The Anonymous Widower

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – Newmarket Station

I went to Newmarket station for two reasons; to assess if the East West Rail Consortium’s plans for Newmarket were feasible and also to see a friend, who trains racehorses in the town, to tell him about the plans.

I should say, that I haven’t been to Newmarket for perhaps six years and it struck me that the town was much more crowded with traffic, with a lot of full car-parks. Around the station, there were lots of cars parked. How many were owned  by commuters going to Cambridge.

The Plans Of The East West Rail Consortium For Newmarket

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

So would it be possible to create a double-track railway through Newmarket station?

These are pictures that I took of the station.

It does appear that there is space for another track on the other side of the current track to the platform.

Newmarket station has some positive attributes.

  • It is in the centre of the town.
  • There is enough shelter and storage for cycles.
  • The platform will be long enough for Greater Anglia’s new four-car Class 755 trains.
  • There is a wide, spacious platform.

But these are outweighed by these drawbacks.

  • The vehicle access is terrible.
  • There is no Kiss-and-Ride facility.
  • Car parking is in the surrounding streets and as it’s free, the local roads will get choked, especially when Greater Anglia’s larger trains are introduced later this year.
  • The East West Rail Link will introduce a two trains per hour (tph) through the station.
  • Will the platform at Newmarket be long enough for the East West Consortium trains, which will be running between Ipswich and Oxford? Probably not!
  • There is no coffee kiosk, shop or toilets.

But above all it is not a destination station., that gives a good impression for visitors and tourists, who could make up a proportion of travellers.

The East West Rail Consortium are planning a parkway station on the A14 to the North of Newmarket and this will surely solve the problem of traffic and parking, that blocks the local streets,

But I believe that Newmarket needs a station, that will attract visitors.

My pictures, show the previous station building still standing next door to the current station.

  • This could be converted into a first-class station with excellent passenger facilities.
  • There could be a large taxi rank.
  • There could be passenger drop-off and pick-up facilities.
  • There is space for a bus connection to the race-course on race-days.
  • Limited car-parking of a short-term nature.
  • A two-hundred metre  long platform could be built to accommodate the longest-possible trains.

This Google Map, shows the combined site of the current and previous stations.

Both stations are effectively side-by-side, with the current station to the East.

The large area behind the stations is parking for horse-boxes during the numerous sales at Tattersalls. For much of the year, it is virtually empty.

I’m pretty sure, that with some management, the area could serve both its current purpose and as a forecourt to a landmark station,, that would enhance the town and the racing industry.

I don’t think that a second platform would be needed for the following reasons.

  • Adding the step-free access to the seond platform would cost a seven figure sum.
  • Commuters into Cambridge would be encounraged to use the A14 Parkway station.
  • Probably only on race days, would there be large enough numbers of passengers to need to accommodate two trains in the station at the same time..

However space could be left, if a second platform were to be needed in the future.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The current Newmarket station is totally inadequate for the current service of one three-car train per hour in both directions.

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains could be a car longer and will certainly attract more passengers to use Newmarket station, as new trains always do!

I feel that in the next couple of years, possible additional trains, more passengers and lack of car parking will create problems at Newmarket station.

I would recommend the following actions.

A14 Parkway Station

Work should start as soon as is practical for the A14 Parkway station, proposed by the East West Rail Consortium.

This station would have the following Greater Anglia services.

  • Peterborough and Colchester – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – 1 tph

These two services would give the following frequencies to these places.

  • Bury St. Edmunds – 2 tph direct
  • Colchester – 1 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Ipswich
  • Diss – 1 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Ipswich – 2 tph direct
  • London – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge and 1 tph with a change at Ely
  • Newmarket – 1 tph direct
  • Norwich – 1 tph with a change at Cambridge, 1 tph with a change at Ely and 2 tph with a change at Stowmarket
  • Peterborough – 1 tph direct and 1 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Stowmarket – 2 tph direct

A14 Parkway station sitting at the junction of two of the busiest roads in East Anglia; the A11 and A14, and two important rail routes,would be one of the most important stations in the East.

The station could only be named after Ancient Britain’s most famous queen, who by repute once lived in the area.

Upgrade Newmarket Station

Hopefrully, the A14 Parkway station would ease the problems at Newmarket station and this would enable work to progress on the design of an upgraded Newmarket station, that would serve the town, the racing industry and the towns tourist attractions.

Improved Train Services To/From Cambridge

Once the East West Rail Link opens between Cambridge and Oxford, the current service between Ipswich and Cambridge, could eventually be replaced with a service between Manningtree and Oxford or possibly Reading, that calls at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St. |Edmunds, A14
Parkway, Newmarket, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bicester, Oxford and several smaller intermediate stations.

The three Cambridge stations of Cambridge, Cambridge North and Cambridge South will also increasingly be connected to the surrounding stations like A 14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambourne, Ely, Kings Lynn, March, Newmarket and Peterborough. Services will be at a frequency of at least two tph, with some as high as four tph.

In addition, there could be new services to Haverhill and Wisbech.

Newmarket will get a share of these services and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these frequencies from Newmarket station to the three Cambridge stations.

  • Cambridge – 4 tph direct
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge
  • Cambridge South – 2 tph direct and 2 tph with a change at Cambridge

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in Europe and Newmarket can benefit by holding on to big sister’s skirts.

West Suffolk And London Services

If you look at the sizeable towns in Suffolk, the following ones that are rail connected, do not have a direct train service to London.

  • Beccles
  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Halesworth
  • Lowestoft
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Woodbridge

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains, will be running three trains per day, between Liverpool Street and Lowestoft, which will reduce this list to just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Felixstowe
  • Newmarket
  • Sudbury

If Felixstowe is discounted as it is on a  branch line busy with freight trains and Sudbury because it is on a single track branch line, we are left with just.

  • Bury St. Edmunds
  • Newmarket

Add in the proposed A14 Parkway station and is it feasible to run a service between London Liverpool Street and Bury St. Edmunds via Cambridge, Newmarket and A14 Parkway.

I calculate that a round trip would be possible in around four hours, thus making three trains per day possible.

I suspect, there would be capacity problems on the Southern section of the West Anglia Main Line, but if this were to be four-0tracked as is proposed, this would ease that problem.

So a service between West Suffolk and London, is probably one for the future.

A Final Conclusion

Newmarket can benefit from East West Rail, but the two parties must agree objectives that don’t cause problems for the other.

 

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kempton Park Racecourse Could Close For Housing

This article on the BBC is entitled Kempton Park racecourse faces closure to make way for housing.

This Google Map shows Kempton Park racecourse and the surrounding area.

Kempton Park

Kempton Park

It is a large site of about a third of a square mile, bounded on the Southern side by the Thames, with the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo on the Northern side.

Note.

  • London needs lots of quality housing and it would certainly provide that.
  • Kempton Park station currently has two trains per hour (tph) taking 44 minutes to and from Waterloo.
  • As I said in An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, whether Crossrail 2 is built or not, four tph could run on the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo in perhaps 30 minutes.
  • There might be space for a section station on the London side of Kempton Park station.
  • Road connections are good to the M3 and M25.
  • A black-cab or mini-cab to Heathrow wouldn’t be outrageous.

On this rough look it certainly looks to be a good site for housing.

It is also possibly the only site owned by The Jockey Club, whose sale would create enough cash for thei improvements to go ahead.

But as on Radio 5 tonight, not all horse racing participants and fans will like this decision.

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Tattenham Corner

Tattenham Corner station was built to serve the racecourse at Epsom as this Goggle Map shows.

Tattenham Corner Station And Epsom Racecoiurse

Tattenham Corner Station And Epsom Racecoiurse

Perhaps because of the racecourse and the Downs, unlike Epsom which is in Fare Zone 7, Tattenham Corner is in Fare Zone 6, so it is in Freedom Pass territory.

I went to take these pictures and it should have been an easy trip from London Bridge, but I got the wrong train and had to change at South Croydon and Purley.

It was very much a trundle through typical Surrey countryside of woods, fields and semi-detached houses.

I do wonder if the team that decided that Cambridge would be the other end of the Thameslink service from Tattenham Corner were racing enthusiasts, but it will certainly come in handy for racing, as driving from Newmarket to Epsom is not that easy.

I also wonder, if as Thameslink develops, then this station will get used as a Park-and-Ride station close to the M25 for London, as the Class 700 trains will be a large increase ion capacity.

 

 

February 16, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Plumpton Station, Level Crossing And Racecourse

When a friend phoned me from Brighton asking me next time I was in the area to meet him for a coffee, I decided to combine the trip with a visit to the site of the level crossing in I Wonder If This Happens In Europe.

These are pictures I took at Plumpton station.

It would not be called grand, but it must be one of the few stations in the UK with an attached racecourse.

The rebuilding of the level crossing is causing problems according to Wikipedia. This is said.

Network Rail closed the level crossing in September 2015 so that the gates on the crossing could be replaced. However, Lewes District Council rejected the plans to replace the gates as it would cause “substantial harm to the significance of the signal box”. Network Rail have said that they cannot open the crossing as the work is not completed. This has effectively split the village in two, with some motorists having to take a six or seven mile detour.

I did chat with a local and her grey whippet and feel that there could be more to this than meets the eye.

If you type “Plumpton suicide” into Google, you find reports, where people have killed themselves at the crossing.

But I also feel that Network Rail haven’t been too clever in this one. My view is that stations like Plumpton need at least a half-hourly service, as this means you have a proper turn-up-and-go service.

One of the pieces of work being done in the area, is to close all the signal boxes and handle all signalling from Three Bridges Operating Centre. This work combined with an automated level crossing, could surely enable all the half-hourly services between Lewes and London to stop at the station.

But it would enrage the militant wing of the heritage lobby!

As to the signal box, they should be looking at a version of the Highams Park solution. Perhaps it would make a cafe and/or business centre.

Starting a half-hourly service might have the effect of increasing traffic at the station.

It’s a difficult one, but with the population of areas like Sussex getting older, more numerous and more and more people cutting use of their cars, who knows?

For the duration of the level crossing closure, Network Rail and Southern had a golden opportunity to experiment with stopping all services. Some of those drivers, who are doing a long detour, might have been persuaded to try the trains to Lewes, Brighton or London.

October 13, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The National Infrastructure Commission Is Welcomed By Warwickshire

This article on Rail News is entitled Warwickshire rail campaigners welcome news of National Infrastructure Commission and it discusses the struggles of local campaigners trying to restore the rail line between Stratford-on-Avon and Honeybourne, on the North Cotswold Route. Wikipedia says this about the plans.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reinstate the 9 miles (14 km) “missing Link” between Honeybourne and Stratford. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon railway station a through station once again with improved connections to the Cotswolds and the South. The scheme faces local opposition. There is, however, a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.

Note this could also be a freight diversion route.

Last year, I went to Stratford-on-Avon and wrote Stratford Upon Avon Station Is Getting A Facelift.

I hinted at more services to come and linked to the Wikipedia comments above.

To return to the Rail News article, it says some interesting things like this.

A NIC could overcome one of the biggest hurdles that has existed for decades. For mainly no other reason the route from Stratford to Honeybourne straddles two government regional boundaries (West Midlands and South West) two Network Rail regions (Chiltern/West Midlands and Western), three County Councils, three District Councils and two Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Is anybody in charge? Perhaps the NIC will be. This is said on visitors to Stratford-on-Avon.

Stratford only attracts six per cent of visitors to the town to travel by rail, while the national average for visitors by rail to similar UK rail-connected tourist destinations is over double that, at 13 per cent.

As the line has a good case for reopening and Stratford-on-Avon station has been upgraded, perhaps this is a project that should be looked at seriously.

We are probably going to live in a new era if George Osbourn’s plans for business rate reform come to fruition, which might see progressive Councils developing infrastructure to enable business, housing and tourism opportunities.

Surely a reconstructed line from Stratford-on-Avon to Cheltenham would tick a few boxes.

There is a major prize at the Cheltenham end if Cheltenham Racecourse, which is one of the busiest in the UK, could be linked to the main line rail network at Cheltenham Spa station. The Google Map shows the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway going past the racecourse, where there is already a station.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse

Unfortunately, there is a supermarket which is partially blocking the route between the racecourse and Cheltenham Spa station.

These are the sort of problems that a National Infrastructure Commission should have the power to solve or dismiss as insoluble.

Watching National Hunt racing at Cheltenham is one of the  great sporting spectacles of the British Isles and a viable rail service to the course from London and Oxford needs to be created.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Had A Colourful Life, But I’m Not Finished Yet!

These were Frankie Dettori‘s words today after he won the Derby today on Golden Horn.

Frankie rode for C and myself several times and he is very much a genuine what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, who is the life and soul of any group. But then most jockeys are like that and many have fought back from terrible problems, circumstances or injuries.

I do think that over the last few years, my experience of horse racing and its people has helped me pull through all my troubles.

On the other hand,. having paternal and maternal male lines of Jewish and Huguenot origin respectively and a grandmother born in London of a stubborn Devonian line, isn’t a disadvantage to survival.

My life may not have been colourful, but I’m certainly not finished yet!

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

Those Seagulls Get Everywhere

Some coastal parts of the UK and other parts of Europe have a seagull problem.

But this story from Brighton must be unique, where one of the birds finished second in the 7:10 race according to the photo finish.

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Barney Curley Does It Again!

There are gamblers, successful gamblers and Barney Curley. In a betting coup a couple of days ago, the BBC is reporting that he made about two million pounds.

It certainly isn’t the first time! A late friend was a Newmarket bookmaker and was always on the look-out for any of Barney’s money. He managed to avoid any serious damage, but that was more by luck than judgement.

Wikipedia gives a detailed account of the Yellow Sam betting coup.

The major bookmakers thought they had protected themselves against coups from the likes of Barney Curley.  But they were wrong!

January 24, 2014 Posted by | News, Sport | , | Leave a comment

Developments At Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a town, I’ve been to several times.  Usually, it has been to go to the races, although I did go there on my 92 Club trip. I went by train to Cheltenham Spa station.

This month’s Modern Railways describes a substantial proposed development at the station, which adds extra platforms and capacity. Given that there is a large development being started at Cheltenham Racecourse and getting to the racecourse by road is a nightmare, I think it would be a good idea to expand the station, so that racegoers could at least get to Cheltenham by train. Provision is made in the station scheme for perhaps a light rail system to link to the racecourse station.

But obviously, a heavy rail scheme would be better, so that luxury special trains could run from Paddington direct to the racecourse.  First Great Western are now running Pullman Dining services on InterCity 125 trains to Plymouth, so perhaps the soon-to-be redundant trains could be refurbished as luxury go-virtually-anywhere trains to take visitors to special events in style.

There’s a lot to think about!

But the proposed reworking of Cheltenham Spa station, does show how if you think properly, you can improve a mundane station for the benefit of the rail companies and passengers alike.

Here’s a personal example.

With the simplification of movements at Ipswich, due to the new Bacon Factory Curve, will this make possible, some small improvements? It would be much easier for a train from say Cambridge to come in to Ipswich station and then reverse out to either Lowestoft or Felixstowe, as there won’t be freight trains reversing in the yard outside the station.

I hope Network Rail has got their thinking cap on!

They certainly seem to have got it right with new stations at Cambridge Science Park and Lea Bridge, but they seem to have been unlucky with building a Coventry Arena station, and then have Coventry City move away.

But as I indicated in this post, are Network Rail expanding the railway, by doing lots of small high return projects.

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment