The Anonymous Widower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

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

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

Note.

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

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

Note.

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

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

Note

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

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

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

Note.

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

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

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

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

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

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

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

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

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

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

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

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

Note.

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

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

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

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

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

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

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

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

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

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

Note.

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

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

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

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

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

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

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

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

Note.

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

This Google Map shows a similar area.

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

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

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

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

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

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

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

Approach To Leeds

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This would enable the following.

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

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

Conclusion

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

Once complete it would enable the following.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Route

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

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

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

Current Trains On The Hope Valley Line

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

My train was a pair of refurbished Class 150 trains.

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

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

These are much better.

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

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

Will The Hope Valley Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Operating Speed On The Hope Valley Line Be Increased?

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

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

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

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

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

Effect On Passenger Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freight Trains On The Hope Valley Line

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

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

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

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

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

This Google Map shows Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dore And Totley Station – 13th July 2020

These pictures show Dore and Totley station.

These are my thoughts on the station and the tracks through it.

The Midland Main Line And High Speed Two

The two tracks, that are furthest away from the station platform are the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Chesterfield, Derby and the South.

  • These tracks will be taken over by High Speed Two.
  • They will be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The trains on the Midland Main Line will continue to use the electrified tracks.
  • East Midlands Railway have ordered bi-mode Class 810 trains, which will each be 120 metres long or 240 metres long, when running as a pair.
  • CrossCountry’s Class 220 trains are 187 metres long running as a pair.
  • I estimate that the faster trains were doing around 100 mph, as they passed Dore and Totley station. I shall measure it properly next time, I go to Sheffield on a train.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two’s trains will probably be going through at the same speed as East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains.
  2. High Speed Two will be running their 200 metre long classic-compatible trains to and from Sheffield, so except that there will be two more trains in every hour, there will be little difference.
  3. Both the High Speed Two and the East Midlands Railway trains will be running on electric power between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations.
  4. It is likely that other services will use electric power on the Midland Main Line.
  5. There will be no platforms on the High Speed tracks at Dore and Totley station.

I would suspect that there will be little disruption to train services through the area, whilst the electrification is installed, judging by the disruption caused during electrification between Bedford and Corby.

Dore Junction

Dore Junction is a triangular junction, that connects the Hope Valley Line and the Midland Main Line to the South of Dore and Totley station.

This Google Map shows Dore Junction.

Note.

  1. Dore and Junction station is at the North of the Map.
  2. Dore West Junction is in the South West corner of the map and leads to the Hope Valley Line.
  3. Dore South Junction is in the South East corner of the map and leads to Chesterfield on the Midland Main Line.

This second Google Map shows Dore South Junction.

Could this junction be improved to increase capacity and efficiency?

  • The Southern track of the triangular junction is only single track.
  • It is a major route for stone trains between Derbyshire and London and the South.

If Network Rail have any ideas for Dore Junction, then surely, when the works in the area are being carried out, is the time for them to be performed.

Platform Length At Dore And Totley Station

I took these two pictures when I arrived at Dore and Totley station.

As the train was formed of two two-car Class 150 trains and the train fits the platform, it would appear that the platform is about eighty metres long.

An Extra Platform At Dore And Totley Station

There may be no plans to put platforms on the Midland Main Line, but plans exist for an extra track through the station, that will connect to the Hope Valley Line.

This Google Map shows Dore and Totley station and the Midland Main Line.

 

The second platform wouldn’t be the widest platform,. but I’m sure a second track and a safe platform could be squeezed in.

I wonder if more space is needed, the Midland Main Line could be realigned to give more space and better performance.

A Turnback At Dore And Totley Station

In Beeching Reversal – Sheaf Valley Stations, I said this about a possible turnback at Dore and Totley station.

This Google Map shows Dore & Totley station and the area to the South.

Note.

    1. There would appear to be a lot of space between the Midland Main Line and the single track, that leads between Dore & Totley station and the Hope Valley Line.
      Flying my helicopter, as low as I dare, it looks like the area is either a rubbish dump or very low grade businesses.
      Crossrail has designed turnbacks at Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, that will handle twelve tph.
      I believe that it would be possible to design a turnback at Dore & Totley station, that would handle eight trains per hour, if not twelve tph.

It might even be possible to squeeze in some overnight stabling.

Whilst I was at Dore and Totley station, I met a couple, who were perhaps a few years older than me, who had grown up in the area.

He could remember local steam services between Sheffield and Dore and Totley stations, where there had been a turntable to the South of the station to reverse the locomotive.

Conclusion

After what I saw on my visit to Dore and Totley station, I would suspect that the station can be updated to the standard required to allow four tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield stations.

It could also be a station that will attract passengers.

 

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Along The Hope Valley Line – 13th July 2020

These pictures show my return trip between Manchester Piccadilly and Dore & Totley stations.

There are an assorted set of stations.

  • Some stations appear to have new platforms.
  • Marple station has a impressive step-free bridge.
  • Some stations may be Listed or should be.
  • There are walking routes from some stations.
  • Some stations need improvements to the access.

I also have some thoughts on the service.

The Class 150 Trains

The Class 150 trains have these characteristics.

  • Installed Power – 426 kW
  • Weight – 35.8 tonnes
  • Operating Speed – 75 mph.

This compares with these for a Class 195 train.

  • Installed Power – 780 kW
  • Weight – 40 tonnes
  • Operating Speed – 100 mph.
  • Acceleration – 0.83 m/sec/sec

Unfortunately, I can’t find the acceleration for a Class 150 train, but I suspect that it’s not as good as the Class 195 train.

  • I was in a Class 150 train, for both journeys.
  • IThe train was on time both ways.
  • The engine under my carriage wasn’t working that hard.
  • The train was trundling around at around 60 mph.
  • The operating speed of the line is 90 mph.

So I suspect, that a well-driven Class 195 train will shave a few minutes from the journey time.

Transport For The North’s Plan For Manchester And Sheffield

Transportbfor the North objective for Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield stations can be summed up as follows.

Four tph in forty minutes.

As current trains take over anhour, it could be a tough ask!

The Timetable

The timetable isn’t very passenger-friendly with no easy-to-remember clock-face timetable.

This must be sorted.

Hopefully, it will increase the number of passengers riding on the route.

Battery Electric Trains

Consider.

  • Sheffield station will be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • It is likely that the route between Dore & Totley and Sheffield station will be electrified.
  • There is electrification at the Manchester end of the route.
  • The distance without electrification in the middle is probably about thirty-six miles.
  • Fifty-sixty miles seems a typical range quoted for a battery electric train by train manufacturers.

As electric trains generally accelerate faster than their diesel equivalent, these could run the route reliably and save time on the journey.

Conclusion

I’m coming round to the opinion, that Transport for the North’s objectives for the route can be met without electrification.

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fresh Calls For ‘Missing Link’ Buxton To Matlock Railway Line To Be Reopened

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Buxton Advertiser.

I wrote in full about this route in Connecting The Powerhouses, after an article was published in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This was my conclusion.

It’s very difficult to find a reason not to reopen the Peak Main Line.

I think in the last two years the case for reopening the Peak Main Line between Buxton and Matlock may have become even stronger.

MEMRAP

A group called the Manchester and East Midlands Rail Action Partnership or MEMRAP has been setup to promote the case for reopening.

A web site has been created.

New Lower-Carbon And Quieter Passenger Trains

Rolling stock has improved and trains like tri-mode Class 755 trains and possible battery electric trains, should be able to handle the route in a more environmentally-friendly way.

Transport Of Building Materials

This is a paragraph from the Buxton Advertiser article.

Funding for the project, according to Mr Greenwood, would come from working in partnership with local quarries which are supplying materials for the new Heathrow Airport runway and are involved with the HS2 project.

Network Rail has already have spent a lot of money to improve freight access to the quarries, as I reported in £14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled. So the demand for building materials must be there and going via Matlock would remove some heavy freight trains from the Hope Valley Line.

Heavy freight trains might not be welcomed by all stakeholders.

Possible High Speed Two Cutbacks

As I wrote in Rumours Grow Over Future Of HS2, The Eastern leg of High Speed Two might be axed.

This may or may not change the case for reopening the Peak Main Line.

There Will Be Opposition

This is two paragraphs from the Buxton Advertiser article.

Peak Rail has long campaigned to re-open the line for heritage trains to run between Buxton and Matlock. However, director Paul Tomlinson said he was not in favour of the new plans.

He said: “I’m all in favour raising the profile of the line to get it re-opened but we can’t support this new idea.

Others will also object.

Conclusion

There will be various opposing pressures on both sides of reopening the Peak MNain Line.

In favour will be.

  • The quarries.
  • Cities like Derby and Nottingham and passengers wanting better links to and from Manchester and its Airport.
  • Transport for the North, as opening could increase capacity on the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield.

Local interests will want to maintain the status quo.

October 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements

The improvements to the Hope Valley Line are listed under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the 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 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.

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.

So what does that all mean?

All of the stations mentioned like Dore & Totley, Bamford are at the Sheffield end of the Hope Valley Line, where it joins the Midland Main Line.

This map, which was clipped from Wikipedia, shows the lines and the stations.

Note.

  1. The Midland Main Line runs South to North and West is upwards
  2. Dore West Junction is close to the Eastern end of Totley Tunnel.
  3. The Hope Valley Line is double track from Dore West Junction to the West.
  4. The Midland Main Line is double-track.
  5. Dore & Totley station is on a single-track chord, between Dore West Junction and Dore Station Junction.
  6. Another single-track chord connects Dore West Junction and Dore South Junction on the Midland Main Line.

I’ll now cover each part of the work in seperate sections.

Dore Junction And Dpre & Totley Station

This Google Map shows the area of Dore & Totley station and the triangular junction.

Note.

  1. Dore & Totley station is at the North of the map.
  2. The Midland Main Line goes down the Eastern side of the triangular junction.
  3. The Hope Valley Line goes West from Dore West Junction.
  4. The Midland Main Line goes South from Dore South Junction.

Network Rail’s plan would appear to do the following.

  • Create a double-track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, through the Dore & Totley station.
  • Add a second platform and a footbridge with lifts to the station.

Instead of a single-track line handling traffic in both directions, there will be a double-track railway with a track in each direction.

Capacity will have been increased.

In some ways Network Rail are only returning the station to how it existed in the past, so it shouldn’t be the most difficult of projects. But many of this type of project have surprises, so I’ll see it when the new station opens.

The Bamford Loop

On this page on the Friends of Dore & Totley Station web site, this is said about the Bamford Loop.

A Bamford Loop which is a place to halt frieight trains to allow passenger trains to overtake. This is east of Bamford station.

It is around a thousand metres long.

Flying my helicopter between Bamford and Heathersage stations, the track appears almost straight and adding a loop shouldn’t be that difficult.

The only problem is that there is a level crossing for a footpath at Heathersage West.

This will be replaced by a footbridge.

Benefits

The page on the Friends of Dore & Totley Station gives the main benefits of the scheme are to :-

  • Increase the number of fast trains from 2 to 3 per hour
  • Increase the stopping trains from 1 every 2 hours to 1 per hour
  • To provide for 3 freight trains every two hours as at present.
  • Allow trains of up to 6 cars to use the route
  • Accommodate longer freight trains
  • Improve reliability on the route

These seem to be fairly worthwhile benefits from a relatively simple scheme

 

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North

There has been a lot of talk recently about HS3, Northern Powerhouse Rail or Crossrail Of The North.

On Radio 5 Live, this morning, Lord Adonis said a lot of sensible things about the high speed line from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

His plea was for a plan for a start and he suggested that an objective would be to halve the journey time from Manchester to Leeds and have a train every few minutes.

He suggested it could be probably built using a mixture of new track alignments and existing railways.

I agree with what he said, but the problem is that every Tom, Dick and Harriet has their own ideas of what they want.

How Would I Design Crossrail Of The North?

I can at least look at this without favouring any one of the North’s great urban area.

Urban Areas Of The North

I will list those with populations of over 200,000,, from this list in Wikipedia.

  • Manchester – 2,553,379
  • West Yorkshire – 1,777,934
  • Liverpool – 864,122
  • Tyneside – 774,891
  • Nottingham – 729,977
  • Sheffield – 685,368
  • Teeside – 376,633
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 372,775
  • Sunderland – 335,415
  • Birkenhead – 325,264
  • Hull – 314,018
  • Preston – 313,322
  • Blackpool – 239,409
  • Barnsley – 223,281

Urban areas with populations between 100,000 and 200,000 include Wigan, Mansfield, Warrington, Doncaster, York, Burnley, Blackburn, Grimsby, Accrington, Burton, Lincoln and Chesterfield.

Some of the connections between pairs of these areas are truly dreadful despite being only fifty or so files apart.

Northern Connect

I would think it reasonable that all these centres of population have good, preferably direct,  connections between them.

Northern obviously think this way as they are creating a concept called Northern Connect, using new Class 195 trains to connect many of these areas with a quality service.

The North TransPennine Routes

TransPennine operate these North Pennine  routes.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) – Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to York
  • 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street – Scarborough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Piccadilly to Hull

Note that the opening of the Ordsal Chord iin a few months, might change the routing of some of these services.

All of these services use the Huddersfield Line between Manchester and Leeds, stopping at both Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

Manchester Victoria To Leeds

As Lord Adonis said, the important section is between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

I’ll start with a comparison of a series of rail journeys, all of which are about the same length.

  1. The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 tph
  2. Norwich to Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.
  3. Glasgow to Edinburgh currently takes about fifty minutes, at a frequency of 4 tph.
  4. Cardiff to Swansea currently takes 52-54 minutes, at a frequency of 2 tph.

It does seem that the North has a point if  two of East Anglia’s larger cities get a better service than Leeds and Manchester.

The Huddersfield Line And The Great Eastern Main Line Compared

It is also enlightening to compare the Manchester to Leeds Line via Huddersfield to Ipswich To Norwich section of the Great Eastern Main Line.

It should be noted that I’m comparing these two lines, as both have lived on scraps from Central Government for decades. I also know the Great Eastern Main Line well!

  • Both lines are double-track.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is flat.
  • The Huddersfield Line is rather hilly
  • Norwich-Ipswich has only two stations and only the occasional slower service.
  • The Huddersfield Line has numerous stations and local services.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is electrified to a robust standard.
  • On the Huddersfield Line, only Manchester to Stalybridge is scheduled for electrification.
  • Norwich-Ipswich has a 100 mph speed limit, that could possibly be raised in places.
  • I can’t find the speed limit on the Huddersfield Line, but suspect it could be less than 100 mph.

It is truthful to say that the Huddersfield Line is a much more challenging route than the Norwich to Ipswich.

The Effect Of Electrification On The Great Eastern Main Line

It might appear that the electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line makes for the difference in times.

But it should also be remembered that Ipswich to Norwich wasn’t electrified until the mid 1980s and if I remember correctly before that date, the fastest expresses were timed at two hours from Norwich to London with just two stops. The fastest services now are ten minutes under two hours with four stops.

With the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, timings of ninety minutes have been promised to the Department for Transport.

Timings did not drop significantly with the electrification in the mid-1980s, Services just became more reliable with more stops, as electric trains can accelerate better.

The decrease in timings over the next few years will be down to the following.

  • Removal of bottlenecks like Trowse Bridge.
  • Increase in speed limits.
  • Trains with a shorter dwell time at stations.
  • Trains with better acceleration and braking.
  • Improved track and signalling.
  • All passenger trains on the line will have the same performance.

I will be very interested to see what timings, the Class 745 trains eventually achieve!

Electrifying Between Leeds And Manchester Victoria Stations

It looks like the electrification between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations will be complete by the end of this year.

The central section of the route is problematical with the Grade 1 Listed Huddersfield station and large numbers of bridges.

In TransPennine Electrification And Piccadilly Upgrade Now Also In Doubt, I came to these conclusions about electrifying the route.

  1. Electrification would not go anywhere near Huddersfield, as the heritage lobby and their lawyers would have a field day.

  2. Standedge and Morley tunnels are over 2,000 metres long, double track and Standedge is level. If they needed refurbishment in the future, perhaps they could be electrified with an overhead rail, so that bi-modes could have a couple of miles of electricity.

  3. Electrification might be extended at the Manchester and Leeds ends of the line, so that the two cities could improve their local suburban electric networks.

  4. An alternative would be that the Leeds and Manchester suburban electric networks were provided with a few Class 769 trains or even some brand new four-car bi-modes.

  5. Services between Leeds and Manchester would be run by fast bi-modes.

Is there a more difficult stretch of possible electrification in the UK?

The Ultimate Bi-Mode Train

Currently four bi-mode trains are planned for introduction into the UK.

Note.

  • Two hundred and eleven bi-mode trains have been ordered.
  • Nineteen Class 802 trains have been ordered for TransPennine routes.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I look at the prospect of using energy storage in Hitachi’s bi-mode trains.

The Class 802 train is probably something like the ultimate bi-mode train.

  • 125 mph using electrification.
  • 100 mph under diesel power
  • Regenerative braking at all times using energy storage.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Sophisticated in-cab signalling.

Obviously, interior fitment would be up to the operator.

Class 195 Trains

Northern is acquiring 25 x two-car and 30 x three-car Class 195 trains.

These are 100 mph trains, so it must be a good idea to make sure all Northern services that use the same routes as TransPennine services are run by these faster trains.

Short/Medium Term – A Classic Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

TransPennine Express are already planning to run Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester and Leeds. It looks to me, that whoever plans their train policy, saw the electrification crisis coming.

I wonder what times they can achieve between Leeds and Manchester Victoria, if the following were to be done.

  • Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria electrification is complete.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

The reason for the same operating speed of 100 mph, enables trains to follow each other in a stream. It could be 90 mph, if that was easier for the route.

Station dwell times can also be reduced.

Due to overcrowding, the TransPennine dwell times, must currently be some of the worst in the UK.

This is typical at Huddersfield.

Not even the Japanese with their pushers could get this to work.

But a modern train like the Class 802 train with wide lobbies and adequate capacity should cope.

So what time could be possible, if everything goes as planned?

If Norwich to Ipswich which is about the same distance as Leeds to Manchester, can be achieved in thirty minutes, I believe it is possible that the Northern route could be achieved in the same time or perhaps thirty-five minutes.

Thirty-five minutes should be adequate for a few years, if say there was a train every ten minutes!

Long Term – A Genuine High Speed Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

I’ve flown my virtual helicopter between Manchester and Leeds and it is not flat agricultural land like seventy percent of the route of HS2.

I believe that creating a genuine high speed route, with say a 140 mph top speed across the Pennines will be a major engineering challenge that will make Crossrail in London look easy.

It may even be more economic to develop 140 mph hydrogen-powered tilting trains, that can run on the classic route at 125 mph.

Only one thing matters to passengers; a fast reliable and very comfortable and affordable  train service across the country.

Manchester Victoria To Manchester Airport

When the Ordsall Chord opens any Leeds to Manchester Victoria service can continue to Deansgate, Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations.

Manchester Victoria To Liverpool

Currently, services between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria stations take a few minutes over half-an-hour.

I would suspect that thirty minutes is achievable, if the following is done.

  • The four-tracking at Huyton is completed.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

I suspect all of this is in progress.

Note, this is very similar work, to that needed between Manchester and Leeds.

Leeds To Hull

Currently, services between Leeds and Hull stations take a few minutes under an hour.

A few thoughts on the route.

  • The Selby Line from  Leeds to Hull is double-track and not electrified.
  • From my virtual helicopter, it appears to be straight in very flat country, so it is no wonder Hull Trains offered to electrify the line.
  • If the Selby swing bridge were to be sorted, it could become a 100 mph line with trains to match.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.
  • Modern in-cab signalling.

I suspect quite a few minutes could be taken off this route which is about fifty miles.

I suspect this line will eventually be electrified, as it could give sound time savings and it looks relatively easy.

York To Scarborough

Currently, services between York and Scarborough stations take forty-nine minutes, with one tph.

  • Similar improvements to the double-track unelectrified line as for the Leeds to Hull route, could be made.
  • But if the line has a problem , it is that it has 89 level crossings, although Network Rail intends to close them all before 2025.

I wonder, if the time can be reduced between York and Scarborough, such that two tph can be timetabled.

I doubt York to Scarborough will be electrified.

Northallerton To Middlesbrough

This short line is quite heavily used and is a valuable diversion route, so I suspect nothing urgent needs to be done.

Like Leeds to Hull, I suspect this line will eventually be electrified.

Conclusions

I have come to the following conclusions.

  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds is achievable in half-an-hour with the new trains on order and no major infrastructure, other than that already planned.
  • Any line where TransPennine Express services run needs to have the highest possible operating speed and no slow trains.
  • Northern need to get their Class 195 trains into service as soon as possible.

Improvements are much-needed in the North, which could include.

  • A short/medium term plan to deliver the best possible service with the new trains ordered by Northern and TransPennine Express.
  • A long term plan to deliver a genuine 140 mph service across the North of England.
  • A plan to improve the Calder Valley and Hope Valley Lines across the Pennines.
  • A plan to improve some of the poor connections across the North.
  • A strategy to make the best use of connections with HS2.

A detailed plan is needed that lays down what should be done in the next ten to twenty years.

The plan is also needed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Electrifying Tunnels For Bi-Mode Trains

In TransPennine Electrification And Piccadilly Upgrade Now Also In Doubt, I came across two long tunnels, that would need to be wired, if the Huddersfield Line were to be electrified.

So here’s a list of long railway tunnels that aren’t electrified.

Note.

  1. Standedge and Morley are both on the Huddersfield Line.
  2. Totley, Disley and Cowburn are all on the Hope Valley Line.

Over the last few years, we have electrified or designed the electrification for several long tunnels including those for Crossrail and the Severn and Box Tunnels.

Consider.

  • Crossrail and the Severn Tunnel use a rail attached to the roof of the tunnel.
  • Overhead rail is becoming an increasingly common way to electrify a tunnel with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Crossrail developed a specialist machine to install the brackets for the overhead rails.
  • Bi-mode trains like the Class 800, Class 755 and Class 769 train, have sophisticated GPS-controlled pantographs, that can go up and down automatically.
  • Bi-mode trains will increasingly have energy storage.
  • A train travelling at 160 kph (100 mph) will take forty-five seconds to pass through a 2,000 metres tunnel.
  • No-one is going to object to the visual intrusion of electrification in a tunnel.

As some of these long tunnels will need refurbishment in the next few years, would it be worthwhile to fit them with at least the mountings for an overhead rail during the refurbishment.

I wouldn’t think it would be unreasonable to have a four-car bi-mode train with energy storage that gave a range of perhaps fifteen miles.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to suspect that both Hitachi and Bombardier have such a train in the Design Office.

Suppose one was shuttling between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield along the Hope Valley Line.

  • The route is electrified from Piccadilly to Guide Bridge
  • The two tunnels; Totley and Cowburn are a total of 5.6 miles long.
  • Both tunnels are on a gradient, so electrification might speed up services.
  • If Totley were electrified, it would fully charge the train, as it passed through.

I am pretty certain, that if the tunnels were electrified, Manchester to Sheffield would have a fully electric route.

 

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Sheffield

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the one rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Sheffield.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 38 minutes with a change at Sheffield. The two legs appear to take 33 and 52 minutes respectively with a thirteen minute wait at Sheffield station, which is a well-equipped station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and it’s still one train an hour and the journey takes two minutes over two hours.

Incidentally, the fastest trains to Manchester and Manchester Airport via Sheffield seem to be the same trains.

Improving the times on this route will not be easy.

  • Stops are minimal at only Chesterfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • The service uses the 90 mph Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
  • The only electrification is between Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Electrification from Sheffield to Stockport on the Hope Valley Line will be difficult because of the terrain and the countryside lobby.
  • Electrification from Derby to Sheffield will be difficult, as the line goes through a World Heritage Site.

The closure of the electrified Woodhead Line to passenger traffic in 1970, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks to be a crass decision of the highest order. I assume that, the great friend of the railways; Harold Wilson was in charge!

Conclusions

Going between Derby and Manchester by rail is a practical proposition, but it is a route, which would be difficult to improve.

 

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Connecting The Powerhouses

This is the title of an article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, written by Colin Boocock.

It talks about a proposal to reopen the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway or Peak Main Line, which formed part of the Midland Railway route from London to Manchester.

The three main objectives of the reopening are probably as follows.

  • Decrease journey times between Manchester and Derby/Nottingham
  • Provide a better route for limestone trains from around Millers Dale to Derby and the South.
  • Provide better access to the Peak District with its natural and man-made attractions

I would add better connectivity to both Manchester Airport and HS2.

From Derby To Manchester By Rail Today

There are two current routes via Stoke or Sheffield.

The route via Sheffield is the busier and decreasing journey times would be difficult, but the Stoke route is electrified from Stoke and bi-mode trains could probably do Derby to Manchester in an hour and fifteen minutes.

Reopening The Peak Main Line

The next three sections describe the current states of the three sections of the Peak Main Line, as it goes directly across the Peak District from Chinley on the Hope Valley Line to Derby.

From Derby To Matlock

This Southern section of the Peak Main Line is the Derwent Valley Line and it is served by an hourly passenger service.

From Chinley to Millers Dale

The Northern section of the Peak Main Line runs from Chinley station on the Hope Valley Line to the site of Millers Dale station, which is a few miles east of Buxton.

The main use of this section is to get stone and quarry products out of the Peak District to markets in the Midlands and the South.

The stone trains go North to the Hope Valley Line, before turning East to Sheffield and then South down the Midland Main Line.

The Missing Link From Millers Dale To Matlock

This important fourteen mile section of Peak Main Line was closed in 1968, by the non-driving Transport Minister Barbara Castle. She obviously didn’t like trains either!

The Author’s Thoughts On The Link

The track bed of the Peak Main Line is still intact and the author of the article suggests that there could be two ways of rebuilding the railway.

  • As a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsai Trail.
  • As a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsai Trail to a more picturesque route.

Four or five, reopened or new stations could be built with passing loops to enable the minimum service frequency to be achieved, which the author suggests should be the following in both directions in every hour.

  • One fast passenger train
  • One stopping passenger train.
  • One freight train; full or empty.

But there are possible problems.

  • The A6 has to be crossed.
  • One local landowner didn’t allow consultants access to the line for an inspection.
  • Severn Trent Water are digging a large pipe into the track-bed.
  • Peak Rail have plans to extend their heritage line to Bakewell. Could both groups co-exist?

It sounds to me that everybody should find a good hostelry and thrash out a comprehensive co-operation agreement on the backs of engineering envelopes, fuelled by some excellent real ale.

A Connection To Buxton

The author says this.

A future connection over the existing railway from North of Millers Dale to Buxton would add a tourist town with 10,000 inhabitants to the market mix.

I feel Buxton may become more important in the next few years.

The Cost Of Building The Link

The author suggests that the cost of rebuilding the Peak Main Line could be between £137million and £170million, based on a consultants’ report and the cost of reinstating the Borders Railway.

Would Building The Link Be Value For Money?

The author finishes a section called Value For Money like this.

These figures suggest the Peak main line reopening may be at least as cost-effective, perhaps considerably more so, than the Borders Railway. And that ignores any benefits to the economy of the local community around that 14 miles of railway, which comprises almost 30,000 people (excluding Buxton’s 10,000).

I’ll go along with that for now!

Factors Driving The Traffic

The author suggests that three factors will drive the traffic on a rebuilt Peak Main Line.

  • General connectivity between the East Midlands and Stockport/Manchester.
  • Stone trains to the Midlands and the South.
  • A combination of local travel and tourism.

The author also suggests that the hourly service on the Derwent Valley Line linking Matlock to Derby and Nottingham is inadequate.

The Buxton Affect

I would add a fourth factor; the Class 319 Flex trains providing an improved service between Manchester and Buxton.

  • Four-car trains
  • A frequency of two trains per hour.
  • Acceptable timings, even when crush loaded.

Northern have said they are likely to run back-to-back services across Manchester using the Ordsall Chord, which would be more efficient and save platform space in Manchester.

Because Manchester to Clitheroe is another uphill slog, I would link Clitheroe and Buxton services, thus creating a commuter railway that linked two major tourism areas. Certain services would continue at the Northern end to Hellifield for the recently rebuilt, Settle and Carlisle Railway.

In Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?, I wrote about this cross-Manchester link.

Whatever Northern do between Manchester and Buxton, it will be better than at present and traffic on a reopened Peak Main Line to Matlock must feel the benefit.

Stone Traffic

This Google Map shows the area between Buxton and Millers Dale.

Note Buxton in the South-West corner of the map and all the white areas to the North-East of the town, with Millers Dale at The East of the map.

The white areas are not snow in winter, but massive limestone quarries.

The Peak Main Line passes between and around the quarries, so stone trains could take the most efficient route, to either the North or South.

In the same Edition of Modern Railways as the article, is another article about rail freight, this is said.

Aggregates traffic, negligible in 1970, is now a quarter of the total, as sand and gravel supplies in London and the South East have been exhausted  and the capital satisfies ite voracious demand for building materials from further afield.

Things have changed since 1968.

I don’t think it likely that the number of stone trains from Derbyshire to the South will decrease..

Perhaps, the big aggregate and quarrying companies would like to make a contribution to the reinstatement of the Peak Main Line.

The Derwent Valley Line

This is taken from Colin Boocock’s article.

There is already the hourly commuter service linking Matlock with Derby and Nottingham, which is buoyant at certain times of the working day, and the two car trains are busy in the tourist season. The Peak District National Park is a very popular area for walkers and tourists in general.

A picture in the article shows a single-car Class 153 train working the line. If this is typical it is totally inadequate.

From the point of view of balance on the existing line, with Buxton getting spacious four-car Class 319 Flex trains from Manchester, surely Matlock needs something bigger from Derby and Nottingham.

Given the excellent cycling and walking route between Matlock and Buxton, a four-car train should have plenty of space for bicycles and rucksacks.

Perhaps, Porterbrook could come up with a special four-car Flex tourist train, based on a Class 455 train.

With good trains at both ends of the line, the tourism potential of the route could be better assessed.

Exploring The Derwent Valley Line, gives pictures and more details on my thoughts about the Derwent Valley Line.

HS2

You may think that HS2 is irrelevant to a reopened railway across the Peak District. But when it opens HS2 will be a fast alternative route between the East Midlands and Manchester.

This document on the HS2 web site gives the following HS2 times.

  • East Midlands Hub to Birmingham  – 19 minutes
  • Birmingham to Manchester – 41 minutes.

Admittedly, these times will not be available until HS2 to the East Midlands and Manchester is fully open

But from 2032, East Midlands Hub to Birmingham will be open and a couple of years before that HS2 will reach Crewe, thus giving a Birmingham to Manchester time somewhere around fifty minutes, by using HS2 to Crewe and then running at 200 kph into Manchester.

So will this make the need for the Peak Main Line unnecessary?

I very much doubt it.

Suppose a family who lived in Nottingham were going to Manchester to see their favourite band, football team or just for a day out.

How many would be tempted to take the fast route one way and the slow scenic route without a change on the other?

Colin Boocock calculates that Nottingham to Manchester will take one hour forty-three minutes via the Peak Main Line from when it is opened.

HS2 may be faster than that at around an hour with a change, so it will be a case of paying the money and making the choice.

But if the Peak Main Line is reopened, this will mean that Matlock, Buxton and all the intermediate places will be given a faster route to London as East Midlands Hub to Euston will be just sixty-eight minutes.

The Peak Main Line will become a valuable feeder line for HS2.

HS2 could also open up more paths on the Midland Main Line for freight, so could we see more stone trains going South.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport is an ambitious player in the transport game.

  • The Ordsall Chord will give is much better connections to the North, Yorkshire and the North East of England and Scotland.
  • Rail improvements around Chester and Liverpool will give it better access to Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales.
  • HS2 will give improve its connections to the West Midlands and the South.

I believe that just as Gatwick Airport has become an important rail hub, that the same thing will happen to Maanchester Airport.

The main connections that Manchester Airport lacks are decent links to Sheffield and the East Midlands.

This diagram shows the rail lines between Manchester and the Airport.

The Hope Valley Line from Sheffield, feeds into Stockport to go to Central Manchester.

The Peak Main Line can join the Hope Valley Line either via the Buxton Line at Hazel Grove or as the stone trains currently do at Chinley.

At the present time, there is no direct connection from the Hope Valley Line to Manchester Airport.

But if one were needed, I’m certain that it could be arranged.

I believe it is possible to connect the Mid-Cheshire Line that goes from Stockport to Navigation Road and Altrincham, to the Styal Line, which is the main route to the Airport. This would be done at a new junction North of Gatley station.

This Google Map shows the area where the railway lines cross.

Gatley station is at the South-West corner of the map and the Styal Line runs Northwards past the motorway junction between the M60 and the A34.

The Mid-Cheshire Line runs across the map South of the motorway junction and the Alexandra Hospital.

This connection could be done in one of several ways.

  • Trains could reverse at Stockport station.
  • Trains could stop at Stockport station and travellers would simply walk across the platform to connect to trains to and from the Airport.
  • It might even be possible to connect the Hope Valley Line directly to the Mid Cheshire Line.

The last option would be my preferred one, as if it could be built, it would give Sheffield very good access to Manchester Airport.

This Google Map shows the junction South of Stockport, where three lines divide.

The Mid-Cheshire Line goes to the West, the West Coast Main Line goes to the South and the Hope Valley Line  goes to the East.

It would be tight and probably require some demolition to get a direct connection across the junction from East to West, but it would give superb access between Sheffield and the East Midlands and Manchester Airport.

There would be two routes to Manchester from the Hope Valley Line

  • Direct via Stockport
  • Indirect via Manchester Airport, where the train would reverse.

Services could even be arranged to call simultaneously at an enlarged Hazel Grove station, to give travellers the maximum flexibility.

A reopened Peak Main Line will surely be on Manchester Airport’s wish list.

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House is one of the UK’s favourite country houses and it lies under four miles from the sites of the former stations;Hassop and Rowsley on the Peak Main Line.

Reading the excellent How To Find Us page on the Chatsworth website, I get the impression they make it easy to get to the house, by all sorts of routes.

So , I would suspect they would welcome one or both of the stations, if they reopened.

Recently, I visited Hassop station and found they had lots of bicycles for hire.

Peak Rail

I can’t leave this post without mentioning Peak Rail, the heritage rail company with ambitions to connect Matlock to Buxton via Bakewell.

In Travelling Along Peak Rail, I describe my trip between Matlock and Rowsley South stations.

What impressed me was their professionalism, in both the route and the way they ran the trains.

I suspect that given time and enough money they will achieve their ambitions.

But what if the big beasts of Derbyshire County Council, Northern, East Midlands Trains, Network Rail and possibly Manchester Airport want the route for themselves?

My view is that this is a tourist area and if co-operation could enable a heritage service between Matlock and Buxton, this would bring visitors and their money to the area.

I think too, that some of the engineering challenges will need the money that some big beasts might bring!

I can envisage a time, when passengers will have two trains per hour to and from Derby.

  • One train might terminate at Matlock and allow passengers to connect to a heritage service going North.
  • The other train would continue through as a stopping train to Manchester.

This is just one of a long list of endless possibilities.

 

Conclusion

It’s very difficult to find a reason not to reopen the Peak Main Line

 

 

 

 

 

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 10 Comments