The Anonymous Widower

Transport Secretary Urged Not To Derail Aylesbury Spur Plans

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

This is the sub-heading of the article.

Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, Martin Tett has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to confirm Government support and funding for the much needed Aylesbury link section of East-West rail.

I think this Aylesbury link needs very careful thinking.

There are certainly a lot of issues to consider.

The Aylesbury Link

The Great Central Main Line used to run from London Marylebone station to the East Midlands and North.

Much of the route closed in the 1960s and the only section with a regular passenger service is that that run by Chiltern Railways, between Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway station.

North of Aylesbury Vale Parkway this rail link connects to the East-West Rail Link.

It was originally proposed to run a service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is the herd of elephants in the room and it could have multiple effects all over the country.

Is High Speed Two For London, The Midlands, The North And Scotland Or For The Whole UK?

The answer surely, is that High Speed Two is for the whole UK.

Train Services Between Wales and the West Of England And The North Of England And Scotland

Consider.

  • North Wales is well served by a change at Crewe for passengers from the North and Scotland.
  • Mid Wales is served by a change at Crewe or in Birmingham.
  • South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England are well-served by high speed trains from London Paddington and Reading.

Could South Wales, Bristol and the West and South-West of England, be better connected to the North and Scotland?

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to the Great Western Railway at Didcot Junction.

Train Services Between East Anglia And The North Of England And Scotland

One of the ways to improve these services could be with a connection between High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link to allow trains to connect to and from Cambridge and East Anglia.

A High Speed Two Station At Calvert

Calvert is a village surrounded by landfill and wildlife sites to the South of where High Speed Two and East-West Rail Link cross to the North of Aylesbury.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Calvert is the village in the middle of the map.
  2. The light-coloured area to the South-East of the village is one of London’s biggest landfill sites.
  3. The single-track railway to Aylesbury runs along the North-East side of the landfill.
  4. To the North of the village, this railway connects to the East-West Rail Link.

This Google Map shows the junction between the two railways in greater detail.

Note.

  1. The Northern part of Calvert is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The East-West Rail Link crossing across the North of the map
  3. The railway to Aylesbury running SE-NW across the map, to the East of the village of Calvert.
  4. The chord connecting the two railways, which allows trains to and from the South to connect to the East.

This map from High Speed Two shows the route of the new railway through the area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in yellow (cutting) and embankment (red).
  2. High Speed Two appears to run either on the same route or alongside the route to Aylesbury.

The Oakervee Review into High Speed Two, says this on Page 53, about a new station at Calvert in Buckinghamshire.

The Review also heard evidence from a number of informed stakeholders suggesting there should be a new station near Calvert, where HS2 would cross East-West Rail proposals to improve connectivity along the OxfordCambridge corridor. Previously, due to the impact on speed, no interim station had been planned between London and Birmingham Interchange.

The Review concluded that the DfT should consider making passive provision for a future HS2 station near to Calvert. If it is decided that a HS2 station should be built near to Calvert, passive provision will help prevent any disruption to HS2 services. There could be merit in developing an HS2 station in the future here if local plans support a significant residential and commercial development in this region, and if there is passenger demand to justify the cost of developing a station here. Without this coordinated planning, the experience of HS1 stations risks being repeated. The Review notes that the cost of developing a future station near Calvert could be shared with others including potentially the East West Rail Company.

I must admit, that I like the concept of a new station at Calvert.

  • The double-track High Speed Two and the single-track Aylesbury Link run alongside each other and a station wouldn’t be a very expensive one.
  • High Speed Two Trains will be very powerful and should be able to do a quick stop perhaps losing about two minutes.
  • The important Milton Keynes Central station would get a good High Speed Two service, with a change at Calvert.
  • Trains between Oxford and Cambridge could serve Calvert station.

It might also be possible for one of High Speed Two’s Classic Compatible trains to join High Speed Two at the station with a reverse.

This could enable a service between say Cardiff and Edinburgh.

  • Intermediate stops could be Newport, Bristol Parkway, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It might even join and split at Swindon and Carlisle, with a second Classic Compatible train going between Penzance and Glasgow, which stopped at Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village, Calvert, Birmingham Interchange, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle.
  • It would need extra two-hundred metre long platforms at Swindon, Oxford, Bicester Village and Calvert.

If this train ran hourly, there would certainly be a need for an hourly feeder train between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

But as yet, it hasn’t been decided to provide provision at Calvert for a possible High Speed Two station.

Rolling Stock For The East-West Rail Link

In July 2019, I wrote Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock.

I analysed if battery electric trains could run services on the East West Rail Link.

I said this.

Consider.

    • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
    • Sections of the route are electrified.
    • The route is not very challenging.
    • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

Since then Hitachi have released the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, whose specification is shown in this infographic.

I believe this train could work the East-West Rail Link and also between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

I also believe, that other manufacturers could provide battery electric trains for the route.

These or similar trains would also be suitable for the decarbonisation of Chiltern’s diesel multiple units, that run the suburban services.

Conclusion

High Speed Two could have a station at Calvert.

If it does, there will certainly be a need between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

To be continued…

February 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Think Britain To Belfast Is A Bridge Too Far? Try Tunnelling Across Instead

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Sunday Times.

It is a well-written article, with good graphics and maps, which fills out the descriptive title.

This paragraph sums up the overall objective.

For the rail industry, it is part of a long-term ambition to reduce journeys by rail between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh to below three hours, which it is also advocating in the review. Trains to Belfast would turn west near Carlisle, around the Scottish border, and lorries bound for Ireland could be loaded there.

The article also predicts London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in six.

In a A Glimpse Of 2035, I looked into the future and left London at eight in the morning on the first train between London and Dublin and arrived at 13:30.

My predictions were thirty minutes less than The Times.

But I also predicted, that eventually, times will be three hours to Belfast and four to Dublin.

A Deep Water Port At Shannon And Its Consequences

One thing not mentioned in the Times article, is that the Irish Government and the EU have a plan to develop a deep water port at Shannon.

It would have a rail link to any rail link to the UK and would speed goods between Germany and North America, avoiding the increasingly congested ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg. Time savings of as much as a day are predicted.

I should say, that I part-grew up in Felixstowe in the 1950s and 1960s and I can remember a sleepy little dock with a giant crane to lift seaplanes out of the water, before the massive container port we know today. There are now something like forty container trains per day, going along the sleepy branch line to Ipswich and then to the rest of the UK mainland. If anybody had predicted that in 1960, they’d have been laughed at.

If the Shannon Port is built, I can see twenty high-speed freight trains per day between Shannon and the Channel Tunnel. There will probably need to be massive improvements to the freight network in the South East of England, to get all those freight trains through or around London.

Standard Or Irish Gauge

If the EU develops the deep water port at Shannon, this would surely be rail connected to the new tunnel.

But the EU only likes to build standard gauge railways, so everybody can use them. I would expect that all new tracks in the Republic of Ireland would be standard gauge.

If you look at Spain, all their high-speed railways are standard gauge and they have both narrow and Spanish gauge railways as well.

Some of the awkward squad in Ireland will object to the standard gauge railways, but he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As the UK will be paying from London to the place where the tunnel emerges and the EU from South of the Irish border, it would be much cheaper to make all the route standard gauge. But some diehards would be against it!

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

High Speed Rail Group Calls For Cross-Irish Sea Rail Tunnel

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

This is the first paragraph.

The High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) has called for a cross-Irish Sea rail tunnel to be built as part of seven key transport improvements to “strengthen the union between the four nations of the UK”.

The Irish Sea tunnel is only one of the projects proposed.

The full list of improvements is as follows.

  • Glasgow/ Edinburgh – London
  • Birmingham/ Manchester – Glasgow/ Edinburgh
  • Cardiff – Birmingham – Newcastle – Edinburgh
  • Cardiff – Liverpool/Manchester
  • Galashiels/Hawick – Carlisle
  • Manchester Airport – Chester – Bangor – Holyhead
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow and London – Belfast

I think these extensions are logical and in Could High Speed Two Be A One-Nation Project?, I proposed that High Speed Two be extended into a railway that link the whole of Great Britain and Ireland together.

 

January 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , | 8 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a Ferryhill station on the East Coast Main Line. It closed in 1967 and burnt down in 1969, before being demolished.

I first noted the station in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, after Boris promised it would be built in PMQs.

I then mentioned the station in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

Last night, I read this document from Railfuture, which talks about rail improvements in the North East and on the East Coast Main Line.

In the document, Ferryhill station is mentioned eighteen times.

Reopening Ferryhill station would appear to have support at all levels.

The Location Of Ferryhill Station

This Google Map shows the general area of the proposed Ferryhill station.

 

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is the village in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The lion-shaped quarry in the North-East is destined to become a landfill site.
  3. Below this is Thrislington Plantation, which is a National Nature Reserve.
  4. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village and the quarry.

South of the village the line splits, as is shown in detail in this second Google Map.

Note.

  • Ferryhill South junction by Denhamfields Garage, with the nearby Ferryhill Station Primary School
  • The line going South-East is the Stillington freight line to Teesside.
  • The other line going in a more Southerly direction is the electrified East Coast Main Line to Darlington and the South.
  • Between Ferryhill South junction and Tursdale Junction with the Leamside Line is a 2.5 mile four-track electrified railway.

I suspect the station could be any convenient location, to the North of the junction.

Railfuture have strong opinions on the station and feel it should be a Park-and-Ride station for the settlements in the former North Durham coalfield, with frequent services to Newcastle.

Current Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

These services currently pass the location of the proposed Ferryhill station.

  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington. Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh via Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Southampton and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham
  • TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  2. All trains call at York, Darlington and Newcastle.
  3. I have missed out some of the intermediate stations, where trains don’t call at least hourly.
  4. I have missed out stations South of Birmingham New Street.
  5. A few Northern Trains services pass through at Peak times or to go to and from depots.

I suspect some of these services could stop and to encourage commuters to Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to swap from car to train,

I also suspect that Ferryhill station needs a frequency of at least two tph and if possible four! Four tph would give a Turn-up-and-Go service to Darlington, Newcastle and York.

Planned And Possible Future Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

From various sources, these services are either planned or possible.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two are planning the following services, that will pass through.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub and York.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub, York and Darlington.

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one tph.
  2. All trains call at York, East Midlands Hub, York and Newcastle.
  3. All trains will be 200 metres long.

I feel that Ferryhill station should have platforms long enough to accommodate these trains and other long trains, to future-proof the design and to cater for possible emergencies.

The longest trains on the route would probably be one of the following.

  • A pair of five-car Class 800 trains or similar, which would be 260 metres long.
  • A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, which would be 200 metres long.

Unless provision needed to be made for pairs of High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

East Coast Trains

From next year, East Coast Trains, intend to run a five trains per day (tpd) service between London and Edinburgh via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

Note that in Thoughts On East Coast Trains, I said this service would stop at Durham, as that was said in Wikipedia at the time.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail has an objective to to run four tph between Leeds and Newcastle in 58 minutes.

At present there are only three tph on this route, two tph from TransPennine Express and one tph from CrossCountry. All three services stop at Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

I believe that the best way to provide the fourth service between Leeds and Newcastle would be to run a third LNER service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh, when upgrades to the East Coast Main Line give the train operating company another path.

  • The service would only stop en route at Leeds and Newcastle.
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Leeds to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Newcastle to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Leeds and Newcastle to four tph
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, in under two hours.

I believe that, when all the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line are complete, that such a service could match or even better High Speed Two’s time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between London and Edinburgh.

Ferryhill And Teesside Via The Stillington Freight Line

The Clarence Railway is described in this paragraph in its Wikipedia entry.

The Clarence Railway was an early railway company that operated in north-east England between 1833 and 1853. The railway was built to take coal from mines in County Durham to ports on the River Tees and was a competitor to the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). It suffered financial difficulty soon after it opened because traffic was low and the S&DR charged a high rate for transporting coal to the Clarence, and the company was managed by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners after July 1834.

But it has left behind a legacy of useful rail lines, that connect important factories, ports, towns, works on other railways on Teesside.

This Google Map shows the triangle between Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Note.

  1. Eaglescliffe station is in the South-West corner of the map and lines from the station lead to Darlington and Northallerton stations.
  2. Thornaby station is in the North-East corner of the map and connects to Middlesbrough station.
  3. Stockton station is at the North of the map.

Tracks connect the three stations.

This Google Map shows the connection between Thornaby and Stockton stations.

Note.

  1. Stockton station is at the North of the map.
  2. Thornaby station is at the East of the map.
  3. In the South-Western corner of the map is a triangular junction, that links Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Currently, this triangular junction, allows trains to go between.

  • Middlesbrough and Newcastle via Thornaby, Stockton, Hartlepool and Sunderland.
  • Middlesbrough and Darlington via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.
  • Middlesbrough and Northallerton via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.

But it could be even better.

This Google Map shows another triangular junction to the North of Stockton station.

Note.

  1. The Southern junction of the triangle leads to Stockton station and ultimately to Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Middlesbrough, Northallerton and Thornaby.
  2. The Eastern junction leads to Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle.

So where does the Western Junction lead to?

The railway is the Stillington Branch Line.

  • It leads to Ferryhill.
  • It is about ten miles long.
  • It is double-track.
  • There used to be intermediate stations at Radmarshall, Stillington and Sedgefield.

Looking at timings for trains on the various sections of the route gives.

  • Middlesbrough and Stockton – 11 minutes
  • Stockton and Ferryhill South Junction – 23 minutes
  • Ferryhill South Junction and Newcastle – 20 minutes

This gives a timing of 54 minutes compared with up to 78 minutes for the current service on the Durham Coast Line.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Providing Faster Journeys Teesside to Tyneside by running passenger services from
Middlesbrough, Thornaby and Stockton via the 10 mile Stillington freight only line and then via the
East Coast Main Line to Newcastle. Our aim is to reduce overall journey time on direct train
between Middlesbrough to Newcastle from 1 hour 15 minutes to 55 minutes and so open up many
additional job opportunities to the residents of both areas.

My calculations say that it should be possible, to run a useful service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, via the Stillington freight line.

  • The route is used regularly for freight trains and by LNER for what look to be testing or empty stock movements.
  • Will any station be built at Radmarshall, Stillington or Sedgefield?
  • I estimate that between Ferryhill South Junction and Middlesbrough, is about fifteen miles, so it might be possible to run a Middlesbrough and Newcastle service using battery electric trains, like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be charged on the East Coast Main Line.

Activating the route, doesn’t look to be the most expensive passenger reopening on the cards.

I suspect though, that if passenger services were to be run on the Stillington Line, that Ferryhill station, will need platforms on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.

Services could include.

  • Newcastle and Middlesbrough via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and Hartlepool via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and York via Eaglescliffe and Ferryhill, with a reverse at Middlesbrough.

 

Note.

  1. The Northern terminus could be Ferryhill for some trains.
  2. Two tph between Stockton and Ferryhill would be a useful service.
  3. Would a Newcastle and Middlesbrough service call at the poorly-served Chester-le-Street station to improve services?

I also feel that as some of these services will be running on the East Coast Main Line between Ferryhill and Newcastle, it probably would be desirable for these services to be run by Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be capable of maintaining the maximum speed for the route, as all the other passenger services can at present!

Ferryhill And Tyneside Via The Leamside Line

The reopening of the Leamside Line is a high priority of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which I wrote about in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Reopening the rail line from Ferryhill to Pelaw (the Leamside Line) with the aim of providing
services that will improve local connections and open new opportunities to people living in this part
of County Durham, as well as providing relief for congestion on the existing line through Durham.

This reopening has been talked about for years, so I suspect that Network Rail know the problems and at least have a rough estimate for what needs to be done and how much it will cost.

The Wikipedia entry for the Leamside Line has a section, which is entitled Proposed Re-Opening, Upgrade and Development, where this is the first paragraph.

Since the line’s closure in the early 1990s, a number of proposals to re-open the Leamside Line were put forward, including plans by AECOM, ATOC, Durham County Council, Railtrack and Tyne and Wear PTE. The line has been considered for a number of potential uses, including a regional suburban rail service linking Tyneside and Teesside, a diversionary freight route for the East Coast Main Line, and an extension to the Tyne and Wear Metro network.

Wikipedia also states that an application to the Restoring Your Railway Fund for money for a feasibility study was unsuccessful.

All that could change with the developments needed between Leeds and Newcastle for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • High Speed Two are planning to run at least three tph to and from Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning to run an extra service between Leeds and Newcastle.
  • LNER will have an extra path on the East Coast Main Line, that could be used through the area.

Using the Leamside Line as a diversion for freight and slower passenger trains would appear to be a possibility.

It could also be combined with the Stillington Line and Northallerton and Stockton to create a double-track diversion, alongside the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line between Northallerton and Newcastle.

Extending The Tyne And Wear Metro Along The Leamside Line

This has been talked about for some time.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro. there is a section, which is entitled Extension To Washington IAMP, where this is said.

There have been a number of proposals looking in to the possibility of re-opening the former Leamside Line to Washington, including a 2009 report from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), and a 2016 proposal from the North East Combined Authority (NECA), as well as the abandoned Project Orpheus programme, from the early 2000s. Most recently, proposals are being put forward to link the current network at Pelaw and South Hylton, with the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Washington, using part of the alignment of the former Leamside Line.

If the Tyne and Wear Metro were to be extended to the Southern end of the Leamside Line, Ferryhill station could be a Southern terminal.

  • There is space to create a line alongside the East Coast Main Line between Tursdale Junction, where it connects with the Leamside Line and Ferryhill station.
  • The new Tyne and Wear trains have been designed to share tracks with other trains on Network Rail tracks.
  • This would enable interchange between East Coast Main Line, Stillington Line and Metro services, without going North to Newcastle.

At the present time, all that would be needed would be for the Metro connection to be safeguarded.

Railfuture’s Campaigns In The North East

This is a tidying up of several improvements, which are campaigns of Railfuture, that are outlined in this document.

They will be covered in separate posts.

Conclusions

I can separate conclusions into sections.

The Design Of Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the design of Ferryhill station.

  • It should be built as a Park-and-Ride station.
  • It should have platforms long enough for any train that might stop at the station. I suspect this would be a pair of Class 800 trains, which would be 260 metres long.
  • Platforms should be on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.
  • There should be safeguarding of a route, so that Metro trains could access the station from the Leamside Line.

As the station could be a Park-and-Ride station, I will assume the station will need good road access.

Train Services At Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the services calling at Ferryhill station.

There should be four tph between Leeds and Newcastle, all of which would stop at York, Darlington, Ferryhill and Durham, with some services calling at Northallerton and Chester-le-Street.

There should also be less frequent services at Ferryhill to Scotland and London. Perhaps a frequency of around six tpd would be sufficient, as changes could be made at Leeds, Newcastle of York.

Two tph would probably be ideal for services on the Stillington Line to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

It would certainly be a busy and well-connected station.

 

December 13, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?

This page on the High Speed Two web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg.

These are the opening three paragraphs.

Earlier this year the government made clear in its response to the Oakervee Review its commitment to Phase 2b of HS2, ensuring we boost capacity, improve connectivity between our regions and share prosperity.

As part of this, the government plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of the year, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will look at how to deliver HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and other rail programmes better and more effectively.

In the meantime, the government has asked HS2 Ltd to pause work on the Eastern Leg. We recognise that this causes uncertainty and our Eastern Leg community engagement teams remain in place to support you.

The page then says that the work on the Western Leg should proceed, with the aim of a Western Leg Bill in early 2022.

In Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line, I showed that the current and future upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, required by the East Coast Main Line, Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two, will greatly reduce the times on services from London Kings Cross to Doncaster, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

I said this on timings on the East Coast Main Line.

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

LNER’s Azuma cavalry will hold the fort for as long as is needed.

I’ll now look at how various stations, will be affected if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, until a couple of decades in the future.

Leeds

Current Long Distance Services At Leeds Station

Leeds station has the following long distance services in trains per hour (tph)

  • CrossCountry – 1
  • LNER – 2
  • TransPennine Express – 5

It is a bit thin compared to say Birmingham or Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail And Leeds

Northern Powerhouse Rail has plans for Leeds with these services to other Northern cities.

  • Hull – two tph in 38 minutes
  • Manchester – six tph in 25 minutes
  • Newcastle – four tph in 58 minutes
  • Sheffield – four tph in 28 minutes.

From what they have written, the following could also be possible.

  • Bradford – six tph in a few minutes
  • Liverpool – four or more tph in 51 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – four or more tph in 35 minutes

It is an ambitious plan.

High Speed Two And Leeds

High Speed Two is planning to run the following trains to Leeds in every hour.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre train
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train

Timings will be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 49 minutes.
  • London Euston and Leeds – One hour and 21 minutes.

There will be about 1000 seats per hour between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds and 2500 seats per hour Between London Euston and Leeds.

High Speed Two And Leeds Via Manchester

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This map shows Transport for the North’s ideas for connections in the West linking Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport, Warrington and Wigan.

A black line goes East from Manchester to link it to Leeds via Huddersfield and Bradford.

  • This is proposed as a route shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • High Speed Two are promising that London Euston and Manchester will be timed at one hour and eleven minutes.
  • London Euston and Manchester will have a frequency of three tph and will all be 400 metre High Speed Two Full Size trains, with about a thousand seats.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of a twenty-five minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds.

I would also build the Manchester and Leeds route with the following characteristics.

  • As a full-size tunnel capable of taking High Speed Two Full Size trains and the largest freight trains.
  • Intermediate and underground stations at Huddersfield and Bradford.
  • It could be built as a base tunnel, like the similarly-sized Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland.
  • The Swiss tunnel has a maximum operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.

If it can be built for a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time-scale, it could be a way of doing the following.

  • Creating a straight 150 mph plus route across the Pennines, with a capacity of 18 tph.
  • Running high-capacity fast trains between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Running freight trains between the two sides of the Pennines.
  • Creating a high frequency route between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield and Bradford and Leeds.

The passenger service between Liverpool and Hull could be the world’s first high speed metro.

If the London Euston and Manchester trains, were to be extended to Leeds, London Euston and Leeds would take one hour and thirty-six minutes, which would only be fifteen minutes slower, than is promised for the route going via the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

London Kings Cross And Leeds

When the in-cab digital signalling is complete between London Kings Cross and Leeds, I am fairly confident that with a few other improvements and more zoom from the Azumas, that a London Kings Cross and Leeds time of one hour and fifty minutes will be possible.

But will two nine-car or pairs of five-car trains per hour (tph), be enough capacity? Especially, as pairs of five-car trains will split and join to serve a wider catchment area, which will harvest more passengers.

LNER will in a couple of years have an extra path every hour into Kings Cross.

I would feel that best use of this path would be to run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle.

  • Leeds and Newcastle could be the only intermediate stops.
  • Leeds would be the ideal place to change to Northern Powerhouse Rail for anywhere in the North of England.
  • My estimates, say it could run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in around three-and-a-half hours.
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Leeds and Newcastle and Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It would increase capacity, between the four major destinations on the route; London Kings Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It could start running, once the digital signalling and current improvements to the East Coast Main Line are complete.

London St. Pancras And Leeds

I discussed, Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plan for Sheffield and Leeds in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds.

This could see the following new infrastructure.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station of the route shared by the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.
  • Electrification through Sheffield and on to Leeds, via the Wakefield Line
  • New stations for High Speed trains at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

I could see East Midlands Railway taking advantage of this route, with their new Class 810 trains and running a regular Leeds and St. Pancras service.

  • It would call at Wakefield Westgate, Barnsley Dearne Valley, Rotherham and Meadowhall. between Leeds and Sheffield stations.
  • It would take twenty-eight minutes between Leeds and Sheffield, if it met Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.
  • Perhaps one of the two tph between London St. Pancras and Sheffield could be extended to Leeds.

As the current time between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, is a few minutes under two hours, I can see a time of comfortably under two-and-a-half hours between London St. Pancras and Leeds.

A Summary Of Journey Times Between London And Leeds

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Leeds.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester – One hour and thirty-six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and thirty minutes.
  • Midland Main Line – via Derby and Sheffield – Two hours and twenty minutes.

The direct High Speed Two route is the fastest., but others could be viable alternatives for some passengers.

Bradford

Consider.

  • Under current plans Bradford won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Bradford Forster Square and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.
  • The layout of the city and its two stations doesn’t give good connectivity.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could probably be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

But if Northern Powerhouse Rail goes for a tunnel between Manchester and Leeds with Bradford as an underground station, it could be served by High Speed Two services going between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester.

I would estimate that if London Euston and Leeds via Manchester took around one hour and thirty-six minutes, London Euston and Bradford could take around an hour-and-a-half.

Darlington

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Darlington.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and forty-nine minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and forty-nine minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Darlington.

Edinburgh

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Edinburgh.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Western Leg – Three hours and Forty minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Three hours and forty-eight minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Three hours and thirty minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Harrogate

Consider.

  • Under current plans Harrogate won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Harrogate and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Huddersfield

  • If Huddersfield is served by underground platforms beneath the current Huddersfield station, a lot of what I said for Bradford would apply to Huddersfield.
  • The timings would probably be around an-hour-and-a-half from London Euston.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Hull

Hull is an interesting destination.

  • Reaching Hull from the current High Speed Two network will need a change at Leeds or another station.
  • Using Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives on timings, London Euston and Hull via Manchester on High Speed Two, would be a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.
  • I strongly feel, that London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby could be reduced to below two hours.

Hull would also make a superb Eastern terminal station for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and a High Speed Two service from London via Manchester and Leeds.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Middlesbrough

Reaching Middlesbrough from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and twenty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Middlesbrough.

Newcastle

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Newcastle.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – Two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and thirty-four minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Two hours and sixteen minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Nottingham

I will compare average speeds on the Midland Main Line between London St. Pancras and Nottingham and on the East Coast Main Line, between London Kings Cross and Leeds.

Currently.

  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham services, over the 126 mile route, take one hour and fifty minutes. which is an average speed of 69 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds services, over the 186 mile route, take two hours and thirteen minutes, which is an average speed of 94 mph.

Note.

  1. The two routes are of similar character and are fairly straight with large sections of 125 mph running and quadruple tracks.
  2. The East Coast Main Line to Leeds  is fully electrified, whereas the Midland Main Line is only partially electrified.
  3. Both routes have a small number of stops.
  4. In a few years time, services on both routes will be run by different members of the Hitachi AT-300 train family.

I don’t feel it would be unreasonable to assume that a London St. Pancras and Nottingham service could be run at an average speed of 94 mph, if the Midland Main Line were upgraded to the same standard as the East Coast Main Line.

This could mean a time of around one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham, or a saving of twenty-nine minutes.

Is that possible?

  • The new Class 810 trains, will have four engines instead of the normal three for a five-car AT-300 train. Will they be able to be closer to the 125 mph line-speed on diesel power, where it is available on the Midland Main Line.
  • The trains will be able to use electrification between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • There have been hints, that more electrification may be installed on the Midland Main Line.
  • Hitachi have announced a battery electric version of the AT-300 train called a Regional Battery Train, where one or more of the diesel engines are replaced by battery packs.
  • The new trains will be ready to accept in-cab ERTMS digital signalling, so they could be able to run at up to 140 mph, if the track were to be upgraded.

I certainly feel, that substantial time savings could be possible between London St. Pancras and Nottingham.

Eighty-one minutes would be very convenient, as it would comfortably allow a three hour round trip, which would mean just six trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

Eighty-one minutes would not be the fifty-two minute service promised by High Speed Two!

But!

  • The new trains are planned to be introduced from 2023.
  • Who knows, when High Speed Two will arrive at the East Midlands Hub station?
  • They won’t need any new substantial infrastructure to replace the current trains.

I also suspect the new trains will have more seats, but, the capacity of the Class 810 train, has not been published.

Nottingham could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Grantham, which I estimate would take about one hour and twenty minutes.

Sheffield

A lot of what I said for Nottingham can be applied to Sheffield.

  • Currently, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services, over the 165 mile route, take two hours, which is an average speed of 82.5 mph.
  • High Speed Two is promising a journey time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • An average speed of 90 mph, would mean a journey time of one hour and fifty minutes.
  • This would allow a four hour round trip, which would mean just eight trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

It would be very convenient for the operator.

It looks like if pairs of trains were to be run on both the Nottingham and Sheffield routes, that twenty-eight trains would be needed to run both services.

This fits well with a fleet size of thirty-three trains.

The only caveat, is that to get the required journey times, it might be necessary to rebuild and electrify the tracks, between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.

  • These tracks will be shared with the future Sheffield Branch of High Speed Two.
  • It would only be 15.5 miles of double-track to rebuild and electrify.
  • It could be rebuilt to allow 140 mph running. Several minutes could be saved!

The electrification could allow Hitachi’s Regional Battery trains to be able to run the Sheffield service.

These trains would certainly be a way of avoiding the tricky electrification of the Derby and Clay Cross section of the route, which goes through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Sheffield could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Doncaster, which I estimate would take about one hour and thirty minutes.

Skipton

Consider.

  • Under current plans Skipton won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Skipton and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Sunderland

Reaching Sunderland from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and thirty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Sunderland.

York

I can summarise my estimates, between London and York.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-four minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – One hour and forty-two minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and twenty-four minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to York.

I believe strongly, that York would be about as fast from London, by either of the direct routes, but both would serve different intermediate destinations.

Conclusion

My first conclusion is a surprising one, but the promised timings from High Speed Two and the current timings in the timetable make it clear.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

These improvements fall into this category.

  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, will make East Coast Main Line services to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle competitive with High Speed Two services.
  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, may also mean that London Kings Cross and Edinburgh will be faster than the High Speed Two service between London Euston and Edinburgh.
  • Electrifying the route shared between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, will speed up London St. Pancras and Sheffield services and make them more competitive with High Speed Two.

I suspect there may be similar mutual improvements on the Western leg of High Speed Two.

Other smaller conclusions from my analysis of the improvements include.

  • These improvements will create some extra capacity on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, by removing bottlenecks and improving line speeds.
  • Electrification, even if it is only partial or discontinuous, will improve services on the Midland Main Line.
  • Some places like Harrogate, Middlesbrough and Skipton will never be served directly by High Speed Two, but are easily served by East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is very much part of the North-South capacity for England.
  • In-cab ERTMS signalling will play a large part in increasing capacity and line speeds.

Perhaps in our planning of High Speed Two, we should plan all the routes in the North and Midlands in a much more holistic way.

If we look at the capacity between London and the North, I feel that with the addition of Phase 1 of High Speed Two to Birmingham in 2029-2033 and hopefully Phase 2a soon afterwards, that Phase 2b will not be needed for reasons of speed and capacity until years later.

So, I would pause most construction of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two until Phase 1 and Phase 2a are complete.

I would make exceptions for the following.

  • Improvements to the shared section of the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, between York and Newcastle.
  • Building a high speed connection between Leeds and York for the use of Northern Powerhouse Rail and the East Coast Main Line.
  • Rebuilding and electrification of the shared section of the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two, between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Improve and electrify the route between Sheffield and Leeds.

But I would continue with the design, as I feel that East of Leeds is very much sub-optimal at the present time.

The route of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two would be safeguarded.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

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

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

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

I think it is a good plan.

Project Management Recommendations

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for the route.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Manchester and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 42.6 miles
  • The current service takes 49 to 57 minutes and has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 52.2 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 40 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 63.9 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 63.9 mph, indicates to me that a 100 mph train will be able to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Current Trains On The Hope Valley Line

In July this year, I went along the Hope Valley Line between Manchester Piccadilly and Dore and Totley stations, which I wrote about in Along The Hope Valley Line – 13th July 2020.

My train was a pair of refurbished Class 150 trains.

These trains can handled the current timetable but they have an operating speed of only 75 mph.

Looking at Real Time Trains for last week, it now appears that Northern are using new three-car Class 195 trains.

These are much better.

  • They are 100 mph trains with much better acceleration.
  • The train was still running the timetable for the slower trains.

With thirteen stops, I suspect that these new trains could be under fifty minutes between Manchester and Sheffield.

Will The Hope Valley Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • Currently, the Hope Valley Line is electrified between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove stations.
  • In the future, the line is likely to be electrified between Sheffield and Dore & Totley stations, in conjunction with rebuilding the Midland Main Line, to the North of Clay Cross North junction for High Speed Two.
  • After the electrification at the Eastern end, just over thirty miles will be without electrification.
  • The Hope Valley Line has an operating speed of 90 mph.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

As these are a 100 mph train with a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power, these trains could work Manchester and Sheffield in the required time of forty minutes. provided they could be charged at the Sheffield end of the route.

TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains, so it would appear that TransPennine’s services on this route could go zero-carbon.

In addition Northern, who are the other passenger operator on the route are working with CAF on battery electric trains, as I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans,

I don’t believe there are pressing reasons to electrify the Hope Valley Line to allow passenger trains to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Will Operating Speed On The Hope Valley Line Be Increased?

Under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Network Rail, in partnership with South Yorkshire ITA, will redouble the track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, at an estimated cost of £15 million. This costing is based on four additional vehicles in traffic to deliver the option, however, this will depend on vehicle allocation through the DfT rolling stock plan. This work will be programmed, subject to funding, in conjunction with signalling renewals in the Dore/Totley Tunnel area.

Other proposals include a 3,600 feet (1,100 m) loop in the Bamford area, in order to fit in an all-day (07:00–19:00) hourly Manchester–Sheffield via New Mills Central stopping service, by extending an existing Manchester–New Mills Central service. Planning permission for this was granted in February 2018, but delays mean that this will now not be completed until 2023.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It would also probably be a good idea, to increase the operating speed of the line to 100 mph where possible.

Effect On Passenger Services

100 mph trains on a track with an operating speed of 100 mph, could show some impressive timings.

On the Great Eastern Main Line, which is a very busy 100 mph double-track railway, 100 mph trains, achieve a 77 mph average for 90 minutes over the 115 miles, between London Liverpool Street and Norwich with a single stop.

A one-stop Manchester and Sheffield service at this speed would take just 33.2 minutes.

The stopping trains would be more of a challenge to get under forty minutes, but at least if they were battery electric trains, they’d have the better acceleration and deceleration of the electric trains.

  • Fifty minutes would be a realistic time.
  • Ten minutes turnround time at each end, would be ideal for charging the batteries and give an efficient two hour round trip.

Efficient timetabling could create a very comprehensive service for the Hope Valley Line.

Freight Trains On The Hope Valley Line

Under Freight in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Over a million tons of cement a year is taken away by rail from Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

That is a very large number of freight trains, all of which are currently hauled by diesel locomotives.

  • Looking at Real Time Trains, there are nearly always two freight trains in every hour of the day.
  • If you look at the routes, they go to a myriad number of destinations.
  • Following the routes between Dore Junction and the quarries to the South of the Hope Valley Line, there are several tunnels.
  • There are numerous quarries in a cluster, all served by their own rail lines.

Electrifying the delivery of the cement and limestone from the quarries would be a large and very expensive operation.

This Google Map shows Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

Perhaps a half-way house solution would be to use diesel to haul trains between the quarries and Earle’s sidings, where the locomotive is changed for an electric one?

  • But that would then mean that all routes from between the Peak District quarries and their destinations would need to be fully-electrified.
  • It should be noted that that the problem of zero-carbon trains, also exists at port and rail freight interchanges, where safe operation with 25 KVAC overhead wires everywhere can be a nightmare.
  • Rail freight companies are unlikely to change their old diesel locomotives for new expensive electric locomotives, until all possible routes are fully electrified.
  • It is also a big problem, all over the world.

Perhaps, what is needed is a self-powered zero-carbon locomotive with sufficient power to haul the heaviest trains?

I believe such a locomotive is possible and in The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I explored the feasibility of such a locomotive, which was based on a Stadler Class 68 locomotive.

The zero-carbon locomotive, that is eventually developed, may be very different to my proposal, but the commercial opportunities for such a locomotive are so large, that I’m sure the world’s best locomotive designers are working on developing powerful locomotives for all applications.

Conclusion

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s ambition for Manchester and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line is simply stated as four tph in forty minutes. But this may be something like.

  • Three fast tph in forty minutes.
  • One stopping tph in perhaps fifty minutes.
  • One freight tph in each direction to and from the quarries that lie to the South of the line.

I didn’t realise how close that the line is to that objective, once the following is done.

  • Introduce 100 mph passenger trains on the route.
  • Improve the track as has been planned for some years.

Note that all the passenger trains, that now run the route; Class 185, 195 and 802 trains, are all 100 mph trains, although they are diesel-powered.

With a length of just under 43 miles, the route is also ideal for battery electric trains to work the passenger services, be the trains be from Hitachi, CAF or another manufacturer, after High Speed Two electrifies the Midland Main Line to the North of Clay Cross North Junction, in preparation for high speed services between London and Sheffield.

I would recommend, that one of High Speed Two’s first Northern projects, should be to upgrade the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield station to the standard that will be required for High Speed Two.

I would also recommend, that the Government sponsor the development of a hydrogen electric locomotive with this specification.

  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC electrification
  • 110 mph operating speed on electrification.
  • Ability to use hydrogen.
  • 100 mph operating speed on hydrogen.
  • 200 mile range on hydrogen.

A locomotive with this specification would go a long way to decarbonise rail freight in the UK and would have a big worldwide market.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into three.

  • Perform the upgrades at Dore Junction and add the loop in the Bamford area, as detailed in Wikipedia, which will increase the capacity of the Hope Valley Line.
  • Electrify the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield, as will be needed for High Speed Two. This electrification will allow battery electric trains to run between Manchester and Sheffield and between Sheffield and London.
  • Procurement of the trains. CAF and Hitachi are currently finalising suitable designs for this type of operation.

It would also be helpful, if the freight trains could be hauled by zero-carbon hydrogen electric locomotives, to create a much-improved zero-carbon route between Manchester and Sheffield.

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Manchester And Leeds Via The Centre Of Bradford

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Manchester and Leeds via the centre of Bradford.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the route.

Current And Proposed Timings Between Manchester And Leeds

These are the current typical timings between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

  • 55 minutes for 43 miles, which is an average speed of 47 mph.

With Northern Powerhouse Rail, a time of 25 minutes is the objective, which is an average speed of 103.2 mph.

  • As my helicopter flies it is just 35.7 miles, so a 25 minutes journey time would require an average speed of 85.7 mph.

It is obvious that a new much straighter line is needed with an operating speed of at least 100 mph.

One of the best 100 mph lines in the UK  is the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • It is generally only double-track.
  • The fastest services take 90 minutes for the 115 miles, which is an average speed of 77 mph.
  • It is a busy line with lots of suburban services closer to London and freight trains to and from Felixstowe.

But even a line built to the standard of the Great Eastern Main Line wouldn’t be good enough for Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes.

The mathematics tell me, that a new line is needed, built as straight as possible between Manchester and Leeds.

High Speed Two’s Approach To Manchester

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two as it approaches Manchester Piccadilly station.

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the South East corner, where it continues to Manchester Airport.
  • Purple is a tunnel portal.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Orange is a box structure

This Google Map shows a similar area.

Are High Speed Two serious about demolishing a large area of Manchester to the North and East of Manchester Piccadilly station?

  • It will cause massive disruption all over the centre of Manchester.
  • How many businesses will be ruined by this plan?
  • How many residents are there in the area?
  • How will trains from the new platforms at Piccadilly station continue to Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield?
  • Mrs. Merton could have said “Let’s all have a reverse!” And she’d have been joking!
  • You can’t go through the new platforms, as that would mean demolishing most of Manchester City Centre.

What High Speed Two are proposing is complete and utter rubbish!

In Whither HS2 And HS3?, which I wrote in May 2015, I said this.

I do think though that our designs for HS2 are rather dated and don’t take things that are happening or have happened into account.

Crossrail in London has shown that putting a large twin rail tunnel under a major city, is not the problem it once was. Crossrail have also been very innovative in creating stations with the minimum disturbance to existing infrastructure. As an example, the new Whitechapel station for Crossrail has also used a technique called uphill excavation, where you create escalator and lift shafts upwards from the tunnels, rather than traditionally from the surface, which is much more disruptive.

These techniques can revolutionise the construction of HS2.

Take cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, which have developed and are continually developing extensive local rail, tram and bus networks. So why are we in Birmingham still talking about creating an HS2 station at Curzon Street? Surely, we just dig a very deep pair of HS2 tunnels under the city and then uphill excavate into not only New Street, but Moor Street and Snow Hill as well. The tunnels would be only made as long as necessary, although the underground station could be very large. But it probably wouldn’t be much bigger than the enormous double-ended Liverpool Street/Moorgate station being created for Crossrail.

The great advantage of this method of construction is that you can continue to develop your network of local trains, trams and other transport links, untroubled by the construction of the new station deep below. Anybody, who thinks this is not possible, should spend half-an-hour walking around Whitechapel station, where the Hammersmith and City, District and East London Lines are passing untroubled over the giant hole and through the building site for the new station.

To some the example of Crossrail in London, would not be a good one, as Crossrail is years late. But the tunnelling under London and the excavations for the stations have gone well and were delivered on time.

In the related post, I went on to propose a double-ended underground station in Manchester with connections to both Piccadilly and Victoria stations. It could even have other connections to locations in the City Centre like Piccadilly Gardens.

There’s certainly space for a stylish entrance at the busy tram and bus interchange.

By applying the lessons learned in the building of Crossrail and other projects like Stuttgart 21, which I wrote about in Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, I’m sure that a massive underground station in Manchester could be built successfully, on time and on budget.

I am not alone in thinking this way. In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I write about a plan from world-class architects Weston Williamson, who designed the superb new London Bridge station.

This visualisation from Weston Williamson, shows their proposed station.

Note.

  1. In the visualisation, you are observing the station from the East.
  2. The existing railway lines into Piccadilly station are shown in red.
  3. Stockport and Manchester Airport are to the left, which is to the South.
  4. Note the dreaded Castlefield Corridor in red going off into the distance to Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.
  5. The new high speed lines are shown in blue.
  6. To the left they go to Manchester Airport and then on to London, Birmingham and the South, Warrington and Liverpool and Wigan, Preston, Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness, the North and Scotland.
  7. To the right, they go to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, and Sheffield, Doncaster and the East.
  8. Between it looks like  a low-level High Speed station with at least four tracks and six platforms.
  9. The Manchester Mretrolink is shown in yellow.
  10. The potential for over-site development is immense. If the Station Square Tower was residential, the penthouses would be some of the most desirable places to live in the North.

This station would enable improvements to rail services in the North and Scotland.

  • It would be a through station, to allow East to West services, like Liverpool and Hull.
  • Fewer services would have to reverse.
  • All services using the underground station, that went to the West would serve Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Liverpool and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Scarborough, would use the station and also call at Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Glasgow and Manchester Airport could be extended to Leeds and Hull.
  • TransPennine services would not need to use the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor.
  • All existing services to the main section of the existing Piccadilly station, could continue operation as now, during the construction and operation of the underground station. Some would eventually be replaced by high speed services using the underground station.

Manchester Airport would have one of the best train services of any airport in the world. It would certainly be on a par with Schiphol.

Careful alignment of the tunnels under Manchester, could also ease the building of the new line between Manchester and Leeds.

Huddersfield And Westtown (Dewsbury)

The only part of an upgraded TransPennine route between Manchester and Leeds, that is in the planning and design phase and visible to the public, is the upgrade between Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury), which is described on this page of the Network Rail web site. This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re proposing an upgrade to a section of railway between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) to deliver passenger benefits along the TransPennine railway.

Network Rail provide this very useful map.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route, which gives the major details of the upgrade.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line, but I have one problem with this project. – It doesn’t go anywhere near Bradford.

This Google Map shows Bradford, Leeds, Brighouse and Dewsbury.

Note.

  1. Bradford is in the North-West corner of the map, with the red arrow marking Bradford Royal Infirmary.
  2. Leeds is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Brighouse is in the South-West corner  of the map.
  4. The red arrow at the bottom of the map marks Dewsbury and District Hospital, with the towns of Morley and Dewsbury to the East.

The route Network rail are improving goes South-Westerly from Leeds and through both Morley and Leeds, before turning to the West and then going South to Huddersfield.

I am left with the conclusion, that Network Rail’s plans may do wonders for travel between Leeds and Huddersfield, but they don’t do anything for Bradford.

But the plans will have positive effects on travellers between Leeds and Manchester.

Eight Miles Of Electrification

Eight miles of electrification may not seem much, but to a Hitachi Regional Battery train, travelling at speed it is a few minutes to add some charge to the batteries, especially if the train stops at Dewsbury and/or Huddersfield stations.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification for the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

Note.

  1. It has a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power.
  2. It can travel at up to 100 mph on battery power.
  3. TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be converted to Regional Battery trains, by simply swapping the diesel engines for battery packs.

If these trains fully-charged their batteries on the eight miles of electrification, they could do the following.

  • Going East they could easily reach Leeds, which is under ten miles from Dewsbury station. At a pinch they could even reach York, which is thirty-five miles from Dewsbury.
  • Going West they could reach Manchester, which is twenty-six miles from Huddersfield station. At a pinch, they could just about reach Liverpool, which is fifty-seven miles from Huddersfield.

Note that North of York and West of Manchester are both fully electrified.

This eight miles of electrification would enable the following.

  • Several of TransPennine Express services run by Class 802 trains to become all-electric services.
  • Other operators like Northern could use battery electric trains for stopping services along the route.
  • It might even enable some freight trains to run through the area, with hybrid power.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have chosen this section to electrify, so that it gives a lot of benefit to battery electric trains.

Will Services Be Faster Between Huddersfield And Leeds?

I estimate the the straightened track, the better acceleration of electric trains and other improvements would save up to perhaps ten minutes.

Timings between Manchester and Leeds, would probably be around 45 minutes, which is nowhere near Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes

The Problem Of Bradford

Bradford has two central stations; Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square. which have no connection between them.

This Google Map shows the two stations.

It is an area crowded with buildings between the two stations.

There is a Wikipedia entry called Bradford Crossrail, where this is said about the reasons for the two stations.

These stations were built in the nineteenth century by different railway companies with an individual, rather than a comprehensive plan for rail development in the city.

The Wikipedia entry also says this about Northern Powerhouse Rail and the city.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail project has also mooted a project to link Leeds and Manchester with a through route at Bradford. Whilst this would either involve a bypass line south of the city and a parkway station at Low Moor or a new route tunnelling through the city centre, neither option mentions connecting the lines from both north and south of the city together.

I will look at the two solutions to connect Northern Powerhouse Rail to the City.

Low Moor Station

The diagram shows the connections between Bradford Interchange, Bradford Low Moor, Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

It would appear that if a connection were to be made between Low Moor and New Pudsey stations. that could be a solution.

This Google Map shows where the lines to Huddersfield and Leeds join outside Bradford Interchange station.

Note,

  1. Bradford Interchange station is to the North.
  2. Bradford Low Moor station is to the South.
  3. New Pudsey station is to the East.

I suspect it would be possible to create a curve that allowed trains to go between  Bradford Low Moor and New Pudsey stations, but I doubt it would be a fast route.

A Bradford Tunnel

This would be the bold option, where all sorts of routes could be possible.

  • It could go under the City Centre in such a way, that it had pedestrian connections to both current stations and important places with a large number of visitors.
  • It could connect to Huddersfield in the West and Leeds in the East.
  • It might even loop under the City Centre, as the Wirral Line does under Liverpool.

A tunnel under the City, would be my preferred solution.

A Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds

So far, various people or organisations have advocated the following tunnels on the route.

  • High Speed Two are proposing a tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre.
  • Weston Williamson are proposing a Manchester High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • A tunnel has been proposed to connect to Bradford City Centre.

I feel strongly, that a tunnel can be built under the Pennines to link Manchester and Leeds.

Rail Tunnels through the Pennines have been dug before, notably at Standedge, Totley and Woodhead.

I answered the question in detail in Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore? and this was the conclusion of that post.

I believe that my naïve analysis in this post shows that a TransPennine tunnel is possible.

But I believe that the right tunnel could have one big advantage.

Suppose it was built to handle the following.

    • A capacity of eighteen tph, which is the same as High Speed Two.
    • An operating speed of 140 mph or more. The Gotthard Base Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 160 mph.
    • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains.
    • The largest freight trains

It would be future proofed for longer than anybody could envisage.

There are also other smaller advantages.

    • It would by-pass a lot of difficult areas.
    • It would cause very little aural and visual disruption.
    • IIf it were designed with care, it would not affect the flora and fauna.
    • As with the Swiss tunnel, it could be dug level, which would save energy and allow trains to run faster.
    • It could be running twelve tph between Leeds and Manchester Airport via Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly.
    • Existing surface railways at the Eastern end could serve Cleethorpes, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hull, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scarborough, Sheffield and York
    • Existing surface railways at the Western end could serve Barrow, Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Glasgow, Liverpool. North Wales, Preston and Wigan.

It would be more like Thameslink for the North turned on its side, rather than Crossrail for the North.

Would such a TransPennine tunnel be realisable?

Consider.

  • 3D design software has improved tremendously over the last decade.
  • The Swiss have shown that these long tunnels can be built through solid rock.
  • There is plenty of space to put the tunnel.
  • It doesn’t have to be one continuous tunnel.
  • It might be possible to built it as a base tunnel, which would be low down and level between two valleys on either side of the Pennines.

I think there could be a lot of flexibility on how the tunnel would be designed and built.

Conclusion

A Manchester and Leeds tunnel via Bradford, could be one of the boldest projects ever undertaken in the UK.

I believe that we have the capabilities to build it.

Project Management Recommendations

This is a large project that will take several years.

  • But the Swiss have dug the Gotthard Base Tunnel of a similar size through solid rock in recent years.
  • It would be a political symbol to the North, that Government is serious about levelling up.
  • In thirty years or so, it won’t be found to have been built with inadequate capacity.

Other projects, such as the Huddersfield and Westtown Improvement wukk old the fort, whilst the tunnel is built.

 

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Liverpool And Manchester Via The Centre Of Warrington

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester via the centre of Warrington.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the line starting at the Manchester end.

High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail Between Warrington/Lymm And Manchester Airport

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two in the area between Lymm and Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in orange
  2. The blue dot is Manchester Interchange station at Manchester Airport.
  3. High Speed Two goes North to Wigan North Western station.
  4. High Speed Two goes South to Crewe station.
  5. High Speed Two goes East to Manchester and the East.
  6. The East-West Motorway is the M56 with Junction 7/8 in the middle of the map and Junction 9 with the M6, at the Western edge of the map.

This enlarged map shows High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Junction 7/8 of the M56.

 

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the North East corner, where it continues to Manchester.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Yellow is a cutting.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

High Speed Two’s tracks will be on the South side of the Motorway and will be shared with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • There is likely to be up to twelve trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • I would think, that with modern signalling that the trains would be running at 140 mph or more.
  • Between Manchester Airport and Warrington could be a line as between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet on High Speed One.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the M56 and High Speed Two around Junction 7/8 of the M56.

The colours are as before.

  • The obvious way to build a new rail line between Manchester and Warrington, would surely be to create a rail junction just South of the Motorway junction.
  • A line to Warrington could run along the South side of the Motorway.
  • I also believe that there should be a connection between the High Speed Two lines to Manchester and Wigan North Western, to allow high speed services between Manchester and Barrow, Blackpool, Preston, Windermere and Scotland.

Building the rail junctions around the Motorway junctions would be a good idea for environmental and visual reasons.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would then continue to Junction 9 of the M56 Motorway.

This Google Map, shows the M56 around Junction 9 with the M6.

Note.

  1. The M56 running East-West.
  2. The M6 running North-South.
  3. Lymm services to the North-West of the junction.
  4. Lymm is to the North-East and Warrington is to the North-West of the junction.

Would it be possible for to run South of the M56 and then turn North to run along the Western side of the M6 towards Warrington?

I very much feel, that with modern 3D software, an engineer with expertise in extreme knitting could thread a double-track line through to take a North-Western route towards Warrington.

The Bridge Across The Mersey

If you look at maps of the area, there is a big problem of water between Junction 9 of the M56 and Warrington town centre, with its two stations of Warrington Bank Quay and Warrington Central, both of which have services to Liverpool Lime Street station.

The problem is the Manchester Ship Canal.

I then noticed a bridge to the South East of the town centre, which is shown in this Google Map.

It may look like it has got more than a touch of the dreaded iron moths, but it certainly looks like it was once a double track rail line.

The bridge was on the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway, which did what you would expect from the name.

This Google Map shows the track of the railway either side of the bridge.

Note the bridge in the centre of the map and the green scar of the former railway running East-West across the map.

To the East the green scar of the railway can be picked out all the way to M6.

Note.

  1. The bridge is at the West over the Manchester Ship Canal.
  2. The green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway can be followed all the way to the M6,
  3. I think the track is now a footpath, as it is marked on the map with a dotted white line.

I would be interested to know, if it could take a modern double track railway.

This Google Map shows an enlarged view of where the green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway goes under the M6.

Note the dotted white line marking the railway, towards the top of the map.

Would it be possible to design a track layout, where Northern Powerhouse Rail came up the Western side of the M6 and was able to connect to Warrington?

I certainly believe it’s a possibility.

Warrington Bank Quay Station

To the West of the bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway ran through low-level platforms at Warrington Bank Quay station.

This Google Map shows Warrington Bank Quay station.

This picture shows a freight train passing under Warrington Bank Quay station.

Note.

  1. There are four North-South platforms on the West Coast Main Line.
  2. The Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway passes East-West under the four main platforms.
  3. Low levels platforms used to handle passengers on the East-West lines.
  4. I was looking to the East in the picture.
  5. The tracks continue to the West on the route of the former St. Helens Railway, which is now a freight route.
  6. The map shows the tracks curving sharply round one of the meanders of the River Mersey.

Warrington Bank Quay station is on a congested and tight site, but by using some of the spare railway land, I feel it could rebuilt to be an excellent station for Warrington.

Warrington Bank Quay Station As An Interchange

Warrington Bank Quay station could be an excellent and efficient interchange between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

There are also local services from the station, which could be useful for some travellers.

Between Warrington Bank Quay Station And Widnes

This Google Map shows the Mersey estuary between Warrington Bank Quay station and Widnes.

Note.

  1. Warrington is in the North-East corner of the map, with Warrington Bank Quay station shown by a red station symbol.
  2. The new Mersey Gateway bridge is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The River Mersey meanders between the bridge and Warrington.
  4. Fiddlers Ferry power station can be picked out in the nearest meander of the Mersey to the bridge.
  5. The dark straight line below the river is the Manchester Ship Canal.
  6. There is currently a freight line on the North bank of the river.

This Google Map shows Fiddlers Ferry power station, with the railway between the now-decommissioned power station and the River Mersey.

Note.

  1. Fiddlers Ferry will become an employment site.
  2. It could even be a good place for a depot for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  3. I think there’s scope to increase the operating speed of the railway along the Mersey.

Could it even be an electrified high speed line with a 125 mph operating speed?

Between Widnes And Liverpool Lime Street

The trains coming from Warrington could join the Liverpool Branch of the West Coast Main Line at Ditton East Junction.

The route between Ditton East Junction and Liverpool Lime Street has the following characteristics.

  • It has four tracks.
  • It is 10.6 miles long.
  • Avanti West Coast’s expresses typically take twelve minutes for the trip without stopping.
  • The stations on the route; Liverpool South Parkway; West Allerton, Mossley Hill and Edge Hill, all have one platform per line.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • Lime Street station has recently been updated with longer platforms and a higher capacity approach to the station.
  • Some local services have already been moved to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • Stopping services on the route have their own platforms.

I believe that with the installation of full digital signalling and a degree of automatic train control, as far as Crewe and Warrington Bank Quay stations, that the following services could be handled.

  • Six tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – Liverpool and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – East Midlands Railway – Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Three tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and London Euston
  • One tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and Birmingham Curzon Street
  • Two tph – London North Western – Liverpool and Birmingham and London Euston

Note.

  1. This is only 13 tph.
  2. Avanti West Coast services would be replaced by High Speed Two.
  3. TransPennine Express services would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail
  4. The Liverpool and Nottingham service may or may not go via Ditton East junction.

If the capacity on this branch could be raised to 15 tph, that would be only be a train every four minutes, or half the frequency, that will eventually be operational on Crossrail and Thameslink. It would also be less than the 18 tph frequency of High Speed Two.

Conclusion

This simple exercise has proven to me, that a high speed line could be built between Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Several sections of the route could have an operating speed of 125 mph or more.
  • By running the tracks along the M56 and M6, visual and aural intrusion could be minimised.
  • The line along the Mersey through Warrington could be a valuable part of the route.
  • West of Warrington, much of the infrastructure needed, appears to be in place and it would only need to be upgraded.

There was a large and extremely pleasant surprise at the Liverpool end.

The approach to Liverpool Lime Street is two fast and two slow lines, and I believe, that this section of the route could handle up to say 15 fast trains and six stopping trains per hour, with full digital signalling.

Unlike London and Manchester, I doubt that Liverpool will need a tunnel to access the City Centre.

I also believe that after its refurbishment of the last couple of years, Lime Street could be substantially ready for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into three.

  1. Between Manchester Airport and Warrington along the route of the M56 and M6.
  2. Reconstruction, upgrading and electrification through Warrington and the rebuilding of Warrington Bank Quay station.
  3. Reconstruction, upgrading and electrification between Warrington and Liverpool.

The first project will be a major one, involving the construction of nearly twenty miles of new electrified railway, with numerous viaducts, bridges and a large junction at High Legh with High Speed Two.

The other two projects would be a lot simpler and would involve turning twenty miles of double-track freight line into a modern electrified railway.

I would construct projects 2 and 3 early in the schedule, as it would give Warrington a new Bank Quay station. A passenger service to Liverpool Lime Street, could also be opened if required.

 

 

 

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

EMR Set To Retain Liverpool – Nottingham Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Department for Transport has confirmed to East Midlands Railway that, for the time being at least, it is no longer planning to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street – Nottingham service to TransPennine Express from the December 2021 timetable change.

My experience of the service is limited these days, but occasionally, I do use the Liverpool and Sheffield section of the service to get across the Pennines on trips North.

In January 2020, I had a horrendous trip on an overcrowded train composed of several one-car Class 153 trains, which I wrote about in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

This is not the way to run a long distance service, which takes over five and a half hours.

The plan to improve the service involves splitting it into two from the December 2021 timetable change.

  • Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Derby and Norwich

It was thought that the Liverpool and Nottingham section would be going to TransPennine Express (TPE).

These points summarise the Railway Gazette article.

  • TPE were training drivers and that has now stopped.
  • EMR have told staff, they will be keeping both services.
  • The service will still be split.
  • EMR  will not have enough trains to run the split service.

This paragraph sums up what could happen to run the service.

One option favoured by industry insiders would see EMR take on 15 Class 185 Desiro trainsets which are due to be released by TPE during 2021 as its fleet renewal programme concludes. These trains are maintained by Siemens at its conveniently located Ardwick depot in Manchester.

I see this splitting, as being a pragmatic solution to the problems of running a long service, with a very varied loading at various parts of the route.

  • As one company runs both sections, the changeover can be arranged to be very passenger-friendly.
  • EMR manage the possible change stations at Derby and Nottingham.
  • Passengers can be given proper care in the changeover.
  • Derby gets a direct connection to Peterborough, Cambridge and Norwich.

With my East Anglian hat on, I can see advantages in the split, as I regularly used to travel as far as Derby or Nottingham, when I lived in the East, but only once took the full service to Liverpool.

I have a few thoughts.

Capacity Between Liverpool And Nottingham

This section of the service is generally run by a pair of Class 158 trains, which have a capacity of around 140 each or 280 in total.

The Class 185 trains have three-cars and a capacity of 180 seats.

Currently, Liverpool and Nottingham takes just under two hours and forty minutes, which would make for a comfortable six-hour round trip. This would mean, that an hourly service between the two cities, will need a fleet of six trains.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Class 185 trains, this is said.

Following the August 2020 decision not to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham route to TransPennine Express, East Midlands Railway could opt to take on the 15 trainsets due to be released from TPE to run this route.

Fifteen trains would be more than enough trains to run a pair on each hourly service and perhaps run some extra services.

Pairs of Class 185 trains between Liverpool and Nottingham would go a long way to solve capacity problems on this route.

Calling At Derby

The current service between Liverpool and Norwich doesn’t call at Derby, as it uses the Erewash Valley Line via Alfreton.

The proposed Eastern portion of the split service has been proposed to terminate at Derby, so passengers would change at Nottingham, if they wanted to travel to Sheffield, Manchester or Liverpool.

As East Midlands Railway, runs both services, they can optimise the service to serve and attract the most passengers.

Preparation For High Speed Two At East Midlands Hub Station

Eventually, the two halves of the Liverpool and Norwich service must surely call at the future East Midlands Hub station for High Speed Two, so future routes must fit in with the plans for High Speed Two.

But there’ll be plenty of time to get that right.

Interchange At Nottingham

I’m sure a quick and easy interchange can be performed at Nottingham.

In the simplest interchange, the two services could share a platform and passengers could just walk between the two trains on the level.

The following sequence could be used at Nottingham.

  • The train from Derby to Norwich would arrive in the platform and stop at the Eastern end of the platform.
  • The train from Liverpool to Nottingham would arrive in the platform and stop close behind it.
  • Passengers on the train from Liverpool, who wanted to take the Norwich train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Norwich train would leave when ready.
  • The train from Liverpool would stay where it had stopped and be prepared for the return trip to Liverpool.
  • , The next train from Norwich to Derby would pull in behind the Liverpool train.
  • Passengers on the train from Norwich, who wanted to take the Liverpool train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Liverpool train would leave when ready.
  • Finally, the Norwich to Derby train would leave for Derby.

Only one platform would be needed at Nottingham station, that would need to be long enough to handle the two trains.

Between Norwich And Derby

This is the only section of the Liverpool and Norwich route with any electrification.

  • Currently about thirty miles between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.
  • The lines around Ely and Norwich are also electrified.

I think that Ely and Peterborough will be electrified earlier than other lines.

  • It would be part of an electrified freight route between Felixstowe and the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would enable electric passenger trains between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would mean the Ipswich and Peterborough services could be run by battery electric trains.
  • It could be a useful electrified diversion route to London, during engineering works.

,This extra electrification, would also mean that Norwich and Derby would probably be within range of battery electric trains.

Stadler have stated that Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains can be converted from bi-mode into battery electric trains.

So as Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both Abellio companies, could we see battery electric operation on the around 150 miles between Norwich and Derby?

Conclusion

Splitting the Liverpool and Norwich service opens up a lot of possibilities to improve the service.

 

 

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments