The Anonymous Widower

Should Improvement Needed For High Speed Two On The East And West Coast Main Lines Be Given High Priority?

High Speed Two will bring major improvements in times between London and the North of England and Scotland, with these figures claimed by this page on the High Speed Two web site.

  • London Euston and Carlisle – 2 hours and 23 minutes saving 54 minutes
  • London Euston and Darlington – 1 hours and 50 minutes saving 32 minutes
  • London Euston and Durham – 2 hours and 16 minutes saving 37 minutes
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 3 hours and 48 minutes saving 31 minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – 3 hours and 40 minutes saving 49 minutes
  • London Euston and Lockerbie – 2 hours and 55 minutes saving 43 minutes
  • London Euston and Newcastle – 2 hours and 17 minutes saving 32 minutes

Substantial savings would seem to be possible.

The Recent Record Run On The West Coast Main Line

A few weeks ago, Avanti West Coast ran a Class 390 train between London Euston and Glasgow in three hours and 53 minutes and 1 second. They were trying to beat the record set by the \APT-P in 1984 of three hours and 52 minutes and 40 seconds.

In Lessons From The Record Run in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, Roger Ford makes a big hint in a section called Hint.

Roger starts with this paragraph.

In the virtual race with APT-P, the Pendolino was seven minutes ahead approaching the border, but this was not sufficient to overcome APT-P’s advantage of being able to run faster over lines which, unlike the southern end of the WCML, have not enjoyed the increased speeds further south, such as at Stafford and Crewe.

He then talks of a levelling-up of the infrastructure being needed on the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line.

Roger finishes the section with this paragraph.

Thus, the final message of the run is that if HS2 is to realise its full potential, planning for the West Coast Route Modernisation (North) needs to start now, both for journey time reductions and reliability.

The High Speed Two time between Preston and Glasgow of two hours and 26 minutes, given by their journey time calculator  is in line with current timings.

I am drawn to the following conclusions about services between Preston and Glasgow.

  • I suspect the similar times  could be expected, as the trains will have to cope with other trains on the route.
  • Most of High Speed Two’s savings must be on the new track to the South of Wigan.

It would appear that any savings made between Preston and Scotland will benefit both classic and high speed services.

I certainly agree with Roger’s hint to start planning the upgrade of the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line.

This would surely enable upgrade of the route to start sooner and places at the North of the route would benefit from faster journey times to the South before High Speed Two is complete.

Reducing The Journey Times On The West Coast Main Line

If you look at the average speed between Preston and Glasgow of a typical train, it is just 84.3 mph.

Various average speeds give the following times between Preston and Glasgow.

  • 90 mph – two hours and 8 minutes
  • 100 mph – one hour and 55 minutes
  • 110 mph – one hour and 45 minutes

It would appear there is scope for reductions in journey times to be made.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the Scottish part of the route and it doesn’t look to be too terrifying.

  • There are tight speed limits at Preston and Carlisle
  • The railway is not hemmed in by development until close to Glasgow.
  • Most of the modern bridges, where the M74 crosses the railway appear to have space for an extra track.
  • Connection of the Borders Railway to the West Coast Main Line could give scope for improvement between Gretna junction and Carlisle.
  • The depot at Annandale, that I wrote about in High Speed Two To Build Stabling Facility In Scotland, may give scope for a shorter, straighter and faster route between Grena Green and Kirkpatrick-Fleming, that could run closer to the M74.
  • North of Lockerbie, there may be scope to put extra tracks between the railway and the M74.
  • The Carstairs area could be ripe for improvement.

I would feel that digital signalling and some well-applied engineering could cut a sensible amount of time from Preston and Glasgow timings.

  • I can certainly say, that the route is not a desert, where possible improvements will be difficult to find.
  • I also don’t feel there are any obvious improvements, that will be controversial.

There is also the M74, which could be invaluable for camouflaging the railway.

Reducing The Journey Times On The East Coast Main Line

Much of the work to speed up the Northern section of the East Coast Main Line is laid out in 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, a post I wrote to explain what Northern Powerhouse Rail feel is urgently needed.

Mentioned in the other post are following projects.

  • Full Digital Signalling
  • Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade
  • York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Darlington Station Remodelling
  • The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction
  • Use Of The Leamside Line

As with the West Coast Main Line, the improvements would benefit both classic and High Speed services.


Improvements to both the East and West Coast Main Lines will help both classic and High Speed services between London and the North of England and Scotland.

I think that planning and design should be started as soon as possible.

Construction should start as early as possible, so that the benefits of faster trains are felt at the earliest date possible.



August 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 11 Comments

High Speed Two To Build Stabling Facility In Scotland

High Speed Two has announced the intention to build a stabling facility for trains at Annandale in Dumfries and Galloway.

This document on the Government web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation.

Details of the Annandale Depot, start on Page 43.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Phase 2b will provide an increased number of services to Scotland and North West England compared to Phase 2a or Phase One of HS2, with two 400m trains running from Euston each hour and splitting at Carlisle into two 200m trains to serve Glasgow and Edinburgh. HS2 trains will also serve Scotland from Birmingham. New HS2 trains serving Scotland and the north west of England will need overnight stabling and light maintenance in this area, near to where trains finish and start service. It would not be operationally efficient for these trains to run empty to the next closest HS2 depot north of Crewe, approximately 150 miles away.

Note the services are as laid out in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which was obviously the thinking at the time on High Speed Two.

If you ignore the splitting and joining and assume that they are two separate trains, the Anglo-Scottish services on High Speed Two are as follows.

  • One train per hour (tph) – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • One tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One train per two hours (tp2h) – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle. Lockerbie and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle. Lockerbie and Motherwell


  1. Oxenholme and Penrith might not be served by both Birmingham trains.
  2. All services would be run by High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  3. The two Birmingham services effectively provide a one tph service between Birmingham and Scotland.
  4. All services will be single  200 metre long trains to the North of Carlisle, as pairs will split and join at Carlisle station.
  5. There would appear to be a fairly consistent five tph between Carlisle and Carstairs, where the Glasgow and Edinburgh routes divide.
  6. Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central will both have three tph to and from Carlisle and Preston.

These were factors in the choice of location of the depot, stated in the report.

  • Be close to the existing railway.
  • Be a relatively large, flat site.
  • Preferably a brownfield rather than greenfield site.
  • Located as close as feasible to where HS2 services will terminate or begin to minimise empty train movements.
  • Be accessible to the workforce and local transport network.
  • Be suitable for 24-hour working.
  • Have enough space to accommodate equipment for light maintenance activities.
  • Have enough space to accommodate the expected number of trains.

The site is also close to the M74.

A few of my thoughts.

The Location Of The Proposed Depot

This Google Map shows the area mentioned in the report.


  1. The red arrow indicates Cranberry Farm, which will be just to the North of the site.
  2. The West Coast Main Line passing just South of Cranberry Farm, going across the map.
  3. The B 7076 and M74 will be to the South of the site.

It looks to meet many of the factors, I stated earlier. But it does appear to be a greenfield, rather than a brownfield site.

Distances And Times From The Depot

These are distances to places, where services will or might start.

  • Carlisle – 9 miles – 6 minutes
  • Edinburgh – 93 miles – 68 minutes
  • Glasgow – 94 miles – 59 minutes

I have used distances from Gretna Green Junction, which is just to the South of the proposed depot.

Will The Depot Be Only For Classic-Compatible Trains?


  • All services North of Wigan North Western will be run by High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  • A simpler depot would surely be possible if it only handled High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.
  • With the possible exception of the occasional demonstration or test run High Speed Two;s full-size fleet will never be seen North of the Border.

The only thing this depot might have to do with the full-size fleet is turn-back a test train, which would only need a 400 metre long siding. A siding this length would probably be needed to turn a pair of High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains.

Could The Depot Serve A Possible Irish Extension?

I believe that eventually High Speed Two will be extended across Southern Scotland and a bridge will connect it to Northern Ireland

In A Glimpse Of 2035, I gave a fictionalised version of the first journey from London Euston to Dublin, by high speed train.

I have just calculated the length of a high speed rail link between the proposed Annandale . Depot and a Belfast Parkway station. It is around 120 miles and the route would probably branch off between Lockerbie and Annandale Depot.

I feel that Annandale Depot could serve trains for Belfast, but there would probably need to be another depot in Dublin.

Extra HS2 Services To Scotland

Currently, TransPennine Express run services Between Liverpool and Manchester in England and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

I can see High Speed Two replacing these services with a similar service to the one they are planning for Birmingham.

The current service is as follows,

  • One tp2h – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Piccadilly, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell
  • Four trains per day (tpd) – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central via Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell


  1. They call at smaller stations like Wigan North Western, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith and Lockerbie as appropriate, to even up the service.
  2. These services probably share one path between Preston and Carstairs.
  3. The Liverpool services are diverted Manchester services.

Could they be replaced by High Speed Two services?

The Manchester services could become.

  • One tp2h – Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Airport, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Haymarket
  • One tp2h – Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central via Manchester Airport, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle and Motherwell.

Blackpool, Liverpool and other parts of the North West may be better served with high speed commuter services linking them to Preston.

Serving Scotland’s Seven Cities

Scotland has seven cities that are connected by Inter7City trains.

  • Aberdeen – Not Electrified
  • Dundee – Not Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Will be served by High Speed Two
  • Glasgow – Will be served by High Speed Two
  • Inverness – Not Electrified
  • Perth – Not Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified

Can we forget about serving Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Perth until they are fully electrified?

But Stirling must be a possibility.

There is a fully electrified route via Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert

I estimate, that coming up from London will take four hours and five minutes, as against the current time of five hours and eighteen minutes.

Increasing Capacity On The West Coast Main Line In Scotland

Over the years, there have been several plans to run more and faster trains between England and Glasgow on the West Coast Main Line.

So would a High Speed Two service go to Stirling?

At present the maximum operating speed on the route is 125 mph. Trains like Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 trains and Hitachi’s AT-300 trains, could run at 140 mph, if digital in-cab signalling were rolled out on the route.

It is absolutely essential before High Speed Two trains run to Scotland, that the West Coast Main Line is digitally signalled.

In addition to faster running, trains can be closer together, so more trains can be run in an hour.

There are also other things, that could be done to help.

  • Ensure, that all the many freight trains on the route are electrically-hauled and capable of operating at 100 mph or more.
  • Make sure that local trains sharing the routes into Glasgow and Edinburgh are fast enough to keep out of the way of the expresses.
  • Selectively, add extra tracks, so that fast trains can overtake slow ones.
  • Ideally, a line like the West Coast Main Line, needs to be quadruple track all the way.

There also must be scope for flighting.


  • Class 390 trains take about 30 minutes between Edinburgh Waverley and Carstairs South Junction
  • Class 390 trains take about 30 minutes between Glasgow Central and Carstairs South Junction
  • Carstairs South Junction is where the two routes join.

Suppose two High Speed Two trains were to leave Edinburgh and Glasgow at similar times and run South from Carstairs South Junction, a safe distance apart.

  • The lead train would be travelling at 140 mph perhaps three to five minutes in front of the second train.
  • In-cab digital signalling would enforce the safe distance.

When the trains arrived in Carlisle, they would take a couple of minutes to join up physically for the high speed dash to London.

This Google Map shows Carstairs station and the splitting of the Glasgow and Edinburgh routes.


  1. The tracks going North-West to Glasgow.
  2. The tracks going North-East to Edinburgh.
  3. The tracks going South-East to Glasgow
  4. All tracks in the picture are electrified.

There might be a need for a passing loop to increase the efficiency of this junction.

It’s not just high speed passenger trains, that can use this technique, but it can be applied to trains with the same performance. So freight trains could form a convoy!

Flighting can decrease the number of train paths needed for a particular number of services and as digital in-cab signalling extends its reach across the UK, we’ll see more applications of the technique.

Effectively, by pathing the two London and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains and adding in one Birmingham and Manchester service, High Speed Two services would only need four paths between Carlisle and Carstairs.

But there would be.

  • Four tph between Preston/Carlisle and Scotland. So capacity would be good.
  • Three tph Between Carlisle and Edinburgh.
  • Three tph Between Carlisle and Glasgow.

As Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport all can handle a pair of High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains, it might be possible in the future to serve both Edinburgh and Glasgow with the Birmingham and Manchester services, splitting the trains at Carlisle. This would mean.

  • Four tph between Preston/Carlisle and Scotland.
  • Four tph Between Preston/Carlisle and Edinburgh.
  • Four tph Between Preston/Carlisle and Glasgow.

That looks strange mathematics, but that’s what you get when a train can serve two places by splitting.

What About The Glasgow And South Western Line?

The Glasgow And South Western Line, runs between Glasgow and Carlisle via Dumfries.


  • It is not electrified
  • It can be used as a diversion, when the West Coast Main Line is blocked.
  • It has always puzzled me, why this line wasn’t electrified, when the West Coast Main Line was electrified in the 1970s.
  • High Speed Two’s need for more paths and higher speeds on the West Coast Main Line, may chase some of the freight on that route on to the Glasgow and South Western, as an alternative.

Perhaps, a small part of the High Speed Two budget could be used to electrify the route.

It certainly could be used to take some freight traffic from the West Coast Main Line and to ease diversions, if High Speed Two needed to close the West Coast Main Line for improvements to track, electrification or signalling.

It is also a line, where alternative methods of powering the trains could be used.

  • It has electrification at both ends and with some electrification in the middle, battery electric passenger trains might be able to use the route.
  • The City of Glasgow is majoring on hydrogen and the route, which is 115 miles long, could be ideal for a hydrogen train.

On the other hand full electrification could enable the electric services to be run at times, when the West Coast Main Line was blocked.

It is certainly a route, that could benefit from improvement.

Extension Of The Borders Railway To Carlisle

It is looking increasingly likely that the Borders Railway will be extended to Carlisle.

This report from the High Speed Rail Group is entitled Cross-Border High-Speed Rail And The Borders Railway Project.

The first paragraph is firm about why the Edinburgh and Glasgow services should split and join at Carlisle.

It has taken a while for HS2 service plans to focus on Carlisle as the right place to divide and join Glasgow/Edinburgh high-speed train portions. Earlier plans used Carstairs – and left Carlisle with no HS2 London service.

I also think it will be considerably more affordable  and less disruptive to extend Carlisle’s already long platforms, than to build a massive new station at Carstairs capable of handling 400 metre long trains.

This paragraph puts its case for extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

To get best use out of the enhanced services that will then be possible, and to fully utilise the additional line capacity along the West Coast Main Line, onward rail connectivity is crucial. That’s why we flagged the compatibility with the Borders Railways re-opening from Tweedbank via Hawick to Carlisle in our report. With Carlisle-London journey times reduced to a little over 2 hours, and the Borders Railway fully re-instated, journey times from the Borders towns could be dramatically shortened – to London as well as to other major cities in England. Inward travel for tourists to the Borders region would be dramatically enhanced too.

They also add that a Borders Railway could be an useful diversion route, during the increasing number of problems on UK rail networks caused by the weather.

I believe that the Borders Railway should be extended to Carlisle and it should also be electrified.

  • It would be a useful diversion route.
  • It could handle some freight trains.
  • It might be useful to move empty stock between Edinburgh and Annandale Depot, as the Borders Railway joins the West Coast Main Line not far from the depot.

We mustn’t underestimate how many passengers to and from the Borders will use the Borders Railway to catch High Speed Two at Carlisle.


Moving the depot to Annandale, may look to some like a way of giving the Scots a higher profile in High Speed Two.

But I do think it gives options to make a High Speed Network easier to run North of the border.

  • High Speed Two have total control of their depot.
  • It is well placed for Carlisle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It is also extremely well placed for the rail network of South Scotland.

October 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment