cambridge and Norwich
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Liverpool Street
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross

The number of these services will grow.

Will More Stations Be Built Or Reopened Between Stansted Airport And Norwich?

I know the route, South of Cambridge better than I know it to the North.

To the South of Cambridge, the current stations could be sufficient, with improved car and bicycle parking and provision for electric cars.

To the North, there appear to be new housing developments under consideration and surely, these will need good public transport to and from Cambridge.

Does The Norwich and Stansted Airport Service Need Two Trains Per Hour?

I have a feeling that Greater Anglia think, that East Anglia’s generally one tph services between major towns and cities is not enough.

Greater Anglia have said they will do the following.

  • Increase the Ipswich and Norwich frequency from two to three tph.
  • Run two tph between Ipswich and Kennett via Bury St. Edmunds.

I talked previously about Cambridge and its  herd of wannabe unicorns.

I believe strongly, that the Cambridge Effect will in a couple of years, mean that the frequency between Norwich and Stansted Airport will need to be doubled.

But will Greater Anglia have enough trains?

Greater Anglia are  purchasing a fleet of 38 Class 755 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 assorted trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

There should be enough for either.

  • Eight trains for two tph between Norwich and Stansted Airport.
  • Twelve trains for two tph between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

These would be increases of four and eight trains respectively on Greater Anglia’s  current plan for a one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia have enough trains to run a two tph service between Norwich and London via Stansted Airport.

I believe that the Cambridge Effect will create enough demand to necessitate expansion of the proposed one tph service between Norwich and Stansted Airport into a Norwich and London via Stansted Airport service.

  • Frequency will be two tph.
  • New commuter-friendly stations could be built.
  • The Southern terminal could be Stratford to give a second route to Stansted Airport from London.

Greater Anglia would be satisfying two markets with one train.

 

 

June 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tottenham Hale Station Is Beginning To Make Sense

These are pictures, I took of Tottenham Hale station, this morning.

A few of my observations.

The Cladding Is Going On

The cladding is going on the building above the Victoria Line ticket hall.

It appears to be fireproof glass on a concrete and steel frame.

A Wide Island Platform

Platforms 2 and 3 form a wide island platform.

  • Only Platform 3 appears to be in use for London-bound services to both Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • Both faces appear long enough for a 240 metre long Stansted Express train.
  • There is a step-free bridge at the half-way point of the platform.
  • The original bridge with its escalator is still in place.

It is a design with good potential for handling more services.

  • Platform 3 could handle all services to Liverpool Street station.
  • Platform 2 could handle all services to Stratford station.

Travellers would just walk across the island platform.

The Step-Free Bridge Appears Almost Complete

The bridge appears to be almost complete.

  • The bridge has lifts and stairs with double handrails on both sides.
  • The lift and stairs on the London-bound side are in the middle of the island platform 2 & 3.
  • There is an escalator for London-bound travellers to access the bridge, to give an easy route to the Victoria Line.

There appears to be just a bit of testing before full commissioning.

The Old Bridge Is Still In Place

It still has its up escalator from Platform 2 & 3 and there have been statements that this bridge will be modified to create a link between the Underground station and the developments on the other side of the tracks.

Most Of The Bus And Taxi Interchange Is Complete

With buses and black taxis, the interchange seems finished.

  • Much of North and East London can get a bus to and from the station.
  • Today, I got a 76 bus to Dalston for a two hundred metre walk.
  • But with a heavy case, I’d get a black cab,

Transport planners usual only plan for travellers to and from the City centre.

The Future

The Stratford And Meridian Water Shuttle

This is rumoured to start in September and will probably be the following.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.
  • Stops will be at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.
  • Trains could be any length up to probably 240 metres, as all platforms are long.
  • Current trains take sixteen minutes between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.

In addition services between Stratford and Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations would stop at Meridian Water, to give the station a four tph service to and from Stratford.

The new Meridian Water station has been built with a dedicated bay platform for the shuttle service.

The bay Platform 2 is on the right and the through Platform 3 is on the left in this picture taken looking North at Meridian Water station.

Two tph to Stratford would leave from each side of this platform.

The new track between Meridian Water and Lea Bridge stations has been built without a passing loop, so the two tph shuttle must probably be run by a single train.

The shuttle would.

  • Have exclusive use of the new track between Lea Bridge and Meridian Water stations.
  • Have shared use of the existing track between Lea  Bridge and Stratford stations.
  • Call at Platform 2 at Tottenhale and Northumberlan Park station in both directions.

A two tph shuttle would consist of the following.

  • Four journeys between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.
  • Twenty-four intermediate station stops.
  • Two turnrounds each at Meridian Water and Stratford stations.
  • Current turnrounds at Stratford have in excess of twenty minutes to unload and load passengers and for the driver to change ends.
  • Greater Anglia will be running the shuttle in September with nearly nearly forty-year-old British Rail-built Class 317 trains.

As there is not enough time to fit the trains with wings and jet engines, what the hell will be happening?

Go to Stratford station and there is an out-of-date sign at the end of Platform 1 and 2, where the Overground trains terminate.

It directs passengers to Platform 12 for Stansted Airport.

It dates from the time, when Stansted Express trains used to go to Stratford station.

They didn’t turnround in Platform 12, but used the High Meads Loop underneath the Eastfield Shopping Centre to reverse direction.

  • The train stopped in Platform 12 long enough for passenger to leave and join the train.
  • The driver stayed in the same cab and carried on driving.

I suspect that a Class 317 train could go from Platform 1 at Lea Bridge station, round the High Meads Loop and back to Platform 2 at Lea Bridge station, in these split times.

  • Lea Bridge to Stratford – 6 minutes.
  • Stop in Platform 12 at Stratford – 1 minute
  • Straford to Lea Bridge – 6 minutes.

I believe all these times can be achieved by well-driven Class 317 trains, which gives a timing of thirteen minutes.

Currently, Lea Bridge to Meridian Water takes nine minutes in the elderly Class 317 trains, sharing the track with other trains.

But the shuttle trains will have a clear track, once they are on the new track North of Lea Bridge station.

I believe they could do this in perhaps seven minutes.

Applying, the sort of maths a bright nine-year-old should be able to master.

60 – 2*13 – 4*7 = 6

So could you turn a train round at Meridian Water station in three minutes?

  • London Overground regularly do this at Dalston Junction station.
  • Stepping-up might be needed, where a second driver immediately gets into the rear cab and takes over the train.

But it all leads me to the conclusion, that a single Class 317 train can run a two tph shuttle between Meridian Water and Stratford stations.

The following conditions would apply.

  • The trains must use the High Meads Loop.
  • There would be a fast stop in Stratford, taking less than a minute.
  • Stratford to Lea Bridge times should be six minutes or less.
  • Meridian Water to Lea Bridge times should be seven minutes or less.
  • Stepping-up might need to be employed at Meridian Water.
  • Trains could be up to 240 metres long.
  • The trains would have to be well-driven.

There is also the fall-back position, that the new Class 720 trains to be delivered later in the year will have increased performance.

Development Of The High Meads Loop

The High Meads Loop is an almost unique piece of railway infrastructure on the UK rail network.

  • The simpler Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool turns upwards of twelve tph back for the Wirral Line.
  • The Wirral Line also has four stations on the loop.
  • I believe the High Meads Loop could easily handle a similar frequency to the Wirral Line Loop.
  • The High Meads Loop is also double-track.

I believe, that currently, the High Meads Loop is only planned to only handle the following services.

  • Two tph – Meridian Water Shuttle
  • Two tph – West Anglia Main Line services.

There is a lot more capacity to handle services from the West Anglia Main Line or its branches.

Liverpool Street And Meridian Water Services

When the Field Day Festival took place a couple of weeks ago, Greater Anglia stopped several services, including some Stansted Express services at Meridian Water station to bring festival-goers back to Central London.

Currently, the following Liverpool Street services pass through Meridian Water station.

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street and Cambridge
  • Four tph – Stansted Express

As Greater Anglia’s new fleet of trains, will all be optimised for fast stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Greater Anglia services to and from Liverpool Street station doing the following.

  • Northbound services would stop in Platform 4 at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations.
  • Southbound services would stop in Platform 3 at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations.

If Northumberland Park and Median Water stations deserve four tph to and from Stratford, surely they deserve the same frequency to and from Liverpool Street. Could both Cambridge and Hertford East services stop at Northumberland Park and Meridian Water station?

  • Both Northumberland Park and Meridian Water stations could get direct services to and from Liverpool Street station.
  • The island platforms at all three stations  could give some useful cross-platform interchanges.

Stations North of Tottenham Hale would get these frequencies to and from the station and the Victoria Line.

  • Eight tph – Northumberland Park
  • Eight tph – Meridian Water
  • Two tph – Ponders End
  • Two tph – Brimsdown
  • Four tph – Enfield Lock
  • Three tph – Waltham Cross
  • Six tph – Cheshunt
  • Six tph – Broxbourne

Note.

  1. With a few extra stops by Stratford services, all stations between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne could get at least a very customer-friendly four tph.
  2. If your station didn’t have a Stratford service, there would be a cross- or same-platform interchange going at Tottenham Hale station.
  3. Using Stratford and Crossrail may be preferable on some journeys than Tottenham Hale sand the Victoria Line.
  4. In this hot weather give me an air-conditioned Aventra over a furnace on the Victoria Line any time.

A Lea Valley Metro could be emerging.

Stansted Express And Meridian Water

Consider.

  • Various arguments and statistics could be used to decide whether Stansted Express trains stopped at Meridian Water station.
  • I suspect too, that if Spurs continue to play in Europe, that a strong case can be made for stopping Stansted Expresses at Northumberland Park station.
  • But the performance of the trains on the West Anglia Main Line will enable Greater Anglia to do what’s best for passengers and profits.

As Greater Anglia did a couple of weeks ago with the Field Day Festival, they can even be selective.

Stansted Express And Stratford

The Stansted Express is currently a four tph service between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Consider.

  • In the past, Stansted Expresses ran to and from Stratford.
  • As they did in the past, they could terminate in the High Meads Loop at Stratford.
  • Big International events are held at Stratford.
  • The Central Line links Stratford and Liverpool Street.
  • Crossrail will link Stratford and Liverpool Street at a frequency of twelve tph.
  • Stratford and Tottenham Hale will soon be linked at a frequency of four tph.
  • Extra trains could be needed to run Stansted Expresses to and from Stratford.

I think that running a Stansted |Express to and from Stratford that will remain under review and could be implemented at some date in the future.

In Future Stansted Airport Train Services, I outline how trains might serve Stansted Airport from Norwich and Stratford stations.

Any trains between Stratford and Stanstead Airport, would probably terminate in the High Meads Loop, as they did in the past.

Should High Meads Loop Services Use Platform 11 Or Platform 12?

When Stansted Express services used the High Meads Loop a few years ago, they used to use Platform 12, as the sign still shows.

It could obviously handle the planned four tph, but suppose the High Meads Loop was handling twelve or sixteen tph, as a high-frequency route to Crossrail would Platform 11 be a better option?

Certainly, if the High Meads Loop was handling a lot of services including Stansted Express, Cambridge and local services, there would need to be a lot of thought about how to organise passengers.

There would need to be a fast pedestrian route between Platform 11 or 12 and the two Crossrail/Central Line platforms.

Extra Services That Could Use The High Meads Loop

As I said earlier, I think that if a Stratford and Stansted Airport service is revived, it will use the High Meads Loop.

My preference would be to run a Stratford and Norwich service, that would call at Stansted Airport.

  • It would serve greatly increase capacity all along the West Anglia Main Line, through Cambridge.
  • It could give intermediate stations a direct service to Stansted Airport.
  • Two tph would be a sensible frequency.
  • Calls could include Tottenham Hale, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishops Stortford, Whittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and all stations to Norwich.

A two tph service would need twelve Class 755 trains.

The High Meads Loop would also be available to turn extra local services.

One possibility is to reinstate the Hall Farm Curve and run services between Chingford and Stratford.

The level crossing at Highams Park station is a problem, but in Improving The Chingford Branch Line, I outlined how it could be possible to run four tph between Chingford and Stratford stations, using clever timetabling, digital signalling and good driver aids.

Another possibility is to terminate some London Overground services from Cheshunt and Enfield Town at Stratford, instead of Liverpool Street.

Services could be .

  • Two tph between Enfield Town and Liverpool Street
  • Two tph between Cheshunt and Liverpool Street
  • Two tph between Enfield Town and Stratford.
  • Two tph between Cheshunt and Stratford.

This would mean.

  • London Overground’s preferred frequency of four tph to Enfield Town and Cheshunt.
  • All stations between Edmonton Green and Seven Sisters, including White Hart Lane, would get an eight tph service to London and Crossrail.
  • Four tph in both directions would call at South Tottenham station to give a same platform interchange with the Gospel Oak to Barking Line..

Most of the infrastructure is already in place, although improvements might be needed to the Seven Sisters Chord, that links Seven Sisters station to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Summing up, I believe we could see the following services using the High Meads Loop.

  • Two tph to and from Meridian Water
  • Two tph to and from Bishops Stortford via Meridian Water
  • Two tph to and from Norwich via Stansted
  • Four tph to and from Chingford via the Hall Farm Curve.
  • Two tph to and from Enfield Town via South Tottenham and Seven Sisters
  • Two tph to and from Cheshunt via South Tottenham and Seven Sisters

That is an easy-to-handle fourteen tph.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the lines connecting the North London Line and the High Meads Loop to platforms 1m 2, 11 and 12 at Stratford station.

Given that freight trains pass through the area to get between the North London Line and the Great Eastern Main Line, there may need to be some track reorganisation to make full use of the High Meads Loop.

Digital signalling would also help, as it would all over the London Overground network.

I think it would not be unreasonable to expect that in some point in the future twenty tph could be running around the High Meads Loop.

A new rail terminus for London would have been created with the ability to handle more trains than either Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street or Marylebone. stations.

Could we see all West Anglia Main Line services terminate in the High Meads Loop?

Probably not, as the platform wouldn’t be able to cope with all the passengers.

Crossrail 2

If Crossrail 2 is ever built, it will terminate at Broxbourne on the West Anglia Main Line.

It will need four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line between  Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations, which will create massive disruption for passengers and residents.

Conclusion

There is a lot of development, that is possible on the West Anglia Main Line to make it into a world-class commuter route and a main line route with good services to Stansted Airport, Cambridge and Norwich.

Cambridge is a big growth point in the UK economy and dveloping the West Anglia Main Line will only improve the economy of the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stadler Receives First Flirt Akku Battery Train Order

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Railway Gazette International.

This is said.

Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has selected Stadler to supply 55 Flirt Akku battery multiple-units to operate regional services and provide 30 years of maintenance.

Announcing its selection as preferred bidder on June 19, Stadler said that it will reveal more details when the contract is signed, which is expected after the 10-day standstill period. NAH.SH called tenders for zero-emission trains to run on non-electrified lines but did not specify the technology to be used.

NAH.SH becomes the launch customer for the Flirt Akku, which was officially unveiled last year at the Stadler Pankow factory in Berlin.

Information on the order is a bit short, but that doesn’t stop me speculating.

Do The Flirt Akku Trains Have A Power-Pack Like Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains?

Certainly, the Stadler Flirts for the South Wales Metro, do have both a power-pack and a battery, as Stadler use the same image for both trains and the trains have batteries.

These pictures show some of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains in the sidings at Crown Point Depot.

Note, these are four-car Class 755 trains with a power-pack in the middle.

In Importance Of Battery Range: Stadler’s FLIRT BMU For Greater Anglia, I referenced an article, that said that Greater Anglia’s network is too long for battery trains. But the article seemed to suggest, that Greater Anglia could go battery in the future.

Until, I get more details on the Flirt Akku, I will assume that they use a power-pack containing batteries instead of diesel engines.

As in South Wales, there could also be a mix of diesel engines and batteries in the power-pack of a Flirt Akku.

 

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Importance Of Battery Range: Stadler’s FLIRT BMU For Greater Anglia

The title of this post is the same as a sub-section of this article on Railway News, which is entitled Stadler Presents New FLIRT Akku For The First Time.

This is said.

By contrast, Stadler recently unveiled its bi-mode (electric-diesel) FLIRT for Greater Anglia (U.K.) at InnoTrans 2018. When asked why Greater Anglia went for a diesel-electric option rather than a battery-electric option to bridge the non-electrified gaps in the network, Railway-News was told that the non-electrified distances in the U.K. are currently too great for battery-operated trains to cope with. As battery technology improves, this will hopefully change, making diesel and the need for electrification obsolete

Does this infer the following?

  1. Greater Anglia would have preferred to use battery-electric trains.
  2. It is possible to swap the diesel engines in the power-pack for battery modules.
  3. It could be possible to swap a diesel generator for a hydrogen fuel cell.

Option three might be difficult, as you need somewhere to put the hydrogen tank within the limited UK loading gauge.

Conclusion

I think it is highly likely that as battery technology improves and Stadler are able to package it better for the Class 755 trains, that Greater Anglia will change some of their Class 755 trains to battery-electric operation.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

First Stadler FLIRT Train Receives Approval To Enter UK Service

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

This is the first paragraph.

The British railway regulatory authority, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has granted Stadler approval for the 24 four-car bimodal FLIRT (BMU) for Greater Anglia. For Stadler, this is an important milestone in the project. It is the first FLIRT in the UK to receive an authorisation for placing the train into service (APIS). The test runs with the train for use in the UK only began at the beginning of 2019. Thanks to the excellent cooperation between Greater Anglia, Abellio, Rock Rail, Stadler and the authorities, the approval was obtained in record time.

It does make a change for a train to be able to enter service without too much trouble.

I do think that Stadler, Abellio and Greater Anglia have had a few advantages.

  • These are the second fleet of Stadler bi-more FLIRTs, but could be the first to enter service.
  • The electrified route between Norwich and Diss has been able to be used as a dedicated 100 mph test rtrack during the night, when no scheduled services are running.
  • The trains are based at Crown Point depot, close to the Northern end of the test route.
  • Abellio run fleets of FLIRTs in The Netherlands.

There also doesn’t appear to have been any major problems to delay the testing.

From reports in the local daily newspapers, it also appears that staff are fully behind these new trains and enthusiastic about their arrival.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

InterCity Quality For Rural Routes

The title of this post is a quote from the Managing Director of Greater Anglia; Jamie Burles about the Class 755 trains in this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the complete paragraph.

Burles said of the Class 755s: “These will be the most reliable regional train in the UK by a country mile – they had better be. They will be InterCity quality for rural routes, and will exceed expectations.”

Initially, the Class 755 trains will be deployed between Norwich and Great Yarmouth stations.

  • It is 18.4 miles long
  • There are four intermediate stations.
  • Trains currently take thirty-three minutes.

It is certainly not your traditional InterCity route and it only runs at a maximum frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

Consider.

  • Norwich is a City of over 140,000.
  • Great Yarmouth is a town of 40,000.
  • There are lots of business and leisure reasons to travel between the two.
  • The A47 road between the two is totally inadequate.

Greater Anglia are purchasing a fleet of 38 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

I don’t believe that Greater Anglia will park these trains in a siding, but use them to increase frequencies.

  • Will the 100 mph operating speed of the trains allow a round trip between Norwich and Great Yarmouth to be done in after an hour?
  • Will the frequency be increased to up to four tph?

If this can be arranged then Greater Anglia could need as few as four trains to run a Turn-Up-and-Go service between Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

How many passengers would that attract to the route?

Comparing Three-Car Class 755 And Class 170 Trains.

Some three-car Class 170 trains were bought some years ago, to run services between London and Great Yarmouth.

In recent years, they have become the mainstay of Greater Anglia’s regional routes.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Cambridge

All three routes are currently run at a frequency of one tph.

These trains have the following specification.

  • 100 mph operation
  • Two-class layout.
  • Between 100 and 200 seats.

They have proven to be a  capable train for the routes and appear to have been driving increasing traffic levels.

It should also be noted that other operators use these trains on routes including.

  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport
  • Cardiff and Nottingham

I think it is true to say that Class 170 trains are 100 mph trains for running on InterCity routes that can’t justify a full-size train like a bi-mode Class 802 train.

Some operators will also be running five-car Class 802 trains on routes that have been run in the past or still are run by Class 170 trains.

The Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains, which Greater Anglia are using in two sizes.

  • Class 755/3 train – three cars with 167 seats
  • Class 755/4 train – four cars with 229 seats

The longer trains will probably be used on Greater Anglia’s longer regional routes.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Colchester and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Liverpool Street ans Lowestoft via Ipswich

Note that the last three routes are electrified for nearly have the route.

Except for the Ipswich and Cambridge route, these routes are longer than those run in the past and these routes will probably need four-car trains with InterCity interiors and service.

The Liverpool Street and Lowestoft service of the 1960s and 1970s had a buffet car and passengers on this route will at least expect a trolley service of drinks and snacks.

I very much feel that the Class 755 trains will in a worse case be better than the Class 170 trains, that have run InterCity services in the past.

Will Class 755/3 And Class 755/4 Trains Have The Same Interiors?

Greater Anglia haven’t said definitely that the interiors in the two classes of train will be the same, but I think it will be likely, with respect to the ease of building and maintaining the trains.

This video shows the train being tested at Diss.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the interior.

So I’ll have to wait until the end of June to have a look at a real train.

It should also be noted that Class 755 trains can be lengthened by adding extra trailer cars.

So it would be unlikely that the interiors in the driver and trailer cars were different, as this would mean that shuffling of cars could create a train with a mixed interior.

Conclusion

Consider.

  • Some of the Class 755/4 trains will be running InterCity services.
  • Both Class 755 variants are capable of 100 mph running.
  • Ease of building and maintenance probably requires identical interiors.

It would appear that all services where Class 755 trains are used, will get the same InterCity passenger experience.

Although some services could be slower than InterCity services, due to track limitations.

Will Abellio use a similar philosophy, with the new fleet for East Midlands Railway?

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Grayling: No Solution To Oxford Road Woes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Place North West.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said there is no “simple, quick, non-disruptive solution” to improving journeys on one of the most congested rail routes in and out of Manchester, arguing the cost of the original scheme was “way out of kilter”.

Plans to extend platforms at Oxford Road station have been mooted for a number of years, and were designed to take advantage of the completion of the Ordsall Chord to allow more frequent trains between Piccadilly, Victoria, and beyond.

The more I read about the problems of the Castlefield corridor through Manchester, the more I’m coming to the conclusion, that British Rail’s three tunnel scheme for the North was the right solution.

Liverpool

Liverpool got the Loop And Link Project, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The major engineering works required to integrate the Northern and Wirral lines became known as the ‘Loop’ and ‘Link’ Project. The ‘Loop’ was the Wirral Line tunnel and the ‘Link’ the Northern Line tunnel, both under Liverpool’s city centre. The main works were undertaken between 1972 and 1977. A further project, known as the Edge Hill Spur, would have integrated the City Lines into the city centre underground network. This would have meshed the eastern section of the city into the core underground electric city centre section of the network, releasing platforms at mainline Lime Street station for mid to long haul routes.

The Edge Hill Spur was never built and if it had, it may have created the extra capacity, that Liverpool Lime Street station has now finally got, but several years ago.

Liverpool’s Underground railways are getting a new fleet of Class 777 trains and will be expanded in the next few years.

British Rail’s scheme for Liverpool has been successful.

Although, I am surprised that the layout of a single-track loop tunnel, that is used to terminate the Wirral Line, has not been copied more.

Newcastle

Newcastle got tunnels under the city, to join up the Tyne and Wear Metro in the late 1970s.

The Metro is now getting a new fleet of trains and will be further expanded.

British Rail’s scheme for Newcastle has been successful.

Manchester

Manchester had a scheme in the pipeline called the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

This Proposal section in Wikipedia gives a full description of the project. This is the first paragraph.

The South-East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire Public Transport Executive (SELNEC PTE) – the local transport authority which became the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) in 1974 (now Transport for Greater Manchester – TfGM) – made a proposal in 1971 to connect the unjoined railways running through Manchester city centre under the Picc-Vic scheme. The Picc-Vic proposal envisaged joining the two halves of the rail network by constructing new tunnels under the city centre, connecting Manchester’s two main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. This new underground railway would be served by three new underground stations, joining together the regional, national and local rail networks with an underground rapid transit system for Manchester.

It also gives these three objectives for the scheme.

  • To improve the distribution arrangements from the existing railway stations which are on the periphery of the central core
  • To link the separated northern and southern railway systems
  • To improve passenger movement within the central area.

This is also said.

It formed part of a four-phase, Long Term Strategy for GMPTE over 25 years, which included bus priority and an East-West railway network, as well as a light rapid transport system.

The scheme was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government, partly because he believed that railways were of the past and that everybody would be able to afford their own car and wouldn’t need to use trains.

It should also be remembered that his government also cancelled the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin.

It’s funny, but I thought, I’d used the Channel Tunnel several times. Perhaps, Harold Wilson didn’t get his out-of-kilter thinking sufficiently into the minds of Civil Servants. Although, there is still the Treasury’s periodic attempts to kill High Speed Two. But that is driven by the belief of the average Oxford graduate, that there is nothing worth visiting North of Watford.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel may not have completely solved Manchester’s rail connectivity, but it is my belief that it would have been a good start.

A Few Random Thoughts

These are a few random thoughts on the various schemes in Manchester.

Development of Piccadilly And Victoria After A Picc-Vic Tunnel

One of the reasons for cancellation, was that after the building of the tunnel, two large stations would still be maintained in the City.

Looking at various schemes across Europe including Kassel and Leipzig in Germany, where central tunnels have been built, this releases the terminals for development with smaller numbers of platforms.

I think if the Picc-Vic Tunnel had been built, then Piccadilly and Victoria might have morphed into combined through and terminal station like the excellent London Bridge. The released space at Piccadilly would have allowed High Speed Two to be integrated.

But of course, the elite in the Civil Service isn’t interested in High Speed Trains, except on their holidays in France.

TransPennines New Trains

Greater Anglia needed to have new rolling stock for services between London and Norwich.

They needed trains with following.

  1. 100 mph running
  2. Eight coaches
  3. Powerful traction
  4. Short station dwell times.
  5. High quality.

So they ordered a fleet of new Class 745 trains.

  • 100 mph running
  • Twelve coaches
  • Walk-through trains
  • 757 seats
  • Double doors for easy entry and exit.

It’s also rumoured that platform height will be adjusted so that that buggy-pushers and wheelchair-users will have level access between train and platform at all stations.

  • If you want to do Norwich-in-90 for all trains, then a short station dwell time is essential.
  • It also means if passenger numbers need another station to be added to a route, the extra stop only blows a small hole in the schedule, as opposed to a large one for a train of Mark 3 coaches.
  • I have a feeling Greater Anglia are aiming to send all their disabled ramps to the scrapyard.

So what trains have TransPennine ordered?

AQll these trains will have single-doors at both end of each car. That’s classic crap design!

It will be interesting to see the average dwell time of a train on the Castlefield Corridor and compare it with that of Class 745 trains calling at Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.

My money’s on Swiss clockwork!

Northern’s New Trains

Northern’s new Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have two sets of double-doors on each side of each car.

Now that’s more like it!

Improving Throughput On The Castlefield Corridor

If you look at successful high-capacity lines with a lot of stopping trains like most lines on the London Underground, Thameslink the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Merseyrail Northern Line, all trains are the same.

One of the problems with the trains through Castlefield, is that there are a lot of diffeent trains. So doors on your train may be in a different position to those on the previous train.

This means that passengers will be more likely to be in the wrong place, which means loading takes longer.

It is probably too much to get identical trains running on the route, but TransPennine’s trains with end doors will make matters worse for capacity.

I don’t think, any train should be allowed on the route, unless it has two sets of double-doors on each side of all cars.

The route should also have digital signalling.

If the North London Line can handle eight passenger and two freight trains per hour, then surely the Castlefield Corridor can do the same.

Passenger Behaviour

I was chatting to a station guy on Platform 14 at Piccadilly, who had also worked on the London Underground.

He told me, that Londoners obey his instructions to stand-back, whereas Mancunians don’t!

I watched for about twenty minutes and I think because the trains are rather bad time keepers, when one arrives everybody wants to get on immediately.

Single doors on TransPennine’s trains will make this behaviour worse!

Conclusion

I think Chris Grayling mades a good summary of the problems of doing major work on a busy passenger and freight corridor through a major city.

The only way to deal with the problems of the Castlefield Corridor, is a series of small improvements to the existing system.

  • All trains through the corridor must have two double-doors on each side of each car.
  • Digital signalling must be installed.
  • Platform access must be improved with lots of lifts and escalators.

I also feel that if the trains were running to the timetable, then passengers wouldn’t crowd the platforms.

 

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 6 Comments