The Anonymous Widower

Ambitious £10bn Plans For Gatwick Heathrow HS4Air Rail Service Rejected

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

This paragraph outlines the reasons for rejection of HS4Air.

But the DfT has reportedly turned down the proposal, primarily over concerns about the affordability and that it would likely face issues because the proposed route will run across greenbelt land.

It would appear from the report, that the promoters of the project; Expedition Engineering, are not happy.

This is the last three paragraphs of the article

Lenczner said that most of the rail line was going to be in tunnels, ensuring the impact to open green areas was limited and less than the Lower Thames Crossing.

He said: “We’re trying to encourage people to get out of cars and use more sustainable modes of transport and the HS4Air would have contributed to that.

“We have had lots of messages of support who are also utterly gobsmacked that it has been rejected at this stage.

He added that “we don’t intend to back down,” and said the engineering company plans to challenge the DfT’s decision.

Alistair Lenczner is a director of Expedition Engineering.

I think that HS4Air proposal is the sort of bold infrastructure project, that we will increasingly need in a post-Brexit world.

There were four major proposals to create better rail access to Heathrow up before the Department of Transport.

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?, I summed them all up.

Heathrow Southern Railway

I summed up the Heathrow Southern Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Waterloo, Clapham Junction, South and South West London
  • Extends Heathrow Express to Woking and Basingstoke
  • Adds a new route for commuters into Paddington.
  • Extends Crossrail from Heathrow to Staines.
  • It will be built alongside the M25 with a tunnel to Terminal Five.
  • All terminals served
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the South West.
  • Privately funded.

HS4Air

I summed up HS4Air  like this.

  • Connectivity to High Speed 2, the Midlands, North and West of England and WalesHigh Speed
  • Possible connection to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent.
  • North-South station in a tunnel deep under Heathrow.
  • The Heathrow station will be able to handle full-length high speed trains from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
  • Heathrow could become a High Speed Rail hub serving Greater Western London.
  • Sneaks along the M25.
  • All terminals could probably be served, by escalators and lifts from the deep station.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the North and West.
  • Privately funded

I’m keener on the section North of Heathrow, than that to the South.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

I summed up the Western Rail Approach To Heathrow like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Network Rail’s proposed scheme.
  • Government funded (?)

Windsor Link Railway

I summed up the Windsor Link Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Privately funded

This scheme also unlocks development of upmarket housing in Windsor.

Why Does Heathrow Need Better Rail Access?

Heathrow Airport is continuously expanding and needs better transport access.

To the man or woman in the Woking 4×4, the baggage handler in his clapped diesel Toyota and the myriad numbers of Air Cargo operators with their polluting trucks, that means better and cheaper parking and more comprehensive road networks at the Airport.

We are not talking about an American Airport with masses of space, but an airport with limited land surrounded by housing, office and commercial development.

It also has a massive non-aviation pollution footprint, caused by all the diesel vehicles serving the airport.

Surely, more and better electric trains and road vehicles into Heathrow should be part of the solution. Most politicians, trade union officials, businessmen and travellers, probably feel so.

The Airport Of The Future

In the modern world, an ideal airport should be designed so that.

  • All air-side vehicles serving the planes, runways and airport buildings, should be battery-powered or zero carbon.
  • All passengers and airport workers must arrive or leave the airport, by means of electric train, bus, tram or taxi.
  • All supplies and air cargo must arrive and leave the airport by means of electric train or truck.

Heathrow will have a large fight to get the Planning Permission for their new runway and expansion plans. But declaring the Airport to be electric vehicle only on the ground, could be a bold move, that could turn the minds of opposing residents, politicians and Local Authorities.

Electric Air-Side Vehicles

This is starting to happen, with even giant electric aircraft tugs for A380s now available.

Moving People To And From The Airport

Add up all the numbers of passengers and workers and there isn’t enough capacity at the preset time.

There needs to be the following.

  • More frequent and longer trains.
  • More platforms
  • Access to the West
  • Access to High Speed Two

HS4Air offered a different approach of a North-South railway through the Airport, which could be built without disturbing the existing rail network at Heathrow.

But it has been rejected.

HS4Air would also have allowed important local networks to be built onto Crossrail.

  • Extending Crossrail to Staines.
  • Adding the West London Orbital Railway to Old Oak Common.

I feel that combining the best bits of HS4Air, Heathrow Southern Railway and the West London Orbital Railway could be a good idea, to bring all those important workers to the Airport.

Moving Air Cargo And Supplies To And From The Airport

Some of the automated-logistics networks used by the likes of Amazon are incredibly impressive.

Could a massive logistics hub be built in the centre of the Airport?

  • Electric trains would arrive with pre-loaded containers of air cargo and supplies.
  • The containers would be automatically directed to the appropriate place on a network of tracks deep under the airport.
  • Containers would also travel in the reverse direction with inbound air cargo, returned empties and rubbish.

I’m sure something like this will happen and underneath the third runway is surely the place to build such a logistics hub.

My Views On Each Proposal

These are my views on each proposal are as follows.

Heathrow Southern Railway

This is probably the second largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It gives good connections to large areas of South and South West London.
  • It connects to the two big rail hubs of Waterloo and Charing Cross.
  • It extends Heathrow Express from a short express airport service into a much-needed new commuter route between Surrey and Hampshire and London.
  • It extends Crossrail to Staines to create an important local link into the Airport for the workforce.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.
  • It will probably be a  privately-funded scheme.

But there is a big disadvantage; there is no connection to Reading, Slough and the West.

HS4Air

This is probably the largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It connects to High Speed 2 and the Great West Main Line.
  • It could be connected to Gatwick and High Speed One in the future.
  • It would be built mainly in tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • It proposes a North South station under Heathrow Airport, below existing rail links.
  • It would be able to handle full-size high speed trains.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It would fit in well with the development of a third runway and new terminals, as it will be well below in tunnel.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.

But there are disadvantages

  • It will probably be a very expensive privately-funded scheme.
  • It does provide good connectivity to Slough, but doesn’t improve the connectivity to other areas, where workers at the Airport will live.

I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this scheme.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

It has the following advantages.

  • It should provide good connectivity to Reading, Slough and further West.
  • It wouldn’t be difficult to build.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.

But there are disadvantages.

  • Except for Slough, it doesn’t connect to much affordable housing, where Heathrow’s massive workforce live.
  • It is Network Rail’s pet scheme.
  • Would it need to be government-funded?

As with HS4Air, I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

Windsor Link Railway

This is very much a local scheme and doesn’t give enough capacity increase for the Airport.

But I don’t rule out in the future, a tunnel under Windsor connecting Slough and Staines to aid the development of the important town.

A Pragmatic Approach

Could a pragmatic approach be taken to give Heathrow, the world-class rail access it needs?

What About The Workers?

This may seem a strange place to start, but I believe that if Heathrow expands, the following will be true.

  • The airport will need large numbers of workers.
  • Not all jobs will be high salaries, so good access to areas of low-cost housing from the airport on a 24/7 basis will be needed.
  • If you work at the airport, then it’ll be the first place from where you want to fly on holiday.
  • Heathrow will not want workers to add to the Airport’s chronic, local pollution footprint.

Prime areas for the recruitment of airport workers will be Basingstoke, Bracknell, Reading, Slough, Staines and North West and South London.

All currently have bad rail connections to Heathrow.

To ease these journeys, the following local connections must be built.

Crossrail Extension from Heathrow Terminal 5 To Staines

In Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines, I looked at this extension in detail and came to the conclusion that four trains per hour (tph) could run to and from Staines for Crossrail.

Although this extension came about because of the Heathrow Southern Railway proposal, I feel that it should be built whatever scheme is chosen.

  • It will add a capacity of up to 6,000 passengers per hour, between Staines and Heathrow, in both directions.
  • It will increase the capacity of Heathrow Terminal 5 station.
  • It will enable extra Crossrail services between Central London and Heathrow Terminal 5.

But the main reason is that it will create a new route between Staines and Abbey Wood via Old Oak Common (for High Speed Two) the West End, Farringdon ( for Thameslink), the City and Canary Wharf.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway is planned to run in a circular manner around North West London.

I wrote about it in detail in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

Two routes are proposed.

  • Brentford to West Hampstead Thameslink via Old Oak Common.
  • Kew Bridge to Brent Cross via Old Oak Common.

The routes would use the freight-only Dudding Hill Line.

Major costs would be.

  • Resignalling the route.
  • Up to half-a-dozen new or upgraded stations.
  • A small number of battery-electric Class 710 (?) trains.

Crossrail or High Speed Two it is not!

The railway will bring large numbers of travellers to Old Oak Common station, where Crossrail will take them to the Airport or Central London.

Windsor Link Railway

I said I was taking a pragmatic approach to rail access to Heathrow and the Windsor Link Railway build in conjunction with extending Crossrail to Staines could have several advantages.

  • Remove a lot of road traffic from the Centre of Windsor.
  • Create a rail service between Reading and Heathrow via Windsor and Slough.
  • A Park-and-Ride could be built South of Slough by the M4.
  • Unlock land for development in Windsor.
  • One tunnelling project could be used to access Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

The route could be run with a frequency of four tph, using Crossrail trains.

Perhaps it should even be part of Crossrail?

What About The Air Cargo And Supplies?

 

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extra Intermediate Stations On Crossrail

Various groups and councils regularly ask if there could be an extra station on Crossrail, that would be convenient for their needs.

Can Extra Stations Be Accommodated In The Timetable?

There is not much point in building an extra station, if it means that a realistic timetable can’t be achieved.

Every station stop will introduce a delay intro the timetable. The train may only be stationary for thirty seconds or so, but there is extra time in the braking and acceleration either side of the stop.

But the Class 345 trains have been designed so that the times to execute a station stop are minimised.

Rapid Acceleration And Deceleration

The trains have been designed with eight motored cars out of a total of nine.

  • This high-proportion of powered axles gives the trains acceleration and deceleration, which is fast, but well within the levels for passenger safety and comfort.
  • The trains also have regenerative braking, which is powerful and smooth.
  • At times on the current service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, I have noticed the trains waiting at stations for a couple of minutes, to allow the timetable to catch up.

These trains have the performance to execute a station stop in the smallest time possible.

Wide Doors And Spacious Lobbies

The trains have been designed with wide double doors and spacious lobbies.

This enables fast unloading and loading of passengers at each station.

Level Access Between Train And Platform

Trains and platforms could be arranged, so that all passengers can embark and disembark as fast as possible.

Precision Driving And Automatic Train Control

As much of the route uses modern digital signalling and the trains have a comprehensive driver assistance system, the trains should be driven to a high degree of precision.

Conclusion

All of these factors will make it possible to execute station stops very quickly.

Thus, if it is desired to add a new station stop, the stop might only add a few minutes to the timetable.

You wouldn’t want to add half a dozen stops between Stratford and Shenfield, but the odd stop here and there shouldn’t be a problem!

Could Extra Stations Be Added In The Tunnels?

I would hope that Crossrail’s design process wouldn’t have left out an important station in the Underground sections of the line.

In my lifetime only one station has been added to a line after it opened, except on an extension. That station was Pimlico on the Victoria Line, but that was a late addition to the project and opened within fourteen months of the opening of the rest of the line.

I think, that I can safely say that from the history of London’s extensive network of underground railways, that it would be extremely unlikely to add a new underground station to Crossrail.

But I think though the following could happen.

New Entrances To Existing Stations

Even these will be extremely unlikely, if Crossrail have done their planning thoroughly.

But then there are massive property developments, sprouting up all over Central London.

One of London’s latest signature office developments, the Norman Foster-designed Bloomberg London will incorporate an entrance to Bank Underground station.

Hopefully, the entrance will open soon.

Bank station’s new step-free entrance will also incorporate a massive office development on the top.

If a property developer is spending around a billion pounds on a development, and it can be connected to a station, they will seriously look at doing it.

I can’t believe that no new developments will want to have an entrance to a Crossrail station.

The New Museum Of London

The current site of the Museum of London is too small and difficult to find. The Museum is planning to move to Smithfield and will be very close to Farringdon station.

There is a massive over-site development on top of the station, that I wrote about in TfL Gives Go Ahead To Build Above Farringdon Station.

This Google Map shows the relationship between the station and the new site of the museum.

Note.

  1. The  building with the light-green roof is the Poultry Market.
  2. Thameslink runs under the Poultry Market.

The basement of this Poultry Market together with the site to its West and the triangular site to the South, will be transformed into the new Museum of London.

Much of the space between the Poultry Market and Farringdon station is a Crossrail work-site and whole area is ripe for development, which must surely incorporate some form of connection between the Museum and Farringdon station.

Farringdon, which for many years was just a meat market surrounded by a lot of low grade buildings, should evolve into a visitor attraction in its own right.

For a better look at the current state of the area, visit A Detailed Look At The Space Between Farringdon Station And The New Museum Of London Site.

As a Friend of the Museum of London, I am looking forward to what will happen!

The Liverpool Street-Moorgate Mega -Station

I don’t think many, who use Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations understand what will happen when Crossrail opens.

This visualisation shows the below-ground elements of the Crossrail station, that will connect the two current stations.

Note.

  1. On the right is the Central Line, which is shown in red and continues South to Bank station under Bishopsgate.
  2. On the left is the Northern Line, which is shown in black and continues South to Bank station.
  3. The Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines, which are shown in yellow.
  4. Crossrail is in blue.
  5. The ventilation and evacuation shaft for Crossrail in Finsbury Circus.

This Google Map shows the area of the stations.

Note Finsbury Circus in the middle.

I would not be surprised if some redevelopment has access into this mega-station complex, that stretches either side of Finsbury Circus.

This access needn’t be below ground, as I strongly believe that the City of London will become virtually traffic-free in the next ten years.

Missing Interchanges

One of the omissions in the design of Crossrail, is the lack of a link to both the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

Consider.

By 2024, these two lines will be running at least thirty-six trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

The capacity of Crossrail in each direction could be thirty tph each carrying 1500 passengers or 45,000.

Dear Old Vicky’s current trains hold 876 passengers, so if she achieves the magic forty tph, which I believe she will, then this equates to just over 35,000.

Siemens will surely ensure, that the capacity of the Piccadilly Line will at least be as high, as that of the Victoria Line.

It is just amazing to think what might be squeezed out of twentieth-century infrastructure, some of which is over a hundred years old.

Oxford Circus Station And The Hanover Square Entrance To Bond Street Crossrail Station

This is the easy interchange between Crossrail and the Victoria Line.

  • Oxford Circus station is full-to-bursting and will be rebuilt in the next few years, with wider platforms, more escalators and full step-free access.
  • I also think, that provision of an easy walking route to the Hanover Square entrance of Bond Street station will be provided, either by pedestrianising much of the area or perhaps building a pedestrian tunnel with travelators.
  • It is probably less than two hundred metres to walk on the surface.

Coupled with some property development along the route, there must be possibilities for an innovative scheme, that would ease passengers on routes between Paddington and Heathrow and North and East London.

I took these pictures, as I walked between Oxford Circus Tube station and Hanover Square.

This Google Map shows the route from Oxford Circus station to Hanover Square.

In the simplest scheme, part-pedestrianisation of Hanover Square and Princes Street  might just do it!

  • A new entrance to Oxford Circus station could also be constructed in the middle of a large pedestrian area, at the shut off junction of Princes Street and Regent Street.
  • A short tunnel would connect the new entrance, to the rebuilt.Oxford Circus station.
  • Walking wouldn’t be long, with the possibility of a wait in the gardens in the centre of Hanover Square.
  • Appropriate retail outlets could be placed along Princes Street.
  • Crossings with lights would enable pedestrians to cross into and out of the gardens.

Was this always Transport for London’s plan to link Crossrail to the Victoria Line?

It’s certainly feasible and works with little or no construction.

The Importance Of Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station has two direct routes to Crossrail; Thameslink to Farringdon and the Northern City Line to Moorgate and could have a third if the Victoria Line has a better connection at Oxford Circus/Bond Street.

Passengers needing to use Crossrail from the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line could walk across the platform to the Victoria Line and then use the Oxford Circus/Bond Street connection.

It is not a perfect route, but if Finsbury Park were to be upgraded to a passenger-friendly interchange, it would be a lot better.

So it looks like, it will be Vicky to the rescue again.

Never in the field of urban transport was so much owed by so many to a single railway built on the cheap.

Interchange Between Crossrail And The Piccadilly Line At Holborn Station

Consider.

  • Holborn station is due to be rebuilt with a second entrance in the next few years.
  • Crossrail passes under Holborn station.
  • After rebuilding, Holborn station will probably offer the best interchange to an East-West route from the Piccadilly Line.
  • To add extra platforms on Crossrail, would probably mean long closures on the line.

It is one of those projects, that can be done, but not without immense disruption.

But at some point in the future, it is a link that could be added, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the expanded Holborn station will have provision for a link to Crossrail.

New Surface Stations On Crossrail

Usually, when you look at old maps of railway lines there are a number of places, where stations used to be.

However, between Reading and Shenfield stations, there is no station that has been closed. There is a site for Crowlands station that was planned near Romford, in the early twentieth century, but was never built. No-one is suggesting it should be opened now.

So where are stations planned or proposed?

Old Oak Common Station

In fifteen years or so, Old Oak Common station could be one of the most important non-terminal on Crossrail.

Current plans say that the following lines will call at the station.

  • Crossrail
  • Great Western Railway
  • High Speed Two

In addition the following lines may call.

  • London Overground
  • West London Orbital Railway
  • Chiltern Main Line

It could become a very comprehensive interchange station.

This Google Map shows the vast Old Oak Common site.

Note.

  1. The Grand Union bisecting the site in an East-West direction.
  2. The inverted-Y of the Overground, with North London Line to Richond going South-West and the West London Line to Shepherds Bush going South-East.
  3. The Great Western Main Line going East-West across the bottom of the map.
  4. The West Coast Main Line  going East-West across the top of the map.
  5. The Dudding Hill Line going North-South at the Western side of the map.

Between the Grand Union Canal and the Great Western Main Line, there are currently four rail depots. From South to North, they are.

  • Hitachi’s North Pole depot, where they service the Class 800 trains for Great Western Railway.
  • The Heathrow Express depot.
  • The Great Western Railway depot.
  • Crossrail’s main depot.

The Heathrow Express depot is due to be demolished to make way for the new Old Oak Common station.

Wikipedia says this about the station.

The High Speed 2 line will be below ground level at the Old Oak Common site, with the parallel Great Western Main Line and Crossrail tracks on the surface to the south.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

A few points.

  • Considering that the High Speed Two tracks are below the surface and the Crossrail and Great Western tracks will be on the surface, I am fairly sure that a simple clean interchange will be created.
  • The different levels will also mean that if say there were to be a Crossrail branch to Watford or High Wycombe, then the High Speed Two tracks are well out of the way.
  • The High Speed Two platforms will be almost four hundred metres long, with the Crossrail and Great Western platforms probably about half as long. This should give lots of scope to create good connections to the other lines through the station.
  • The new Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Stratford and Richmond stations, will be the way I access High Speed Two from Dalston and it will be 350 metres West of the main station.
  • The West London Orbital Railway could have a station on the Dudding Hill Line, which runs to the West of, but close to Old Oak Common Lane station.
  • The new Hythe Road station will be on the West London Line between Stratford and Clapham Junction stations and will be 1100 metres from the main station.
  • Hythe Road station will incorporate a turnback platform for services from Clapham Junction. It would be ideal for a service between Gatwick Airport and High Speed Two.
  • It should not be forgotten that there is going to be a large number of houses built around Old Oak Common.

It looks to me that if I took the wrong train from Dalston Kingsland station to get a High Speed Two train to Birmingham or the North, I might end up at the wrong end of my double-length High Speed Two train, with a walk of up to 1100+400+350 = 1850 metres to get to the required place on my train.

I would hope that the High Speed Two station would have some form of high-tech people mover, that stretched across the station site. It could be like a cable car without the cable.

Hopefully, the designers of Old Oak Common station will create what needs to be one of the best stations in the world.

London City Airport Station

Wikipedia says this about adding a station for London City Airport.

Although the Crossrail route passes very close to London City Airport, there will not be a station serving the airport directly. London City Airport has proposed the re-opening of Silvertown railway station, in order to create an interchange between the rail line and the airport. The self-funded £50m station plan is supported ‘in principle’ by the London Borough of Newham. Provisions for re-opening of the station were made in 2012 by Crossrail. However, it is alleged by the airport that Transport for London is hostile to the idea of a station on the site, a claim disputed by TfL.

In 2018, the airport’s chief development officer described the lack of a Crossrail station as a “missed opportunity”, but did not rule out a future station for the airport. The CEO stated in an interview that a station is not essential to the airport’s success

This Google Map shows the Western end of the terminal at London City Airport and the Docklands Light Railway running to the station at the Airport.

The Southern portal of Crossrail’s Connaught Tunnel can be seen under the DLR at the left end of this map, due to the concrete buttresses across the cutting rebuilt for Crossrail.

Surely, it would not be the most difficult of designs to build a station, somewhere in this area, where the former Silvertown station once stood.

I said more about this station in August 2017 in Action Stations On Crossrail Howler.

I will be very surprised if this station isn’t built.

Ladbroke Grove Station

If Ladbroke Grove station is built, it will because of property development. Wikipedia says this about current plans.

At a site just to the east of the Old Oak Common site, Kensington and Chelsea Council has been pushing for a station at North Kensington / Kensal off Ladbroke Grove and Canal Way, as a turn-back facility will have to be built in the area anyway. Siting it at Kensal Rise, rather than next to Paddington itself, would provide a new station to regenerate the area. Amongst the general public there is a huge amount of support for the project and then-mayor of London Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it did not increase Crossrail’s overall cost; in response, Kensington and Chelsea Council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of a Crossrail station, which was received very well by the residents of the Borough. Transport for London (TfL) is conducting a feasibility study on the station and the project is backed by National Grid, retailers Sainsbury’s and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly).

This Google Map shows the wider area.

Note.

  1. Ladbroke Grove is the road running North-South at the right side of the map.
  2. Canal Way is the twisting road running North of the railway.
  3. Sainsbury’s supermarket is North of Canal Way.
  4. The cleared site of the old Kensal gasworks is earmarked for housing.

The Crossrail tracks are on the North side of the railway, so access from a station to the housing could be very easy.

Conclusion

Crossrail is not even open yet and it looks like when it does, it will start a large number of projects to expand its scope.

Some will be about extending the system, some about better transport links and other about property development.

Crossrail will be an unlimited opportunity for London and the South East.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Building New City-Centre Lines Instead Of Using Existing Network Inflates HS2 Cost By 15%

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

This is the first paragraph.

HS2’s second phase will cost more compared to similar overseas schemes because it relies on new dedicated high-speed lines into city-centre terminal stations at Manchester and Leeds rather than using the existing conventional railway.

As the review of the costs of HS2, that showed this, was done by PwC, I suspect the figures can be believed.

Over the last few years, we’ve redeveloped or extended several busy stations like Derby, Kings Cross, Liverpool Lime |Street, London Bridge, Manchester Victoria, Nottingham, Reading and St. Pancras.

I like Reading and London Bridge the best, as the large concourse crossing either over or under the tracks with lots of escalators and lifts, seems to work well  Liverpool Lime Street with a wide concourse at one end, seems to work well for a terminal station.

But St. Pancras is a mess for passengers and staff alike with effectively four stations in one one Victorian building.

It would have been better, if the station had been flattered and a new one built.

This approach is being taken at that 1960s monstrosity; Euston, which is being extended for HS2.

The four Northern stations in Phase 2 of HS2 are being treated differently.

  • Leeds is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms at right angles to the existing ones.
  • Liverpool Lime Street uses the existing approach and platforms have been extended for the new HS2 trains.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms alongside the existing ones.
  • Sheffield uses the existing approach and platforms will be extended for the new HS2 trains.

Liverpool Lime Street is already HS2-ready and can handle at least two normal expresses and one HS2 train in an hour.

The works were completed in a six-month blockade in the Summer of 2018.

I suspect Sheffield will be made HS2-ready, in a similar way.

Conclusion

Obviously, every station is different.

But Liverpool Lime Street has shown how it is possible to find an affordable, less disruptive approach to some stations.

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Glimpse Of 2035

Today, I was on the first direct train between London and Dublin.

I arrived at Euston early for the eight o’clock departure time and took my seat in First Class of the train built by Spanish company Talgo at Longannet in Fife.

The train appeared to be little different to the High Speed Two trains, that I have ridden extensively since they started running in 2026.

What differences there were, were in the decor and colour schemes, with the train wrapped in a rainbow of colours reflecting the red, white and blue of the UK and the orange, white and green of the Irish Republic.

We left on time and after a brief stop at Old Oak Common to pick up passengers we were soon speeding towards Birmingham whilst eating breakfast. I had requested a gluten-free Full English and the quality showed how far railway food has come in the two decades.

Birmingham at 08:40

Running at 225 mph, the spectacular Birmingham International station was reached on time at 08:40 and there were quite a few passengers who left and joined.

Birmingham International

Since Heathrow’s plans for a third runway crashed in the planning process and the opening of Gatwick’s second runway, High Speed Two has enabled long distance travellers to use Birmingham Airport, which since the opening of High Speed Two in 2026 and its subsequent extensions to Manchester and Leeds, has grown at a fast pace.

As a jokey advert shown around the world by Visit Britain said, London now has three main airports; London South (Gatwick), London West (Heathrow) and London North (Birmingham).

On a recent trip to the Gambia, I used Birmingham Airport for both flights and coming back, I was in my house in East London, around an hour after I set foot in the terminal at the Airport.

High Speed Two and the expanded Birmingham Airport have certainly expanded and improved the economics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

Crewe Before 09:00

Next stop was Crewe station, which from today has been renamed Crewe International, to indicate that you can now get trains to England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland.

The station is unrecognisable from the tired Victorian station, I first passed through in 1965 on my way to Liverpool University for the first time.

Like Birmingham and the West Midlands, the area around Crewe has benefited immensely from the arrival of High Speed 2 in 2027 and the continuing expansion of Manchester Airport.

From today, Crewe is now served by these trains in both directions, in each hour.

  • London – Belfast and Dublin
  • London – Glasgow (2 trains)
  • London – Liverpool (2 trains)
  • London – Preston

The ticketing and capacity is such, that Crewe now has a genuine turn-up and-go service to the capital, which is just under an hour away.

Preston At 09:20

The train was now on the upgraded West Coast Main Line and the train was limited to 140 mph, but Preston was reached on time, just eighty minutes from London.

When High Speed Two opened to Crewe in 2027, the journey time was a few minutes longer, but improvements to trains, tracks and signalling in the intervening years, had reduced the time.

On the journey from Crewe, the train had passed the massive construction site of the new Central Lancashire station, or as Scouse comedians have dubbed it – Wigan International.

This new  station will be a hub linking the following.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • High Speed Three between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The M6 and M62 motorways
  • Manchester Metrolink
  • Merseyrail

The station should have probably been built years earlier, when High Speed Three opened in 2026, but all forecasts of the number of passengers who would use the new High Speed Lines, were much lower than they were in practice.

Preston station like Crewe is a station  that has been rebuilt to handle two of the 200 metre long trains running as a pair.

These long platforms are now used at Preston to join and split some services, to give Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley three fast services per day to and from London, in under two hours.

Carlisle At 10:20

We sped through the Lake District at 140 mph, to reach Carlisle in under two and a half hours from London.

It should be noted that timings North of Crewe have improved over the last couple of decades.

  • All passenger trains running on the fast lines North of Crewe are capable of matching the speed of the High Speed Two trains
  • Some of these trains used for services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh were built by Talgo to High Speed Two standards.
  • The few freight trains running in the day are now hauled by 125 mph electric locomotives.
  • The continuous upgrading of the Cumbrian Coast, Settle-Carlisle and Tyne Valley Lines has also allowed some trains to divert away from the West Coast Main Line.

Effectively, the West Coast Main Line North of Crewe has become a high-capacity 140 mph line.

Belfast At 11:30

When I saw that it was planned that trains would reach Belfast from London in the same time that it takes to go between London and Glasgow, I didn’t believe it would be possible.

But we arrived at the Belfast Parkway station on the outskirts of the City on time.

The journey between where we left the now-electrified Glasgow and South Western Line just to the West of Gretna to the bridge across the North Channel had been nearly all at 140 mph and there was little interruption before we ventured onto the bridge to Northern Ireland.

A few minutes later we were waiting to continue our journey at Belfast Parkway.

There had been political arguments about the gauge of the tracks on the thirty mile section between Scotland and Belfast.

But in the end the engineers got their way.

  • There is a standard gauge line as far as Belfast Parkway.
  • From Belfast Parkway, there is Irish gauge for the rest of the journey.

There would be no change of train at Belfast Parkway, as the Talgo High Speed Trains have had the ability to change gauge at a slow speed for thirty years.

Dublin At 13:30

This has been the slowest part of the journey, but we pulled into Dublin on time to a lot of celebrations.

Conclusion

This route has been a long time coming, since it was first seriously proposed in 2018.

There will be improvement in the next few years.

  • A service between Edinburgh and Dublin via Glasgow and Belfast starts next year.
  • The West Coast Main Line North of Crewe will allow faster and more trains.
  • The EU are funding and building a High Speed Line from the Irish border to Dublin.
  • This Irish High Speed Line will be linked to a new deep water port at Shannon.

I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Spaniard In The Works!

Whilst it was pantomime season at Westminster today, with the usual fights over, who would be best at ruining this country, something more important was happening close by.

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Talgo Names Longannet As Site Of New Train Factory.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Spanish train manufacturer Talgo plans to build trains in Longannet, in Scotland, after confirming that its preferred location for its UK factory will be at the site of the closed power station.

The company made the announcement at Westminster today (November 14), following an 18-month search for a UK site. It also confirmed that a Research and Development site would be built at Chesterfield, although it would not be drawn on the relationship between the two sites.

The article also says.

  • Up to a thousand will be employed at the Scottish site.
  • Construction starts in 2020.
  • Work on trains starts eighteen months later.
  • The factory will cost £40million.
  • The branch line to the power station could be developed and used by passenger trains.
  • The site was chosen because of good access by road, rail and sea.

The article is very much worth reading.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Did Or Does Brexit Affect The Investment?

Talgo are on the short-list for the trains for High Speed Two and have always said, that they would build the trains in the UK.

I suspect that if they were to be dropped from the short-list for High Speed Two or High Speed Two were to be cancelled, these would have a bigger effect. than Brexit.

What Are Talgo’s Strengths?

The company is strong on innovation and their trains are a bit different.

The picture of two of Talgo’s high-speed trains was taken in Seville.

I think it could be an AVE Class 102 train. They are nicknames pato in Spanish, which means duck!

I wonder why?

Talgo also makes trains, that can run on both Spanish and standard gauge, which enables trains to go direct between Madrid and Paris. The company is also targeting export orders in Russia and India.

They are very much an international company.

Why Choose Longannet?

If Talgo should get the order for the classic-compatible trains for High Speed Two, they have said the trains will be manufactured in the UK.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Joint Venture To Bid For HS2 Rolling Stock Contract.

This is an extract.

In November 2017 project promoter HS2 Ltd shortlisted Alstom, Bombardier Transportation UK, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens for the rolling stock design, manufacturing and maintenance contract worth an estimated £2·75bn.

This would cover the supply of at least 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of 360 km/h for Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The ‘classic compatible’ units would be able to run through from the new line onto existing infrastructure to serve destinations including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The formal tendering process is due to start later this year, with the contract expected to be awarded in late 2019 and entry into service planned for 2026.

54 trains for a total of £2.75billion is not a small order.

And that is only this first order, as dedicated trains will be needed as well.

Talgo’s AVE Class 102 train already runs at 330 kph and trains can automatically join and split to make four hundred metre long trains, so they can probably demonstrate a train that would be suitable for High Speed Two.

Having a factory in Scotland would surely be a plus point in the bidding process.

Longannet also will have good access to the ports at Rosyth and Grangemouth, which could be a great help in importing anything from components or complete trains and perhaps exporting carriages and trains to places like Russia, which are easier by sea from Scotland, than from Spain.

Will Talgo Bid For Other Train Contracts?

Talgo have built 125 mph bi-mode trains in the past and there are other franchises that might need such a train.

  • Southeastern to add extra capacity to domestic services on High Speed One and serve Hastings.
  • Cross Country to replace their HSTs.
  • West Coast Main Line to replace Voyagers.
  • Midland Main Line to replace HSTs and Voyagers.

There could be other franchises and routes that could use their trains.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to this announcement than meets the eye!

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Worried Council Prepares Official Response To ‘Crackpot’ HS2 Plans

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

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 has been slammed as a “crackpot idea” which won’t benefit local residents by councillors in Northwich as they prepare to submit an official response to the project’s consultation.

This map from HS2 shows how the route will go past Northwich.

On the map purple is the route of HS2 and the dotted line is the West Coast Main Line, which will take HS2 trains to Liverpool and further North. If the quality of the map is anything like the quality of their route planning, then heaven help Northwich.

The Stop HS2 campaign has a page about Northwich,

The area with all the salt lying below the surface is probably a difficult one for building railways, roads or even a brick outhouse.

Improving Services At Northwich

Could the disquiet at Northwich be partly due to the fact that for the good burghers of the town to get any benefit from HS2 to perhaps go to London or Birmingham, they will have to go to Crewe or Manchester first, as they do now.

  • Take the one train per hour service (tph) to Manchester and then the three tph service to London is fine, but coming North, you might hang around in Piccadilly for an hour.
  • Drive to Crewe and get one of three tph to London.

After 2027, when HS2 reaches Crewe, the railway junction will be just fifty-eight minutes from London.

What is needed is a quick and reliable way to travel the fourteen miles between the two towns.

Under Proposed Future Developments in the Wikipedia entry for Northwich station, there are several suggestions for an improved service at the station.

  • The Northern Hub proposes an additional hourly service to run between Greenbank and Stockport.
  • Re-instating the passenger service between Northwich and Sandbach has been proposed. This would allow direct trains to Crewe from Knutsford,
  • Proposals for a direct link to Manchester Airport from Northwich were first put forward in the 1990s, not much had seemed to materialise from this.
  • The running of tram-trains directly in to Manchester.

If Northwich were on the outskirts of Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool or London, it would be likely to have at least two tph and possibly four tph to the major city.

One tph is a disgrace!

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

What Would Tram-Trains With A Battery Capability Do For The Sheffield Supertram?

I asked this question in a slightly different form in Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?, where I said this.

Sheffield could do a lot worse, than replace the Siemens-Duewag trams with Class 399 tram-trains. Especially, as the South Wales Metro, will be buying thirty-six similar vehicles with batteries.

What would tram-trains with a battery capability do for Sheffield, Rotherham and the neighbouring towns?

We don’t know much about Stadler’s proposed tram-trains for the South Wales Metro.

  • They look to be very similar externally to the Class 399 tram-trains.
  • They will be able to work using 25 KVAC electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  • They will be able to work the two-mile long Butetown Branch Line on battery power.
  • Whether they will have a 750 VDC capability has not been said.

A tram-train with batteries would certainly offer other possibilities.

On my trip to Rotherham, I met a guy of about my age, who was a resident of Sheffield. He  was proud of the city’s trams and was trying out the tram-train for the first time.

He also suggested two possible extensions.

  • Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • A tram-train to Doncaster.

There have also been plans at times to run tram-trains to Dore & Totley and Penistone stations.

So how would tram-trains with batteries help for these routes?

Royal Hallamshire Hospital

On this page of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals web site, this is said about getting to the hospital by tram.

Supertram does not serve the Northern General Hospital. It can be used to reach the Royal Hallamshire, Jessop Wing, Charles Clifford and Weston Park Hospitals, although please be aware that there is still a 10-15 minute uphill walk from the nearest stop (University). We would recommend that anyone who experiences difficulty walking long distances choose some alternative means of travelling to hospital.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The University tram stop is in the North-East corner of the map and is marked by a blue dot, marked with University of Sheffield.
  2. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the University of Sheffield tram stop and how the tram route turns East to go to and from the city centre.

If the terrain allows it, a short extension might be possible to be built to the West along Glossop Road.

  • As in Birmingham City Centre, the tram-trains could run on batteries, without any overhead wires.
  • Charging could be provided at the terminal station which could be a few minutes walk to the hospital.
  • The hospital and the university could be a good terminus for tram-trains from Rotherham and the East.

This is a typical extension, that is made easier and more affordable by the use of trams with a battery capability.

Connecting The Supertram To Heavy Rail

The Sheffield Supertram was designed before tram-trains existed, but even so there would seem to be several places, where the two systems could be connected.

The design of the Class 399 train-trams also makes the connections easier to design and build.

  • The tram-trains can take tight turns.
  • There are various innovative solutions, that allow the pantograph to ride from one electrification system to the other.
  • If the tram-trains have batteries, this helps the electrification system changeover.

As more tram-train systems are installed, the library of solutions will get larger.

Tram-Train To Doncaster

There is a two trains per hour (tph) Northern service that goes between Sheffield and Doncaster, stopping at Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough and Conisbrough.

  • One train continues to Hull and the other to Adwick.
  • The service takes forty minutes from Doncaster to Sheffield.
  • The service goes past the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.
  • The service takes about twenty minutes to go from Rotherham Parkgate to Doncaster, which is a distance of around 11.5 miles.

There is surely scope to extend the tram-train service to Doncaster to improve links between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.

Note how the tram-train stop is effectively a siding alongside the double-track Dearne Valley Line, that links Rotherham Central with Leeds and York. It also has a link to Doncaster via the short Swinton-Doncaster Line.

Space would appear to have been left to convert the line through the tram-train stop to a loop. With an additional cross-over at the Eastern end of the stop, it would be possible to extend the tram-train service beyond its current terminal.

I have a map, which shows that the routes to Doncaster and along the Dearne Valley Line to where it crosses the Leeds-Doncaster Line could be electrified in the early 2020s.

If this electrification is carried out, then the tram-train service could easily be extended to Doncaster.

On the other hand, as Rochester Parkgate to Doncaster is around 11.5 miles and the route will have 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends, would it be possible for a tram-train with batteries to bridge the gap in the electrification?

Comparing a three-section Class 399 tram-train with a two-car battery/electric Class 230 train shows that the two vehicles have similar lengths, weight and passenger capacities.

As Vivarail have managed to fit 400 kWh of batteries under a Class 230 train, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 200 kWh of batteries squeezed under a Class 399 tram-train.

So would 200 kWh of battery power be sufficient to take a Class 399 tram-train between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster?

It should be noted that the total power of a Class 399 tram-train is 870 kW, so it wouldn’t be possible if the tram-train was on full power all the time.

But.

  • The route is along the River Don and appears to be not very challenging.
  • Regenerative braking can be used at the three stops and any other stops due to red signals.
  • The initial acceleration at both ends could be accomplished under a short length of electrification.
  • The tram-trains will probably have been designed to use the lowest level of energy possible.
  • The tram-train could run in a low energy mode, when under battery power.

Stadler also know that handling a route like this on battery power would be an important sales feature all round the world.

Tram-Train To Dore & Totley

Running a tram-train service to Dore & Totley station in the South West of Sheffield seems to keep being mentioned.

When it was planned that HS2 was going to Meadowhall, this document was published. This was said about connecting Dore & Totley station to HS2.

Improved rail access to Meadowhall from south-west Sheffield could also be considered – for
example, a frequent service between Dore & Totley and Meadowhall could be included.

Proposed future transport schemes include the tram-train project; if successful, this could be extended to allow further interchange possibilities at the HS2 station.

But HS2 is now going to the main Sheffield station.

This will probably mean.

  • The route between Sheffield and Chesterfield will be upgraded and electrified, with I suspect extra tracks.
  • The electrified lines will pass through Dore & Totley station.
  • HS2 will need frequent connecting services from all over South Yorkshire into Sheffield station.

Dore & Totley and the stations on the Hope Valley service have a truly inadequate erratic hourly service to both Sheffield and Manchester.

There are two compatible solutions.

  • A four tph regional solution of a train between perhaps Hull and Manchester stopping at Doncaster, Rotherham Central, Sheffield and a few stations on the Hope Valley Line.
  • A higher frequency Sheffield solution of a train between perhaps Doncaster and the stations near to Sheffield on the Hope Valley Line.

The first service would be an advanced bi-mode train, whilst a tram-train with batteries could be ideal for the second

.Consider using a tram-train with batteries  on the second service.

  • It could use batteries on the Hope Valley Line to avoid electrification.
  • It would serve Sheffield and Meadowhall stations.
  • It could use heavy rail or tram routes in between the two major stations.
  • It could provide a high frequency service between the two major stations.

There are a lot of possibilities and the transport planners will know the best things to do, with respect to traffic.

Tram-Train To Penistone

In Riding The Penistone Line, I described a trip on the Penistone Line.

This was my conclusion.

Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train could easily climb the hill to Penistone to provide a perhaps two trains per hour service to Sheffield.

But the line would need to be electrified or hybrid diesel tram-trains, as in Chemnitz will need to be used.

So perhaps Northern‘s plan for the Northern Connect service, which would use more powerful Class 195 diesel multiple units, might be better suited to the Penistone Line.

I think the heavy rail solution will be used.

Conclusion

I think that tram-trains with batteries will find a few worthwhile uses in the wider Sheffield area.

 

October 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?

Various schemes have been proposed to improve rail access to Heathrow.

There are also two schemes in progress, that will improve rail access to Heathrow.

  • Crossrail, which will open in 2019.
  • Piccadilly Line Upgrade, which will be complete in 2025.

I also believe that if the West London Orbital Railway is created, then this could have a positive affect on travelling to and from Heathrow.

Heathrow In The Future

Heathrow are disclosing a master plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.

I believe that this rebuilding will happen, whether or not a third runway is built and it could start in the next few years.

Heathrow’s Pollution Footprint

Heathrow is a big polluter, but it is not so much the planes, as the diesel cars, buses and trucks serving the airport.

Uses For Improved Rail Access

There are several uses for improved rail access to Heathrow.

Passengers

Many passengers feel they must drive to and from Heathrow.

Next year, Crossrail will connect Heathrow directly to the City of London, Canary Wharf, the West End and to the heart of London’s Underground, Overground and National Rail system.

An example journey will be Bond Street to Heathrow Central in twenty-six minutes.

New trains on the Piccadilly Line are planned to enter service in 2023 and will offer more capacity and more pleasant journeys.

Currently, Piccadlly Circus to Heathrow Central takes fifty-two minutes and I would hope that this time is reduced to perhaps 40-45 minutes.

I think, these two upgrades will change the way many in Central, North East, East and South East London access the airport.

  • Trains will be more comfortable.
  • Trains will be frequent.
  • Crossrail will be completely step-free.
  • The Piccadilly Line will have more step-free stations.
  • The Crossrail trains will have masses of space.
  • Trains will take passengers to all the terminals

But Crossrail and the Piccxadilly Line upgrade, will do little for those in North West and South West London and those living to the West of the airport.

Workers

Workers at Heathrow, range from highly-paid pilots down to  lowly-paid cleaners, with a full spectrum in between.

Many though have a problem, in that they need to get to and from the airport at times, that are inconvenient for public transport.

A station guy at Staines said that getting between there and Heathrow for an early start or after a late finish is difficult.

The lower-paid workers also need good links to areas of lower-cost housing.

In an ideal world, Crossrail and Piccadilly Line services, should run on a twenty-four hour basis, with appropriate frequencies.

Supplies For The Airport And The Aircraft

I wonder what percentage of the supplies for Heathrow is brought in by diesel truck.

In the Heathrow of the Future, surely many supplies could be loaded onto smart trolleys and taken on electric freight trains to delivery points under the airport.

Air Cargo

Heathrow is an important air cargo terminal, but as with supplies, surely the cargo can be collected outside of the airport and delivered by electric shuttle trains.

The Best Bits Of The Various Actual And Proposed Rail Routes Into Heathrow

Crossrail

  • Connectivity to large parts of London and the East.
  • Connectivity to lower-cost housing areas in East and West London.
  • High capacity.
  • Frequent trains
  • Modern trains
  • All terminals served
  • Extra trains could be added.

The capability for 24 hour operation has hopefully been built in.

Heathrow Southern Railway

  • Connectivity to Waterloo, Clapham Junction, South and South West London
  • Extends Heathrow Express to Woking and Basingstoke
  • Adds a new route for commuters into Paddington.
  • Extends Crossrail from Heathrow to Staines.
  • It will be built alongside the M25 with a tunnel to Terminal Five.
  • All terminals served
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the South West.
  • Privately funded.

HS4Air

  • Connectivity to HS2, the Midlands, North and West of England and Wales
  • Possible connection to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent.
  • North-South station in a tunnel deep under Heathrow.
  • The Heathrow station will be able to handle full-length high speed trains from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
  • Heathrow could become a High Speed Rail hub serving Greater Western London.
  • Sneaks along the M25.
  • All terminals could probably be served, by escalators and lifts from the deep station.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the North and West.
  • Privately funded

I’m keener on the section North of Heathrow, than that to the South.

Piccadilly Line Upgrade

  • Connectivity to West and North London
  • Connectivity to lower-cost housing areas in West London
  • Frequent trains
  • All terminals served.
  • No new infrastructure

Probably needs 24 hour operation.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Network Rail’s proposed scheme.
  • Government funded (?)

West London Orbital Railway

  • Connectivity to North West London with a change at Old Oak Common.
  • Connectivity to low-cost hosting areas in West London.
  • Created as part of the Overground.
  • Eight trains per hour (tph) through Old Oak Common.
  • Connectivity for high-value passengers in affluent parts of North London.
  • Connectivity for important workers in less-affluent parts of North West London.
  • Probably, Transport for London funded.
  • No difficult construction.

The West London Orbital Railway should go ahead, because it connects so much of West London to Crossrail, Old Oak Common and High Speed Two.

Windsor Link Railway

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Privately funded

This scheme also unlocks development of upmarket housing in Windsor.

Conclusions

I have seen railway stations and airports all over Europe.

Many airport stations are cramped, as they have been built as an afterthought.

But some like Schipol and Frankfurt have a comprehensive station, where you can get trains to a very long list of places without a change.

Heathrow Connectivity

Heathrow needs a very high level of connectivity, for passengers, workers and freight.

Two schemes provide that.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway, which extends Heathrow Express to the South West and provides links to Waterloo and Greater South London.
  • HS4Air, which has an elegant expandable station deep under the airport and connects to High Speed Two and the Great Western Railway in the North. Extending to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent could also be possible, if required.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow only does what it says in the name and HS4Air does that without bagging valuable platforms at Terminal Five.

What About The Workers!

Heathrow’s other big need is rail access for the increasing numbers of people, who work at the airport and live locally.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway links the airport to South West London  and also allows an extension of Crossrail to Staines.
  • Windsor Link Railway links the airport to Windsor, Slough and Reading.
  • Crossrail links the airport to Old Oak Common with its housing developments and rail connections with High Speed 2 and the London Overground.
  • West London Orbital Railway will bring more workers and passengers to Old Oak Common from all over North West and South West London.

Old Oak Common will be important for many working at the airport.

Old Oak Common station

Old Oak Common station will become an important interchange for workers and passengers travelling to and from Heathrow.

  • It must be totally step-free.
  • Some of the long interchange walks on current plans should be augmented by travelators.
  • Crossrail is planning six tph between Old Oak Common and Heathrow. Is that enough?

Get Old Oak Common right and all those needing to go to and from Heathrow will benefit.

Heathrow And Gatwick

The connection between Heathrow and Gatwick airports is tortuous at present, but will get better as the years progress, as Crossrail and Thameslink improve.

As the airports grow, with a third runway at Heathrow and a second one at Gatwick, how many people will want to travel quickly between the two airports, as increasingly, both airports will offer services to more destinations?

As a Londoner, I also believe that we will see more split flights, where passengers stopover in London for a night or two, when they are going halfway around the world. Terminal London will be the best airport transfer terminal in the world.

Predicting the number of travellers between the two airports will be extremely difficult and only a direct measurement will be a worthwhile figure.

If a direct rail link is needed, HS4Air should be extended to Gatwick to provide a frequent fifteen minute connection.

Heathrow And High Speed One

I will be very surprised if many travellers need to go quickly between Heathrow and High Speed One.

Why would anybody between say St. louis and Paris not fly direct? Perhaps only, if you were spending time in London between the two legs of your journey.

For those that need to do it, using an extended Crossrail between Heathrow and Ebbsfleet will probably be good enough.

But when passenger numbers say it would be viable, extending HS4Air to Ashford would be a distinct possibility.

Heathrow And High Speed Two

For all sorts of reasons Heathrow needs good connectivity to High Speed Two.

If I was the CEO of Heathrow, I would want to have a station at my airport, where passengers could travel to and from the major cities of Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham in as direct a manner as possible.

Using Crossrail to Old Oak Common will give access to all High Speed Two trains, but the ability to get a train to the North within thirty minutes of clearing immigration and customs, would be a major selling point for my airport.

Suppose HS4Air was providing four tph to Birmingham of which two tph, went to each of Crewe/Manchester and Nottingham/Leeds.

Or the four tph could be double trains, with one half serving each Northern route.

This would make Heathrow a viable alternative to regional airports.

Heathrow will strongly support HS4Air, as it would be like having a whole series of regional flights, with a thirty minute transfer to and from long-haul routes.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

The Western Rail Approach To Heathrow is far inferior to the HS4Air proposal.

Consider.

  • The Western Rail Approach To Heathrow only connects the Great Western Railway to Heathrow.
  • HS4Air connects High Speed Two as well.
  • HS4Air creates a new expandable station under the airport, which would be capable of handling the longest trains.
  • HS4Air can be expanded to Gatwick and Ashford.
  • HS4Air is privately funded.

Direct access between Slough and Heathrow can be provided by the Windsor Link Railway.

A Final Conclusion

All these schemes have their good points and I think that the best way to get the rail access that Heathrow and Gatwick need, is to let the private section build what the airports need, subject to the correct planning permissions.

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

HS2 To Kick Off Sheffield Wiring

The title of this post is the same as that of a small article in the August 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 Ltd is to begin preparatory works for electrification of the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross and Sheffield

This will mean that the current Midland Main Line will be electrified at both ends, which will surely make it easier to design new trains for the line.

August 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Liverpool Lime Street Station Has Been Remodelled

I went to Liverpool Lime Street station today and it has been extensively remodelled, as these pictures show.

There are several changes.

Virgins Were Using Platform 9

The most obvious difference on arrival was that the Virgin services from London were using Platform 9, which is on the Southern side of the station, close to the taxi rank.

Taxi Access

So elderly Aunt Esmeralda coming from London to see her Liverpudlian family doesn’t have to go far for a cab.

I also noticed that Norwich services were using Platform 10 and there was a Birmingham New Street service in Platform 7.

So it would appear that longer distance services use the higher numbered platforms.

Not that it matters, as there’s a cab rank on the other side of the station.

Two Stations In One

I have read somewhere, that Liverpool Lime Street station with its pair of Victorian roofs, has been arranged so that the two sides can work independently.

The main reason, is that if engineering work is needed on one side, the other can remain open.

Each half-station utilises.

  • A Victorian roof.
  • A set of approach tracks.
  • Five platforms
  • A large clock
  • A taxi rank.

They also have easy access to the shops and the Underground platform of Merseyrail’s Wirral Line.

Long Platforms

Virgin’s Pendelinos or Class 390 trains come in two lengths; nine and eleven cars.

It looks like some platforms can accommodate, the eleven-car trains, which are over two hundred and sixty metres long.

Note in the pictures how long platforms have been threaded through the bridge at the station throat.

Wide Platforms

The platforms would appear to be wider to allow better circulation of passengers.

Platform 1

The pictures show a wide space to the North of the new Platform 2.

It looks like Platform 2 will share an island with a still to be completed Platform 1.

Platform 0

Is there a space on the far side of Platform 1 for a new Platform 0?

Extra Capacity

Although there is at least one extra platform, the better track layout and signalling will allow more trains to use the station.

Already planned extra services include.

  • TransPennine Express services to Scotland.
  • Transport for Wales services to Cardiff, Chester, Llandudno and Shrewsbury.
  • London Northwestern Railway services to Crewe and London Euston

In addition High Speed Two will add services and some reports say CrossCountry will add more.

Typically, one of Virgin’s Class 390 trains takes about thirty minutes to turn back, whereas East Midlands Trains turn a smaller train in ten minutes less.

Both these trains would need to take on supplies of food and drink, but others probably don’t.

I would expect each platform could handle two long-distance trains per hour (tph).

So could we be looking at ten tph in the five long distance platforms?

I suspect in a few years time, this will be possible, as everybody works out how to use the new station layout.

Long distance trains in a few years time could be.

  • 1 tph – East Midlands Trains to Nottingham/Norwich via Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • 1 tph -London NorthWestern Railway  to London via Runcorn and Crewe
  • 2 tph -London NorthWestern Railway  to Birmingham via Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn and Crewe
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Scarborough via Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Scotland via Wigan and Preston.
  • 1 tph – Transport for Wales to Chester and Llandudno via Liverpool South Parkway andRuncorn
  • 1 tph – Transport for Wales to Chester and Shrewsbury via Liverpool South Parkway and Runcorn, which could be extended to Cardiff
  • 1 tph – West Coast (currently Virgin) to London via Runcorn

Note.

  1. This totals up to seven tph via Runcorn or Liverpool South Parkway, which will probably have to terminate in platforms 6-10.
  2. East Midlands Trains, London NorthWestern Railway and Virgin appear to use Platforms 6-10.
  3. TransPennine Express appears to be using Platform 3 or 4 at the present time.
  4. At present, Northern services via Liverpool South Parkway and Warrington, seem to be using Platform 6.

It would appear that there could be enough space for High Speed Two services in a dedicated platform in the Platform 6-10 section.

Signalling Issues

The only problem seemed to be a few small signalling issues as platform allocation and information seemed to be suffering a few bugs.

There’s Still Work To Do

Obviously, there is still more work to do to finish off the station.

  • Platform 1 hasn’t been finished.
  • Retail units need to be updated.
  • Bessie Braddock needs to be positioned close to Ken Dodd.

I also think that the station needs a quality hotel and restaurant complex.

Liverpool Lime Street Station Is High Speed Two-Ready

Wikipedia has a section on High Speed Two Rolling Stock, where this is said.

Trains would have a maximum speed of at least 350 km/h (220 mph) and length of 200 metres (660 ft). Two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.

Trains will be of two types.

  • Standard European-sized trains, that will run between new High Speed Two stations like Euston, Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street.
  • Classic-Compatible trains, built to a British loading gauge, that can use existing tracks and platforms.

It should be noted that an individual High Speed Two train will be shorter than the eleven-car Class 390 trains.

This means that Liverpool Lime Street and Birmingham New Street, Carlisle, Crewe, Glasgow Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Preston and others will be able to accommodate the new Classic-Compatible trains.

According to the section called Proposed Service Pattern in the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two, Liverpool Lime Street station will get two tph, when Phase One of High Speed Two opens

  • I would expect that High Speed Two will have the luxury of a dedicated platform.
  • On the other hand, Manchester Piccadilly station is getting four high speed platforms and three tph
  • When Phase Two opens most services will probably call at Birmingham Interchange.

So is Liverpool getting a worse deal compared to its arch-rival?

  • For a start a single platform could probably handle three tph, which is one train every twenty minutes.
  • An eleven-car Class 390 train has 589 seats.
  • Wikipedia says that a full-length High Speed Two train has 1,100 seats, so each Classic-Compatible train will have 550 seats.
  • Manchester Piccadilly has space to expand the station, whereas Liverpool Lime Street is hemmed in.
  • Liverpool Lime Street is solely a terminal station, whereas Manchester Piccadilly has both through and terminal platforms.
  • A large number of Liverpool’s local services are handled on a platform, that is deep below the station.

I would say that Liverpool Lime Street station’s handling of High Speed Two, will be a classic case of Liverpool doing what the City does best – making the most of limited resources.

After all Liverpool’s national dish is scouse, which is a stew often made from leftovers.

To summarise platform use after High Speed Two arrives in Liverpool, it could be something like this.

Platforms 1 to 5 – Northern with one or two platforms for TransPennine Express.

Platforms 6 to 10 – One each for High Speed Two and West Coast, with the others shared by the other operators.

Liverpool is lucky in that it has three routes out of the City to the East and now Lime Street station has been remodelled, they can be used efficiently.

More Use Of Merseyrail

Merseyrail could be key to getting even more capacity out of Lime Street station.

Some Northern services via Warrington have to leave from Platform 6 at present to go via Liverpool South Parkway.

But Merseyrail have ambitions to use their new Class 777 trains to extend from Hunts Cross station to Warrington Central station.

The one problem with accessing Merseyrail at Liverpool Lime Street, is that there is no direct connection to the Northern Line, which goes between Hunts Cross and Liverpool South Parkway in the South and Kirkby, Omskirk and Southport in the North. I usually walk two hundred metres to Liverpool Central, but a better connection needs to be provided. Perhaps a subway with a travelator is needed.

Alternatively, as all High Speed Two and West Coast services will stop at Runcorn, would it be sensible to add another stop at Liverpool South Parkway to change for the Northern Line and Warrington?

Conclusion

I have come to some conclusions.

Architecture And Design

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Lime Street station.

Opened in August 1836, it is the oldest grand terminus mainline station still in use in the world.

Manchester Piccadilly opened in 1842 and Euston opened in 1837, but both have been extensively rebuilt, whereas the architect of Lime Street would probably recognise his creation.

The design of Liverpool Lime Street station seems to have enabled this sympathetic remodelling, that will allow more services to the City.

Didn’t the Victorian architect do well!

Liverpool Connectivity

Liverpool is getting a station with increased capacity, that will enable new routes to the city from Wales and the Welsh Borders, Scotland and more places in England.

The only minor problem is the poor connection between Liverpool Lime Street station and Merseyrail’s Northern Line, which I think could be improved by stopping more trains at Liverpool South Parkway station.

Liverpool And Manchester To Scotland

In the 1960s, these services were organised in the following way.

  • Separate trains ran from Liverpool and Manchester to Preston.
  • At Preston, the two trains joined and ran to Carstairs.
  • At Carstairs, the trains split and one went to Edinburgh and the other to Glasgow.

It wasw an efficient way to provide the service.

With modern trains, that can couple and uncouple automatically and where passengers can walk through the train, there may be scope for doing similar in the future.

Liverpool As A Major Tourist Hub

The new services will improve Liverpool’s profile as a major tourist hub.

The new services will put Liverpool in the middle of an area with lots of attractions, that can be reached by train.

  • North Wales
  • The Lakes
  • The Pennines
  • The Golf Coast, with three Open Championship courses.
  • Blackpool

And then there’s Liverpool itself!

I was talking to a station guy in Liverpool yesterday and we both felt with connections to Scotland, more tourists would use Liverpool for a stopover on the trip between London and Scotland.

The new services will certainly increase the number of visitors to Liverpool

Merseyside’s Prosperity

I believe that the improved services will increase the prosperity of the whole region and in a few years time, the pain of this summer’s closure of the station will be well and truly forgotten.

Tailpiece

Ever since, I first came to Liverpool in 1965, the train services and Lime Street station in particular has needed improvement.

The creation of the Wirral Line loop and the Northern Line were a good start, but only now after my visit, is it apparent that there was more improvement to come.

Why wasn’t the track and platform layout at Liverpool Lime Street station sorted out decades ago?

 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments