The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and reopening of the Leamside Line.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Leeds and Newcastle Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Newcastle.

  • The distance between the two stations is 106 miles
  • The current service takes around 85 minutes and has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 75 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 58 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 110 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 110 mph, indicates to me that a faster route will be needed.

These are example average speeds on the East Coast Main Line.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster – 156 miles – 98 minutes – 95.5 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds – 186 miles – 133 minutes – 84 mph
  • London Kings Cross and York  – 188.5 miles – 140 minutes – 81 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 205.3 miles – 176 minutes – 70 mph
  • York and Newcastle – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph

I also predicted in Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, that with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling and other improvements, that both London Kings Cross and Leeds and York would be two-hour services, with Hull a two-and-a-half service.

  • London Kings Cross and Leeds in two hours would be an average speed of 93 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and York in two hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Hull in two-and-a-half hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.

I am fairly certain, that to achieve the required 110 mph average between Leeds and Newcastle to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of four tph in under an hour will need, at least the following.

  • Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling
  • Completion of the electrification between Leeds and York.
  • Ability to run at up to 140 mph in places.
  • Significant track upgrades.

It could also eliminate diesel traction on passenger services on the route.

High Speed Two’s Objective For The York and Newcastle Route

At the present time, High Speed Two is not planning to run any direct trains between Leeds and Newcastle, so I’ll look at its proposed service between York and Newcastle instead.

  • Current Service – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph
  • High Speed Two – 80 miles – 52 minutes – 92 mph

Note.

  1. High Speed Two will be running three tph between York and Newcastle.
  2. Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of 58 minutes for Leeds and Newcastle.

High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail do not not have incompatible ambitions.

Current Direct Leeds And Newcastle Services

These are the current direct Leeds and Newcastle services.

  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle.
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh

Timings appear to be between 81 and 91 minutes.

What Would A Leeds And Newcastle In Under An Hour Do For London Kings Cross And Edinburgh Timings?

This question has to be asked, as a 58 minute time between Leeds and Newcastle will mean that timings between York and Newcastle must reduce.

York And Newcastle at various average speeds give the following times.

  • 73 mph (current average) – 66 minutes
  • 80 mph – 60 minutes
  • 90 mph – 53 minutes
  • 92 mph – 52 minutes (High Speed Two promise)
  • 100 mph – 48 minutes
  • 110 mph – 44 minutes

If any speed over 90 mph can be averaged between York and Newcastle, this means that with a London and York time of under two hours the following times are possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle in under three hours. – High Speed Two are promising two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in under four hours. – High Speed Two are promising three hours and forty minutes.

Consider.

  • An InterCity 225 achieved a time of under three-and-a-half hours between London and Edinburgh. in 1991.
  • That record journey was at an average speed of 112 mph.
  • There must be opportunities for speed improvements North of Newcastle.
  • Train and signalling technology is improving.
  • High Speed Two is promising three hours and forty minutes between London and Edinburgh.

I can see a fascinating rivalry between trains on High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line, developing, about who can be faster between London and Edinburgh.

Current Projects Between Leeds And Newcastle

These projects are in planning or under way on the section of the East Coast Main Line between Leeds and Newcastle.

Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade

Phase 1 between London and Doncaster should have been completed, if the covids allowed and now work can be concentrated on Phase 2 to the North of Doncaster.

This page on the Network Rail web site describes the project. These paragraphs are the introduction to Phase 2.

Phase 2 of the project will involve the installation of feeder and substations along the route, capacity upgrades, new 132kv connection at Hambleton junction and upgrades to existing power supply connections.

The second phase of the project is currently in design stages and dates for carrying out the work are still being finalised.

Phase 2 will be delivering upgraded power to the East Coast Mainline railway between Bawtry and Edinburgh.

This project may not improve speeds on the railway, but it will certainly improve reliability and reduce the use of diesel power.

I do wonder, that as the reliability of the East Coast Main Line increases, this will reduce the need for the electric Class 801 trains, to have diesel engines for when the power supply fails.

It is known, that the Class 803 trains, that are under construction for East Coast Trains, will have only a small battery for emergency use.

A sensible weight saving would surely improve the acceleration and deceleration of the trains.

York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme

This page of the Network Rail web site, describes the project. These paragraphs introduce the project.

Our work between York and Church Fenton is in preparation for the Transpennine Upgrade, which will provide more capacity and faster journeys between Manchester Victoria and York, via Leeds and Huddersfield.

The five mile stretch between Church Fenton and Colton Junction – the major junction where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line towards York – sees over 100 trains each day, with up to one freight or passenger train passing through every five minutes. This is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the North.

The work will include.

  • Modernising the signalling.
  • Replacing about five miles of track between Holgate (York) and Colton Junction.
  • Completing the eleven miles of electrification between York and Church Fenton stations.

I estimate that when the project is completed, there will be only around thirteen miles of track without electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill TMD in Leeds.

The route between Church Fenton and Garforth stations, is shown in this map clipped from High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. York is just off the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Garforth is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Shown in orange is the new route of High Speed Two from East of Leeds towards York.
  4. Shown in blue is existing tracks, that will be used to take High Speed Two Trains to York and further North.
  5. The rail line running North-South on the edge of the map is the Selby Diversion, which opened in 1983 and  was built to avoid possible subsidence from the Selby coalfield.
  6. The pre-Selby Diversion route of the East Coast Main Line goes South from the join of the blue and orange sections of High Speed Two.
  7. At Church Fenton station, this route splits, with one route going West through Micklefield, East Garforth and Garforth stations to Neville Hill TMD and Leeds.
  8. The main road going North-South is the A1 (M).

It seems to me, that High Speed Two’s and Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plans in this area, are still being developed.

  • There has been no decision on the electrification between Church Fenton and Neville Hill TMD.
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and Hull?
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and York?
  • How do High Speed Two trains go between Leeds and York?

I suspect, when the full plans are published, it will answer a lot of questions.

Darlington Station Remodelling

A remodelling of Darlington station is under consideration.

I outlined this in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services.

This was my conclusion in the related article.

I think that this will happen.

    • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
    • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
    • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
    • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

It will create a major interchange, where high speed trains from High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail will do the following.

  • Approach at 140 mph or more.
  • Perform a controlled stop in the station.
  • Drop and pick-up passengers.
  • Accelerate back up to linespeed.

The station stop will be highly-automated and monitored by the driver.

One of the objectives would be to save time for all fast trains.

Capacity And Other Problems Between Leeds And Newcastle Listed In Wikipedia

These problems are listed in a section called Capacity Problems in the Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line.

The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and English Heritage?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

Use Of The Leamside Line

Wikipedia says this about capacity to the South of Newcastle.

South of Newcastle to Northallerton (which is also predominately double track), leading to proposals to reopen the Leamside line to passenger and freight traffic.

I could have included it in the previous section, but as it such a important topic, it probably deserves its own section.

Looking at maps, reopening is more than a a possibility. Especially, as reopening is proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail and mentioned in the title of this post.

I discussed the Leamside Line in detail in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, which I wrote in June this year.

These are some extra thoughts, that update the original post.

Ferryhill Station

I was prompted to write the related post, by something Boris Johnson said at PMQs and it was mainly about Ferryhill station.

In the latest copy of this document on the Government web site, which is entitled Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids, a new station at Ferryhill has been successful. Another bid in the same area to restore rail services between Consett and Newcastle has also been successful.

This map shows the East Coast Main Line as it goes North South between Durham and Darlington.

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is in the South-West of the map opposite the sand-pits in the South-East
  2. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village an d the sand-pits.
  3. Follow the railway North and you come to Tursdale, where there is a junction between the East Coast Main Line and the Leamside Line.
  4. The East Coast Main Line goes North-Westerly towards Durham and Newcastle.
  5. The Leamside Line goes North to Washington and Newcastle.
  6. There is also the Stillington Freight Line going South-Easterly to Sedgefield and Stockton from Ferryhill.

Could Ferryhill be a useful interchange to local services connecting to Newcastle, Sunderland and Washington in the North and Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton in the South?

The Leamside Line As An East Coast Main Line Diversion

I didn’t discuss using the line as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line in my original post, but if the infrastructure is to the required standard, I don’t see why it can’t take diverted traffic, even if it is also used for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

It should be remembered, that to create extra capacity on the East Coast Main Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, the route of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, was upgraded. I first wrote about this line six years ago in Project Managers Having Fun In The East and the route seems to be working well. It is now being augmented by the addition of the £200 million Werrington Dive Under. See Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018, for more details of this project, which will speed up all trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After the undoubted success of the upgrade  of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, surely the team responsible for it, should be given the task of devising a similar plan for the Leamside Line, to take pressure off the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Northallerton.

Sharing The Leamside Line

The Tyne and Wear Metro also has its eyes on the Leamside Line for an extension.

It should be noted that the Extension To Wearside, uses the Karlsruhe Model to allow the Metro trains to share with freight and other passenger trains.

The new Stadler trains will probably make this even easier, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reopened Leamside Line handling a varied assortment of trains of all types.

The Sunderland Example

Sunderland station is a station, which has both Metro and mainline services from the same platforms.

Could a station at Washington be built to similar principles, so that some long distance services to Newcastle used this station?

A Terminal Station On The Leamside Line

Newcastle station may be a Grade One Listed station, but it is built on a curve and would be a nightmare to expand with more platforms.

Sunderland station is already used as a terminal for London trains, so would it be sensible to provide a terminal at somewhere like Washington?

My Final Thought  On The Leamside Line

Reopen it!

A Few Random Final Thoughts

This post has got me thinking.

Newcastle Station Capacity

I have seen reports over the years that Newcastle station, is lacking in capacity.

  • There could be extra services, as High Speed Two is proposing two tph from London Euston stations and one tph from Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • There may be extra services because of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which has an objective of four tph from Leeds station.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Ashington and Blyth.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Consett.

Note.

  1. The first two services could use two hundred metre long trains.
  2. Some platforms can accept 234 metre long Class 800 trains.
  3. The last two services might use the Metro platforms.

As the station has twelve platforms, I feel with careful operation, that the station will have enough capacity.

This Google Map shows the station.

And this second Google Map shows the station, its position with relation to the Tyne and the lines rail routes to and from the station.

Note.

  1. Trains from the South arrive over the King Edward VII Bridge and enter Newcastle station from the West.
  2. Trains from England to Scotland go through the station from West to East and then go straight on and turn North for Berwick and Scotland.
  3. Next to the King Edward VII Bridge is the blue-coloured Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which takes the Tyne and Wear Metro across the Tyne, where it uses two platforms underneath Newcastle station.
  4. The next bridge is the High Level Bridge, which connects the East end of the station to the rail network, South of the Tyne. It connects to the Durham Coast Line to Teeside and the Leamside Line.

History has delivered Newcastle a comprehensive track layout through and around Newcastle station.

  • Services from the East can be run back-to-back with services from the West.
  • The Metro and its two underground platforms removes a lot of traffic from the main station.
  • There are seven through platforms, of which at least three are over two hundred metres long.
  • There are four West-facing bay platforms and one facing East.

But most intriguingly, it looks like it will be possible for trains to loop through the station from the South, by perhaps arriving over the King Edward VII bridge and leaving over the High Level bridge. Or they could go the other way.

Could this be why reoopening the Leamside Line is important?

LNER’s Extra Paths

The sentence, from an article entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways   indicates that more capacity will be available to LNER.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today.

I suspect that LNER could use the half path to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service to Hull.

  • Currently, London Kings Cross and Hull takes a few minutes under three hours.
  • Currently, Doncaster and Hull takes around 55 minutes.
  • I have estimated that once full digital in-cab signalling is operational, that London Kings Cross and Hull could take a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.

The full path to Hull could be shared with Hull Trains to provide an hourly service between London Kings Cross and Hull.

LNER could do something special with the full extra path.

Consider.

  • Some train operating companies have said, that they’ll be looking to attract customers from the budget airlines.
  • There could be a need for more capacity between London Kings Cross and all of Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • Faster services would be attractive to passengers.
  • York and Leeds will be fully electrified or trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the thirteen mile gap in the electrification.

A limited-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds could be an interesting addition.

  • The train would only stop at Leeds and possibly Newcastle.
  • One objective would be a time under three-and-a-half hours between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • What time could be achieved between London Kings Cross and Leeds?

It would certainly give High Speed Two a run for its money!

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

As I indicated in the previous section, LNER certainly have a path, that could be used to their advantage.

High Speed Two

The East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two have a lot in common.

  • The two routes will share tracks between a junction near Ulleskelf station and Newcastle station.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains could be based on Hitachi AT-300 train technology.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains would probably be able to run on the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross And Edinburgh.
  • Trains from both routes will share platforms at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle stations.
  • I would hope that the signalling systems on both routes are compatible.

From a project management point of view, this commonality means that in an ideal world the new route of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line should be planned together.

I believe there are still details on the design of the joint route, that have not been disclosed, or perhaps not even decided.

  • Will between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot be electrified?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and Hull stations?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and York stations?
  • Will High Speed Two connect Leeds and York stations?
  • What will be the operating speed of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • What will be the capacity in trains per hour of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • Will Newcastle station need an extra platform to handle three High Speed Two tph from London Euston

Two projects have been discussed in this post.

  • The unlocking of the bottleneck at Skelton Bridge.
  • The reopening of the Leamside Line.

I feel that these projects are important and will probably be needed for efficient operation of High Speed Two.

Other early projects could include.

  • Upgrading and electrification of the chosen route between Leeds and Hull,
  • Installation of the chosen system of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling on the route.
  • Electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot.

I would deliver these and other joint projects early, so that travellers see a positive benefit from High Speed Two before the main work has even started.

High Speed East Coast

I wonder what is the maximum speed of the Class 80x trains, that are the backbone of services on the East Coast Main Line.

Consider.

  • It is known, that with in-cab digital ERTMS  signalling, these trains will be capable of 140 mph, but could they go even faster.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains will be capable of 225 mph.
  • Will Hitachi’s offering for these trains, be based on the Class 80x trains?

I would think, that it is fairly likely, that the existing Class 80x trains could be updated to an operating speed in the range of 150-160 mph.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

The combined affect of both track and signalling improvements is illustrated by this simple calculation.

    • As Dalton-on-Tees is North of Doncaster, the route between Woolmer Green and Doncaster should be possible to be run at 140 mph
    • Woolmer Green and Doncaster stations are 132.1 miles apart.
    • Non-stop York and London Kings Cross trains are currently timed at 70 minutes between Doncaster and Woolmer Green stations.
    • This is an average speed of 113.2 mph.

If 140 mph could be maintained between Doncaster and Woolmer Green, the section of the journey would take 56.6 minutes, which is a saving of 13.4 minutes.

I can do this calculation for higher speeds.

  • 150 mph would take 52.8 minutes
  • 160 mph would take 49.5 minutes
  • 170 mph would take 46.6 minutes
  • 180 mph would take 44 minutes
  • 200 mph would take 39.6 minutes

Note.

  1. Eurostar’s latest Class 374 trains are capable of operating at 200 mph.
  2. A Class 395 train, which is closely related to the Class 80x trains, has attained a record speed of 157 mph.

There may be worthwhile time savings to be made, on some of the straighter sections of the East Coast Main Line.

Other improvements will also be needed.

Note, that I am assuming, that the Digswell Viaduct section would not be updated, as it would cause too much disruption.

I also believe that by using selective joining and splitting at Edinburgh, Leeds and perhaps Doncaster, Grantham, Newark or York, that a very comprehensive network of direct trains to and from London can be built from Grantham Northwards.

Beverley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Glasgow, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield, Skipton, Sunderland and Washington could all be served at an appropriate frequency.

  • Some like Bradford, Glasgow, Harrogate, Hull, Lincoln and Middlesbrough would have several trains per day.
  • Others might have a much more limited service.

What sort of timings will be possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be around an hour.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds could be around one hour and thirty minutes, using the current Doncaster and Leeds time, as against the one hour and twenty-one minutes for High Speed Two.
  • London Kings Cross and York could be around one hour and twenty-three minutes, using the current Doncaster and York time, as against the one hour and twenty-four minutes for High Speed Two.
  • Timings between York and Newcastle would be the same fifty-two minutes as High Speed Two, as the track will be the limitation for both services.
  • High Speed Two’s timing for York and Newcastle is given as fifty-two minutes, with York and Darlington as twenty-five minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Darlington could be around one hour and forty-nine minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle could be around two hours and sixteen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh would be under three-and-a-half hours, as against the proposed three hours and forty-eight minutes for High Speed Two.

High Speed East Coast would be a serious and viable alternative to High Speed Two for the Eastern side of England and Scotland.

Conclusion

This is an important joint project for Northern Powerhouse Rail, High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into several smaller projects..

  • Upgrade the power supply on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Finish the York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Remodel Darlington station.
  • Install of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling.
  • Complete the electrification between Neville Hill TMD and York.
  • Solve the problem of Skelton Bridge and its complicated track layout.
  • Reopen the Leamside Line.

Most of these projects are independent of each other and all would give early benefits to the East Coast Main Line.

When complete, we’ll see the following timing improvements.

  • Leeds and Newcastle will drop from 85 minutes to 56 minutes, with an increase in frequency from three to four tph.
  • York and Newcastle will drop from 57-66 minutes to 52 minutes.
  • There could be ten minutes savings on Edinburgh services.

Passengers and operators would welcome this group of projects being started early.

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The government is reconsidering the route of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester and also between Birmingham and Leeds, which are jointly known as Phase 2b.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to use HS2 as a regional route, by providing two new junctions so that Northern Powerhouse Rail services could use HS2 to reach Manchester.

The Times also has a news item entitled HS2 To Link With Northern Powerhouse Line, that adds some other details to the story.

This is the start of the news item.

HS2 trains will be able to run across Northern England under plans for a fully-integrated high-speed network.

The government said yesterday that HS2 would connect into a proposed east-west route across the Pennines, enabling trains to run directly between more cities.

Four years ago, I wrote Whither HS2 And HS3?, which argued for greater integration of the two routes and more tunnelled stations under major cities to build High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail with less disruption.

Part of that post was deliberately over the top, but it seems that others have been thinking in a similar way.

The Times also says the following.

  • Two junctions near High Legh will connect High Speed Two and the East-West line.
  • High Speed Two will be realigned between Nottingham and Derby to avoid a year-long part-closure of the M1.
  • The government has insisted that both High Speed lines are necessary.
  • Northern Powerhouse trains would be able to use High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two trains may be able to run at speed direct to Liverpool, Bradford and Hull.
  • The CBI are quoted as liking the proposal.

The Times also has a map that shows the proposed routes of the High Speed railways.

At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail

This is the name of this report on the Transport for the North web site.

I will use information from this report , when it is relevant and the best available.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts on the project taking information from the two articles and the Transport for the North report.

Preamble – Line Speeds On High Speed Two, The West Coast Main And The East Coast Main Line

High Speed Two is being designed for running at a speed of 225 mph with a capacity of eighteen trains per hour (tph)

The West And East Coast Main Lines are designed for 125 mph running for most of their lengths.

In the future, with the addition of in-cab digital signalling, it is intended that these two lines will be upgraded to allow running at 140 mph.

A Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line

Looking at the map and the position of High Legh, it appears that a new High Speed line could be built Vaguely along the route of the M56 between Liverpool  and Manchester.

  • It appears to cross the Mersey to the West of Warrington.
  • It appears to go South of Warrington, where there could be a station.
  • It would call at Manchester Airport.

From this article in the Knutsford Guardian, which is entitled Government Releases New HS2 Plans For High Legh And Ashley, I suspect there will be a lot of opposition from local politicians and residents.

I seem to remember, a lot of opposition to the building of the M56.

This could be a difficult route to persuade the local people to accept.

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note how the M56 motorway passes across the North-West of the Airport.

Could the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line be alongside the motorway or even in a tunnel underneath?

This second Google Map shows the area around High Legh.

Note.

  1. The M56 going across the top of the map.
  2. The spaghetti in the North-East corner of the map is Junction 8 on the M56, where it joins the A556.
  3. The new A556 by-pass route to the West of the original route.
  4. The M6 running diagonally across the map.
  5. High Legh village is just to the North-West of the middle of the map.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the area.

High Speed Two would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

The Liverpool Lime Street Capacity Problem

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled New High-Speed Rail Station For Liverpool City Centre Takes Step Forward.

This is an extract.

A plan to build a completely new high-speed rail station in the CENTRE of Liverpool is taking a major step forward today – and Everton’s chief executive will be leading it.

Transport leaders want to build a new high-speed line into Liverpool to connect with HS2 to London and the planned Northern Powerhouse rail line across the north.

That means an entirely new “architecturally stunning” station in Liverpool city centre as Lime Street is too small to cope with the extra traffic.

So why is Lime Street station still too small, as it has been increased in capacity in the last couple of years?

I will look at the direct Virgin services between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

  • Northbound trains leave at XX:07 and take two hours and 12-14 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 26-28 minutes in the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • Sorthbound trains leave at XX:47 and take two hours and 12-16 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 4-8 minutes in the platform at Euston station.

It looks to me, that Virgin are using the platform at Lime Street station to balance the service. It does mean that trains probably keep more reliably to the timetable, but it hogs the platform at Liverpool Lime Street

Virgin want to increase the frequency to two tph  and the London and Liverpool timing of around two hours and 12-16 minutes, means that a second platform is needed at Liverpool Lime Street station.

The station has now been remodelled and at least one extra platform has been added.

The problem could also be solved if the classic Virgin services took say one hour and 52 minutes between Euston and Liverpool.

This would enable the following.

  • Trains would leave Euston and Liverpool Lime Street at the same time.
  • Trains would have eight minutes to turn round at each end of the journey.
  • There would be a very passenger-friendly journey time of under two hours.

I think this will happen at some time in the future.

  • Digital signalling and track improvements will allow a high proportion of 140 mph running.
  • New trains will have faster dwell times at stations.

, Competing against High Speed Two will drive faster services on the classic route.

High Speed Two is currently saying that London and Liverpool services will take one hour and thirty-six minutes and run at a two tph frequency.

This will probably mean that a clock-face timetable will be difficult without trains waiting in platforms at each end of the journey for a long time.

It will certainly mean that High Speed Two between London and Liverpool will need two platforms at the Northern end.

Even if the proposed one hour and thirty-six minutes was reduced to my estimate of seventy minutes to the new station, there would still be a need for two platforms. Liverpool is just a little bit too far away from London.

In addition Northern Powerhouse rail is saying that it will be running six tph between Liverpool and Manchester.

It would be difficult to fit all the platforms needed into Lime Street station.

A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station

This Google Map shows Liverpool Lime Street station and the surrounding area.

Consider.

  • Lime Street station has a well-developed network of local rail lines going North, East, South and West under the Mersey, which are being updated with new trains and extra destinations.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station is a Grade II Listed building.
  • It is surrounded to the North and West with a cluster of historically and culturally important buildings including the Grade I Listed St. George’s Hall.
  • Close to and alongside the North and South sides of the station are buildings that few would mourn if they were demolished.
  • Between the station and the University of Liverpool to the East, there is a lot of land, that is mainly surface car parking and more low-grade buildings.

I think designing a High Speed station close to the current Lime Street station could be the sort of challenge many world-class architects will relish.

How Many Platforms And What Capacity Would Be Needed For A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

We already know that the following High Speed services are planned.

  • Two tph between Liverpool and London.
  • Six tph between  Liverpool and Manchester and beyond.
  • Would extra services to Glasgow and Birmingham be needed?
  • There could also be long turnround times, which need extra platforms, as I indicated earlier.

It should also be noted that according to Wikipedia, Birmingham’s City Centre High Speed station; Birmingham Curzon Street station is being designed with seven platforms.

I could see an eighteen tph High Speed station with at least eight platforms.

  • Two platforms would be for London services
  • Three or four platforms would be for Manchester and beyond services
  • Two or three platforms would be for other and future services and service recovery.
  • All platforms would be able to accept maximum length High Speed Two trains.

The capacity of the station must be large enough for all future eventualities

I could envisage the following Northern Powerhouse Rail services, sometime in the future.

  • Four tph -Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester

There could also be two tph to each of Birmingham, Glasgow and London.

The absolute limit between Liverpool and High Legh Junction would probably be eighteen tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.

I am assuming that the High Speed sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail will be built as near as possible to High Speed Two standards, as regards train capacity, track, electrification, signalling and stations.

How Would Trains Access The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

To the East of Lime Street station is the campus of Liverpool University. There are a large number of buildings and to make things more difficult there is a cathedral, a brand-new hospital (Hopefully!) and several Listed buildings.

There is also no obvious route for a new High Speed Railway into a new station close to the current Lime Street.

I feel that the only solution is to bore a tunnel to bring the High Speed Railway to the city-centre. from perhaps six miles to the East of the city.

  • The tunnels would be only for High Speed services.
  • I suspect the preferred route would include tunnelling under some existing rail lines or motorways.
  • This would mean that High Speed services would be unhindered by local traffic, when approaching or leaving Liverpool.
  • Speed would be at least 140 mph.

This is only following a similar philosophy to that used to bring High Speed One into St. Pancras under East London, where the tunnels are under the North London Line.

Would The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station Be On The Surface Or Underground?

Recently, two semi-underground stations linked to deep tunnels have been built in the UK; Stratford International and the Paddington station for Crossrail. Crossrail and London’s Northern Line Extension have also shown how stations, that are deep underground, can have large developments on top.

I know the area around the Lime Street station well and I have a strong three-dimensional sense and feel that there is a solution that could be developed.

The final solution would be one for architects, council planners, engineers , politicians and accountants.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester Piccadilly

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations is necessary.

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

This Google Map shows the tracks between Manchester Piccadilly station and Ardwick, where Siemens have a train care facility.

Note.

  1. If the tunnels emerged at Ardwick after passing under Manchester Piccadilly station, they would be pointing in more of less the right direction to emerge at Ardwick and continue on the way to Leeds, via the Huddersfield Line
  2. Under the earlier plan, I suspect the tunnels would go in a wide loop around South Manchester.

This tunnelled approach to new underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly has the following advantages.

  • High Speed services between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations would have their own dedicated High Speed line.
  • Much of the tunnelling to the East of Manchester Piccadilly station could be under existing railway infrastructure.
  • Through and terminal platforms as needed would be provided under the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Escalators and lifts would connect the underground platforms to local services and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • By choosing the right orientation for the tunnel and position for the underground platforms, it may be possible to have a second entrance to the  underground station from Piccadilly Gardens.
  • The current Manchester Piccadilly station would only need refurbishing, rather than a total rebuild.

Manchester would have the fastest conventional airport link in the world. Who needs Hyperloop or Maglev?

Would Any High Speed Services To And From London Terminate At Manchester?

If London and Manchester trains have a sub-seventy minute journey time, trains would need to wait for some minutes in a terminal platform. It is the Liverpool problem all over again.

  • These would need to be long enough for a full-length train.
  • They would be expensive to build, as they would be underground.

So I suspect that providing services to cities beyond Manchester would actually reduce the complication and cost of the underground station.

Services at the underground station at Manchester Piccadilly would be as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly
  • High Speed Two – Three tph between Manchester Piccadilly and London
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

Surely, this means that three tph must terminate in the underground platforms!

If trains emerge at Ardwick, they could also continue on the Hope Valley Line to Sheffield.

If two tph could go to Sheffield, this means that the service pattern through the underground platforms could be.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly nd Leeds
  • High Speed Two – One tph between London and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadillyand Leeds
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough.

I have shown that it is possible to design a schedule, where no High Speed services need to terminate in Manchester Piccadilly station.

So all the underground station would need is two through platforms.

A turnback could be provided at Ardwick for service recovery.

Overall services from the underground stations would be as follows.

  • Two tph – Edinburgh
  • Four tph – Hull
  • Nine tph – Leeds
  • Six tph – Liverpool
  • Three tph – London
  • Nine tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Newcastle
  • Two tph – Sheffield
  • One tph – Sunderland
  • Five tph – York

This was only after a few minutes juggling. I’m sure a professional could be better.

The only reason to add bay platforms to the underground station would be, if high speed regional services like those at St. Pancras were to be run terminate in Manchester.

The through station concept also means that if demand was such, that Manchester needed four or more tph to or from London, Manchester is future-proofed.

Could Island Platforms Be Built At Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Airport High Speed Stations?

Some of London’s Jubilee Line stations, with the highest capacity like Canada Water, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster, have theor Jubilee Line platforms designed to the following rules.

  • Tracks perhaps twenty or thirty metres apart.
  • A wide concourse between the two platforms, so travellers and staff can freely circulate.
  • Escalators and lifts in the concourse..
  • Platform-edge doors for safety.

It is a very good starting point, but it could be taken further.

  • Step-free access between platform and train, through wide doors..
  • Large numbers of information displays.
  • Tickets would indicate the door number to use.
  • Toilets and kiosks
  • Lots of visible staff, rather than the North’s usually few invisible versions.

Everything would be geared to a quick and easy boarding and leaving the trains.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

Liverpool And Manchester Journeys

I also suspect that nearly all Liverpool and Manchester passengers would use the High Speed services running between the city centres and Manchester Airport every ten minutes, which would take twenty-six minutes.

One estimate on the Internet says it takes fifty minutes to drive!

As both cities have extensive and interconnecting local rail, tram and bus networks, would this mean simplification of the other services between the two cities?

The Castlefield Corridor

Hopefully something will be done to sort out this route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.

  • I am very surprised that freight trains for Trafford Park Freight Terminal still use the Castlefield Corridor.
  • Will there still be a need to provide as many services to Manchester Airport, as surely passengers will use the High Speed route, which will be running every ten minutes and will probably be a escalator or lift away?
  • Would there be any need for long distance services to run through the route?
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and York would go via Northern Powerhouse Rail under Manchester Piccadilly and the City Centre.
  • Manchester Airport to Liverpool and Warrington would leave the Airport to the West and go direct.
  • Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Preston would leave the airport to the West and would take the West Coast Main Line at High Legh.
  • Manchester Airport to Birmingham, and London would leave the airport to the West and would take High Speed Two at High Legh.

I think the Castlefield Corridor end up as a series of train or tram-train routes across Manchester.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line is a series of routes across Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line is a series of routes across Birmingham.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is a series of routes across Newcastle.
  • Thameslink is a series of routes across London.
  • The East London Line is a series of routes across East London.

Note that the last two routes, have been planned to handle in excess of 20 tph.

Why should the Castlefield Corridor routes be any different?

It’s just another cross-city line!

If there was a direct escalator and lift connection from Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station, the routes through the Castlefield Corridor would be a superb system connecting passengers to  High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The Future Of The West Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • It appears Crewe and Warrington will be by-passed by new High Speed tracks.
  • A new Warrington station with calls from High Speed Two services,  will have good rail links to Chester, East Liverpool, North Wales and West Manchester.
  • Wigan station is well-connected with commuter lines to Kirkby, Liverpool, Manchester and Southport, which would bring passengers to High Speed Two services stopping in the station.
  • Preston station will connect passengers from Blackpool and North West Lancashire to High Speed Two services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston converted into quadruple track all the way.

  • Two High Speed tracks with at least 140 mph running and only one stop at Wigan.
  • Two slow tracks for freight and local services, with stops as necessary.

Separation of High Speed services on 140 mph tracks with perhaps a capacity of at least fifteen tph, raises the possibility of using 140 mph electric multiple units running High Speed regional services.

  • Northern terminals could be Blackburn, Blackpool and Burnley.
  • Southern terminals could be Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Stoke.
  • Liverpool services would terminate in the new High Speed platforms.
  • Manchester services would call at Manchester Airport.
  • Manchester services would terminate in bay platforms in the underground High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly, with quick and easy access to the High Speed services.
  • All High Speed local services would call at Preston and Wigan.

Trains would have the following characteristics.

  • Capable of 140 mph running.
  • High capacity, quality interiors.
  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • Able to use platform-edge door used by the High Speed trains.

Think of a modernised Class 195 train, used for high speed commuter services between St. Pancras and Kent.

If a battery-electric capability could be added, the towns and cities served could increase dramatically.

  • Northern terminals could be Barrow, Hebden Bridge and Windermere.
  • Southern terminals could be Chester.
  • Carlisle could be served using the Cumbria Coast Line via Barrow, Sellafield, Workington and Whitehaven.

I can see a large High Speed regional network developing around a 140 mph West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston.

North of Preston, the West Coast Main Line will become a double-track line with the passenger trains travelling at 140 mph.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

In Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North, I compared the current route between Leeds and Manchester with the Ipswich and Norwich route, that I know well.

  • Both routes are roughly the same length.
  • Ipswich and Norwich has a 100 mph line speed, with usually just two stops.
  • Manchester and Leeds has a much slower line speed, with umpteen stops.
  • The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 train per hour (tph).
  • Norwich and Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Two alternative routes are proposed.

  • The black route would be created by upgrading the Huddersfield Line.
  • The yellow route would be a new route via Bradford.

The Transport for the North report says this about the Leeds-Manchester service.

  • There will be six tph.
  • The journey will take 25 minutes.

The next two sections give my thoughts on these options.

Upgrading The Huddersfield Line

It will be a tough ask to upgrade this line so that a twenty-five minute time can be achieved.

I suspect though, it wouldn’t have been suggested unless it were possible.

Manchester And Leeds Via Bradford Low Moor

The Transport for the North report indicates that this could be via Bradford Low Moor station.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

Upgrade Or Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds?

Obviously, the tunnel would take several years to bore.

So to get Northern Powerhouse Rail up and running, the Huddersfield Line would be upgraded first.

At a future time, the tunnel would be constructed.

Hopefully, it could be built, when the finance became available, without disrupting existing train services.

After the tunnel was built, there could be a division of services.

  • High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services would use the tunnel.
  • Stopping services would use the Classic route on the Huddersfield Line.

All passengers would get the service they need.

Freight would have an extra route, if it could use the High Speed tunnel.

High Speed Lines East Of Leeds

I’ll repeat the map I included earlier, which shows the route of High Speed Two and the  two Northern Powerhouse Rail routes to the East of Leeds.

The three Junctions labelled on the map are.

  1. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Leeds – North East services.
  2. Junction on High Speed Two Leeds spur to facilitate through services via existing Leeds station.
  3. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Sheffield – Leeds services.

The two main Northern Powerhouse Rail routes East of Leeds are.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

Having ridden around these lines in the last few weeks, I believe that these routes could be  upgraded to a High Speed standard.

  • The East Coast Main Line is mainly four-track and could be capable of 140 mph running, with in-cab digital signalling.
  • An electrified link between Leeds and the East Coast Main Line has been promised for years.
  • Replace the Selby swing bridge and the line between Leeds and Hull could probably be upgraded to an electrified 125 mph line with 140 mph available with in-cab signalling.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report gives these proposed details of services East of Leeds.

  • Leeds and Newcastle -four tph in 58 minutes.
  • Leeds and Hull – two tph in 38 minutes

If all the lines East of Leeds were electrified, local services could be run by 140 mph electrical multiple units, likethose I proposed for Liverpool and Manchester High Speed regional services. These would not delay the High Speed services.

Liverpool and Hull Timings

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report doesn’t give a timing for this route across Northern England, but it does give the intermediate timings

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 25 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

This gives a time of 90 minutes between Liverpool and Hull, which compares with the current fastest time of 2:32 hours.

In addition, the frequency of the service would certainly be at least two tph and possibly as high as four tph.

Hull Station As A High Speed Terminal

Hull station has been earmarked for some time as an Eastern terminal for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This Google Map shows the station.

The station is large, with six platforms, and would have no problem accommodating long High Speed Two trains.

Could using Hull station as a terminal for a London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull service be a sensible response to saving costs and reducing disruption in the building of High Speed Two to Leeds?

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will need a High Speed link across or under the Pennines, but Leeds station is congested.
  • The new Junction 2 on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map, has been designed to allow services through Leeds station.
  • Leeds station probably would not be able to turn round a High Speed servicefrom London, without the previously planned substantial rebuilding.
  • Could the passengers at Leeds cope with all the disruption?
  • One extra High Speed service in both directions between Manchester and Hull every hour, could probably be accommodated using modern digital signalling.
  • The train might even split and join at Leeds to serve both Newcastle and Hull.

Using Hull as a terminal probably has other advantages.

  • There is probably space to add a stabling facility close to the station.
  • Upgrading the route between Hull and Selby, would speed-up London to Kings Cross services via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Electrification between Hull and Leeds would allow substantial improvement in local services around Hull.

If you look at the whole High Speed Two route between London and Hull via Manchester and Leeds, the route would be as follows.

  • High Speed Two between London and Crewe.
  • New High Speed railway between Crewe and Manchester via High Legh and Manchester Airport
  • New High Speed route across or under the Pennines to Leeds.
  • Upgraded line between Leeds and Hull.

I believe that it would be possible to run between London and Manchester at 225 mph and up to 140 mph on all the rest of the route.

Manchester Airport Connectivity

If High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are developed as laid out in the Transport for the North report, the following cities will be connected to Manchester Airport.

  • Birmingham – High Speed Two
  • Blackpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Bradford – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Carlisle – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Edinburgh – Northern Powerhouse Rail/East Coast Main Line
  • Glasgow – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Hull – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Leeds – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • London – High Speed Two
  • Newcastle -High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Preston – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Sheffield – Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Sunderland –  Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • York – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail

Manchester Airport will probably become the most important station in the North with High Speed connections to a large part of England and Scotland.

The Big Advantage Of Route Sharing

Suppose you have arrived in Manchester Airport and need to get home in Hull.

Because both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will run between the Airport and Hull, the frequency will be increased.

There could be the following services.

  • High Speed Two – 2 tph between London and Hull
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – 2 tph between Liverpool and Hull

Giving a train every fifteen minutes.

High Speed East Coast Between London and Yorkshire, the North East Of England and Edinburgh

The East Coast Main Line is not mentioned in either of the articles, I have quoted in this post.

This line will see big changes in the next few years.

  • All services from East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and LNER and some services from TransPennine Express will be run by 140 mph-capable Class 800/801/802 trains.
  • ERTMS will be installed between London and Doncaster.
  • Extra tracks will be added in places.
  • Werrington Junction will be improved.

Large sections of the line will be capable of 140 mph running.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 88 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I think we may have the making of a railway race between London and Leeds

  • London Kings Cross via Peterborough, Wakefield and Doncaster
  • London Euston via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • London Euston via Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Bradford.

In addition, if the Leeds and Hull Line via Selby were to be upgraded to a High Speed route capable of running at up to  140 mph, I believe that by 2024 or 2025 could see London and Hull covered in under two hours.

The East Coast Main Line will be a High Speed Line in all but name.

The improvements and the 140 mph operating speed will create more capacity and I believe services from Kings Cross could be something like.

  • London and Bradford – Two tph
  • London and Edinburgh – Three or four tph – One or two tph via Leeds
  • London and Hull – Two tph
  • London and Leeds – Three or four tph
  • London and Lincoln – Two tph
  • London and Middlesbrough – Two tph
  • London and Newcastle – Four tph
  • London and Scarborough – One tph
  • London and Sunderland – Two tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – Two or three tph

Selective joining and splitting could be used to make better use of paths South of Doncaster.

I haven’t proven it, but my gut feeling for the numbers, is that LNER with their fleet of Azumas, will be capable of running a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

I suspect, that hey’ll have to buy a few more trains.

With the open access operators providing extra services, I suspect that there will be at least two tph between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland.

It would be the ultimate High Speed service based on a route that was designed by Victorians.

To make the most of the East Coast Main Line improvements, the following Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements should be done.

  • Leeds to Hull
  • Leeds to the Northbound East Coast Main Line

I’ve already discussed the first, but the second would do the following.

  • Speed up services between Leeds and Newcastle and Scotland.
  • Allow LNER to run electric trains between London and Scotland via Leeds.
  • Create an electrified route between Neville Hill Depot and York.
  • Create an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Services To Sheffield

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in East Yorkshire.

I can remember, when the Master Cutler used to run to Sheffield via the East Coast Main Line in the 1960s.

Even if a train took thirty minutes to go between Sheffield and  Doncaster, it will still be a journey time of under two hours between London Kings Cross and Sheffield.

But note that on the map the route between Sheffield and Doncaster is shown as to be improved for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the route were to be electrified, it could give Sheffield and Rotherham a High Speed route to London Kings Cross.

The Classic route to Sheffield via the Midland Main Line is being upgraded.

  • It will be electrified as far North as Market Harborough.
  • Much of the route will have a 125 mph operating speed and perhaps 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • It  will share the 15.5 mile Northern section of the spur between High Speed Two and Sheffield, meaning it will be electrified between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.

So when the new 125 mph bi-mode trains start running between St. Pancras and Sheffield, I would suspect that timings on this route could be below the two-hour mark.

Sheffield will get a much improved train service to and from the South.

Sheffield And Hull

The map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, shows a route between Sheffield and Hull via Doncaster as improved Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • It includes Sheffield and Doncaster, which could be improved to a High Speed electrified line.
  • Part of the route between Doncaster and Selby is  the East Coast Main Line, which should be able to sustain 140 mph running in a few years.
  • Selby and Hull, is another route to be improved by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning two tph in fifty minutes between Sheffield and Hull.

They could be 125 mph electric multiple units, which are a bit better than the current Pacers.

Some local services use a second route via Doncaster, Thorne, Goole, Gilberdyke and Brough.

Between Doncaster and Gilberdyke is not planned for improvement in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, but at only twenty-five miles, it could easily be run by using 125 mph battery-electric trains, which would charge their batteries whilst running at both ends of the route.

  • I wonder if it would be best to electrify the Thorne/Goole first, to give diversion for trains between Doncaster and Hull, whilst the Selby Swing Bridge is electrified.
  • I have just read on this page of the Historic England web site, that the Selby Swing Bridge was Listed as Grade II ion the 23rd April 2015. So is this the reason why the electrification between Leeds and Hull has stalled?
  • An electrified Thorne/Google route, might be used for local trains, whilst expresses used the Selby route.
  • Selby has a couple of useful West-facing bay platforms.

There certainly seems to be some innovative Project Management at work

After all, train operators wouldn’t probably want to cut off one of their markets, whilst upgrading and electrification are underway.

Sheffield and Grimsby Via Doncaster and Scunthorpe

This route is shown on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map.

  • There is an hourly TransPennine Express service between Cleethorpes station and Manchester Airport via Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Sheffield.
  • There are a few sundry local services.
  • The route serves the important Port of Immingham.
  • A large renewable energy industry is developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • British Steel has just folded at Scunthorpe.

The route doesn’t really fit the Northern Powerhouse ideal and it has a totally inadequate passenger service.

Could this route be improved to provide better rail services to the area, that sometimes, the rest of the UK forgets?

  • Electrification might be needed to handle the heavy freight from Scunthorpe and Immingham.
  • Would an LNER service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes be welcomed?
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport needs to at least be doubled in frequency.

With all the energy projects going on in North Lincolnshire, this area could become the Lincolnshire Powerhouse.

Sheffield And Leeds

Long-terms plans for traffic between these two cities will probably be by Junctions 2 and 3 on the map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report, suggests that the trains will use High Speed Two and some infrastructure improvements and will run at a frequency of four tph and take 28 minutes.

This is a good service and compares well with what is planned between Ipswich and Norwich.

In the meantime, the main route is the Hallam Line, where trains take eighty minutes for the forty-five miles

Let’s hope Northern’s more powerful new Class 195 trains, bring the journey time under the hour.

Barnsley and Rotherham mustn’t be left out of the benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Is this the beginning of Yorkshire Powerhouse Rail?

Sheffield And Manchester

The Northern Powerhouse Rail map has this route marked as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

As a lot of freight traffic is generated along the Hope Valley Line, which is the only route between the two cities, will this route be upgraded for a faster speed and greater capacity.

Will the Hope Valley Line be electrified?

  • At the Western end, it is electrified as far as far as Hazel Grove station.
  • At the Eastern end, High Speed Two will mean there will be electrification at Dore Junction.
  • The distance between Dore Junction and Hazel Grove station is about thirty miles.
  • My helicopter didn’t show that many bridges or level crossings.
  • There are three long tunnels on the route, which are a total of eight miles long. Depending on their condition, these could be easy or difficult to electrify.
  • Much of the electrification at the Western end looks in need of replacement.

This is one for the project engineers and accountants, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this route electrified.

High Speed Two Routes

From the map it appears that in addition to the current proposed routes for High Speed Two trains.

  • London-Birmingham-Liverpool (96 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester (68 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Wigan and then on the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow. (218 mins from 248)
  • London-Birmingham-East Midlands Hub-Sheffield-Leeds (82 mins from 132) and then on the East Coast Main Line to Newcastle 138 mins from 172)

Two new routes would be added via the new High Legh junctions.

  • London-Birmingham–Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Newcastle

In addition Liverpool would be served via the High Legh junctions.

This page on The Guardian is a useful guide to current and HS2 tomings, which I have used here.

My best estimates for the new layout are as follows.

London-Birmingham-Liverpool via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds via High Legh – 92 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull via High Legh – 130 mins

Note.

  1. To avoid problems, Liverpool and Manchester will probably end up with the same scheduled times.
  2. I suspect that the High Legh route may save more time, than I have estimated.
  3. Any savings South of High Legh will benefit all routes.

As under the new proposals London and High Legh will be continuous High Speed line, with High Speed spurs to Liverpool, Manchester Airport and Manchester, it would appear that the proposals offer faster journey times to the area.

Building High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

There is an old Project Management phrase about

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row!

I think, that someone has been thinking hard as it appears the building of the second phase of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail together can offer a lot of benefits.

These are my thoughts on the project order.

Devise An Intelligent Electrification Philosophy

Transport for Wales and their contractors are devising an intelligent discontinuous electrification philosophy for the South Wales Metro.

The Hallam, Hope Valley and Huddersfield Lines will be tricky to improve and electrify.

  • They run through picturesque countryside.
  • There are a large number of overbridges and some level crossings..
  • There could be objections.
  • There are some long tunnels.
  • Access could be difficult.
  • Speed limits will need to be increased.

Every trick will need to be employed.

  • Instead of rebuilding overbridges, electrification  could be discontinuous as in South Wales.
  • Trains would have enough energy storage to bridge gaps in electrification.
  • Tunnels will be electrified using rails on the roof or as third-rail.
  • Intelligent fast-charging for trains with batteries will be deployed.

Less obtrusive electrification could also be used, as  I described in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Leeds And Sheffield Improvements

Leeds and Manchester is a difficult rail journey, but so is Leeds and Sheffield.

This route can be improved, by doing what I indicated earlier.

  • Complete the electrification.
  • Improve the track and signalling where necessary.
  • Build new stations at Barnsley Dearne Valley and Rotherham.
  • From 2022, East Midlands Railway should run at least one tph between St. Pancras and Leeds via Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate.
  • Add extra trains between Sheffield and Leeds to give Northern Powerhouse Rail’s promised four tph in twenty-eight minutes

This would introduce competition and options for travel to and from Leeds.

Conclusion – This upgrade would bring large benefits to the area and should have the highest priority.

Lines East Of Leeds

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

The trains that the train operators have ordered can run all the services.

Once ERTMS is installed on the East Coast Main Line, train travel between London and Hull could be under two hours.

Conclusion – These lines should be improved sooner rather than later.

Midland Main Line Between Clay Cross Junction And Sheffield

This section of track will be shared between High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line.

  • It is 15.5 miles long.
  • It will be electrified.
  • The only intermediate station is Chesterfield, which will need to be substantially rebuilt.
  • It will have a high line speed, perhaps even in excess of 140 mph.
  • Currently, the line carries about ten tph in both directions.

Completing this sub-project early would give benefits.

  • The bi-mode trains due to be introduced on the Midland Main Line in 2022, would benefit from the improved electrified line.
  • Timings on services between London and Sheffield would be reduced to under two hours.

An electrical supply for the electrification would have to be provided in Sheffield, which would be useful, if other electrification projects were to be started in the area.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later.

Electrification Of The Hope Valley Line

Work is already planned to upgrade capacity on the Hope Valley Line.

Having looked at several electrification projects in the last few years, it is my belief that delays can occur because of bad surveys and preparation work done too late and in great haste.

So why not do as much of this work, whilst the capacity is upgraded?

Electrification of what would be a well-surveyed and prepared railway, with an immaculate track, must be a lot easier to plan, install and deliver on time.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later, especially as it could be a test project for other lines through the hills.

Improvement And Possible Electrification Of The Huddersfield Line

Improvement of this line could probably give a large benefit to services between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield.

  • Current services on the line would be speeded up.
  • More services could be possible.

On the down side, it is a busy route and improvement will be very difficult.

Conclusion – This important route should be improved as soon as possible.

Building The Liverpool And Manchester High Speed Line

This will be a large and complex project.

It will involve building the following.

  • Around thirty miles of new railway.
  • New platforms and/or stations in Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • A Tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Diversion of the West Coast Main Line through or around Crewe and Warrington.
  • Building of the two junctions at High Legh.
  • Connection to High Speed Two towards Birmingham and London.

It is my opinion, that the diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be opened at the same time as High Speed Two reaches Crewe, in 2027.

Conclusion -The diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be given priority, but the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed line can be done later.

Good Project Management Is Needed

I am sure, that Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two can work together to produce a schedule that delivers benefits in a steady stream.

They must be bold and not allow the politicians to derail the project or move it in an unsustainable direction, based on pressure from their constituents.

Conclusion

Linking the building of Phase Two of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail would appear to be a sensible solution to expanding the economy of Northern England.

 

 

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments