The Anonymous Widower

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.
  • 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.

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 7 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.

 

 

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

High Speed Two And Scotland

In this post, I will only look at services and capacity.

I will leave the economics to others with the appropriate data.

Current Anglo-Scottish Services

Currently, these services run between England and Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central stations.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) – Avanti West Coast – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle.
  • 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Avanti West Coast – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Milton Keynes Central, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle.
  • 1 tp2h – CrossCountry – South-West England and Edinburgh Waverley via Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • 1 tp2h – CrossCountry – South-West England and Glasgow Central via Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh Waverley.
  • 1 tph – LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley via York, Darlington, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • 1 tph – LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • 1 tp2h – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Bolton, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.
  • 3 trains per day (tpd) – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central via St. Helen’s Central, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.
  • 1 tp2h – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Bolton, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.

Note.

  1. I’ve not included service extensions to Aberdeen and Inverness.
  2. I’ve cut out a few smaller stations
  3. Some services call at both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  4. Because of signalling and track improvements it is likely that London Kings Cross and Edinburgh timings will come down to four hours.

The services can be roughly summarised as follows.

  • Birmingham and Edinburgh – 0.5 tph
  • Birmingham and Glasgow – 1 tph
  • London and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • London and Glasgow – 1.5 tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph
  • Leeds and Glasgow – 0.5 tph
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 1 tph
  • Liverpool and Glasgow – 3 tpd
  • Manchester and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph
  • Manchester and Glasgow – 0.5 tph
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh – 0.5 tph
  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow – 0.5 tph

Note.

  1. I have ignored the five tpd London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, that starts next year, which will be run by East Coast Trains.
  2. 0.5 tph is equivalent to one tp2h.

It looks a fairly well-balanced and comprehensive service.

High Speed Two Anglo-Scottish Services

According to a table in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, these High Speed Two services will run between England and Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

  • 1 tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston and Carlisle
  • 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme or Penrith, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • 1 tp2h – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme or Penrith, Carlisle, Lockerbie and Motherwell.

Note.

  1. All trains will be High Speed Two’s 200 metre long Classic-Compatible trains.
  2. The four one tph services will run as two pairs of trains and split and join at Carlisle.

The services can be roughly summarised as follows.

  • Birmingham and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph
  • Birmingham and Glasgow – 1.5 tph
  • London and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • London and Glasgow – 2 tph

Note.

  1. Passengers between Liverpool or Manchester and Scotland will have to change at Preston.
  2. There is no connection between the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two and Edinburgh.
  3. London and Edinburgh Waverley will take three hours and forty minutes, which saves twenty minutes on the likely four hours on the East Coast Main Line.
  4. London and Glasgow Central will take three hours and forty minutes, which saves fifty minutes on the current time.

High Speed Two certainly provides good services between London, Birmingham and Scotland, but it leaves out travelling between the cities of the North and North of the Border.

High Speed Two Classic-Conventional Trains

In Thoughts On Class 807 Trains And High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains, I discussed a design of Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train based on the recently-ordered Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast.

Except for the required speeds, the specifications of the  trains are similar and this was my conclusion.

I wouldn’t be surprised that Hitachi’s offering for more trains on the West Coast Main Line and the Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two are very similar to the Class 807 trains.

    • The Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two could be eight-car trains with twenty-five metre cars.
    • The replacements for the eleven-car Class 390 trains could be nine-car trains with twenty-six metre cars.

Both would be based on the Class 807 train.

A common design would surely ease operation of the combined West Coast Partnership.

TransPennine Express Between Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh

Will this TransPennine Express service still be the primary connection between the North of England and Edinburgh?

  • It has a frequency of one tph.
  • It takes about four hours and fifty minutes.
  • It connects Liverpool, Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle to the Scottish capital.
  • According to Real Time Trains, it runs as far as York on diesel and then using the electrification.

Current plans envisage Northern Powerhouse Rail will create an electrified route across the Pennines.

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

It gives these times and frequencies for the various legs of the route.

  • Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport – 26 minutes – 6 tph
  • Manchester and Leeds – 25 minutes – 6 tph
  • Leeds and Newcastle – 58 minutes – 4 tph
  • Newcastle and Edinburgh – 90 minutes

This totals to three hours and nineteen minutes.

Note.

  1. The Newcastle and Edinburgh time is that currently achievable today by Class 801 trains.
  2. Liverpool and Manchester city centres have a six tph high speed service via Manchester Airport.
  3. Manchester and Edinburgh will be under three hours.
  4. Leeds and Edinburgh will be under two-and-a-half hours.
  5. The Manchester and Manchester Airport leg could be shared with High Speed Two.

Most of this will be achievable with the current TransPennine Express Class 802 trains, which are capable of 140 mph.

In addition, I think that it is likely that the East Coast Main Line will be upgraded between York and Newcastle  for High Speed Two.

Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh will unlikely be to High Speed Two standards, but it could match the standards of the East Coast Main Line.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line Between Newcastle and Edinburgh

Consider

  • There have been reports that the power supply on the route is not very robust and Class 800 and Class 802 trains have to use diesel power.
  • The route is fairly straight and could probably be partially-upgraded for 140 mph running with appropriate signalling.
  • The route carries about five tph in both directions. Modern digital signalling could probably double this frequency.
  • The Scottish Government has suggested adding new stations at East Linton and Reston.
  • Edinburgh and Newcastle are 124.5 miles apart and trains typically take ninety minutes.

In addition, High Speed Two might like to extend some or all of their three Newcastle services to Edinburgh.

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

High Speed Two will run between London Euston and Newcastle in two hours and seventeen minutes.

I think it could be possible, that an upgraded Newcastle and Edinburgh route could be covered in seventy minutes by either one of High Speed Two’s Classic Compatible trains or a Class 80x train.

This could mean these timings.

  • Under four hours for classic services between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • Around three hours for classic services between Liverpool and Edinburgh.
  • Under three-and-a-half hours for High Speed Two services between London Euston and Edinburgh.

This shows the importance of improving the East Coast Main Line to the North of Newcastle.

Improvements To The West Coast Main Line Between Carlisle and Glasgow/Edinburgh

If the frequency and speed of trains on the East Coast Main Line can be increased, what can be done on the West Coast Main Line?

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are showing Carlisle and Glasgow Central as a one hour and nineteen minute journey. Avanti West Coast do the journey in one hour and eleven minutes.
  • High Speed Two are showing Carlisle and Edinburgh as a one hour and eleven minute journey. Avanti West Coast do the journey in one hour and fifteen minutes.
  • Could the route be fully upgraded for 140 mph running with appropriate signalling?
  • In a typical hour, there are two Avanti West Coast trains and one TransPennine Express passing along all or part of the West Coast Main Line North of Carlisle.
  • The route carries a total of about four tph in both directions. Modern digital signalling could probably increase this frequency.
  • Hitachi and Avanti West Coast seem to be saying that their new Class 807 trains have similar performance to the Class 390 trains, but without using tilting technology.

There doesn’t appear to be the scope for such dramatic improvement in the West, as in the East, but I can still see a succession of 140 mph trains running between Carlisle and Glasgow or Edinburgh in no more than an hour and eleven minutes.

These passenger services could be running North of Carlisle, when High Speed Two is fully open.

  • 2 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Edinburgh – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 2 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh – Class 397 train
  • 0.5 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central – Class 397 train
  • 3 tpd – TransPennine Express – Liverpool and Glasgow Central – Class 397 train

Note.

  1. I am assuming that Avanti West Coast’s services will be replaced by the High Speed Two services.
  2. As the TransPennine Express services share a path, it would appear that six tph will be running between Carlisle and Edinburgh or Glasgow.

There would appear to be space for more trains on the West Coast Main Line, to the North of Carlisle.

A Few Random Thoughts

These are a few random thoughts and ideas.

Avanti West Coast And High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains

Avanti West Coast will have these fleets of high-speed trains.

  • 11-car Class 390 electric trains, which are 265.3 metres long
  • 9-car Class 390 electric trains, which are 217.5 metres long.
  • 7-car Class 807 electric trains, which will be 182 metres long
  • 5-car Class 805 bi-mode trains, which will be 130 metres long
  • High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains, which will be 200 metres long
  • Full-size High Speed Two trains, which will be 400 metres long.

It would appear that there could be some fleet simplification.

All Passenger Trains Between Newcastle Or Carlisle and Glasgow Central Or Edinburgh Should Be Capable Of Operating At 140 mph

Both the East and West Coast Main Lines between Carlisle and Newcastle in England and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland are not far off being capable of running trains at 140 mph. Modern digital in-cab signalling and some track works will be needed.

Once 140 mph running is achieved, then all trains will need to be capable of making use of the speed, to maximise the capacity of the routes.

Freight Trains Between Newcastle Or Carlisle and Glasgow Central Or Edinburgh Should Be Capable Of Operating As Fast As Possible

Freight trains will need to be hauled by electric locomotives, at as high a speed as possible, to avoid slowing the express passenger trains.

More well-positioned freight loops may be needed.

Will TransPennine’s Manchester And Scotland Service Transfer To High Speed Two?

I think, that this is highly likely.

  • The service would be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.
  • Depending on track layout, the Liverpool and Scotland service on the West Coast Main Line could be upgraded to the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains or discontinued.

This would mean, that  all passenger trains on the West Coast Main Line North of Lancaster would be High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

  • 2 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Edinburgh – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 2 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 0.5 tph – High Speed Two – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train
  • 3 tpd – High Speed Two – Liverpool and Glasgow Central – High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train

This must mean that if the operating speed on the West Coast Main Line were to be increased, all passenger services could take advantage, which would surely improve timings.

What About CrossCountry?

CrossCountry run a single hourly service between Plymouth and Edinburgh.

  • The route goes via Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Newcastle.
  • Some services are extended to Glasgow Central and Aberdeen.

Currently, this service is run by a diesel train, which surely will need to be replaced with a zero-carbon train.

Consider.

  • Scotland is keen to electrify or allow electric trains to run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • High Speed Two will provide an electrified route between Birmingham and York via East Midlands Hub for Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds.
  • The likes of Hitachi and Adrian Shooter of Vivarail are very bullish about battery electric trains.
  • Great Western Railway, Hitachi and Network Rail have probably hired Baldrick for a cunning plan to run battery electric trains between Bristol and Penzance.

Could it be possible for Hitachi or another manufacturer to design a High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, with a battery capability?

A train with this specification, could be ideal for the Plymouth and Edinburgh service.

It might also be useful for these CrossCountry services.

  • Southampton and Newcastle
  • Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Exeter St. Davids/Bristol and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Cardiff Central and Nottingham
  • Birmingham and Nottingham
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport

Note.

  1. All could run on High Speed Two fpr part of the route.
  2. Birmingham and Nottingham has already been proposed for running using High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, by Midlands Engine Rail, as I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station.
  3. I proposed a Birmingham and Cambridge service using High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains in A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020.

High Speed Two could have a big positive effect on CrossCountry services.

Future Anglo-Scottish Services After High Speed Two Opens Fully

It is possible, that when High Speed Two fully opens, these services will run between England and Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central stations.

  • 1 tp2h – CrossCountry – South-West England and Edinburgh Waverley via Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • 1 tp2h – CrossCountry – South-West England and Glasgow Central via Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh Waverley.
  • 1 tph – LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley via York, Darlington, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • 1 tph – LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Edinburgh Waverley via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle
  • 1 tph – High Speed Two – London Euston and Glasgow Central via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Preston and Carlisle
  • 1 tp2h – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme or Penrith, Carlisle and Edinburgh Haymarket.
  • 1 tp2h – High Speed Two – Birmingham Curzon Street and Glasgow Central via Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme or Penrith, Carlisle, Lockerbie and Motherwell.
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • 1 tp2h – High Speed Two – Manchester Airport and Edinburgh Waverley via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Bolton, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.
  • 3 trains per day (tpd) – High Speed Two – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central via St. Helen’s Central, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.
  • 1 tp2h – High Speed Two – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Bolton, Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Liverpool/Manchester services to Scotland via the West Coast Main Line have transferred to High Speed Two.
  2. All trains would be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

The services can be roughly summarised as follows.

  • Birmingham and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph (0.5 tph)
  • Birmingham and Glasgow – 1.5 tph (1 tph)
  • London and Edinburgh – 4 tph (2 tph)
  • London and Glasgow – 2 tph (1.5 tph)
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph (1.5 tph)
  • Leeds and Glasgow – 0.5 tph (0.5 tph)
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 1 tph (1 tph)
  • Liverpool and Glasgow – 3 tpd (3 tpd)
  • Manchester and Edinburgh – 1.5 tph (1.5 tph)
  • Manchester and Glasgow – 0.5 tph (0.5 tph)
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh – 0.5 tph (0.5 tph)
  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow – 0.5 tph (0.5 tph)

Note.

  1. My estimates for the number of trains in the future, are probably best described as minimum figures.
  2. The figures in brackets are the current frequencies.
  3. Currently, there are eleven express trains between England and Scotland and after High Speed Two is fully open there could be at least fifteen express trains.

I have a few final thoughts.

Capacity Between England And Scotland

Capacity of the current and future Anglo-Scottish trains is as follows.

  • High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train – 500-600
  • Eleven-car Class 390 train – 589
  • Nine-car Class 800 train – 611

It appears that the all the longer trains have roughly the same capacity.

As there are now eleven Anglo-Scottish long trains and these will be increased to fifteen, that indicates an minimum 36 % increase in capacity.

 

Will High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail Share A Route Across The Pennines?

Northern Powerhouse Rail have talked about extending High Speed Two services from Manchester to Huddersfield, Leeds, Hull, York and Newcastle.

I wrote about this in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North.

I like this plan for the following reasons.

It gives more places like Huddersfield and Hull access to High Speed Two.

It increases frequencies across the North.

But most importantly, as infrastructure is shared, it saves a lot of money.

It also opens up possibilities for services.

  • The Liverpool and Edinburgh service could be run on the High Speed Two route across the Pennines and up the East Coast Main Line.
  • London and Manchester services could be extends to Leeds, York, Newcastle and Scotland.

If Northern Powerhouse Rail were to be cleared for High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains, it opens up the possibility of running them further North.

Conclusion

High Speed Two will increase Anglo-Scottish capacity by more than a third.

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Grantham Station – 4th November 2020

I hadn’t intended to go to Grantham station, but that’s what I did on the last day before lockdown.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a guy in Lincolnshire, who read Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, on this blog.

Last week, we both realised that we’d worked together in the 1970s, when he worked at a bank in the City, and I did some data analysis for the section, where he worked.

He is unwell with cancer at the moment and suggested I come down and see him in Skegness, where he now lives with his wife.

So I arrived at Grantham and found that the connecting train was running nearly an hour late and even then it was terminating at Boston.

After a quick exchange of texts, I told him the bad news and he gave me the good news, that his condition had improved and would be able to see me after Christmas and/or lockdown.

Luckily, I was able to change my ticket and took the next train back to London, after taking these pictures of the station.

I just had time to have a last drink of Aspall cyder before lockdown, in the station bar.

These are some thoughts.

Platform Layout At Grantham

The Wikipedia entry for Grantham station says this about the platforms.

It is composed of four platforms; platforms 1 and 2 are on the East Coast Main Line and are responsible for express services between London and Scotland. Platform 1 serves exclusively London King’s Cross via Peterborough and Stevenage; Platform 2 serves cities of northern England and Edinburgh. Platform 2, 3 and 4 are formed from a large island platform structure. Platform 3 is a bay platform at the northern end of the station that is used to allow local trains to reverse, while Platform 4 is a two-way platform that is used by East Midlands Railway. Only Platform 1 has amenities, including toilets, refreshments and a buffet.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from East to West.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2 are long enough to take two five-car Class 800 trains working as a pair.
  3. Platform 4 may be long enough for these pairs of trains or could be made so.
  4. All trains to and from Nottingham call in Platform 4.
  5. Trains from Nottingham to Peterborough call in Platform 4 before crossing over to the down lines.
  6. There would appear to be no easy way for a Southbound train on the East Coast Main Line to access Platform 4.
  7. Platform 3 didn’t get much use on the day I visited.

There is also an avoiding line to allow freight and other passing trains to avoid going through the platforms.

Services Through Grantham Station

Services stopping at Grantham are as follows.

  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Harrogate via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Bradford Forster Square via Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and Lincoln via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • LNER – One tp2h – London Kings Cross and York via Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster.
  • Hull Trains – Five tpd – London Kings Cross and Hull via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough
  • Hull Trains – Two tpd – London Kings Cross and Beverley via Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough, Hull and Cottingham.
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Horwich via Peterborough and Nottingham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Nottingham and Skegness

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  3. tpd is trains per day.

Adding the services together, there is a frequent service between Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate.

Train Timings Between London Kings Cross and Grantham

The fastest trains take 67 minutes between London Kings Cross and Grantham.

  • The distance is 105.5 miles
  • This would be an average speed of 94.5 mph.
  • The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with in-cab digital ERTMS signalling, which will allow 140 mph running.
  • The works at Kings Cross station will have increased the station’s capacity.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a time between London Kings Cross and Grantham, of under an hour, time-tabled in the near future.

Could There Be A London Kings Cross and Nottingham Service Via Grantham?

On this page on UK Rail Forums, this was posted in 2010.

According to today’s East Midlands news on BBC1, Network Rail is considering inviting tenders to run a faster service from Nottingham to London King’s Cross via Grantham, from 2014. The present service of around 1hr 45m is considered too slow by passengers.

How would this new service be reconciled with the much-publicised capacity constraints at Welwyn and at King’s Cross itself? Will the proposed possible service be diesel-powered under the wires from Grantham, or will the Grantham-Nottingham stretch be electrified? Interesting times.

Technology has changed since 2010 and the East Coast Main Line has improved.

  • King;s Cross station is being sorted.
  • Digital ERMTS signalling is coming to the East Coast Main Line
  • Hatachi’s new Class 800 trains have arrived and could go between Grantham and Nottingham on diesel power.
  • Grantham and Nottingham takes 35 minutes on a service with three stops, that’s timed for a Class 153 train.
  • Grantham and Nottingham is just over twenty miles.

As I said earlier, that I believe Grantham and London could be inside an hour, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Nottingham and London Kings Cross service in under an-hour-and-a-half.

But it could be better than that?

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This is the train that could unlock the potential of a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

This Hitachi infographic gives details of the train.

Note that the train has a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles, at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The trains would be ideal for a London Kings Cross and Nottingham service.

  • They would charge the batteries, whilst using the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The battery range is such, that it would not need any charging between leaving Grantham and returning there from Nottingham.
  • They could travel at speeds of up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, once the digital ERTMS  signalling is installed.
  • Stops could be at Stevenage, Peterborough and Grantham.

LNER’s five-car Class 800 trains, which are branded Azumas can be turned into Regional Battery Trains, by replacing the three diesel engines with battery packs.

I would suspect that times of around eighty minutes, between London Kings Cross and Nottingham, could be in order.

A Park-And-Ride For Nottingham And London

Nottingham has several Park-and-Ride sites, that are served by the trams. of the Nottingham Express Transit, which already calls at Nottingham station.

Would another site on the rail line between Grantham and Nottingham be useful?

This map shows. where the rail line crosses the A46, near its junction with the A52.

Note the Grantham and Nottingham line running across the top of the map and the big junction between the A52 and the A46.

It looks to be a good place for a Park-and-Ride station, if it was decided one needed to be built.

There might also be sites further in towards Nottingham, close to the racecourse or the Holme Pierpoint National Watersports Centre.

A Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire Service

I originally called this section a Combined Nottingham And Lincoln Service, but I don’t see why it can’t serve most of both counties.

Consider.

  • Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford and Southend get two services from the capital by different routes.
  • Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can Split/Join in around two minutes.
  • Running five-car Class 800 trains all the way between London Kings Cross and Lincoln is not a good use of a valuable train path on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Lincoln is just 16.5 miles and 24 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Nottingham is 22 miles and could be 20 minutes from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Both Lincoln and Nottingham would be in battery range for a return trip from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Platforms 1, 2 and 4, at Grantham are long enough to handle two Class 800 trains, running as a pair and regularly pairs call in Platforms 1 and 2.

I believe it would be possible for a pair of Regional Battery Trains to do the following.

  • Leave London Kings Cross and run to Grantham in an hour, stopping at Stevenage and Peterborough.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Grantham station, where the trains would split.
  • One train would continue on the East Coast Main Line to Newark North Gate station, where it would leave the East Coast Main Line and go to Lincoln.
  • The other train would continue to Nottingham.

Note.

  1. Coming back, the process would be reversed with trains joining in Platform 1 or Platform 4 at Grantham.
  2. There may need to be some track and signalling modifications, but nothing too serious or challenging.

Connections to other parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire would be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire would be connected using the Nottingham Express Transit and the Robin Hood and Maid Marian Lines from Nottingham station.
  • All stations between Grantham and Nottingham would be reached from either Grantham or Nottingham.
  • All stations to Boston and Skegness would be reached from Grantham.
  • All stations between Newark and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Newark.
  • All stations between Doncaster and Lincoln would be reached from either Doncaster or Lincoln.
  • All stations between Peterborough and Lincoln would be reached from either Lincoln or Peterborough.
  • All stations to Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes would be reached from Lincoln.

Note.

  1. I feel that some Lincoln services could be extended to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  2. Hopefully, a timetable could be developed, so that no connection was overly long.

Most of the distances are not unduly long and I would hope that most secondary services could be battery electric trains, which would be charged in the larger stations like Boston, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Grantham, Lincoln, Mansfield, Nottingham, Peterborough, Sleaford, Spalding and Worksop.

Doncaster, Grantham and Peterborough already have 25 KVAC overhead electrification and this could be used to charge the trains, with possibly some small extensions.

The other stations will need a number of systems to charge the trains, as they pass through.

Some stations will be suitable for the installation of the standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but others will need specialised charging systems.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system must surely be a front-runner for installation.

What frequency of the Combined Nottinghamshire And Lincolnshire service would be needed and could be run?

Consider.

  • Currently, Lincoln is served with one tp2h with a five-car Class 800 train running the service.
  • The Lincoln service alternates with a one tp2h service to York, which also calls at Retford and Doncaster.
  • Work is progressing on increasing the number of high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

Obviously, an hourly service to both Nottingham and Lincoln would be ideal and would give most of the two counties an hourly service to and from London Kings Cross with a single change at either Doncaster, Grantham. Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham or Peterborough.

  • An hourly service might be difficult to timetable because of the York service.
  • But I don’t believe it would be impossible to setup.

Especially if after, the Eastern leg of High Speed Two opens, East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross to North of York are replaced in part, by High Speed Two services.

The Effect Of High Speed Two

High Speed Two will build a new station at Toton called East Midlands Hub station.

  • The station will be situated about halfway between Nottingham and Derby, with frequent connections to both cities.
  • There will be frequent services to Birmingham, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Sheffield.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a direct service to Edinburgh and Glasgow from the station.
  • There will be a lot of economic growth around the station.

I very much feel, that a lot of passengers were travel to East Midlands Hub station for both long distance trains and to access the Derby-Nottingham area.

A Cambridge And Birmingham Service

In How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?, I proposed a Cambridge and Birmingham Curzon Street service.

This is what I said.

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

  • It would run via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham and East Midlands Hub.
  • It would connect the three big science, engineering and medical centres in the Midlands and the East.
  • It would use High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • It could be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

It might even be a replacement for CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham service.

Timings for the various legs could be.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough – CrossCountry – 49 minutes
  • Peterborough and Grantham – LNER – 19 minutes
  • Grantham and Nottingham -Best Estimate – 20 minutes
  • Nottingham and Birmingham Curzon Street – Midlands Rail Engine – 33 minutes

Note.

  1. This totals to two hours and one minute.
  2. The current service takes two hours and forty-four minutes.
  3. The Ely and Peterborough and Grantham and Nottingham legs are not electrified.

If the route were to be fully electrified or the trains were to be fitted with batteries, the time via High Speed Two, would surely be several minutes under two hours.

Conclusion

These objectives are possible.

  • An hourly service between London Kings Cross and Grantham, Lincoln, Newark and Nottingham.
  • A very much more comprehensive train service for Nottingham and Lincolnshire.
  • A two hour service between Cambridge and Birmingham.

Most of the services would be zero carbon.

No major infrastructure would be needed, except possibly completing the electrification between Nottingham and Ely, some of which is probably needed for freight trains anyway.

Alternatively, the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains could be fitted with batteries.

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Avanti West Coast Set To Transform Motherwell Cross-Border Connectivity

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

These are the first two paragraphs of the article.

Motherwell is set to see a transformation in services as Avanti West Coast announces plans for a major timetable boost on its Anglo-Scottish route.

The change in Avanti West Coast’s timetable will see the cross-border operator serve Motherwell with a further 96 services per week, the most substantial increase in cross-border rail services for the Scottish town in decades.

I used to have a client in Motherwell, thirty years ago, when I lived in Suffolk and that sort of service, would have been very helpful then.

Consider.

  • CrossCountry and TransPennine Express services also call.
  • Motherwell station seems to have a variety of connections, most of which are electrified.
  • It is likely in future, an electric route will be created between Motherwell and Perth.

In the future High Speed Two will call half-hourly.

Conclusion

This seems to be an excellent proposal.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business UK.

This is the opening paragraph.

Project promoter High Speed 2 Ltd has awarded a consortium of Porr UK and Aggregate Industries UK the contract to design and manufacture modular slab track for HS2.

The article also says that with the exception of tunnels and some specialist track, all track will be slab track.

What is slab track and why is it used?

These pictures show slab track on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

This is obviously not due to high speed, but because space is tight.

This page on the British Continuous Paving Association web site, is entitled Why Build Slab Track?

This is the two opening paragraphs.

Slab track, also called ballastless track, is a modern form of track construction which has been used successfully throughout the world for high speed lines, heavy rail, light rail and tram systems.

Slab track technology offers proven higher performance in service and a longer life than traditional ballasted track.

The article also lists these benefits.

  • Very low maintenance requirements
  • Shallow construction depth
  • Reduced dead load
  • Reduced structure gauge
  • Higher speed operation
  • Engineered noise and vibration performance
  • Long design life
  • Increased reliability
  • Increased availability
  • Low whole-life cost
  • A sustainable solution

Increasingly, slab track is being used for high speed railways, so I am not surprised it will be used on much of High Speed Two.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Darlington Station – 28th October 2020

I went to Teesside to have a look round yesterday.

These are my thoughts on Darlington station.

Platform 1 And Platform 4

These pictures show the two main platforms at Darlington station.

Note.

  1. They are affectively a very wide island platform.
  2. Platform 1 handles all trains going South and East to Middlesbrough and Saltburn.
  3. Platform 4 handles all trains going North and West to Bishop Auckland.
  4. The platforms are well over 200 metres long.
  5. Both the main platforms have a second track, between the current track and the walls of the station.
  6. Both main platforms have a large clock.
  7. Platform 1 has some innovative seating.
  8. Uniquely, there is a London Rail Map on the London-bound Platform 1. Every London-bound platform needs a copy of this map, but they are very rare.

They appear to handle all the current services easily.

There is certainly a lot of space to improve the station.

Station Structure

The station stricture is probably best described as grand, stylish and Victorian and it appears to be in good condition.

  • The tracks through the station are enclosed in two large brick walls.
  • A roof of the period, is supported on the walls and a number of perhaps forty cash-iron columns.

These pictures give a flavour of the station.

There must be few better station structures than Darlington in the UK and as it is Listed Grade II*. I would expect this is recognised by English Heritage.

The Southern Bay Platforms

There are two bay platforms at the Southern end of the station.

There were bay platforms at the Northern end, but these have now been removed.

I wonder, if these two bay platforms could be invaluable in the expansion of services both on the Tees Valley Line and generally in the area.

Current plans envisage the following.

  • Four trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington.
  • Two tph between Darlington and Bishop Auckland.

One obvious way to achieve this objective would be to do the following.

  • Run two tph between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland. These trains would run as now with Saltburn services using Platform 1 and Bishop Auckland services using Platform 4 at Darlington station.
  • Run two tph between Saltburn and Darlington. These trains would use Platform 2 at Darlington station.

The advantages of this are.

  • To get to Middlesbrough or Saltburn, you would go to the island Platform 1/2, as you do now.
  • To get to Bishop Auckland, you would go to Platform 4, as you do now.
  • If battery trains were to be used the bay platforms would be ideal for a Vivarail Fast Charge system

There would probably need to be some changes to the tracks serving Platform 1 and 2.

Other possibilities might include.

  • Darlington might also be a useful terminal for a service to Whitby via Middlesbrough.
  • Using the station as a Northern terminus for an Express Parcels Service from London.

Lengthened platforms able to take a five-car Class 802 train, could be useful for service recovery.

The Western Pedestrian Entrance To The Station

Darlington Town Centre lies to the West of the station and these pictures show what probably was a very grand entrance to the station connected to it by a subway.

This Google Map shows the size of the entrance.

It is one of those buildings that would be described by a certain breed of estate agent, as having development potential.

  • There are no lifts to the subway.
  • It could be turned into a retail experience.
  • Does the clock tell the right time?
  • Buses were signposted in this direction, but there appeared to be little information.

Surely, it could be turned into an asset to both the railway and the town.

The Southern Approaches To The Station

These pictures show the Southern approach to the station.

The Tees Valley Line to and from Middlesbrough and Saltburn joins to the South of the station and trains going to Bishop Auckland have to cross over the two tracks of the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the track layout just to the South of the station.

Note.

  1. The Southern ends of the platforms can just be seen at the top of the map.
  2. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from West to East.
  3. The two avoiding lines going past the East side of the station.
  4. The yellow train is one of Network Rail’s Mobile Maintenance Trains.

The Mobile Maintenance Train was parked in the same place yesterday, as this picture shows.

The second Google Map shows Darlington South Junction, where the Tees Valley Line from Middlesbrough joins the East Coast Main Line.

These two maps indicate the problem of train operation at Darlington.

A train between Bishop Auckland in the West and Middlesbrough and Saltburn in the East, can sneak down the Southbound East Coast Main Line and take the Tees Valley Line to continue on its way.

But a train going the other way, needs to cross both tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the flat, which means precision working by drivers and signallers, to avoid causing delays to both main line and local trains.

I suspect all the following are true.

  • The number of London and Scotland expresses will increase.
  • London and Scotland expresses will be running faster.
  • The number of freight services on the route will increase.
  • The number of services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn will increase from the current hourly only service.
  • High Speed Two will eventually start to run services between London and Birmingham, and at least as far North as Newcastle

All will make the need for improvements South, and probably North, of Darlington station increasingly important.

Could it be that the simplest solution would be to create a dive-under?

  • It would only need to be single-track.
  • It could probably be built without affecting current services, as was the Acton dive-under.
  • There would appear to be plenty of space.

It would only need to allow trains from the Eastern branch of the Tees Valley Line to access Platform 4 at Darlington station.

High Speed Two Is Coming

High Speed Two is coming to Darlington and I wrote about that in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services.

This was my conclusion about what will happen to services at Darlington in that post.

I think that this will happen.

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

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

So what will the step-free access be like?

The young assistant in WH Smith told me that a hole will be made in the wall on the East side of the current Platform 1.

It does seem that a new bridge could reach over all the platforms with an entrance for the Town Centre in a refurbished Western entrance.

Passengers would arrive by high speed train every few minutes from the South, Newcastle or Scotland.

  • Those for the Town Centre would walk across the bridge and exit the station in a refurbished Western entrance.
  • Those needing onward local train travel would descend into the current station to catch another frequent train.
  • Hopefully, there would be space somewhere for a bus station.

It would be a real gateway station for Darlington.

 

 

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

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

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

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

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

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments