The Anonymous Widower

First Steps To Faster Trains Is Delivered

This is the title of an article in the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, that has been signed by Amber Rudd.

About Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd is the Home Secretary and in this year’s General Election, she retained the Hastings and Rye constituency with a majority of just 346 votes.

As I doubt she wants to commit political suicide, I therefor consider that what is said in the article is very close to what is intended to happen about the delivery of faster trains between London and Hastings.

London To Hastings In 66 Minutes

This is the first two paragraphs of her article.

Last week I invited Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to visit Ashford International to hear an update on my campaign to secure a high speed rail link between our communities and London St Pancras.

Specifically, I want to see journey times, which are currently around 100 minutes between Hastings and London, reduced to 66 minutes.

The sixty-six minutes is mentioned again later in the article.

Would a politician be so definite about her aims, unless she knew that it was deliverable?

Or is it lucky to say sixty-six in Hastings?

So how feasible is London to Hastings in 66 minutes?

Consider.

  • Southeastern’s Highspeed services between St. Pancras and Ashford, generally take between 37-38 minutes for the journey, with some trains a few minutes faster.
  • The Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings is about 26¼ miles in length
  • The operating speed is quoted in Wikipedia as 60 mph.
  • There are some serious level crossings.

So could a train go from Ashford to Hastings in twenty-eight minutes to meet Amber Rudd’s quoted target of 66 minutes?

26¼ miles in 28 minutes works out a an average speed of 56.25 mph.

I would give that time a 9/10 for feasibility.

The problem would be the level crossings on the line, so if Network Rail were to remove these and improve the track a bit, I feel that this could even score highly for reliability.

Currently, there doesn’t appear to be many trains passing through and even if the service was doubled to two trains per hour in both directions, I don’t think they would trouble the timetable compiler.

Track Changes At Ashford

Amber Rudd’s article then says this about track changes at Ashford.

This was a very encouraging meeting. I am pleased to announce that the commitment has been made to supporting the development of a proposed track layout at Ashford International which would allow trains from Hastings, Rye, Bexhill and Eastbourne to travel direct to London St Pancras

Work will now begin towards the necessary track connections to join-up the Marshlink and the High Speed 1 line to London.

This change would help make possible the direct service to St Pancras with a journey time of 81 minutes from Hastings.

That seems to be a plan. But where does the 81 minutes come from?

The current Class 171 trains take around 42 minutes between Hastings and Ashford, so 38+42 would say that 81 minutes is a reasonable claim.

This document on the Network Rail web site, is the Technical Appendix of the South East Route: Kent Area Route Study.

This map was extracted from the document.

This shows the changes needed to connect HS1 to the Marshlink Line.

Diesel-Electric Or Battery-Electric Trains?

Amber Rudd’s article says this about the trains.

Accompanying the track changes at Ashford, hybrid rolling stock – trains running on diesel-electric or battery-electric power – would make these quick journey times a reality.

This fits in with what is said in the Technical Appendix to the  Kent Area Route Study.

The diesel electric train mentioned in the Technical Appendix is a Class 802 train. Production and delivery of these is underway for Great Western Railway, so we’re not talking about an untried class of train.

But there may be problems running trains carrying diesel fuel in the HS1 tunnels.

The battery-electric train mentioned in the Technical Appendix is the IPEMU based on a Class 379 train.

This train is not in production yet and the picture shows the test train, that ran in Essex nearly two years ago.

The Technical Appendix says this about the IPEMU.

In 2015, industry partners worked together to investigate
battery-electric traction and this culminated with a
practical demonstration of the Independently Powered
Electric Multiple Unit IPEMU concept on the Harwich
Branch line in Anglia Route. At the industry launch event,
the train manufacturers explained that battery
technology is being developed to enable trains to run
further, at line speeds, on battery power, indeed, some
tram lines use this technology in the city centres and many
London buses are completely electric powered.

The IPEMU project looked at the feasibility of battery power
on the Marshlink service and found that battery was
sufficient for the train to run from Brighton to Ashford
International and back but there was insufficient charge to
return to Ashford International on a second round trip. A
solution to this could be that the unit arrives from Ashford
International at Brighton and forms a service to Seaford and
back before returning to Ashford International with a
charged battery.

The IPEMU demonstration train was a Class 379, a similar
type to the Class 377 units currently operated by Southern, it
was found that the best use of the battery power was to
restrict the acceleration rate to that of a modern diesel
multiple unit, such as a Class 171 (the current unit type
operating the line) when in battery mode and normal
acceleration on electrified lines.

Note the following from Network Rail’s text.

  • Brighton to Ashford is about 60-70 miles.
  • Acceleration should be limited.
  • The Class 377 train would not be suitable for HS1, as it is only a 100 mph train.

It is my opinion, that a battery-electric train with the following characteristics could be designed.

  • Five to eight cars.
  • 140 mph on HS1 using 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 100 mph on the East Coastway Line between Brighton and Hastings using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Class 171 train performance using batteries on the Marshlink Line.
  • A battery range of sixty miles to allow a fully charged train to go from Ashford to Hastings and back.

Effectively, it’s a dual-voltage high speed train, that can also run on battery power.

How Would A Battery Train Operate?

A train working from St. Pancras to Hastings would go through the following operations.

  • Run from St. Pancras to Ashford along HS1, as the current Class 395 trains do using the 25KVAC overhead power.
  • Stop in Platform 2 at Ashford station and switch to battery power.
  • Run to Hastings on battery power.
  • Run to Aahford on battery power.
  • Stop in Platform 2 at Ashford station and switch to 25 KVAC overhead power.
  • Run from Ashford to St. Pancras along HS1 using the 25 KVAC overhead power

The battery would be charged on HS1 and using the third-rail electrification at Hastings.

How Big Would The Battery Need To Be?

The test IPEMU had a battery capacity of 500 kWh and based on what is said in the Technical Appendix was capable of perhaps 150 miles on battery power.

This works out as a consumption of under one kWh per car per mile.

So a six-car train would need perhaps 200 kWh to do a single trip on the 26¼ mile Marshlink Line. Providing of course it was fully charged before starting the journey.

Could Hitachi Modify a Class 395 Train To Have A Battery Option?

Hitachi have been developing battery trains for several years.

I believe that if Bombardier can create and test a battery-electric version of a Class 379 train, in under a year, then Hitachi could do the same with any of their A train family, which includes Class 800/801/802/395 trains.

This page on the Hitachi web site is entitled AT300 – INTERCITY HIGH SPEED.

The page has a picture of a Class 395 train and it has this caption.

The Class 395 is the first High Speed commuter train in the UK and part of Hitachi’s family of AT300 units. Its introduction to HS1 in 2009 continues to be a success story and it has set new standards for performance in High Speed trains in the UK.

Underneath the picture, it gives a Technical Outline for the trains, where this is said.

Power Supply: (25kVAC / 750 Vdc / Battery)

This may only be for train hotel power, but certainly the trains can use batteries.

Conclusion On The Type Of Train

I have no reason to believe that St. Pancras to Hastings copuldn’t be run by either type of train.

Although there is the problem of whether trains carrying diesel can go throyugh the HS1 tunnels.

The new operator for the Southeastern Franchise will chose the deal they liked.

Destination Stations

The Technical Appendix to the Kent Area Route Study proposes three possible destination stations.

Hastings

Hastings station has some advantages.

  • It may be easier for operational reasons.
  • Using Platform 1 would allow cross-platform interchange with trains going West.
  • Only minimal signalling and track changes are needed.
  • A 25-30 minute dwell time at the station is good for recovery after a late arrival.

The big disadvantage is that Bexhill will not be served.

Bexhill

Stakeholders would like the service to go to Bexhill station.

Train operation doesn’t appear to be as simple as at Hastings.

Eastbourne

Eastbourne station also offers advantages.

  • There could be a 20-25 minute dwell time at Eastbourne, which would help in service recovery.
  • Sic-car trains would offer signification extra capacity between Hastings and Eastbourne, where it is needed.
  • The line between Bexhill and Eastbourne was resignalled in 2015.
  • Eastbourne to St. Pancras would be a good alternative route in times of perturbation.
  • With extra work at Hampden Park station, it could provide a faster route to Brighton and Gatwick Airport.

The only disadvantage is that an extra train would be needed to run the service.

Conclusion On The Destination

All three stations could be a suitable destination.

I feel that if the choice of trains favours battery-electric, that Eastbourne might have a useful advantage in recharging the batteries.

Track Improvements

The Technical Appendix to the Kent Area Route Study proposes various track improvements in various places from Ashford to Brighton.

It looks like Network Rail are preparing the infrastructure for faster services all along the South Coast.

Conclusion

Amber Rudd has put her name to a well-worked article.

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Class 800/801 Trains Work Southeastern Highspeed Services?

Southeastern Highspeed services are run by Class 395 trains.

These trains are capable of the following.

  1. 140 mph running on HS1.
  2. Running on third-rail lines.
  3. Joining and separating in under a couple of minutes.

As the electric Class 801 trains are also members of Hitachi’s A-train family, I’m sure that they could built to a similar specification.

  • The trains are capable of 140 mph on suitable lines.
  • Rhird-rail gear can probably be easily added.
  • The joining and separating is in the specification.

So I think the answer to my question must be in the afformative.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Everybody Who Thinks HS2 Is A Waste Of Money Should Read This!

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Economic benefits of HS1 revealed as high-speed line turns 10.

This is the first three paragraphs.

HS1 Ltd has assessed the economic impact of the UK’s first high-speed line as it approaches a milestone 10th year.

According to findings, HS1 has attracted a minimum of £3.8 billion in economic and social benefits since domestic services began, which was two years after its official opening in November 2007.

In addition, 5,766 tourism sector jobs have been created and supported by HS1 since the opening.

So I’d say that was a success.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Doubts Arise About A third Runway At Heathrow

I have always been sceptical about a third runway at Heathrow and put down my thoughts in Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?.

Media reports are now saying that there should be more consultation, due to the election stopping the publication of updated forecasts for passengers and pollution. The Labour Party also seems to be against the idea.

By the end of 2019, Crossrail and Thameslink will be fully operational and I believe that they will push everybody including politicians, airline boses and other business leaders to seriously rethink their positions. The statements of Willie Walsh; the Chairman of the airline group;IAG seems increasingly sceptical about Heathrow’s third runway.

2019 also marks the date when Gatwick Airport can start to think about developing a second runway.

In Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?, I showed that it would be possible to create a high-capacity link between Heathrow and Gatwick via Thameslink.

  • The link would connect Gatwick, Heathrow, HS1 and HS2.
  • No expensive infrastructure would be needed.
  • This link could easily accommodate four trains per hour and possibly double that, when Heathrow rebuilds its terminals to make it a greener airport, more reliant on rail.

It could be in place in 2020.

Conclusion

All of these forces will kick the third runway even further into the future.

 

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?

This may seem an outrageous idea.

But I think it could be possible.

Can Class 345 Trains And Class 700 Trains Use The Same Tracks And Platforms?

Crossrail may use Class 345 trains and Thameslink may use Class 700 trains, but can the two trains use the same tracks and platforms?

Recently, Cambridge North station has opened and it will certainly be compatible with Class 700 trains and Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains, which are closely related to the Crossrail trains.

Heathrow’s platforms do not have platform-edge doors.

Both trains are designed to work at high frequencies using ERTMS.

So I think the answer to my question is a solid yes!

How Would Thameslink Trains Get To Heathrow?

The original plan for Heathrow Express envisaged using both Paddington and St. Pancras as terminals in Central London.

It would have used the Dudding Hill Line as a connection between the Great Western Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

This Google Map shows the tracks to the East of Acton Main Line station.

Note.

  • The four tracks of the Great Western Main Line run through Acton Main Line station.
  • The most Southerly pair of tracks are the fast lines, whilst the next pair are the slow lines as used by Crossrail.
  • The tracks shown in orange are the North London Line.
  • The two extra lines to the North of Acton Main Line station are the Goods Lines, connect at Acton Wells Junction to the North London Line, so freight trains can go across London between the Great Western Main Line and Stratford.

After crossing over the Central Line, the route splits with the North London Line going East to Stratford and the Dudding Hill Line going North through Acton Canal Wharf Junction.

To get to and from Heathrow, the services would take the same route as Crossrail to the West of Acton Main Line station.

The services would use the existing Cricklewood Curve Junction to connect with the Thameslink route to the North of Cricklewood station.

What New Infrastructure Would Be Required?

The infrastructure needed would not be of the sort of scale needed for Crossrail or Thameslink.

  • The Dudding Hill Line is would need to be electrified.
  • The Dudding Hill Line is double-track throughout.
  • The 30 mph speed limit of the Dudding Hill Line would need to be increased.
  • Would Harlesden and Dudding Hill stations be reopened or other new ones built?
  • The stations at Heathrow could probably handle Class 700 trains without too much difficulty.
  • There might be a need for a flyover to sort out the tangle of lines between Cricklewood and St. Pancras.

But nothing is too complicated or difficult.

What Frequency Of Thameslink Trains Would Serve Heathrow?

Currently, the following services are provided

  • Heathrow Express has four tph to Terminal 5 via Heathrow Central
  • There is a shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4, run by Heathrow Express.
  • Heathrow Connect run two tph to Heathrow Central.

When Crossrail opens in December 2019, the service to Heathrow will be four trains per hour (tph) to Terminal 5 and two tph to Terminal 4.

Crossrail will also provide the shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4.

It is certainly not a system designed by any individual or committee with any sense of good design.

At least, both Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 stations have two terminal platforms, so the two stations should each be able to handle up to eight tph.

If they did this would mean up to sixteen tph on the Heathrow spur, which would be well within the capability of the route and trains running using ERTMS, which will handle up to 24 tph on both Crossrail and Thameslink in the few years.

Under current plans, it appears that when Crossrail opens, the stations will get the following services.

  • Heathrow Central – 10 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 2 tph plus shuttles
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 8 tph

I’m assuming that Heathrow Connect will quietly fade away.

With a bit of reorganisation of the services, it should be possible to squeeze another six tph into the airport, without building any new terminal platforms.

So I feel that say four tph Thameslink trains to Heathrow would be possible.

Could Crossrail Handle The Extra Trains?

The Thameslink trains would have to run on the Crossrail tracks between Acton Main Line station and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Currently Crossrail are proposing running 12 tph on this section, so as ERTMS can handle double this, I suspect there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Could Thameslink Handle The Extra Trains?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Thameslink Signalling Update, says this about possible Thameslink frequencies.

To meet the specification of 24 tph through the Thameslink core section, it is necessary to deploy Automatic Train Operation (ATO). This will provide a peak theoretical capacity of 30 tph, thereby creating a reliable 24 tph service with acceptable recovery margins.

So an extra six tph could be possible.

Would A Service Between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports Be Possible?

In my view it would be the logical service.

It would certainly be possible!

And it could also be a journey without any change of train!

Would There Be Any Other Useful Connections?

These are a few thoughts and ideas.

Same Platform Interchanges

Cross-city lines like Crossrail, Merseyrail’s Northern Line and Thameslink, have the advantage, that if you are going in the right direction, but are on a train to the wrong destination, you can just get off the train and wait for the correct train.

So if you leave Heathrow on a Gatwick train and you need to go to Maidstone East, you would get off at any of the stations in the central core and wait until the next Maidstone East train arrives.

Everybody will have their own favourite interchanges. Mine would probably be Blackfriars station, as it is above the Thames, has lots of seats and there is a large coffee shop on both platforms.

The ability to do this will mean that all stations South of West Hampstead  Thameslink station will have a very easy link to and from Heathrow.

Reversing Stations

Crossrail has several stations where you can reverse your direction of travel by just walking across the platform. Whitechapel station will allow passengers to go between Abbey Wood and Shenfield stations without going up or down any steps or escalators.

Thameslink only has one reversing station at London Bridge station, although St. Pancras Thamslink has escalators and lifts to allow passengers to change direction in a short time.

West Hampstead Interchange

If plans for a West Hampstead Interchange materialise, this will link the following lines.

  • Chiltern Railways
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Midland Main L:ine
  • North London Line

Note.

  1. This could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.
  2. West Hampstead Interchange would be a good alternative until Old Oak Common station is built.
  3. Passengers going between Heathrow and stations on the Midland Main Line to the North could change here.

Those like me living along the North London Line would find it a convenient way to get to and from Heathrow.

Kings Cross And St. Pancras Stations

The massive complex at Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations currently links the following lines.

  • Eurostar
  • Midland Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Southeastern Highspeed services
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line

But the only way to get directly to Heathrow is a nearly hour long journey on the Piccadilly Line. Thameslink could be just over half that time, in a less cramped train.

Blackfriars Station

I use Blackfriars station a lot, as it is my the Tate Modern.

But others will use it as a same platform interchage for reasons I outlined erlier.

London Bridge Station

London Bridge station is another important interchange, with links to the following lines.

  • Southeastern services to Kent
  • Southern services to Surrey and Sussex.
  • Jubilee Line
  • Northern Line

Note.

  • This new station is well-equipped and interchange is totally step-free.
  • It is also a short walk to the city across London Bridge.
  • This station will be a very good same platform interchange.
  • The station allows passengers to reverse direction by just walking across the platform.

As with West Hampstead, this could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon Stations

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon stations, which are important local hubs, would all be well-connected to Heathrow.

Collateral Benefits

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is planning to have a Euston St. Pancras station, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

It would be a “mega station” serving the existing Euston, King’s Cross and St. Pancras main line stations. If funded and completed, it will be one of two such stations on the Crossrail 2 route (the other being Dalston).

If this station is designed properly, I am sure it will have the following.

  • A step-free and convenient link to both Thameslink and Eurostar.
  • Some form of high-capacity hi-tech people-mover, stretching under Euston Road, linking Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston stations.

I believe a station design is possible that makes the connection between HS1 and HS2 a no-hassle transfer for all passengers in less than ten minutes.

The people-mover should be in place when HS2 opens in December 2026, so that a credible HS1 to HS2 link opens at the same time.

Gatwick, Heathrow, HS1 And HS2 Will Be On One Rail Line

This could be of tremendous benefit to Londoners, travellers, tourists, rail companies and airlines, but Heathrow might not like it, as it could undermine their dominant position.

If Crossrail 2 opens around 2030, this will bring Stansted into the hub.

The Most Important Railway Station In The World

Eventually, Euston St. Pancras station will become the busiest and most important railway station in the world.

How Will Terminal Development At Heathrow Affect Crossrail And Thameslink?

Heathrow are disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.

I believe that this rebuilding could start in the next few years.

Heathrow will make sure they future-proof rail access, so we could see.

  • More terminal platforms at both Heathrow East and Heathrow West
  • Through platforms at Heathrow West to allow trains to go West from both terminals.
  • Freight shuttles bringing in provisions for the airport, the airlines and the aircraft.

This will allow Crossrail, Thameslink, Heathrow Express and other operators to have as many services as is thought necessary.

The biggest constraint will be the capacity of the Great Western Railway and the two tracks used by Crossrail.

Will Other Operastors Be Allowed Use Heathrow?

This probably depends more on politics than anything else, but technically these facts apply.

Bombardier Aventras

Bombardier have hinted that the design of an Aventra can provide commuter trains like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains and 125 mph expresses.

So it would be likely that a 125 mph Aventra of appropriate length would be able to serve Heathrow, if that were thought necessary!

All Trains Would Be Electric

I suspect that regulations would mean all trains would be electric, as you don’t want diesel or hydrogen fuels in the tunnels under Heathrow.

ERTMS

I also suspect that all trains using the eathrow stations would need to be equipped with ERTMS.

Possible Routes

Who knows what routes will become possible, but as the list of trains grows that are acceptable to Heathrow, various possibilities will arise.

  • Great Western Railway to Bristol
  • Great Western Railway to Cardiff
  • London Overground to Clapham Junction station
  • London Overground to Stratford
  • South Western Railway to Southampton
  • East Midlands Trains to Bedford/Kettering/Corby
  • West Midlands Trains to Watford/Milton Keynes/Birmingham

After Heathrow terminals are updated to East and West, there would be scope for cross country routes going vaguely South-West to North-East calling at both terminals in Heathrow.

 

Will Thameslink And Crossrail Strangle Heathrow Express?

I wonder if a ink to Thameslink will be more valuable to Heathrow, than Heathrow Express.

  • Abandoning Heathrow Express would release valuable platform space at Heathrow and Paddington.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink together would have connections all over London, rather than just Paddington.
  • Crossrail to and from Paddington would only take about five or six minutes longer.
  • Heathrow Express will have to update their trains with ERTMS and to compete with Crossrail.
  • Heathrow Express usually means a taxi to your hotel to and from Paddington.
  • Crossrail will connect the West End, The City and Canary Wharf to Heathrow.

Convenience and cost will eventually strangle Heathrow Express.

Conclusion

The following statements would appear to be true.

  • Class 345 and Class 700 trains can use the same infrastructure.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink both use ERTMS.
  • The stations at Heathrow,the Western section of Crossrail and the Thameslink core have spare capacity.

This means it should be possible to extend Thameslink services to Heathrow with a frequency of at least four tph, using an electrified Dudding Hill Line.

Some new infrastructure would be required, but nothing as comprehensive, as that for Crossrail and Thameslink.

 

 

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cargo Hub Is Latest Plan To Get Manston Airfield Off Ground

The title of this post is the same as a news item in the business section of The Times today.

This is the first paragraph.

It is the airport that refuses to take off. But the latest attempt to turn the Battle of Britain airfield if Manston into a sstainable commercial proposition could take wing this autumn.

The Plan

The plan for Manston Airport is roughly on the following lines.

  • The airport becomes a passenger and freight airport.
  • Help create employment in a depressed area.
  • Talk of a £300 million investment.
  • A potential to take air cargo out of Gatwick and Heathrow.

But I’m fairly sceptical given that so many attempts have failed in the past.

This Google Map shows the position of the airport.

Note how the airport is ringed by the Thanet towns.

This Google Map is a close-up of the Airport.

Note

These are my observations.

Local Residents

The runway is roughly East-West on an alignment of 10-28.

Most take-offs and landings will probably we towards the West using Eunway 28.

I don’t know the area well, but I did get this image from Google Maps.

Note this housing just to the South of the final approach to Runway 28.

This Google Map shows the housing, the runway and the A299.

The residents can’t be too pleased of the plans.

Especially, as Google StreetView shows some of these houses to be newly-built sizeable bungalows.

Road Access

Road access to the airport would need to be substantially improved.

I can’t expect that the residents of Thanet will be pleased if a motorway is built across the countryside from the A2 South of Canterbury.

Rail Access

London’s newest airport is Southend Airport on the North bank of the Thames. The airport is growing as a base for easyJet and other low-cost airlines.

Southend Airport has several advantages, one of which is that the terminal is only a hundred metres from Southend Airport railway station, which is fifty minutes from Liverpool Street station.

In this day and age, I don’t believe that planning permission will be given for Manston Airport, unless a large proportion of freight, travellers and airport workers travel to and from the airport by rail.

Consider the current situation.

  • As the Ashford to Ramsgate Line passes just to the South of Manston Airport, I would expect that the development would involve diverting this rail line, so it passed close to the airport.
  • Current passenger services on the line, link to Ashford, Canterbury, Dover,  Margate and Ramsgate, so at least it would be ideal for local airport workers.
  • There are also a couple of trains per hour (tph) to and from London Victoria.
  • Class 395 trains or Javelins also run using HS1 into St. Pancras. Currently, the fastest trains from |St. Pancras to Ramsgate take 79 minutes, so I suspect that to Manston Airport will take about 75 minutes.

The new Southeastern Franchise, which is currently being bid for will see improved access to this area of Kent, which could include.

  • A second HighSpeed route opened into either Victoria or Waterloo using the route that used to be taken by Eurostar to Waterloo.
  • Increase in HighSpeed services to Kent.
  • Replacement of all the slow trains to speed up faster services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Ramsgate gets the following HighSpeed services to London in every hour, that would call at Manston Airport.

  1. Two fast trains to St. Pancras.
  2. Two fast trains to Victoria
  3. Two fast trains to St. Pancras via the Medway towns.

Certainly, the frequency will be good.

Getting Passengers To And From The Airport

It is 2026 and these will be the times from Oxford Circus to the various London airports.

  • Birmingham – 45 minutes – via HS2
  • Gatwick – 68 minutes
  • Heathrow – 27 minutes
  • London City – 20 minutes
  • Luton – 43 minutes
  • Manston – 75 minutes
  • Southend – 60 minutes
  • Stansted – 43 minutes

Access from London might be by HighSpeed train, but people complain about the time it gets to Stansted now, so a time of 75 minutes may be a discouragement, when there are so many alternatives.

I believe that coupled with road access, which will be difficult to improve, that Manston Airport, will never be a significant player in the passenger market.

Getting Cargo To And From The Airport

The local residents are not going to want large numbers of trucks taking cargo to the airport.

But I believe that a lot of parcel and pallet transport, can go by train.

Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, which is also serious about cargo, is proposing to divert the East Coast Main Line, so that cargo trains can call at the airport. Manston Airport would have equally good rail access.

The interesting concept is what I call a HSPT or High Speed Parcel/Pallet train. The idea was first proposed in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Freight, Not All Doom And Gloom, which talks about high-value parcel carriers.

I have developed the concept, as I’m inclined to do in The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT).

I would use some of the soon-to-be redundant Class 321 trains and convert them into parcel and pallet carriers.

  • They are four-car 100 mph dual voltage electric multiple units.
  • They can run in lengths of twelve-cars if required.
  • There are over a hundred of them of which the large proportion will need new caring owners.
  • The trains may be thirty-five years old, but they are reliable and built out of steel to take punishment.
  • They can easily be converted to bi-mode units, by adding underfloor diesel engines, so they can go anywhere in the UK.
  • They could even go through the Channel Tunnel and run on the the French 25 KVAC network.

How many trucks would be taken from the UK’s crowded roads.

An Integrated Cargo Airport

An integrated cargo airport may have appeal.

Consider.

  • Air cargo is increasingly  containerised.
  • Gatwick and Heathrow Airports are short of slots for passenger aircraft.
  • Manston has a long runway, that could handle the largest cargo planes.
  • The airport could easily have rail access to the |Channel Tunnel.
  • The proposed HSPTs could use the Channel Tunnel with the correct signalling.

I worry that the poor road access would be a problem.

The Competition

Doncaster Sheffield Airport could be a serious competitor with equally good train and much better road access.

Conclusion

As in the past, it will be a difficult project to get working well

I also think the road access problems might kill it.

 

 

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ultimate Class 395 Train

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the need for more Class 395 trains.

The Class 395 train has the following features.

  • 140 mph capability on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • 100 mph capability on 750 VDC third-rail electrification
  • Six-cars
  • The ability for trains to couple and uncouple automatically in a couple of minutes.
  • Modern interiors.

Upgrades, that I can see in a new batch of trains are discussed in the next three sections.

Batteries To Enable Working To Hastings For The New Southeastern Franchise

The Modern Railways article  says this about the Highspeed service to Hastings.

What form the new trains would take is asnother question; Kent County Council is keen on Class 800s, to give bi-mode capsability over the Romney mashes so that Hastings and Bexhill could be given a high-speed service to London via Ashford.

However, question marks continue to hang over any such service: there is some doubt as to whether diesel tanks would be allowed in the London tunnels of HS1 (so battery electric could be an option)

It should be noted that, Hitachi have experience in the field of battery electric trains and I think that their engineers will find a solution to bridge the twenty-six miles of the Marshlink Line, between Ashford International and Ore stations, that is not electrified.

The key could be that a passing loop is needed at Rye station for efficient operation of the trains. As Rye is under sixteen miles from Ashford and under eleven miles from Ore, it might be feasible to electrify the passing loop, so that trains could have a quick battery top-up, whilst stopping at Rye station.

Electrification around the station in a town like Rye would mean safety would be easier to ensure, than in some of the remoter parts of Romney Marsh.

Wi-Fi And 4G Capability

These facilities will probably be required of the bidders for the new franchise.

Up To 125 mph Capability On 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

The Class 395 trains can obviously go safely at a lot higher speed and Network Rail have the knowledge and engineering to turn 100 mph lines into ones with an operating speed of 125 mph, if  the topography of the line is suitable.

125 mph wouldn’t probably be needed but the ability to run at 110 mph might be particularly useful on various of the lines in Kent.

In a Network Rail document about the East Kent lines, Network rail says this.

Increase speed to rolling stock and signalling capability.

As the East Kent Re-Signalling Project seems to be improving the signalling, the faster Class 395 trains would set the desired operating speed.

Network Rail have been particularly successful in upgrading the speed of the Midland Main Line in recent years, so with a faster third-rail train available, they might be able to speed up services on the East Kent Lines.

I doubt all of this has not occurred to Hitachi and the other train manufacturers.

It should also be born in mind that High Speed One is not unique amongst dedicated high speed lines in the world and other countries and operators must want to mix high speed long distance and commuter services on the high speed lines.

So if Hitachi can demonstrate their skills between London and Kent on the way to the iconic Channel Tunnel, it can’t be at all bad for the company.

It also probably means, that the companies bidding to take over the Southeastern franchise will get a good deal for extra Class 395 trains.

Or would Bombardier come up with an Aventra with a 140 mph capability on High Speed One?

Other Applications Of Class 395 Trains

Most of the third-rail electric trains south of the Thames like the Class 377 trains are 100 mph trains.

But as there is a need for more and faster services South of the Thames, there will probably be a need for a faster train.

This probably explains why South Western Railway are bringing the Class 442 trains back into service on the Portsmouth Direct Line, as these trains are capable of more than 100 mph.

An alternative might have been to buy some Class 395 trains with a 110 mph or higher capability on third-rail lines.

Conclusion

The next versions of Class 395 trains and trains of similar performance from other manufacturers will not be limited to High Speed One and Kent.

Hitachi can easily create a third-rail train with a capability of running at over 110 mph and if Network Rail upgrade the tracks and signalling to accommodate higher speeds, we could see improved services all across the South of England.

Routes where they would bring improvement include.

  • Waterloo to Portsmouth
  • Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth
  • Ashford to Southampton via Brighton and Portsmouth.

As energy storage gets better will we be seeing Waterloo to Salisbury run by electric trains, using battery power to and from Basingstoke?

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 17 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Crossrail

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

Current Services Between London, Abbey Wood And The Medway Towns

Adding together current services at Abbey Wood station  as given in Wikipedia with the proposed Thameslink service between Rainham and Luton, which I wrote about in Thameslink To Rainham, gives the following service level at Abbey Wood station.

Westbound;

All trains will call at London Bridge station, which after rebuilding for Thameslink is complete, will be a formidable interchange to other services, such as the Underground, buses and Shank’s pony.

Londoners tend to think of Crossrail, as London’s most important rail project, but I do think that the rebuilding of London Bridge station in a few years time will be considered the second most important.

In addition, as Abbey Wood will be connected to Crossrail, there must be few places in Central London, to which travel is difficult from Abbey Wood station.

Eastbound;

  • 2 tph to Barnehurst via Slade Green returning to London via the Bexleyheath Line
  • 2 tph to Dartford
  • 2 tph to Gillingham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Rainham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Crayford via Slade Green returning to London via the Dartford Loop Line,

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Dartford station.

Note.

  1. Barnehurst is on the Bexleyheath Line.
  2. Cayford station is on the Dartford Loop Line.
  3. The North Kent Line goes East from Datford station to Gravesend , the Medway Towns and Thanet.

In addition at Abbey Wood station, using their separate platforms and separate tracks to the Crossrail tunnel, 12 tph will be providing the Crossrail service.

Future Services From London To The Medway Towns

Looking at the Southeastern services to Gillingham and the Thameslink services to Rainham, the following can be said

  • These are the only services, that go more than a few miles past Abbey Wood station.
  • The Gillingham service is a Southeastern Metro service, so probably needs to be run by faster modern trains, rather than the current Class 465 trains.
  • The combination of the Gillingham and Rainham services will hopefully give a very passenger friendly train every fifteen minutes between Abbey Wood and Gillingham, via Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester and Chatham.
  • The Gillingham service calls at Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.
  • The Rainham service calls at Greenwich between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.

I do wonder, if it would be better if the Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Gillingham were to be extended to Rainham and always run by a twelve-car train.

  • Rainham is only four minutes further from London than Gillingham.
  • Rainham has a twelve-car bay platform.
  • Gillingham’s bay platform may not be able to take a twelve-car train.
  • Four tph can be handled in a single bay platform.

This would give a high-capacity four tph service between Abbey Wood and the Medway Towns, with two tph from Thameslink and two tph from Southeastern.

But the major factor would be that passengers would surely find it a very easy service to use.

Service Frequencies East Of Dartford

Note that of the eastbound trains, only 6 tph go through Dartford, as the other 4 tph loop back to London.

Between Dartford and Rochester, there is only the 4 tph to Gillingham/Rainham, although they are joined by 2 tph Highspeed trains between Gravesend and Rochester.

It would thus appear that the maximum frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester is probably 6 tph.

When you consider that the trains through the area, will all be modern trains fitted with the latest ERTMS signalling, handling these numbers of trains and perhaps 4-8 tph for Crossrail between Abbey Wood and Gravesend in the future, will be well below the 24 tph handled by Crossrail and Thameslink in their central tunnels.

The New Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

Looking at the new track layout at Abbey Wood station, it appears to be very simple with just a reversing siding to the East of the two Crossrail platforms 3 and 4.

Cross-overs appear to be provided so that the following is possible.

  • Trains from Crossrail can continue towards Dartford after calling at Platform 4.
  • Trains from Dartford can continue towards Crossrail after calling at Platform 3.

It looks to me, that the track layout is designed, so that Crossrail trains can easily run to and from Dartford or any other station that the planners decide is the terminus.

Capacity Between Abbey Wood And Rochester

As the double-track line between Abbey Wood and Rochester with modern signalling can probably handle up to probably 24 tph, there is capacity for a lot of Crossrail trains to go past Abbey Wood.

Suppose  Crossrail is extended to Gravesend with 4 tph extended to the new terminal and trains stabled at a new depot at Hoo Junction to the East of the town.

The following frequencies to and from London would apply at various stations.

  • Abbey Wood – 10 tph + 12 tph Crossrail
  • Belvedere – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Erith – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Slade Green – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Dartford – 6 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Gravesend- 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail + 2 tph Highspeed

North Kent is going to get a better train service.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction, which is a few miles to the East of Gravesend station, has been identified by Crossrail planners, as a suitable area for a depot to serve an extended South-Eastern branch of the line.

Chris Gibbs, in his extensive report on GTR’s performance, suggests that the Hoo Junction area , be used as a depot for Thameslink services to North Kent. I wrote about this in Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Should there be a Park-and-Ride station at Hoo Junction?

It would have a four tph service between London and the Medway Towns with a stop at Abbey Wood for Crossrail.

In Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot, I came to the following conclusion.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

What happens at Hoo Junction, will be tremendously important to transport infrastructure in the South East of England in general and Kent in particular.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet International Station

The article talks about extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, by adding two new tracks  through Slade Green and Dartford stations, serving existing stations.

As I showed in the previous section, I think extra tracks are not necessary, as modern signalling can handle the required number of trains with ease. I suspect though, that the 75 mph Class 465 trains will need to be retired from the North Kent Line, as their performance is just not good enough.

The report says this about the connection at Ebbsfleet.

There would be a new station that would have pedestrian access with Ebbsfleet HS1 station and Northfleet on the historic line – this could be the terminus, or the new line might reach as far as Hoo Junction on the east side of Gravesend.

I’ve always felt that Ebbsfleet International station was a logical South-Eastern destination for Crossrail, mainly because of the space at the station for platforms, depots and car parking.

Consider.

  • St. Pancras station may have too few platforms for Continental services in the future, so Ebbsfleet International may end up being a terminus for some of these services.
  • Southeastern is developing the Highspeed commuter services to East Kent and East Sussex, which probably need a connection to Crossrail and/or Thameslink.
  • The Fawkham Junction link connects Swanley and Ebbsfleet International stations, and it could be used by extra Highspeed services or Thameslink.

I’ve always felt that there’s a simple solution in there, but vested interests and politicians seem to stop railway planners from finding it.

So why not use upgrade Northfleet station with the following features?

  • The ability to accept the services along the North Kent Line – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • The ability to accept twelve-car trains.
  • A pedestrian link to Ebbsfleet International station based on something a bit sexy. Perhaps a fast travelator or some other form of people mover.

This Google Map shows that there is plenty of space between the stations.

 

Northfleet station is to the North-East of Ebbsfleet International station.

Could it be that a simple solution  would work?

  • Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe become Crossrail and North Kent stations.
  • Northfleet station is connected to Ebbsfleet International station in a passenger-friendly way.
  • The four tph service through the Medway towns to London Bridge continue and are better-integrated with Thameslink at London Bridge.
  • The Swanley link to Ebbsfleet is reopened to allow more service opportunities.

But then what do I do know?

Is Abbey Wood Station A Cross-Platform Interchange?

One thing that the Modern Railways article says, is that Abbey Wood station has been designed with cross-platform interchange, in such a way that any delays to Kent services don’t have any knock-on effects on the new services.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

But at least with this layout, Crossrail trains can have their own pair of lines to the East, running to the North of the current tracks. The Modern Railways article says this.

Mindful of this, the working group is proposing two new dedicated tracks for the extension, running alongside the line through Slade Green and Dartford, with platforms serving the existing stations.

This Google Map shows the route through Dartford.

In some places putting in two extra tracks would be very difficult and extremely expensive and very disruptive to local residents.

Given the capabilities of modern signalling, now being demonstrated on Thameslink in Central London, I believe that something practical for the train companies and friendly for the passengers will emerge.

But one thing is certain. There will not be cross-platform interchange between Crossrail and other services at Abbey Wood station.

Interchange Between North Kent Services And Crossrail

I have a feeling, that this will come down to personal preferences.

After the opening of Crossrail to Abbey Wood in 2018 and the opening of Thameslink to Rainham, passengers will probably have to use Abbey Wood, where it will be an up-and-over via escalators, lifts or stairs.

If and when Crossrail is extended to Gravesend, any of Abbey Wood, Dartford and Gravesend, could be used as a same-platform interchange.

It would also be possible to take a Highspeed service from Ramsgate and change to Crossrail at Gravesend. Would this avoid the extra charge for High Speed One?

I think that Gravesend could become the interchange of choice, as it could have the following London-bound trains, if Crossrail is extended.

  • 2 tph – Thameslink to Luton
  • 2 tph – Southeastern to Charing Cross
  • 2 tph – Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International, Stratford international and St. Pancras.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail

There could be a need to improve the platforms to cope with the increase of passenger numbers.

Conclusion

Crossrail will get very involved with the new Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ashford Spurs

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks of the Ashford Spurs.

Not a new Kentish football team, but possibly one of the most important developments in Kentish railways in the last couple of years.

Eurostar’s Class 373 And Class 374 Trains

Eurostar are replacing their original fleet of Class 373 trains, with smart new Class 374 trains.

The Class 373 trains were built in the 1990s and were designed to run on both high speed and traditional lines and they had signalling systems to allow this.

Wikipedia says this about Class 373 Signalling Systems.

The class have multiple signalling systems, leading to a cluttered control desk. These include

  • Automatic Warning System, the British signalling system (induction-based), used in the Ashford area

  • Train Protection & Warning System, the warning system that supplements AWS, used in the Ashford area

  • Transmission Voie-Machine (TVM), used on lignes à grande vitesse, on Eurotunnel tracks, and on High Speed 1.

  • Contrôle de vitesse par balises, used between Paris Gare du Nord and the LGV Nord, on French lignes classiques and the HS1-connected throat around St Pancras. It is electro-mechanical with fixed radio beacons.

  • TBL, the Belgian signalling system (electro-mechanical), used between Brussels-South and HSL 1, Belgium.

Perhaps this is why multi-tasking is needed to be a train driver.

On the other hand, the Class 374 trains have just one signalling system, that can be used in the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. And that is just for starters. Wikipedia says this about the operation of the two trains.

Eurostar International’s existing fleet of Class 373 “Eurostar e300” trains, which date from the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1993, cannot operate under the 15 kV AC overhead line (OHLE) electrification system used in Germany, most cannot operate under the 1.5 kV DC overhead line (OHLE) electrification system used in the Netherlands and they do not have sufficient space to install ERTMS signalling. Therefore, Eurostar cannot use its Class 373 units on services to these countries and the Class 374 was designed and built to go where the Class 373 could never go. The Class 374 has replaced around half of the Class 373s, with some Class 373s being scrapped in the UK after the introduction of the new trains.

Class 374 Trains And Ashford International Station

The one place, where the Class 374 trains can’t go on the existing network is Ashford International station, as the platforms for high speed trains are on a loop from the high speed lines, which go over the station on a flyover.

Consequently, services from Ashford to the Continent have to use the older trains.

The Track Layout At Ashford International Station

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the lines through Ashford International station.

Note how the two main tracks of High Speed One use a flyover to get out of the way of Ashford International station. The Ashford Spurs connect the lines through the two platforms to High Speed One.

The Ashford Spurs Project

The Ashford Spurs resignalling project will allow the new Class 374 trains to call at Ashford International station, when it is completed in Spring 2018.

Eurostar trains will stop at Ashford, as required by the number of passengers who want to use the service at Ashford.

At present, three trains per day (tpd) to Paris and one tpd to Brussels call at Ashford, as against to five and four respectively at Ebbsfleet International station.

I suspect that the Class 374 trains can execute a stop faster than the older trains, so I think we’ll see Ashford getting a much improved service to the Continent.

The Modern Railways article also indicates that there will be a lot more connecting services to and from Ashford station, so passengers between Thanet and along the South Coast to Brighton and even Southampton, wanting to go to and from the Continent, will use Ashford for convenience.

There will be a lot of collateral benefits to things like house prices in the far South-East of England.

I would also feel that the area, would be an ideal business base for someone supporting an International business, that needs quick access to Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, London and Paris.

I believe that all the places I mentioned, will have fast direct trains to and from Ashford in a few years, with a customer-friendly frequency.

Conclusion

This project is reported to be costing less than five million pounds and it must be returning more than that to Kent.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 18 Comments

Trains Along The South Coast

I had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bosham station in West Sussex.

They indicated that the train service along the South Coast to Brighton wasn’t the best.

So I thought, I’d have a bit of an explore on Wikipedia.

The route between Ashford International and Weymouth stations can be divided into four sections.

Weymouth To Southampton – The South Western Main Line

The South Western Main Line runs between Weymouth and Southampton Central stations.

  • There are twenty stations.
  • The operating speed is 100 mph.
  • The line is fully electrified.
  • The line is double-track, except for between Dorchester South and Moreton stations.
  • There would only appear to be one level crossing at Brockenhurst station.

it is a high quality electrified line, where a well-driven train can keep up a good time.

The fastest trains take an hour and twenty minutes between Weymouth and Southampton with nine stops.

Southampton To Brighton – The West Coastway Line

The West Coastway Line runs between Southampton Central and Brighton stations.

Following the line on Google Maps, the line could probably have an increased speed limit, but the problem is obvious in the number of level crossings.

Timings on the line are as follows.

  • Southampton Central to Brighton takes one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Brighton takes one hour twenty minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton takes forty minutes.

These times are for faster journeys without changes.

Brighton To Hastings – The East Coastway Line

The East Coastway Line runs between Brighton and Hastings stations

Fastest journeys between Brighton and Hastings take an hour.

Hastings To Ashford International – The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line runs between Hastings and Ashford International stations.

  • There are nine stations.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • There are several level crossings.

Fastest journeys between Ashford Internsational and Hastings take forty minutes.

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

Class 313 Trains

When I travel to the area I inevitably find that I’m travelling in a Class 313 train.

  • The trains entered service in 1976.
  • The trains are the oldest electric multiple units in service on the British mainland.
  • The trains are only three cars.
  • The trains have no toilets.
  • The trains have a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Their biggest problem, is that because the trains have such a poor performance, all routes on which they are likely to run have to be geared to a train running at 75 mph, that is not the quickest at executing a stop at a station.

It should be remembered that the time a train takes to stop at a station, unload and load passengers and then restart and accelerate to linespeed, is a major factor in determining the schedule on a route with a lot of stations.

Train manufacturers and operators have been doing a lot of work to reduce this time and a modern train could be almost a minute or even more quicker than a Class 313 train, at each stop.

Wikipedia says this about the introduction of the Class 313 trains, which replaced more modern and faster Class 377 trains.

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.

The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications including the BBC have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains with no lavatories in place of much newer units. These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

This report on the BBC gives more details.

The Major Problems Along The South Coast

Summarising the previous sections, the major problems on the route can be summarised.

  • The Class 313 trains with their poor performance are not fit for purpose.
  • The numerous level crossings significantly reduce the operating speed of the route.
  • The lack of electrification on the Marshlink Line is a serious obstacle to better London-Hsstings services via HS1.

I would also question, if there is sufficient capacity along the line, especially as there are now three Premier League clubs along its route.

In the following section, I shall detail what is proposed and a few extra actions, that I feel should be taken.

Improve The Marshlink Line

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how Southeastern  High-Speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains With Batteries.

As to which option is chosen, Modern Railways says this.

The option to use a ‘hybrid’ electric/self-powered (diesel or battery) train is suggested as being a ‘more cost-effective way forward’, with linespeed improvements then delivered in an incremental way.

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

If the improvement was comprehensive, it would give the following advantages.

  • High-Speed services from St. Pancras to Hastings.
  • Journeys from Ashford International to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth would be all electric and if desired could be without a change of train.
  • Better connectivity along the South Coast to Continental services at Ashford International station.
  • A secondary route from London to Brighton in case of closure of the Brighton Main Line.

If an off-the-shelf solution like Class 802 trains were to be used, the improvements could be delivered in a timely manner.

Remove As Many Level Crossings As Possible

Removal of level crossings is a sensitive issue, but from Southampton to Ashford International, they are a serious limit on the operating speed of the trains.

But it is not just the trains that suffer, but road traffic as well.

Consider Hampden Park station, where Wikipedia says this about the level crossing.

The level crossing at Hampden Park is thought to be one of the busiest in the country, with an average fourteen train movements an hour off-peak, and this can lead to significant traffic congestion on adjacent roads.

As some services actually cross it twice to call at Eastbourne station, this level crossing certainly needs to be eliminated.

Improved Stations

Several of the stations have been upgraded, but I believe that step-free access and longer platforms are needed at quite a few stations.

Brighton and Hove Albion are now one of three Premier League football teams along the South Coast and Falmer station needs to be improved, so that higher-capacity trains can serve the ground on match days.

The Plans Of South Western Railway

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways also gives details of the plans of the new South Western Railway franchise from December 2018.

This is said.

A direct service will link Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth, while there will be a second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton offering a total of 29 additional services between the cities on Mondays to Saturdays.

Wikipedia also says that there will be another thirty five Monday to Saturday services between London and Portsmouth, with more on Sundays.

Services Between London And Portsmouth

Currently, on a typical day there are sixty-nine down services and seventy-one up services. So as thirty-five extra services are going to be provided, then that means there will be a twenty-five percent increase in services between London and Portsmouth.

So would this mean that London to Portsmouth has a frequency of five trains per hour (tph), as against three tph for Southampton?

As South Western Railway will be introducing additional Portsmouth to Weymouth services, will this mean that there will be two fast routes to London from Weymouth?

  • A direct train.
  • One with a change at Havant on to Portsmouth Direct Line services.

South Western Railway have certainly thought long and hard.

The Class 313 Trains Will Go To The Scrapyard

With all the fast 100 mph trains rushing between Ashford International and Brighton and Portsmouth and Weymouth, the Class 313 trains will be worse than inadequate and the best place for them will be the scrapyard.

I just wonder though if South Western Railway’s unwanted but new Class 707 trains could replace the Class 313 trains along parts of the South Coast.

  • They are 100 mph trains, probably with a good stopping performance, which could save a minute at every stop.
  • They are five-car units.
  • They have toilets.

As an illustration of the difference the new trains could make, the current Portsmouth to Brighton service takes around one hour twenty minutes with twenty stops.

A rough estimate indicates that Portsmouth to Brighton could be under an hour with new 100 mph trains.

The only problems would be that they couldn’t work a Marshlink Line without electrification and services along the South Coast are provided by three different companies.

Conclusion

A lot of improvement is possible in services along the South Coast.

Adjusting current timings for new trains with a better stopping performance could give the following sectional timings.

  • Ashford International to Hastings – 35 minutes
  • Hastings to Brighton – 60 minutes
  • Brighton to Portsmouth – 60 minutes
  • Portsmouth to Southampton – 35 minutes

I believe that an Ashford International to Southampton time of three hours is possible.

This is a similar time as going via London and using HS1.

 

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments