The Anonymous Widower

Using Platform 12 At Stratford Station

Normally, if you take a train between Tottenham Hale and Stratford station, it terminates in Platform 11.

However, on Monday, I ended up in Platform 12.

Note there was no staff or information anywhere to be seen. Passengers were roaming aimlessly looking for the next train to the North.

I was not inconvenienced, as I was going to Marks and Spencer in Eastfield to get some food.

On enquiring at the London Overground Information Desk, it appeared there had been some signal problems, so they had swapped platforms.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty Is Just Seventy Days Away!

This article on the Norwich Evening News is entitled At Last! High Speed Train Service Delivering Norwich To London In 90 Minutes Will Soon Begin.

This is the key section.

The first of the faster services are due to come into service on Monday, May 20.

The 90-minute services will depart from Norwich at 9am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and will call at Ipswich at 9.33am and 5.33pm.

Meanwhile the London Liverpool Street service departs at 11am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and calls at Ipswich at 11.55am and 7.57pm.

Greater Anglia said it will shave 12 minutes off the current fastest journey between Norwich and London and cut the fastest journey between Ipswich and London by four minutes.

I shall be on the first train from London as far as Ipswich.

I don’t want to get tainted do I?

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Reedham Station

If you have to travel between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations by train, you have to change at Reedham station. Or you should be able to!

These pictures show the station.

You can’t do the direct journey between East Anglia’s two largest Eastern towns at present, as Network Rail have got their special Project Management knickers on. You know the ones with a twist!

So passengers between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth have three options.

  • Take an hour and a half jurney via Norwich.
  • Take a bus, which probably visits half of the villages in the local area.
  • Drive.

Hopefully, the Reedham to Great Yarmouth service will be restored sometime in the near (?) future.

This will allow two ways to travel by rail between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Changing Trains At Reedham Station

Theoretically, this should work, especially, if trains were timetabled so that passengers waited perhaps a couple of minutes on what I suspect in winter can be a very pleasant station.

Look at the footbridge. Do Greater Anglia really expect elderly travellers or those with bikes, buggies and baggage to use the Victorian footbridge?

I suspect Greater Anglia don’t see this as a feasible way of attracting more passengers out of their cars and from the buses.

But Network Rail haven’t got the millions of pounds needed to bring the station into the Twentieth Century!

A Shuttle Train Reversing At Reedham

It would be possible for a train to shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, which could reverse in Reedham station.

In Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns, I asked if the new Class 755 trains had a fast reverse procedure, as Greater Anglia’s services are full of stations, where a train must arrive and leave a few minutes later.

I wrote the following.

A simple system could be as follows.

  • On arrival in a station, the driver would put the train into a standby mode, when it was safely stopped.
  • The driver would then walk through the train to the second cab.
  • Whilst the driver is changing ends, the conductor is opening and closing the train doors and supervising the loading and unloading of passengers.
  • On arrival in the second cab, the driver would wake up the train and check everything.
  • After the doors are closed and having received the all clear from the conductor and a green light from the signals, the driver would proceed.

At all times, the driver and conductor, would have emergency remote controls to immobilise the train, if something is not what it should be.

Modern automation is certainly able to design a very safe system, that would save time at every reverse.

The stop ar Reedham station would become an almost normal stop and I would expect that a train could reverse  in about two or three minutes.

Use Only One Platform At Reedham

Could this be the most affordable solution?

  • The track layout at Reedham station would be modified, so that all trains would use the Norwich-bound Platform 1.
  • Platform 1 is improved with a quality waiting room and a coffee kiosk, to make a short wait between trains more pleasant.

If there were two trains per hour on both the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth routes, I’m sure that with the new signalling and good driving, a single-platform at Reedham station would work.

Trains from Norwich could call at XX00, XX15, XX30 and XX45, with trains to Norwich calling at XX07, XX22, XX37 and XX52.

If trains stopped in the right order, then there would be a maximum wait of eight minutes in a comfortable waiting room at Reedham station.

Even with only one train per hour between Norwich and Yarmouth via Reedham, I’m certain an acceptable timetable could be devised.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains

Greater Anglia have ordered thirty-eight Class 755 trains, which have a total of 138 cars.

These will replace twenty-six assorted trains, which have a total of 55 cars.

This is a increase of 46% in the number of trains and  150% in the number of cars.

Greater Anglia didn’t increase the fleet so that could sit in sidings, so I think we can expect some new services and higher frequencies.

Conclusion

I’m certain that a sensible hourly service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations can be devised.

 

 

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Newmarket Station

I went to Newmarket station for two reasons; to assess if the East West Rail Consortium’s plans for Newmarket were feasible and also to see a friend, who trains racehorses in the town, to tell him about the plans.

I should say, that I haven’t been to Newmarket for perhaps six years and it struck me that the town was much more crowded with traffic, with a lot of full car-parks. Around the station, there were lots of cars parked. How many were owned  by commuters going to Cambridge.

The Plans Of The East West Rail Consortium For Newmarket

In this document on the East West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

So would it be possible to create a double-track railway through Newmarket station?

These are pictures that I took of the station.

It does appear that there is space for another track on the other side of the current track to the platform.

Newmarket station has some positive attributes.

  • It is in the centre of the town.
  • There is enough shelter and storage for cycles.
  • The platform will be long enough for Greater Anglia’s new four-car Class 755 trains.
  • There is a wide, spacious platform.

But these are outweighed by these drawbacks.

  • The vehicle access is terrible.
  • There is no Kiss-and-Ride facility.
  • Car parking is in the surrounding streets and as it’s free, the local roads will get choked, especially when Greater Anglia’s larger trains are introduced later this year.
  • The East West Rail Link will introduce a two trains per hour (tph) through the station.
  • Will the platform at Newmarket be long enough for the East West Consortium trains, which will be running between Ipswich and Oxford? Probably not!
  • There is no coffee kiosk, shop or toilets.

But above all it is not a destination station., that gives a good impression for visitors and tourists, who could make up a proportion of travellers.

The East West Rail Consortium are planning a parkway station on the A14 to the North of Newmarket and this will surely solve the problem of traffic and parking, that blocks the local streets,

But I believe that Newmarket needs a station, that will attract visitors.

My pictures, show the previous station building still standing next door to the current station.

  • This could be converted into a first-class station with excellent passenger facilities.
  • There could be a large taxi rank.
  • There could be passenger drop-off and pick-up facilities.
  • There is space for a bus connection to the race-course on race-days.
  • Limited car-parking of a short-term nature.
  • A two-hundred metre  long platform could be built to accommodate the longest-possible trains.

This Google Map, shows the combined site of the current and previous stations.

Both stations are effectively side-by-side, with the current station to the East.

The large area behind the stations is parking for horse-boxes during the numerous sales at Tattersalls. For much of the year, it is virtually empty.

I’m pretty sure, that with some management, the area could serve both its current purpose and as a forecourt to a landmark station,, that would enhance the town and the racing industry.

I don’t think that a second platform would be needed for the following reasons.

  • Adding the step-free access to the seond platform would cost a seven figure sum.
  • Commuters into Cambridge would be encounraged to use the A14 Parkway station.
  • Probably only on race days, would there be large enough numbers of passengers to need to accommodate two trains in the station at the same time..

However space could be left, if a second platform were to be needed in the future.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The current Newmarket station is totally inadequate for the current service of one three-car train per hour in both directions.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains could be a car longer and will certainly attract more passengers to use Newmarket station, as new trains always do!

I feel that in the next couple of years, possible additional trains, more passengers and lack of car parking will create problems at Newmarket station.

I would recommend the following actions.

A14 Parkway Station

Work should start as soon as is practical for the A14 Parkway station, proposed by the East West Rail Consortium.

This station would have the following Greater Anglia services.

  • Peterborough and Colchester – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – 1 tph

These two services would give the following frequencies to these places.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph direct
  • Colchester – 1 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Ipswich
  • Diss – 1 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Ipswich – 2 tph direct
  • London – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge and 1 tph with a change at Ely
  • Newmarket – 1 tph direct
  • Norwich – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge, 1 tph with a change at Ely and 2 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Peterborough – 1 tph direct and 1 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stowmarket – 2 tph direct

A14 Parkway station sitting at the junction of two of the busiest roads in East Anglia; the A11 and A14, and two important rail routes,would be one of the most important stations in the East.

The station could only be named after Ancient Britain’s most famous queen, who by repute once lived in the area.

Upgrade Newmarket Station

Hopefrully, the A14 Parkway station would ease the problems at Newmarket station and this would enable work to progress on the design of an upgraded Newmarket station, that would serve the town, the racing industry and the towns tourist attractions.

Improved Train Services To/From Cambridge

Once the East West Rail Link opens between Cambridge and Oxford, the current service between Ipswich and Cambridge, could eventually be replaced with a service between Manningtree and Oxford or possibly Reading, that calls at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St. |Edmunds, A14
Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bicester, Oxford and several smaller intermediate stations.

The three Cambridge stations of Cambridge, Cambridge North and Cambridge South will also increasingly be connected to the surrounding stations like A 14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambourne, Ely, Kings Lynn, March, Newmarket and Peterborough. Services will be at a frequency of at least two tph, with some as high as four tph.

In addition, there could be new services to Haverhill and Wisbech.

Newmarket will get a share of these services and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these frequencies from Newmarket station to the three Cambridge stations.

  • Cambridge – 4 tph direct
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Cambridge South – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in Europe and Newmarket can benefit by holding on to big sister’s skirts.

West Suffolk And London Services

If you look at the sizeable towns in Suffolk, the following ones that are rail connected, do not have a direct train service to London.

  • Beccles
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Halesworth
  • Lowestoft
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Woodbridge

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains, will be running three trains per day, between Liverpool Street and Lowestoft, which will reduce this list to just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury

If Felixstowe is discounted as it is on a  branch line busy with freight trains and Sudbury because it is on a single track branch line, we are left with just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Newmarket

Add in the proposed A14 Parkway station and is it feasible to run a service between London Liverpool Street and Bury St. Edmunds via Cambridge, Newmarket and A14 Parkway.

I calculate that a round trip would be possible in around four hours, thus making three trains per day possible.

I suspect, there would be capacity problems on the Southern section of the West Anglia Main Line, but if this were to be four-0tracked as is proposed, this would ease that problem.

So a service between West Suffolk and London, is probably one for the future.

A Final Conclusion

Newmarket can benefit from East West Rail, but the two parties must agree objectives that don’t cause problems for the other.

 

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

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

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

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

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

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

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

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

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

This is the first paragraph.

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

A number of possible projects were outlined.

New Tracks For The Main Line

Possibilities include.

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

these are my observations South of Colchester.

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

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

These are my observations between Ipswich and Haughley Junction.

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

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

Removing Bottle-Necks

Two bottle-necks were specifically mentioned.

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

The later would allow more services into Norwich.

Expanding Ipswich Station

The article says this.

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

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

Boosting Smaller Stations

The article says this.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

East Anglia is going to get much better rail services.

 

 

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

Roger Ford On Bombardier’s Aventra Problems

It has been well-publicised that Bombardier are having problems getting their new Class 710 trains working reliably for service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

In the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article written by the well-respected Roger Ford, which is entitled Train Makers Face ‘Year Of Truth’.

Roger makes a succession of important points about Bombardier and Aventras in particular.

Class 345 Trains

Roger says this.

While reliability continues to be poor, software issues have been largely down to signalling interfaces at the western end of Crossrail.

Production appears to have been paused at 57, with perhaps 37 accepted.

Class 345 Trains And Class 710 Trains Use Different Software

Roger says this.

For the Class 345s, Transport for London specified an evolution of the Class 378 ‘last generation’ software. However the units for London Overground and Greater Anglia, and the other Aventra contracts for delivery beyond 2019, are true next generation trains with a new ‘family tree’ of software.

So it would appear that Class 345 and Class 710 software problems could be unrelated!

My experience of putting together large complicated software systems over forty years, leads me to add these two statements.

  • If the base hardware has been thoroughly tested and put together in a professional manner, it will be very rare for the software to not work on one set of hardware and work perfectly on several dozen other sets.
  • You can’t do too much testing; both of the hardware and the software, both on test systems and in real-life scenarios.

I don’t know anything of the computer hardware structure and its connectivity on Aventras, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot has been lifted straight out of the aerospace industry, in which Bombardier has a substantial presence. Borrowing proven techniques and hardware will hopefully reduce the risk.

The major risk will be the software that is totally new and unique to the Aventra.

So to me, it is not surprising that the complicated signalling on Crossrail, has been the major trouble on the Class 345 trains.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, this is a paragraph.

London Overground was due to put new Bombardier Class 710 electric multiple units into traffic on the route from March 2018, with a full rollout by May. However, problems with the Train Control Management System (TCMS) has so far prevented this.

I suspect that the TCMS is totally new and unique and has a level of complexity much higher than what is used in the Class 345 train.

  • It will have the ability to test all the trains sub-systems on a continuous basis.
  • The TCMS  will be an important part of the train testing process, which is why I have listed it first.
  • The TCMS will control 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail power collection.
  • It will control the energy storage, that is reputedly fitted to the train.
  • It will handle regenerative braking using the energy storage.
  • Electricity usage will be optimised.
  • It will control all the displays and systems throughout the train.
  • It will interface to the signalling system.
  • It will communicate train status and faults back to the depot.

I also suspect that every Aventra will have the same TCMS, which will probably be compatible with the proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

This is not a new concept, as in the 1980s, Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft had identical cockpits, flight control systems and a common rating for pilots.

The Aventra has been described as a computer-on-wheels. Could it also be described as an aircraft-on-rails?

When I was growing up, all new trains, aircraft and vehicles were generally fully described with detailed cutaway drawing in a comic called Eagle.

Bombardier have seemed to be very reluctant to give details about what lies under the skin of an Aventra. Could it be very different to all other trains?

There is one big disadvantage about having a common TCMS, in that, it requires a very high quality of software design, programming and testing and that any lateness in the software delays the whole project.

Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking

Roger says this about the delayed Class 710 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

According to,Bombardier, delivery of the Class 710 fleet is now due to be completed by the end of 2019. Given that the original date was September 2018, this is 15 months late. But with large numbers of Class 710 vehicles in storage, it also seems unduly pessimistic.

Roger does not have a reputation for looking on the bright side of life, so when he says that the schedule is unduly pessimistic, I give that a high chance of being right.

Surely, when the final approved version of the TCMS software is delivered, all of those trains in storage can be woken up, tested by the TCMS software then go through a pre-delivery check with the appropriate level of trouble-free running.

It’s a bit like having a new PC on your desk. You can’t really use it, until the software you need to do your job is installed. But as the software will be designed for your PC and has already been fully tested, it is unlikely to be a traumatic operation.

It appears to me, that the more comprehensive the TCMS software, the quicker it will be to take a train from manufacture to ready for service.

Class 720 Trains For Greater Anglia

Bombardier are already building the Class 720 trains for Greater Anglia.

Are these just being checked and tested before being put into store?

As with the Class 710 trains, will they be woken up using the same final fully tested version of the TCMS software?

I would be very surprised if the software on the two trains used different versions of the software.

When I was writing Artemis, we had two versions; one for single users and another for multiple users.

The software for both was identical and it worked on two different operating systems.

That is one of the advantages you get with well-written software.

Hence my belief that all Aventras have a common TCMS software.

Building Aventras

The article says that Bombardier are gearing up to have six Aventra production lines in Derby, which would mean they can turn out 24 vehicles a week.

That is a high production rate, which would mean that the 222 vehicles for the London Overground could be built in under ten weeks.

Bombardier must be expecting a lot of orders!

 

 

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

Introduction Of New Trains To East Anglia Will Be Like Moving ‘From Mid-Table To Champions League’ Says Greater Anglia Boss

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

It is a rare detailed article on how new trains are introduced to a network.

This is a quote from Jamie Burles of Greater Anglia in the article.

On some lines there will be a huge quality uplift – going from a 40-year old single carriage diesel train to a minimum three-carriage state-of-the-art bi-mode train with air conditioning, plug sockets and broadband wi-fi.

East Anglia is being subjected to one of most radical rail upgrades in the history of railways in the UK.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia: First Class Seats Scrapped On Most Trains

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

First class travel is being scrapped on all Greater Anglia trains except intercity services from January 2020, the firm has announced.

The rail operator said it was also bringing in new longer trains from the end of next year.

Both measures would provide 20% more standard seats, it said.

I travel on Greater Anglia a lot and generally travel in the Off Peak.

I always buy a Standard Class ticket, although sometimes on Saturday or Sunday, I’ll add a Weekend First Upgrade on the InterCity train, which I buy onboard.

Why anybody would use First Class on their Class 321 or Class 360 trains, I can’t understand.

The InterCity trains are worth a selective upgrade to First, when they are busy, but the long-distance suburban trains are just a bigger seat and of a standard well below Standard on some excellent Standard Class services.

Now, that Greater Anglia are bringing in new trains, hopefully Standard Class will be up there with the best!

I wonder if Disgusted- in-Frinton will be complaining!

 

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Testing Of New Greater Anglia Trains Underway

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

This is the first paragraph.

The first Stadler bi-mode unit for Greater Anglia made its main line debut in the early hours of December 15, when it ran between Diss and Trowse Junction (near Norwich).

I looked on Real Time Trains and found that the train did five trips between Diss and Trowse Junction. After the last trip, the train went back to Crown Point Depot.

It does seem that Greater Anglia have a plan to do the testing.

 

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment