The Anonymous Widower

Could High Speed Two Trains Serve Stoke-on-Trent?

The city of Stoke-on-Trent lobbied hard for High Speed Two to call, but it is going through closer to the West Coast Main Line, which is a few miles to the West.

Current Services

Stoke-on-Trent station is on the Stafford to Manchester branch of the West Coast Main Line.

It is served by two trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Milton Keynes Central (1tph), Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield (1tph) and Stockport. The fastest journey time is one hour and 24 minutes.

Possible Routes Using High Speed Two

It should be noted that to serve Stafford on the West Coast Main Line, High Speed Two trains will use the West Coast Main Line, rather than High Speed Two between Lichfield and Crewe.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the two routes between Lichfield and Crewe.

Note.

  1. The straighter route is the new High Speed Two route.
  2. The bendy route is the West Coast Main Line.
  3. The two routes split to the North of the city of Lichfield in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. Stafford can be seen between the two routes.
  5. Stoke-on-Trent can be seen to the North-East of the routes.
  6. The new route through Crewe station is shown in orange.

To give an idea of scale, the West Coast Main Line is about forty miles long between the two junctions at Lichfield and Crewe.

Possible Ways High Speed Two Could Serve Stoke-on-Trent Station

There are several ways that High Speed Two trains can serve Stoke-on-Trent station.

London Euston And Stoke-on-Trent Direct

The simplest way is to run a direct service between London Euston and Stoke-on-Trent

  • It would use High Speed Two from Euston to Lichfield, where it would take the Trent Valley Line.
  • It would proceed to Stoke-on-Trent via Rugeley Trent Valley and Stone.

I estimate that the service would take one hour and two minutes.

The service could either turnback at Stoke-on-Trent or go on to Crewe, Manchester or some other convenient terminus.

Manchester services might even call at Macclesfield and Stockport, as the current services do now!

Times between London and Manchester by various routes could be.

  • Current via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport – Two hours and seven minutes.
  • Planned using High Speed Two – One hour and seven minutes.
  • High Speed Two and current route to Manchester – One hour and forty-one minutes

Manchester will get three tph from London and one from Birmingham, so perhaps one of the four services should go via Stoke-in-Trent.

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Could High Speed Two Trains Serve Chester?

This may seem a slightly outrageous proposal to run High Speed Two trains to Chester.

  • The city is a major tourist destination.
  • Despite its closeness to Crewe it is a major rail hub, with services across Wales to Cardiff, Holyhead and Llandudno and along the border between England and Wales to Shrewsbury and Newport.
  • Merseyrail serves the city and the station can be considered to be part of Liverpool’s extensive commuting area. This service is likely to be more reliable and faster with the delivery of new Class 777 trains.
  • For parts of Merseyside, travelling to London or Manchester Airport, is easier via Chester than Liverpool Lime Street or Liverpool South Parkway.

If the promoters of High Speed Two are serious about creating a railway for the whole country, then I feel that running trains direct to and from Chester could be very beneficial for the towns and cities, that can be served by the current network at Chester.

Current And Possible Timings

Currently, trains take two minutes over two hours between Euston and Chester.

When Avanti West Coast introduces the new Hitachi AT-300 trains on the route, the following times will be possible.

  • Euston to Crewe via West Coast Main Line – 90 minutes – Fastest Pendelino
  • Crewe and Chester – 24 minutes – Current timing

This would give a time of one hour and 54 minutes, which is a saving of 8 minutes. But a lot of carbon would not be emitted.

I estimate, that with High Speed Two Phase 2a completed, the following timings will be possible.

  • Euston to Crewe via HS2 – 55 minutes – HS2 website
  • Crewe and Chester – 24 minutes – Current timing

This would give a time of one hour and 19 minutes, which is a saving of 43 minutes.

Infrastructure Needed

There will need to be some infrastructure changes.

Platform Lengthening At Chester Station

The station would probably be served by two-hundred metre long classic-compatible, which might need some platform lengthening.

This Google Map shows the station.

It looks to me, that there is plenty of space.

Will Chester And Crewe Be Electrified?

We know little about the capabilities of the trains proposed by the various manufacturers.

But, I wouldn’t be surprised that one or more of the proposals use batteries for one of the following purposes.

  • Regenerate braking.
  • Emergency power.
  • Range extension for up to perhaps sixty miles.

As Chester and Crewe stations are only twenty-one miles apart with no intermediate stations, which will be run at an average speed of only 52 mph I don’t think it will be impossible to extend the service to Chester on battery power.

If electrification is required I wrote about it in Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

As it is only just over twenty miles, I don’t think it will be the most challenging of projects, although there does seem to be a lot of bridges.

Electrification would also allow Avanti West Coast’s Hitachi trains to run on electricity to Chester.

What About Holyhead?

Holyhead could become a more important destination in the next few years.

It is probably the best alternative to avoid flying and driving between Great Britain and the Island of Ireland.

And who can accurately predict, what effect Brexit and thinking about global warming will have?

I have a feeling that after electrification to Chester, using on-board energy storage could be used West of Chester.

It is very difficult to predict battery ranges in the future, but I can see a two hundred metre long classic-compatible train on High Speed Two being able to reach Holyhead on battery power, with or without some limited extra electrification.

I estimate that with some track improvements, that it will be possible to travel between Euston and Holyhead in around three hours.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that when High Speed Two, think about adding extra destinations, Chester could be on the list.

I also suspect that if it can be run without full electrification, Euston and Holyhead could be a valuable route for Avanti West Coast.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should Phase One Of High Speed Two Go To Birmingham Or Crewe?

The important Crewe station is currently planned to be reached from London in Phase 2a of High Speed Two, with the first train scheduled for 2027, according to Wikipedia.

There have been changes over the years and the delivery of the line at Crewe was brought forward by a few years, so that now it is just twelve months after the line opened to Birmingham.

So is it better that Phase 1 of High Speed Two goes to Birmingham or Crewe?

The Route Of High Speed Two Between Birmingham And Crewe

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the route between Birmingham and Crewe.

Note.

  1. Phase 1 is shown in dark blue
  2. Phase 2a is shown in a lighter blue.
  3. Phase 2b is shown in orange.
  4. Crewe is in the North-West corner of the map.
  5. Of the two routes in the middle Phase 2a is to the East with the West Coast Main Line to the West.
  6. Birmingham is in the South-East Corner of the map, where two stations are shown; Birmingham Curzon Street in the West and Birmingham Interchange slightly to the South.

This second map, shows High Speed Two to the East of Birmingham.

Note.

  1. The colours are the same.
  2. The Eastern leg to Nottingham and Leeds, which is shown in orange, goes off to the North-East.

This third map shows the route around Lichfield.

Note.

  1. Phase 1 is shown in dark blue
  2. Phase 2a to Crewe is the branch going North and is shown in a lighter blue.
  3. The other branch going to the North West is the existing West Coast Main Line.

This fourth map shows the routes between Lichfield and Crewe

Note

  1. The colours are the same.
  2. Phase 2a of High Speed Two is the straighter route to the East.
  3. The more curvy route is the existing West Coast Main Line.

This fifth map shows the section of the route through Crewe.

Note.

  1. At the North of the map, the blue line is the West Coast Main Line and the orange line is the High Speed Two route to Manchester.
  2. Through Crewe the two lines share a route and may even share tracks.
  3. At the South of the map the High Speed Two route is on the East, with the West Coast Main Line to the West.

Click here to access High Speed Two’s interactive map, that I used to obtain these maps.

 

Phase One Services

Currently the following services are planned for Phase One of High Speed Two.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) – Birmingham Curzon Street, via Old Oak Common (OOC) and Birmingham Interchange.
  • Three tph – Birmingham Interchange via OOC.
  • Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street via OOC, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph) and Runcorn
  • Three tph – Manchester Piccadilly via OOC, Wilmslow (1tph) and Stockport
  • One tph – Preston via OOC, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western
  • One tph – Glasgow Central via OOC and Preston

Summing these up, the following totals are calculated.

  • 6 tph – Birmingham Interchange
  • 2 tph – Crewe
  • 2 tph – Preston

Most other stations get two tph or less.

Birmingham Or Crewe?

In the following sections I will discuss various points.

Service Between Euston And Stafford

There is an interesting point shown up by the maps and the proposed services for Phase One.

Trains using High Speed Two won’t be able to call at Stafford unless they take a diversion along the West Coast Main Line. So after Phase 2a has been built between Lichfield and Crewe, Stafford could lose its High Speed Two service, unless they use the classic route.

Birmingham Interchange Station

Birmingham Interchange station will be unaffected by the decision of the terminus of Phase 1 of High Speed Two.

  • It will be a Parkway station, with probably lots of parking.
  • It will be connected to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International station and Birmingham Airport by means of a people mover.
  • All High Speed Two services go through the station and six tph are proposed to stop in Phase 1.
  • The West Midlands Metro could serve the station.
  • It will be thirty-eight minutes from London. Stansted Airport is fifty and Gatwick is around thirty!

I suspect that the time to and from London and a four-hundred metre long train every ten minutes, will mean that this will be a very busy station.

  • Will Londoners treat Birmingham Airport, as a London Airport?
  • Motorways to the East of Birmingham could mean the West Midlands treats the station as a Park-and-Ride station for London.
  • Birmingham International station is a well-connected station with five platforms.

This station could become the busiest in the UK.

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street station will be an unusual station for the UK, in that will be a city-centre terminal station running East-West, with services going both North and South, using a junction with the main High Speed Two.

  • It will have seven platforms.
  • It will be a short walk to Birmingham Moor Street station.
  • It will have a stop on the West Midlands Metro line between Digbeth and Grand Central

Birmingham are hoping the station will be a catalyst for redevelopment of the area around the station.

After Phase 2 of High Speed Two services to the South are planned to include.

  • Three tph – Euston via Birmingham Interchange and OOC.
  • One tph – Birmingham Interchange direct

The hourly shuttle between the two stations makes up the service between them to a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.

After Phase 2 of High Speed Two services to the North are planned to include.

  • One tph – Stafford or Crewe direct
  • One tph – Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe and Manchester Interchange
  • Two trains per day – Preston via Crewe, Manchester Interchange and Wigan North Western
  • Two trains per day – Carlisle via Manchester Interchange, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • One tph – Glasgow via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – Edinburgh via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tph – Leeds via East Midlands Hub
  • One tph – York via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield
  • One tph – Newcastle via York

Summing up four tph go via the Western leg and Crewe to the North and three tph go via the Eastern leg and East Midlands Hub.

I suspect it is all about balancing the services between the three legs of High Speed Two.

  • London and Birmingham
  • Birmingham and North West England and Scotland
  • Birmingham and North East England.

High Speed Two has been designed for fifteen tph running into Euston, so if all parts of the route can handle that number of trains, there must be a lot of scope to add extra services.

Birmingham Curzon Street with its seven platforms would balance all the services and probably help to sort things out in times of disruption.

Between Birmingham International Station And Lichfield

The maps show that this section must be built to connect High Speed Two to the West Coast Main Line just to the North of Lichfield Trent Valley station on the Trent Valley Line, as there is no other possible connection between the two routes.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two map, shows where the two lines join.

It is obviously designed for speed.

I estimate that the distance between Birmingham Interchange and this junction is not far short of twenty miles.

Between Lichfield And Crewe Station

Along the West Coast Main Line, the distance is around forty-two miles, but the straighter route proposed for High Speed Two could be a few miles shorter and several minutes faster.

If Phase 1 of High Speed Two were not to be built, trains would have to share the West Coast Main Line through Stafford station.

Currently, Stafford station can have as many as fifteen tph through the station.

Phase 1 of High Speed Two will have these trains going North of Birmingham Interchange station.

  • Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street
  • Three tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – Preston
  • One tph – Glasgow Central

Which is a total of seven tph, with one tph stopping at Stafford.

I doubt they could all be squeezed through Stafford.

There would certainly be no space for any trains starting at Birmingham Curzon Street.

This is a very simple example of the capacity problems on the West Coast Main Line, which can only be solved by extra tracks to the North.

Crewe Station

Consider these points about Crewe station.

  • It is not of a design that reflects its status.
  • Currently, it handles 23 tph, that go all over the North West and much further.
  • Phase 1 of High Speed Two would add another seven tph
  • New services are planned.
  • A rebuilding of the station would surely improve both capacity and operational efficiency.
  • Looking at the fifth of the maps, it appears that the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two share a corridor , if not tracks, through Crewe station.

For all these reasons, I am convinced that if High Speed Two passes through, then the station will need a rebuild.

So it looks like whether High Speed Two goes ahead or not, Crewe station will need an expensive rebuild.

Extra High Speed Two Services Through Crewe

Once Phase 2a has been completed, this will allow some extra Phase 2 services to be run along the route from Euston.

  • Two tph from one tph – Glasgow Central via OOC, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston and Carstairs
  • Two tph – Edinburgh via OOC, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket

I suspect these might run as a pair of trains as far as Carstairs and split and join there.

There will also be extra services between Birmingham Curzon Street, Crewe and Stafford to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Preston.

It is worth noting, that when all the services going North from Birmingham are summarised, you get the following.

  • Four tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • Three tph – Liverpool Lime Street
  • One tph – Preston
  • Four tph – Glasgow/Edinburgh
  • One tph – Stafford or Crewe

It looks a bit complicated North of Crewe, but it will create a frequent service between Crewe and Scotland.

High Speed To Chester

It should also be noted, that if between Crewe and Chester were to electrified, High Speed Two trains could serve Chester.

  • Chester is a major rail interchange for the Border areas between England and Wales, North Wales and the Wirral.
  • It is also connected to Merseyrail.
  • Chester is an important tourist destination, with the city centre close to the station.

Electrification might also allow battery-electric versions of Avanti’s new Hitachi trains to serve some of their routes, without using diesel.

This simple example of Chester, says to me that opening High Speed Two to Crewe could allow extra services to be developed.

Conclusion

It appears from this analysis, that the only advantage of not building Phase 2a is that about forty miles of line between Lichfield and Crewe can be pushed back for a few years.

 

 

 

 

 

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cross City Connect Proposes HS1-HS2 Link

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article is only sketchy giving only a few details of the proposal.

  • The link would connect HS2 at Old Oak Common to HS1 at Rainham.
  • HS2 would not connect to Euston.
  • There would be intermediate stations at South Bank Central, Canary Wharf and Barking.

This map, that was posted in the RailUK forums, shows the route.

These are my thoughts on various points of the plan.

The Tunnel Route And South Bank Central Station

The proposed tunnel route is shown in red on the map.

These are my thoughts on the main tunnel.

Western Section – Old Oak Common To South Bank Central Station

This Google Map shows the area of London between Old Oak Common Elizabeth Line Depot and the South Bank.

Note.

  1. The depot is in the North-West corner marked with the red arrow.
  2. The Thames as it curves around the South Bank is in the South East corner of the map.
  3. The Serpentine in Hyde Park can be picked out.

I think that the tunnel would go deep under the West London Line and Hyde Park before cutting away East to the Thames.

Note that when a similar tunnel was dug deep under East London for High Speed One, there wasn’t too much difficulty. But that was twenty-five years ago and tunnelling techniques have surely improved.

There is also all the knowledge, that has been accumulated by the boring of Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

South Bank Central Station

This second Google Map shows the Thames between the London Eye and Blackfriars station.

Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriarts station, The Hayward Gallery. The National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo bridge and Waterloo station can all be picked out.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the various lines in the area.

Note.

  1. There seem to be few lines by the Thames on the South Bank, with just the Bakerloo and Northern Lines crossing the area.
  2. The Waterloo & City Line crosses further to the East.
  3. I would suspect, that as most of the buildings in the area of the South Bank have been built since 1950, that detailed plans and surveys exist of the South Bank.
  4. Even Waterloo Bridge was built as recently as the Second World War, which is young for many of the bridges across the Thames.

This leads me to believe that a substantial station could be built under the South Bank.

  • It would have long platforms roughly following the line of the Thames.
  • It could be connected to Waterloo station at the South-Western end.
  • Connections could surely be made to the Bakerloo and Northern Lines and possibly to the Jubilee Line.
  • The Northern Line is being extended to Battersea Power station.
  • The Bakerloo Line could be extended to South East London.
  • There are possible plans to extend Charing Cross station over Hungerford Bridge, which could be connected as well.
  • Could the station be connected to Blackfriars station at the North-Eastern end?
  • Could tunnels be built under the Thames to connect the station to the North Bank?

It seems to me, that there are lots of possibilities to make the proposed Soiuth Bank Central station a very well-connected station.

This Google Map may offer a clue as to where the station could poke its head into the South Bank.

Going from West to East across the map, the following can be seen.

  • The approach road to Waterloo Bridge.
  • The National Theatre
  • The IBM Building.
  • The London Studios

The last is the interesting building, as it has been sold to Mitsuibishi Estates to be developed as luxury housing. It is also a large site of 2.5 acres and there used to be a tower on the site, so I suspect there could be space for a station in the basement and an entrance or two on the surface.

It would certainly be a wonderful location to arrive at in London.

  • Walk to the West and you pass The Nation Theatre, the Hayward Gallery, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Festival Hall before arriving at Hungerford Bridge and the footbridges to the North Bank, Charing Cross station and Trafalgar Square.
  • Walk further West and you pass the London Eye and come to Westminster Bridge, with The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square on the other side of the River.
  • Walk to the East and you pass Blackfriars station, that sits above the river and the Tate Modern, before arriving at the Millenium Bridge that leads to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • South Bank Central station could even have a pier for the Thames Clippers.

It would certainly be a Central station, worthy of the name.

In this post entitled Walking Between Blackfriars And Hungerford Railway Bridges, there are a series of pictures I took on the walk.

These pictures show the section around the studios.

Note thaty the river walk is a tree-lined boulevarde and there is an accessible beach.

It should also be noted that the Thames Tideway worksite locations are on the North side of the river at this point of the river, so this could leave space for the Cross City Connect tunnel to be towards the South Bank.

South Bank Central Station And Canary Wharf Station

This Google Map shows the route between the South Bank and Canary Wharf.

Note.

  1. The South Bank is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. East Enders fans will be able to recognise the O2 at the Eastern side of the map.
  3. Canary Wharf is to the West of the O2 in the bend of the River.

I suspect that the tunnel could be bored roughly along the line of the River before passing under Canary Wharf, where there could be a deep-level station.

Potential Station – Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf station is only labelled as a potential station.

This Google Map shows the Canary Wharf Crossrail station.

Is the design of the station such, that extra lines could be placed alongside or under the Crossrail tracks and connected to the existing station?

There certainly must be a suitable place for a potential station at Canary Wharf, otherwise it wouldn’t have been proposed.

The station would give access to Crossrail, the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line.

I also expect that the Canary Wharf Group would be very co-operative and could make a contribution to the cost of the station.

Canary Wharf Station To Barking And Rainham

This Google Map shows the final section from Canary Wharf to Rainham.

Note.

  1. Canary Wharf and the O2 at the West of the map.
  2. The London City |Airport to the East of the O2, with the water alongside the runway.
  3. Rainham station marked by a red arrow at the East of the map.

It would appear that the route of the tunnel could be under the River or the runway at the City Airport.

But it should be born in mind, that High Speed One was dug under Barking and there wasn’t too much trouble.

Potential Station – London City Airport

As the Cross City Connect tunnel could pass under the terminal building at the Airport, could a station be built here?

I suspect not!

  • Passengers at the Airport go to many of the destinations of the rail service.
  • I don’t think there will be enough passengers to justify the station.
  • London City Airport is expanding the terminal and they probably wouldn’t want to change things now.

The Airport wants a Crossrail station and that is more likely.

Potential Station – Barking

Barking station is only labelled as a potential station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows another potential station at Barking.

It is a well-connected station.

Could a two track high speed station with two-platforms per track, be built underneath the current station and connected to it by escalators and lifts?

It would probably not be a much more difficult station to design and build, than Whitechapel station on Crossrail.

CCC-HS1 Interface

This Google Map shows the rail lines and roads around Dagenham Dock station.

Stand on the London-bound platform and whilst waiting for a c2c train, Eurostars and Javelins speed by behind you.On the map, you can just see the Jigh Speed One tunnel portal to the West of the station.

The two pairs of tracks; c2c and High Speed One run parallel through Rainham station, until they split with the c2c tracks going towards the river and Purfleet and Grays station and High Speed One threading its way through the approaches to the Dartford Crossing and its tunnel under the Thames.

This Google Map shows the area to the South-East of Rainham station, which is in the North-West corner of the map.

Note the A13 road linking East London to the junction with the M25 in the East, which is to the North of the Lakeside Shopping Centre.

This Google Map shows the North Western corner of the previous map.

Note.

  1. Rainham station at the top of the map.
  2. The two c2c tracks running South East from the station.
  3. The two High Speed One alongside the c2c tracks.
  4. The dual carriageway of the A13 road.

There is a large empty triangular area of land between the road and the four railway tracks. As I’ll mention it several times, I’ll call it the Rainham triangular site in future.

I suspect that the Cross City Connect tunnel will break off from High Speed One to the South-East of Rainham station , with a portal in the Rainham triangular site.

A train between Paris and Birmingham or Manchester would do the following.

  • Take High Speed One as now.
  • After stopping as required at Ashford and/or Ebbsfleet stations, it would cross under the Thames.
  • At Rainham it would take the Cross City Connect tunnel.

After stopping as required  at South Bank Central and Old Oak Common stations, it would take High Speed Two for the North.

Boring The Tunnel

The Rainham triangular site could be the place from where to bore the tunnel. Or at least the Eastern part!

  • There is a lot of space.
  • Linings and other heavy materials and equipment, could be brought in by rail using High Speed One.
  • Tunnel spoil could be conveyored to the river and taken away in barges.

Would tunnelling techniques have improved enough to go between Rainham and Old Oak Common in one continuous bore?

Would There Be A Station At Rainham?

All services going through the Cross City Connect tunnel would need to terminate somewhere.

Some would go all the way to the Continent and in the near future they could terminate at some of all of the following destinations.

  • Amsterdam
  • Bordeaux
  • Brussels
  • Cologne
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Paris

High Speed Two’s trains would be compatible with the Channel Tunnel, but ridership would be variable along say a Manchester and Paris route.

So some services would need to terminate in the London area.

As the line to Euston would be abandoned in the Cross City Connect plan, a new station will be needed to terminate trains.

There are two possibilities.

  • Old Oak Common, which because of its connections to Crossrail, the Overground and the Great Western Railway will be the place of choice for many to catch High Speed Two.
  • A new station at Rainham.

Both should be built.

Rainham High Speed station would be built in the Rainham triangular site.

  • It has good road access to the UK’s motorway network.
  • c2c services would call to give South Essex access to High Speed services
  • Southeastern Highspeed services would call to give Kent access to High Speed services.
  • Continental services would call to give access to alternative routes to or through London.
  • Some High Speed Two services to and from the North would terminate at the station.

There is probably space for an extensive train depot on the site.

Consider a service between Geneva and Glasgow.

  • Most travellers would fly on this route as it would be in the order of eight hours by train.
  • I suspect though that London and Geneva at possibly six hours could attract more traffic.

A well-planned station at Rainham would probably cater for the masochists who wanted to do the long journey by High Speed Rail in a day.

But the interchange at Rainham would be invaluable for passengers travelling between the Continent and Canary Wharf or Westminster.

  • Canary Wharf is served directly.
  • Westminster is a short walk over the Thames or one stop on the Jubilee Line from South Bank Central station.
  • Try going between St. Pancras International and Canary Wharf or Westminster quickly without changing trains or using a taxi.
  • The proposed Crossrail 2 won’t make these journeys any easier.
  • The Cross City Connect Route would be faster.

As Canary Wharf is connected to Crossrail and Old Oak Common to the Overground, access to the Greater London area would be much improved with a change at Rainham High Speed station.

Cross City Connect, also gives access to these services to places, that will not be served by High Speed Two.

  • South Western Railway services from Waterloo, which will be close to South Bank Central station.
  • Great Western Railway services will be available at Old Oak Common.

Travellers wanting classic service to the North would go as now, via St. Pancras.

The only thing missing is a connection to Crossrail, which would give direct access to Liverpool Street and Paddington.

I think that Rainham High Speed station would become a very important station.

Tunnel Size And Number

High Speed Two is being built to a loading gauge of UIC GC, which is similar to the Channel Tunnel. The Channel Tunnel bores are 7.6 metres in diameter.

The biggest tunnel under London will be the one currently being dug for the Thames Tideway Scheme.

  • It will be 25 kilometres long.
  • The diameter is 7.2 metres.
  • It will be up to seventy metres below the surface.

For much of its route, it follows the Thames in a similar manner to the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Cross City Connect would need one tunnel of this size for each track.

Could two tracks share a single tunnel?

Theoretically, I think they could, but it could cause problems in station design.

Station Design

Would the Cross City Connect need four tracks and platforms at each station?

High Speed One stations at Stratford, Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations effectively have four tracks and platforms, due to the security need of separating domestic and International passengers.

But as all trains these days, including those on Eurostar and the Javelins working suburban services have doors on both sides, surely there is an engineering solution.

  • South Bank Central and any other Central London stations would have platforms on both sides
  • All platforms would have level access between train and platform and platform doors.
  • Platform doors would be designed to work with all trains using the route. I have ideas how this could be done.
  • The domestic platforms would be the two platforms between the two tunnels. This would mean domestic passengers could board and leave the trains with the minimum of fuss. They could also reverse direction if they should need.
  • The International platforms would be on the outside and would have the extra security checks needed.
  • International and domestic services would only open doors to the appropriate platform.

If a solution to the security problem can be found, then two tunnels would be sufficient.

Four tunnels would blow the budget.

Train Operating Speed In The Tunnel

Consider.

  • High Speed Two has been designed with an operating speed of 225 mph.
  • The Chanel Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 100 mph.
  • The Channel Tunnel track could possibly handle 120 mph.
  • Crossrail has an operating speed of 90 mph.

It should also be noted that the faster the trains go, the greater the pressure on infrastructure like platform edge doors and the passengers waiting on the platforms outside the doors.

I would suspect that the maximum operating speed of trains in the Cross City Connect tunnel would not  be hoigher than 100 mph, but with a possibility of increasing it up to 125 mph in the future.

Train Frequency

Note that the design frequency of High Speed Two is twenty-one trains per hour (tph).

If Thameslink and Crossrail have been planned for twenty-four tph, with an objective of going to thirty tph, I don’t see why, we shouldn’t see twenty-four tph or even thirty tph running through the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Summing Up The Tunnel Route And South Bank Central Station

These are my conclusions on the tunnel route.

  • It uses London’s geography and the tunnelling-friendly clay soil to advantage.
  • The designers of the scheme have found an easy place to build a well-connected station at South Bank Central.
  • It also appears that the Eastern portal at Rainham, is on a site with plenty of space.
  • Could the Eastern portal make a good site from where to build the tunnel.

Overall, it appears to be a very viable project.

Passenger Services

When Phase Two of High Speed Two, these services are currently planned to run into Euston.

  • 3 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street – via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2 tph)
  • 2 tph – Liverpool – via Old Oak Common, Stafford (1 tph), Crewe (1 tph) and Runcorn
  • 3 tph – Manchester – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport (2 tph)
  • 1 tph – Preston – via Old Oak Common, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western
  • 2 tph – Glasgow – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1 tph), Preston and Carstairs
  • 2 tph – Edinburgh – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1 tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 3 tph – Leeds – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub (1 tph), Chesterfield (1 tph) and Sheffield Midland (1 tph)
  • 2 tph – Sheffield – via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (1 tph)
  • 1 tph – York via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange
  • 2 tph – Newcastle – via Old Oak Common (1 tph) and Birmingham Interchange and York.

Adding these up gives a frquency of twenty-one tph between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.

The Dutch believe that five trains per day (tpd) will be viable between London and Amsterdam and it looks like this frequency will be running by the end of 2021.

Obviously, passenger numbers will be determined by where passengers want to go, but I think that there should be at least this minimum service between the Continent and the North.

  • 3 tpd – Glasgow
  • 3 tpd – Liverpool
  • 3 tpd – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • 3 tpd – Manchester
  • 3 tpd – Leeds

I believe that High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be combined, as I described in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

This could result in a service between London and Hull that  called at Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.

I estimated timings from London to various cities as follows.

  • Birmingham – 49 minutes
  • Liverpool – 66 mins
  • Manchester – 66 mins
  • Leeds – 92 mins
  • Hull – 130 minutes

It looks like there could be a direct service between Paris or Brussels to the North in these times.

  • Birmingham – Under three hours
  • Liverpool – Under four hours
  • Manchester – Under four hours
  • Leeds – Around four hours
  • Hull – Under five hours

Get the design of Rainham High Speed station right and the right timetable and timings would only be a few minutes longer with a cross-platform interchange at Rainham High Speed or Birmingham Interchange station.

The merging of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail could enable services with these frequencies.

  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Birmingham
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Glasgow
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and Hull.
  • 4 tpd – Paris or Brussels and Liverpool

Note.

  1. These services would be pairs of trains, eith the two trains would splitting and joining at Lille. One train would go to and from Brussels and the other to and from Paris.
  2. The services would add one tph to traffic through the busy Channel Tunnel and to High Speed Two between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.
  3. There would be several extra services per day, with a change at Rainham High Speed station.
  4. Birmingham would get four tpd at Birmingham Curzon Street and another twelve tpd at Birmingham Interchange.
  5. The trains from Brussels could have Amsterdam, Cologne and Frankfurt as their terminus.

I could see these services giving the airlines a good kicking.

  • Manchester and Paris has seven flights per day, but the route could have four direct tpd and three tph with a change at Rainham.
  • Glasgow and Paris appears to have just two flights per day.
  • A 200 metre long train could seat over 500, whereas an Airbus A320 seats around 200.

Would you fly between Paris and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester, if you could go by train in under four hours?

Freight Services

Why not? Especially at night!

Design the platform edge door correctly and freight trains would be able to pass through the Cross City Connect tunnel.

Much of the container traffic between the UK and Europe should go by rail, and this tunnel makes it possible.

Issues That Must Be Considered

There are a few issues that must be considered.

St. Pancras Station

I think that long-term St. Pancras station will have capacity and access problems for trains and passengers.

  • The six Eurostar platforms are probably not enough, if more services want to use the station.
  • The lounges and passport control need more space.
  • At times, the station concourse is overcrowded.
  • Crossrail 2 and/or better access to the Underground is needed now.
  • Getting from St. Pancras to Canary Wharf, Euston and Westminster is not easy.

You also regularly hear Eurostar passengers moaning and say that they preferred Waterloo as the terminal.

Building Cross City Connect solves all the problems and effectively gives London five stations, that can be used for the Continent at Canary Wharf, Old Oak Common, Rainham, Saint Pancras and South Bank Central.

Southeastern’s HighSpeed Services

Southeastern’s HighSpeed services to and from Kent, only have two London destinations; Stratford and St. Pancras.

  • Cross City Connect seem to be suggesting that some of these services take their new tunnel and go to Birmingham.
  • They would connect the services to the new stations at Canary Wharf and South Bank Central.
  • The current Class 395 trains are only 140 mph trains and might be to slow for the 225 mph High Speed Two.
  • But their speed would be fine on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

I’m sure that space could be found at Milton Keynes, Tring or Watford Junction for a platform to handle four tph through the Cross City Connect tunnel to Rainham and Kent.

London would get another Crossrail!

And talking of Crossrail, the services could take the Crossrail route to Reading and possibly Oxford.

There is great potential to use some of those paths through the Cross City Connect tunnel to link passengers to the major Continental interchange at Rainham High Speed station.

Stratford International Station

At present this station is really only a domestic station for Southeastern’s HighSpeed services between St. Pancras and Kent.

  • Continental services do not stop.
  • The only connections are to buses and the Docklands Light Railway.
  • It is badly-connected to Crossrail, the Greater Anglia services and the Underground, at the main Stratford station.
  • Underneath the station is the High Meads Loop, which is connected to the West Anglia Main Line and used to be used to terminate Stansted Expresses.

It is a design crime of the worst order.

But it could be so much better.

  • A better connection with a travelator could connect the two Stratford stations.
  • A Lea Valley Metro could be developed using the High Meads Loop as a terminus.
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge services could also use the High Meads Loop.
  • Platforms could be added to the High Meads Loop, that would connect direct to the International station.

I also feel some Continental services should stop, as this would give them easy access to the important Crossrail.

Stratford could be the station, that ties London, East Anglia and South Essex together and gives them good links to the Continent.

A Future Thames Estuary Airport And Thames Barrier

I feel that in the next three decades, there is at least a fifty percent chance, that London will build an airport in the Thames Estuary.

The Airport would probably be some miles to the East, but the Cross City Connect tunnel and Rainham High Speed station could be valuable parts of the rail system serving that Airport.

Look at the section called Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Thames Barrier.

A new barrier will be needed in the next fifty years.

It could include rail and road crossings.

It could incorporate a large Airport.

There may even be tidal power generation.

As there will be extensive developments on both sides of the Thames, more transport infrastructure will be needed and the Cross City Connect tunnel and the Rainham High Speed station will play their part.

Immigration Control And Security

This could have a large effect on station design, as domestic and International passengers will need to be kept apart.

Cross City Connect are saying that four tracks might be needed; two for domestic services and two for International ones.

However, I believe that a four-platform station with just two tracks (and tunnels!), that kept domestic and International passengers apart could be built.

Earlier I said this.

  • South Bank Central and any other Central London stations would have platforms on both sides
  • All platforms would have level access between train and platform and platform doors.
  • Platform doors would be designed to work with all trains using the route. I have ideas how this could be done.
  • The domestic platforms would be the two platforms between the two tunnels. This would mean domestic passengers could board and leave the trains with the minimum of fuss. They could also reverse direction if they should need.
  • The International platforms would be on the outside and would have the extra security checks needed.
  • International and domestic services would only open doors to the appropriate platform.

I certainly think, there is a solution, that can be used with just two tracks.

Euston Station

If the Cross City Connect route is built, what happens at Euston?

Operationally, Euston may have problems with the number of platforms and their length, as many of London’s terminal stations do.

But Euston’s biggest problem is the connection to the Underground.

  • It is a cramped station.
  • It is not step-free.
  • The Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines call in the separate Euston Squiare station about two hundred metres away.

I understand that these problems were to be fixed with the rebuilding of the station.

So what happens now?

Will there be more demolition of the station and the surrounding buildings?

Conclusion

There’s more to this project, than meets the eye!

 

January 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

RENFE To Launch Avlo Low-Cost High Speed Rail For Everyone

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

The title says it all and it looks like the Spanish are going the way of the French.

As High Speed Rail networks get larger,and able to handle more trains, it appears that the train operators, run out of premium passengers and turn to other markets.

SNCF have already launched a low-cost service called Ouigo, so it looks like the Spanish are following along similar lines.

In some ways is rail following air travel with low-cost companies offering a more affordable service.

On the whole, the UK, will find it more difficult to offer these services, as we don’t have the rail capacity. In part, this is due to the late development of high speed lines like High Speed Two.

But competitive services using a low-cost model are running or in development.

It should be noted that East Coast Trains and Hull Trains will be running similar new Hitachi trains to the dominant operator on the route; LNER.

But then Ryanair and easyJet fly similar planes to British Airways and Air France!

Conclusion

It does appear that low-cost operators are providing competition, just as they have done with the airlines.

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?

As currently envisioned, High Speed Two is very much an English project, with the following routes

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Birmingham
  • London and Manchester Airport/Manchester via Birmingham and Crewe
  • London and Sheffield via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub
  • London and Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub

There are large numbers of mid-sized towns and cities that it won’t serve directly.

The West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Birmingham
  • London and Liverpool via Crewe
  • London and Manchester via Crewe
  • London and Glasgow via Crewe, Wigan, Preston and Carlisle
  • London and Blackpool via Crewe, Wigan, Preston
  • London and North Wales via Crewe and Chester.

It could probably be considered a two or two-and-a-half nation line, as it serves the Western half of Scotland and the Northern half of Wales.

Add the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and you get a line, that serves a lot more places like Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Preston, Stafford, Stoke and Wigan.

  • The current plan for both routes envisage them both being run by Avanti West Coast, so it looks like High Speed Two is being designed to work with the West Coast Main Line.
  • Destinations like Carlisle, Glasgow and Preston will be served using the West Coast Main Line.
  • Compatible trains will be built that can be run on both lines.
  • Some stations will be shared.

It does seem that there are advantages, if the two routes are considered as one system.

The East Coast Main Line

The East Coast Main Line serves the following routes.

  • London and Cambridge
  • London and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • London and Lincoln via Newark.
  • London and Leeds via Doncaster
  • London and Hull
  • London and Edinburgh via Doncaster, York and Newcastle

The East Coast Main Line could become another high speed line.

Extra services could be added.

  • London and Norwich via Cambridge
  • London and Nottingham
  • London and Grimsby and Cleethorpes via Lincoln.
  • London and Sheffield via Doncaster.

Add the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two together and there could be a wider range of towns and cities served.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster could play the same role in the East as Birmingham and Crewe will play in the West.
  • The East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster will be upgraded to in-cab ERTMS signalling in a few years time, which will allow 140 mph running on several sections of the route.
  • Improvements are either under way or being planned to reduce bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If High Speed Two can handle eighteen trains per hour (tph), then surely the East Coast Main Line, which has a lot of quadruple track, can handle upwards of twelve 140 mph trains per hour between London and Doncaster, after the improvements to track and signalling.
  • I estimate that 140 mph running between London and Doncaster could save as much as twenty minutes.
  • I feel that Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York could all be reached in under two hours from London using the existing Azuma trains.
  • This morning the 0700 from Kings Cross is timetabled to reach York at 0852. Would it be possible for London and York to be around just ninety minutes?
  • Savings would also apply to trains between London and Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scotland and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour journeys between London and Edinburgh would be commonplace.

Note that the Internet gives a driving time of nearly three and a half hours between London and Leeds. Surely, two hours or less on High Speed Yorkshire would be much preferable.

I would add this infrastructure.

  • There might be a good case to create electrified routes to Hull and Sheffield and between Sheffield and Leeds, but they wouldn’t be needed to start the service or obtain the time savings. But they would ease operation, cut carbon emissions and save a few more minutes.
  • A station at Doncaster-Sheffield Airport.
  • A parkway station at Barnsley on the Dearne Valley Line with direct services to Doncaster, Leeds, London and Sheffield.

The two latter improvements have been proposed in Sheffield Region’s transport plans.

High Speed Yorkshire should be finished as soon as possible. A completion date of 2024 is not unreasonable.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail is a plan to build an East-West high speed line or at least a much faster one, than the overcrowded joke, that presently exists.

I discussed the latest thinking in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North and the latest thinking and my views can best be summarised as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will be an improved line with some new sections, between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will connect at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two will share infrastructure.
  • The High Speed Two route to Manchester would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • The High Speed Two route to Liverpool would be via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Warrington
  • Hull will get a London service from High Speed Two via Birmingham, Crewe, High Legh and Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds

The Oakervee review of High Speed Two is also underway and leaks are suggesting, that the report is recommending that High Speed Two be built in full, but differently.

One important thing, that is happening, is that Network Rail have started the procurement process to improve the current line between Leeds and Huddersfield, as I reported in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

  • Extra tracks will be built.
  • There will be some extra electrification.

I very much feel, that this is one of the most difficult TransPennine sections to improve.

The other sections are summarised as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester Airport via Warrington and High Legh is across the flat lands of North Cheshire and could follow the M56.
  • Manchester Airport and Manchester will probably be a high speed tunnel.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield section could possibly be improved in the short term
  • Leeds and Hull and the required connections to the East Coast Main Line are in the flat lands of East Yorkshire.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have a plan in there to perhaps deliver improved services East of Huddersfield and radiating from Leeds in the next few years.

It certainly needs improvement, as the TransPennine route must be the worst main line in the UK.

A One-Nation Railway

I think these lines can be connected to create an integrated high speed network.

  • High Speed Two
  • West Coast Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail

But.

  • It doesn’t connect to the whole country and needs to be extended.
  • It won’t be fully developed until at least 2035.
  • Improvements are needed now!

So what could be substantially delivered of the core network, by say 2024, which is around the date of the next General Election?

  • Faster and more frequent services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • An electrified higher capacity and faster line between Leeds and Huddersfield and possibly between Leeds and Hull.
  • New East Coast Main Line services from London to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Nottingham, Scarborough and Sheffield and Sunderland.
  • Sub-four hour services between London and Edinburgh.
  • New local services to connect Blyth and Ashington to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle.
  • A Tees Valley Metro  connecting Bishop Auckland, Whitby and all in between to the East Coast Main Line at Darlington.
  • Improved local services between York and Leeds via Harrogate, Sheffield and Leeds via the Dearne Valley and on other lines in Yorkshire.

Effectively, the recommendations of this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, which apply to Leeds and Sheffield would have been implemented to connect to high speed services at Doncaster, Leeds, Sheffield and Yprk.

Technology used would include.

  • Some more electrification using the power from the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Conventional electric trains and compatible battery trains.
  • Tram-trains feeding into the Sheffield Supertram.
  • ERTMS digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line and the major branches to Hull, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There would also need to be an increase in LNER’s Azuma fleet. But that is already rumoured as I wrote in More New Trains On LNER Wish List.

Could we see as many as twelve Axumas per hour between London and Doncaster? Yes!

Could it all be delivered by the 2024 General Election? Yes!

High Speed Scotland

The Scottish Nationalist Party is pushing for High Speed Two to be extended to Scotland.

I think that this will eventually be a feasible project, but it will be a very expensive and perhaps built around 2040.

These are my thoughts for the next few years up to 2024.

High Speed To Edinburgh

Consider.

  • Edinburgh currently supports a half-hourly service to and from London.
  • East Coast Trains are proposing to add five trains per day to this route.
  • TransPennine Express will run an hourly service between Edinburgh and Liverpool, via Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle, which starts at the December 2019 timetable change..
  • CrossCountry run an hourly service between Aberdeen and Plymouth.
  • It looks like Edinburgh and Newcastle have a four tph service.

All services, except the CrossCountry  are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802 or 803 trains.

  • Currently, services take ninety minutes for the 125 miles between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • The Hitachi trains are all capable of 140 mph with digital signalling.
  • The Hitachi trains have better acceleration.
  • The route is fully electrified. Although, there are reports it needs enhancing to be able to handle the current number of trains.

How many minutes can be taken off thjs route, with a new timetable on a line running only Hitachi high speed trains?

Probably not that many, but it would ensure all London and Edinburgh trains were under four hours.

But it will all happen by 2024?

High Speed To Glasgow

So Edinburgh is alright, but what about Glasgow?

Consider.

  • Glasgow currently supports an hourly service to and from London.
  • TransPennine Express run an hourly service to and from Manchester Airport
  • TransPennine Express will run a three trains per day service to and from Liverpool.

Glasgow has a much lower frequency service to and from England than Edinburgh.

Currently, London and Glasgow takes over four-and-a half hours and there is going to be no serious improvement, until High Speed Two opens to Crewe, when the time could drop to perhaps just over three-and-a half hours.

But that won’t happen until possibly 2030.

In Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?, I detail a cunning plan, that might allow London and Glasgow in four hours.

This was my conclusion in the other article.

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

There may be advantages in replacing the Pendelinos with the Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains on the London and Glasgow service as early as possible.

  • There would be a large increase of capacity between London and Glasgow.
  • What would be the possible speed of the Classic-compatible trains on updated track North of Crewe? I will assume 140 mph, but it could be more! That’s called engineering!
  • London and Glasgow timings would be improved, as soon as digital signalling is installed.
  • The trains would get a thorough testing before the opening of High Speed Two to Birmingham.

At least one platform at Glasgow Central would need to be extended to take a four-hundred metre long train.

According to Wikipedia, the Classic-compatible trains will be introduced from 2026.

I think by the December 2026 timetable change Glasgow could see a four-hour service to and from London.

But could it be 2024, if the Pendelinos can pick up time North of Crewe with digital signalling?

The Borders Railway

If High Speed Two is going to be a One Nation project, the Borders Railway must be extended from Tweedbank to Carlisle via Hawick.

Could this be done by 2024?

It would be a close-run thing! But possible!

The Glasgow South Western Line

The Glasgow South Western Line, is a secondary route between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It should be electrified early, so that during the upgrading of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle it can be used as a diversionary route.

Scotland Could Have Two Four-Hour Fully-Electrified Routes To And From London

But it’s not just London that gets good connectivity to and from Scotland!

  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Carlisle
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Preston
  • Wolverhampton
  • York

All these cities will have direct connections to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow.

High Speed Midlands

Almost unnoticed and with little fuss, the Midland Main Line is being upgraded to provide 125 mph services between London and Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • New Hitachi bi-mode Class 804 trains will improve speeds and increase capacity
  • Over the last decade or so, the track has been upgraded for 125 mph running.
  • Electrification will reach between London and Market Harborough.
  • Market Harborough station has been remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • The Corby branch will be electrified with the trains running half-hourly.

I also think, that the Midland Main Line will link into all the improvements between Barnsley, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield and provide the following.

  • A high speed route between Leeds and the East Midlands.
  • A route for a Barnsley and London service.
  • A second route for Leeds and London services..

It also seems that rail planners are getting innovative with the design of the Midland Main Line.

  • It appears that the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two’s spur to Sheffield will be combined into an electrified line between Clay Cross and Sheffield via Chesterfield.
  • An improved link to the East-West Rail link at Bedford could improve links between the North-East and the South of England.
  • The disused rail line between Market Harborough and Northampton could be reopened.

The line is a lot more than a connection between London and the East Midlands.

The upgrade should be complete by 2024.

East West Rail

East West Rail is still in a long planning stage, but it now looks likely to provide more than a passenger link between Oxford and Cambridge.

  • New freight routes for Felixstowe and Southampton.
  • Extra passenger services between Oxford and Reading in the West and Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich in the East.
  • Connections to the Great Western Main Line, the Chiltern Line, West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, East Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.

It has also been suggested that East West Rail should be connected to High Speed Two at a new station at Calvert. This could give Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton good links to and from High Speed Two.

Great Western Main Line

At the December 2019 timetable change, there has finally been some good news in the saga of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.

  • Services between London and Bristol have been improved.
  • The timetable has been improved.

Whether it will stand up is another matter.

Certainly by 2024, it will be a much better main line.

It could have full digital in-can signalling, which could result in 140 mph running and journey time savings.

Who knows?

But what excites me is the possibility of a connection between High Speed Two and East West Rail at Calvert, which will allow trains to run between Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, in Wales and the West and the North on a mainly electrified high speed railway.

High Speed North Wales

Avanti West Coast is purchasing thirteen new Hitachi bi-mode trains to run services to Chester and North Wales.

I can’t see much speed improvement in the services, although if the West Coast Main Line gets digital signalling, this could save a few minutes between London and Crewe.

High Speed Ireland

The technology is now available to build a rail bridge between Scotland and the island of Ireland.

I laid out the arguments in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!.

The Lincoln Solution

Lincoln is a city, that has been ignored by UK railways for decades.

But not any more as LNER now run six return trips a day to the city on Mondays to Saturdays and five on Sundays.

I wrote about the improvements in The Shape Of Train Services To Come.

How many other cities and large towns would benefit from a Lincoln solution?

LNER have already launched a similar service to Harrogate at the December 2019 timetable change and I’m sure that more will follow.

Disability And Access Issues

A true one-nation railway wouldn’t exclude anybody from using the trains.

Strides have been made to put up step-free bridges, but some of the access between platform and train is truly dreadful.

This picture shows what can be achieved by good design on a Class 755 train.

And this is the step on one of Hitachi’s new trains.

Note that all doors on these Hitachi trains are also far too narrow.

Some train manufacturers can do much better.

Recurring Themes

In this analysis, there are factors that keep cropping up.

Digital Signalling Or ERTMS

This is the key to squeezing more trains into our overcrowded railway.

Between London and Doncaster on the East Coast Main Line, should be operational in a few years and I believe the following lines should follow as soon as possible.

  • East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York and possibly Newcastle.
  • East Coast Main Line North Of Newcastle
  • West Coast Main Line North Of Crewe
  • West Coast Main Line South Of Crewe
  • Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

As a time-expired Control Engineer, I believe that in-cab digital signalling is a major key to increasing capacity.

Faster Line Speeds

Some routes like TransPennine, have Victorian line speeds

Network Rail showed how it could improve line speed with the remodelling at Market Harborough station.

Bottlenecks, like the Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich need immediate removal, no matter what the Heritage Taliban and other Luddites say.

New Hitachi Trains

There will be several more orders for the next generation of Hitachi’s high speed trains.

I have been critical of Hitachi’s manufacturing processes for these trains in the past, but they seem now to be running well in fleet service.

A standard UK train on 125 mph lines, that can also handle 140 mph with digital signalling must be a good thing for all sorts of reasons.

New Feeder Services

Several new feeder services have been indicated and there should be a lot more of these to bring the benefit of the high speed network to more of the UK population.

Delivering The Improvements

Geographically, the places where improvements are needed are spread thinly around the country and vary from projects with a cost of tens of millions to those with costs of tens of billions.

In the UK, we tend to go for the big hit, when perhaps several smaller ones might give a better short-term improvement.

We also duck projects, which would annoy the noisy local interests.

We need to have fundamental rethink about how we deliver and pay for rail improvements.

Conclusion

I am fairly pleased overall in that I think by 2024, many places in the UK, will have a much better train service than they do now!

Delivery of High Speed Two, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail as soon as possible after 2024, will be the icing on the cake.

Will It Be A One-Nation Project?

I think it can be!

 

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does One Of Baldrick’s Descendents Work For Avanti West Coast?

I have been looking at the problems of maximising traffic and reducing journey times on the West Coast Main Line to the North of Crewe.

I think that what Avanti West Coast intend to do has a touch of the Baldricks about it.

Trains that go North from Crewe include the following Avanti West Coast services.

  • Blackpool, which branches off at Preston.
  • Glasgow, which goes up the West Coast Main Line via Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme and Carlisle.
  • Liverpool, which branches off at Weaver Junction, between Crewe and Warrington.
  • Manchester, which branches off at Crewe.

I find it interesting that according to Wikipedia, Avanti West Coast will be running their new Hitachi electric trains to Blackpool and Liverpool, but not Manchester.

Could it be that as these trains will be sharing tracks to the North of Crewe in the future with High Speed Two services to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, that these trains will be built to have the same operating speed on the West Coast Main Line, as the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that will serve the route?

The Manchester Branch is slower, so will remain 125 mph Pendelino territory.

The Number Of Electric Trains Ordered

Doing a rough estimate< I reckon the following.

  • One train per hour (tph) to Liverpool needs five 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • One tph to Blackpool needs six 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • .Two tph to Liverpool needs ten 125 mph Pendelinos.
  • If the new Hitachi trains, are capable of 140 mph, I reckon two tph to Liverpool might need eight 140 mph trains.

The order of new Hitachi trains is not large enough to run both Blackpool and Liverpool services.

Will The New Hitachi Trains Be Used On London and Liverpool?

Consider.

  • It would probably the best policy to run each route with one class of train.
  • A two tph London and Liverpool service is much needed.
  • Running the new Hitachi trains on London and Liverpool, would release extra trains for London and Blackpool and London and Birmingham.
  • Two tph to Liverpool needs eight 125 mph Pendelinos or eight 140 mph Hitachi trains.

But it would also mean installing ERTMS signalling on the London and Liverpool route to enable 140 mph running.

It does appear that ten new Hitachi trains, able to run at 140 mph could service the London and Liverpool route and release five Pendelinos for other routes.

Could The Pendelinos Run At 140 mph?

They were designed for this speed, as were the InterCity 225 trains and only don’t run at this speed because of the lack of digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 390 Pendelino train says this about the speed of the train.

The Class 390 Pendolino is one of the fastest domestic electric multiple units operating in Britain, with a design speed of 140 mph (225 km/h); however, limitations to track signalling systems restrict the trains to a maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) in service. In September 2006, the Pendolino set a new speed record, completing the 401 mi (645 km) length of the West Coast Main Line from Glasgow Central to London Euston in 3 hours, 55 minutes.

Perhaps it is time to unleash the Pendelinos?

Could the planned refurbishment of the Pendelinos install the required equipment, allow the trains to run using digital signalling at 140 mph?

What Is The Cunning Plan?

These are the possible objectives of adding the extra ten trains.

  • One tph between London and Glasgow in around four hours.
  • Two tph between London and Liverpool in around two hours.

Would this be one possible way to achieve these objectives?

  • Install digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line to allow 140 mph in places, where the track allows.
  • Improve the track of the West Coast Main Line, where necessary.
  • Run new Hitachi trains between London and Liverpool.
  • Release the current Pendelinos to other routes.
  • Upgrade the Pendelinos with digital signalling to allow 140 mph running, where possible.
  • Run 140 mph Pendelinos between London and Blackpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The real plan will probably be a lot better and more comprehensive, but it does show how the two objectives can be met.

Conclusion

To improve services between London and Birmingham, Blackpool, Liverpool and Scotland, appears to need the following.

  • Ten new Hitachi trains.
  • Full digital signalling on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Track improvements on the West Coast Main Line
  • Upgrading of the Pendelinos to allow 140 mph running.

This should reduce London and Glasgow to around four hours and London and Liverpool to around two hours.

 

 

 

December 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Election 2019: DUP Manifesto At A Glance

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

This is said under Infrastructure.

The infamous bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland makes an appearance in the manifesto. It has been mooted on a number of occasions, despite a number of potential barriers to its construction.

Not everyone believes those barriers are insurmountable, though.

I don’t and feel strongly, that the bridge should be built and linked to High Speed Two

  • London and Belfast in four hours
  • London and Dublin in five hours.
  • Belfast and Glasgow in under two hours.

Not forgetting, it would become an important freight route..

 

 

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

Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?

The leak of the Oakervee Report into High Speed Two published in today’s Times, says that extra stations might be added to High Speed Two and in particular one could be built at Calvert in Buckinghamshire, where it would also be an interchange  with the East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge.

Calvert And The Current Railways

This Google Map shows the area around the village of Calvert.

Note.

  1. The two lakes in old clay pits to the North of the village; one for sailing and one for fishing.
  2. A massive landfill to the South.
  3. The route of the East-West Rail Lnk runs East-West to the North of the two lakes.

The enlarged Google Map shows the two lakes and the East-West Rail Link.

There is a distinct cross where the North-South Great Central Main Line crosses the former the East-West Varsity Line.

The Great Central Main Line from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station in the South, has a chord to the East and joins the disused track, that used to form part of the Varsity Line. This chord and line will be developed in the next few yeas to allow Chiltern Railways to open a service to Milton Keynes Central station.

Calvert And High Speed Two

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the possibilities in the area for High Speed Two.

The planned route of High Speed 2 (HS2) will run along the Great Central Railway north-south corridor in this area, past Calvert and the phase one Infrastructure Maintenance Depot will be located near Calvert. No passenger interchange between East West Rail and HS2 is proposed, since stopping high speed trains ‘too often’ reduces their high speed benefits, although in February 2017, the local MP called for the station to be built at the junction between East West Rail and the HS2 line, serving both lines.

Note how the track of the Grand Central Railway can be picked out on the second map.

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Calvert And The Oxford To Cambridge Expressway

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for Calvert, describes the trunk roads in the area.

Calvert sits in the strip of land which the Government announced in 2018 as its ‘preferred route’ for the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway road, which would link the A34, M40, and M1 trunk roads. It has been noted that the convergence of HS2, East-West Rail, and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway at this location would offer opportunities for future provision of a key regional facility, such as an airport, or a New Town.

I doubt there will be a new airport, but other forms of development would be better than landfill.

Oakervee’s Recommendation For Calvert

It looks like the Oakervee Report is recommending that at least passive provision is made for a station in the area, that would connect to the East-West Rail Link.

Thoughts On A Possible Calvert Station

These are my thoughts on a possible Calvert station, that would be built to connect the East-West Rail Link and High Speed Two.

Changing Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert Station

This would be very easy to arrange in a well-designed station and would give a lot of stations a direct connection to High Speed Two.

  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea
  • Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance
  • Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth
  • Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich
  • Milton Keynes and Northampton

Bi-mode trains would run direct to Calvert station, where passengers would change to and from High Speed Two.

Could Trains Run Direct Between The East-West Rail Link And High Speed Two At Calvert?

In the leak of the Oakervee Report, The Times also says that it could be advantageous if existing trains could use the HS2 track.

Suppose Transport for Wales wants to improve services between South Wales and the Northern destinations of High Speed Two.

As I read the leak, they could obtain their own Classic-compatible High Speed Two trains and perhaps run services to Birmingham, Manchester,  Leeds and other destinations.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be as follows.

  • Appropriate flyovers at Calvert.
  • Electrification between Calvert and Didcot.
  • Electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

The electrification would be needed, as I suspect trains running on High Speed Two would be unlikely to be bi-modes.

In fact, if the connection is built as Phase 1 of High Speed Two, Swansea and Birmingham via Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon and Oxford, could be one of the initial High Speed services on High Speed Two.

I estimate that a Swansea and Birmingham service would take about two and a half hours.

When the East-West Rail Link is completed between Calvert and Cambridge, services will also be able to turn East to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

How the services are arranged will depend on where passengers want to go and in what numbers.

Will There Be Commuters From Calvert Station?

Consider.

  • Calvert station will not be surrounded by large amounts of housing, with the exception of Milton Keynes perhaps fifteen minutes away.
  • Services on the East-West Rail Link will probably call at Calvert station.
  • The route of the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway could serve Calvert station.
  • I estimate that Euston and Calvert will have a journey time around twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Calvert might develop into a commuter station and not just to London and Birmingham.

A Calvert And Market Harborough Service Via Milton Keynes And Northampton

In Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals, I talked about a proposal to reopen the Market Harborough-Northampton Line that was only finally closed in 1981.

I also included this map, which shows the link between Milton Keynes and link to Market Harborough.

So could we see a service linking High Speed Two at Calvert to the fast-expanding Milton Keynes Northampton and Market Harborough?

I feel that if there was a four trains per hour (tph) service between Calvert and Milton Keynes, this could mean a possible simplification of the services on the completed East-West Rail Line.

\services to Milton Keynes could be.

  • Two tph – Calvert and Market Harborough via Winsford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Wolverton and Northampton.
  • Two tph – Marylebone and Milton Keynes via Winsford and Bletchley.

East-West Rail Link services wouldn’t call at Milton Keynes Central, as this would mean a reverse.

Calvert Station Will Be A High Speed Station For The Local Area

If road access is good, the station will get used as a Park-and-Ride station for accessing High Speed Two for passengers living in the local area.

Useful Routes Via Calvert

Off the top of my head, these are a selection of routes, that could be run via Calvert station; either direct or with a change.

  • East Anglia (Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • South Wales (Cardiff, Newport and Swansea) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • West and South West England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance and Plymouth) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Southern England (Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland
  • Thames Valley (Oxford, Reading and Heathrow) and The Midlands, Northern England and Scotland

Journeys between areas like South Wales and East Anglia could be done with a change at Calvert.

Times To And From Calvert

These are my estimates of times to and from Calvert station.

  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 12 minutes
  • Baswingstoke – 68 minutes
  • Bedford – 49 minutes
  • Bicester Village – 14 minutes
  • Birmingham via HS2 – 19 minutes
  • Bletchley – 21 minutes
  • Bournemouth – 150 minutes
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 125 minutes
  • Bristol Parkway – 110 minutes
  • Cambridge – 91 minutes
  • Cardiff – 147 minutes
  • East Midlands via HS2 – 21 minutes
  • Euston via HS2  – 25-30 minutes
  • Exeter – 186 minutes
  • Glasgow via HS2 – 318 minutes
  • Leeds via HS2 – 60 minutes
  • Leicester – 74 minutes
  • Liverpool via HS2 – 66 minutes
  • Manchester via HS2 – 70 minutes
  • Manchester Airport via HS2 – 61 minutes
  • Market Harborough – 62 minutes
  • Marylebone via Chiltern – 77 minutes
  • Milton Keynes – 26 minutes
  • Newport – 133 minutes
  • Northampton – 42 minutes
  • Oxford – 29 minutes
  • Penzance – 360 minutes
  • Portsmouth – 146 minutes
  • Preston via HS2 – 54 minutes
  • Plymouth – 240 minutes
  • Reading – 52 minutes
  • Swansea – 203 minutes
  • Swindon – 85 minutes
  • Southampton – 103 minutes
  • Winchester – 83 minutes

I will improve and add to these figures.

As an example, I’ll take journeys from Leicester to the North West of England.

Currently, Manchester Piccadilly takes 140 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be four minutes longer, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, Manchester Airport takes 165 minutes with two changes, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter , with only a single change at Calvert.

Currently, Liverpool takes 170 minutes with one change at Birmingham New Street, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be thirty minutes shorter, with a change at Calvert.

Currently, the faster time to Preston is about 150-160 minutes with one change, whereas my estimates say the HS2 route will be about 130 minutes with a change at Calvert.

My estimates were only crude, but ithey do indicate.

  • Changing at Calvert often means the journey only needs a single change.
  • Some journeys are up to thirty minutes faster.

Other HS2 interchange stations, like Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, East Midlands Hub and Preston will probably function in a similar manner.

Conclusion

Trying to predict what would happen if a station were to be built at Calvert is not easy.

But on balance, I very much feel that it would improve the connectivity of High Speed Two.

A Calvert station would also improve the East-West Rail Link, with faster trains and better connectivity.

High Speed Two should be for all and not just services to and from London!

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Full Speed Ahead For HS2 Or Passengers Will Face Rising Fares

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The early draft of the HS2 review seen by The Times recommends that ministers proceed with the full Y-shaped line as it stands, connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

It then lists some of the recommendations.

  • Reducing the frequency of trains from eighteen to fourteen trains per hour.
  • The main terminus will still be Euston.
  • More stations could be added later, including one in Buckinghamshire.

The report makes these statements.

  • More capacity is needed.
  • To provide it by other ways would take ten years to plan.
  • Fare increases will be needed to ration capacity if HS2 is not built.

As an engineer, who throughout his working life squeezed quarts into pint pots, at the most advantageous cost and timescale, I like what I have read of the report.

|Anybody seriously interested in rail transport, HS2 or the future of the UK shoud read the articles in tday’s Times.

 

 

 

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment