The Anonymous Widower

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

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

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

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Route

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

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

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

Current Trains On The Hope Valley Line

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

My train was a pair of refurbished Class 150 trains.

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

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

These are much better.

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

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

Will The Hope Valley Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Operating Speed On The Hope Valley Line Be Increased?

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

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

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

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

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

Effect On Passenger Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freight Trains On The Hope Valley Line

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

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

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

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

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

This Google Map shows Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Current And Proposed Timings Between Manchester And Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Speed Two’s Approach To Manchester

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

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

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

This Google Map shows a similar area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

These techniques can revolutionise the construction of HS2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This visualisation from Weston Williamson, shows their proposed station.

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

Huddersfield And Westtown (Dewsbury)

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

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

Network Rail provide this very useful map.

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

Eight Miles Of Electrification

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

This eight miles of electrification would enable the following.

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

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

Will Services Be Faster Between Huddersfield And Leeds?

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

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

The Problem Of Bradford

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

This Google Map shows the two stations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Low Moor Station

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

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

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

Note,

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

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

A Bradford Tunnel

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

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

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

A Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suppose it was built to handle the following.

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

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

There are also other smaller advantages.

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

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

Would such a TransPennine tunnel be realisable?

Consider.

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

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

Conclusion

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

I believe that we have the capabilities to build it.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

 

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

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

This Google Map shows a similar area.

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

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

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

The colours are as before.

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

The Bridge Across The Mersey

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

The problem is the Manchester Ship Canal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

I certainly believe it’s a possibility.

Warrington Bank Quay Station

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

This Google Map shows Warrington Bank Quay station.

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

Note.

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

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

Warrington Bank Quay Station As An Interchange

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

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

Between Warrington Bank Quay Station And Widnes

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

Note.

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

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

Note.

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

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

Between Widnes And Liverpool Lime Street

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Transport for the North.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Northern leaders have agreed an initial preferred way forward for a new railway network that will transform the region’s economy.

And these are the rail improvements proposed.

  • A new line to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
  • A new line to be constructed from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
  • Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
  • Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
  • Significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
  • Significant upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle (via York and Darlington) and restoration of the Leamside line

No more detail is given, but the list is followed by this paragraph.

The move comes ahead of the much-anticipated publication of a new report that will set out long-term investment plans for rail upgrades in the North. The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan – due to be published by the end of this year – is expected to recommend how investment in rail projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 Phase 2b, and the TransPennine Route Upgrade (a separate project) will be delivered.

I am waiting for the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan with interest.

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Many Trains Are Needed To Run A Full Service On High Speed Two?

The latest High Speed Two schedule was published in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Two Train Classes

Two separate train classes have been proposed for High Speed Two.

Full-Size – Wider and taller trains built to a European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.

Classic-Compatible – Conventional trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two has a section entitled Rolling Stock, where this is said about the design.

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft); two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train. It has been reported that these longer trains would have approximately 1,100 seats.

These are some of my thoughts.

Seating Density

I would assume that this means that a single 200 metre train, will have a capacity of approximately 550 seats or a density of 2.75 seats per metre. How does that compare with other trains?

  • 9-car Class 801 train – 234 metres – 611 seats – 2.61 seats/metre
  • 7-car Class 807 train – 182 metres – 453 seats – 2.49 seats/metre
  • 9-car Class 390 train  – 217.5 metres – 469 seats – 2.16 seats/metre
  • 11-car Class 390 train  – 265.3 metres – 589 seats – 2.22 seats/metre
  • 12-car Class 745/1 train – 236.6 metres – 767 seats – 3.24 seats/metre
  • 16-car Class 374 train – 390 metres – 902 seats – 2.31 seats/metre

What I find strange with these figures, is that I feel most crowded and cramped in a Class 390 train. Could this be because the Pendelino trains are eighteen years old and train interior design has moved on?

But I always prefer to travel in a Hitachi Class 80x train or a Stadler Class 745 train.

I very much feel that a seating density of 2.75 seats per metre, designed using some of the best modern practice, could create a train, where travelling is a very pleasant experience.

Step-Free Access

I have travelled in high speed trains all over Europe and have yet to travel in one with step-free access.

Surely, if Stadler can give their trains step-free access everybody can.

The pictures shows step-free access on Stadler Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

If I turned up pushing a friend in a wheelchair, would I be able to push them in easily? Or better still will they be able to wheel themselves in?

A Greater Anglia driver once said to me, that they never have to wait anymore for wheelchairs to be loaded.

So surely, it is in the train operator’s interest to have step-free access, if it means less train delays.

Double-Deck Trains

In my view double-deck trains only have one only good feature and that is the ability to see everything, if you have a well-designed window seat.

I may be seventy-three, but I am reasonably fit and only ever travel on trains with airline-sized hand baggage. So I don’t find any problem travelling upstairs on a double-deck bus or train!

But it could have been, so very different, if my stroke had been a bit worse and left me blind or in a wheelchair for life.

I have seen incidents on the Continent, which have been caused by double-deck trains.

  • A lady of about eighteen in trying to get down with a heavy case dropped it. Luckily it only caused the guy she was travelling with, to roll unhurt down the stairs.
  • Luggage is often a problem on Continental trains because of the step-up into the train and access is worse on double deck trains.
  • I also remember on a train at Leipzig, when several passengers helped me lift a guy and his wheelchair out of the lower deck of a double-deck train, which was lower than the platform, as they often are with double-deck trains.

I am not totally against double-deck trains, but they must be designed properly.

Consider.

  • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains will only use London Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Birmingham Curzon Street, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.
  • All stations used by Full-Size trains will be brand-new or substantially rebuilt stations.
  • Someone sitting in a wheelchair surely has the same right to a view from the top-deck of a double-deck train as anybody else.
  • Jumbo jets seemed to do very well without a full-length top-deck.
  • The A 380 Superjumbo has been designed so that entry and exit on both decks is possible.

I feel if High Speed Two want to run double-deck trains, an elegant solution can surely be found.

A Crude Estimate On The Number Of Trains

This is my crude estimate to find out how many trains, High Speed Two will need.

Western Leg

These are the services for the Western Leg between London , Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Train 1 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 2 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 3 – London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 400 metre Full-Size – 45 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Lancaster – Classic Compatible – 2 hours 3 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 4 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 5 – London Euston and Liverpool – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 34 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 6 – London Euston and Macclesfield – Classic Compatible – 1 hours 30 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 7 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 8 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 9 – London Euston and Manchester – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 11 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 10 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Edinburgh – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 48 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 11 – London Euston and Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 40 minutes – 8 hour Round Trip – 8 trains
  • Train 12 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh or Glasgow – Classic Compatible – 3 hours 20 minutes – 7 hour Round Trip – 7 trains
  • Train 13 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 14 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 200 metre Full-Size – 41 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains

Note.

  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. I think that trains 4 and 5 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at Crewe.
  3. The full schedule will need 34 Full-Size trains and 56 Classic-Compatible trains

According to Wikipedia, the first order will be for 54 Classic-Compatible trains, so I would assume, that more trains will be ordered.

Eastern Leg

These are the services for the Eastern Leg between London , Birmingham, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Newcastle.

  • Train 15 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 16 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre Full-Size – 49 minutes – 2 hour Round Trip – 2 trains
  • Train 17 – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 57 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 18 – London Euston and Leeds – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 19 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 20 – London Euston and Leeds – 400 metre Full-Size – 1 hour and 21 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 6 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and Sheffield – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 27 minutes – 4 hour Round Trip – 4 trains
  • Train 21 – London Euston and York – Classic Compatible – 1 hour 24 minutes – 3 hour Round Trip – 3 trains
  • Train 22 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains
  • Train 23 – London Euston and Newcastle – Classic Compatible – 2 hour 17 minutes – 5 hour Round Trip – 5 trains

Note.

  1. I have assumed 400 metre Full-Size trains will be a pair of 200 metre trains.
  2. Trains 15 and 16 work as a pair
  3. I think that trains 18 and 21 work an intricate dance with appropriate splitting and joining at East Midlands Hub.
  4. The full schedule will need 16 Full-Size trains and 29 Classic-Compatible trains

Adding the two legs together and I estimate that 50 Full-Size trains and 85 Classic-Compatible trains, will be needed to run a full schedule.

Trains Per Hour On Each Section

It is possible to make a table of how many trains run on each section of the High Speed Two network in trains per hour (tph)

  • London Euston (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common (stops) – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange – 1-11, 18-23 – 17 tph
  • Birmingham Interchange (stops) – 2, 3, 7, 11, 20 – 5 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street (stops) – 1-3, 12-14, 15-17 – 9 tph
  • Birmingham and Crewe – 4,5, 7-9, 10-14 – 10 tph
  • Crewe (stops) – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Liverpool – 4,5 – 2 tph
  • Crewe and Lancaster – 4, 10-12 – 4 tph
  • Crewe and Manchester – 7-9, 13, 14 – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington – 4 – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Lancaster (stops) 4 – 1 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 10-12 – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 10-12 – 2.5 tph
  • Birmingham and Stoke – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Stoke and Macclesfield – 6 – 1 tph
  • Macclesfield (stops) – 6 – 1 tph
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub – 15-17, 18-20, 21-23 – 9 tph
  • East Midlands Hub (stops) – 15-17, 18-20, 21 – 7 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Sheffield (stops) – 18, 21 – 2 tph
  • Midlands Hub and Leeds – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • Leeds (stops) – 15, 16, 18-20 – 5 tph
  • East Midlands Hub and York – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York (stops) – 17, 21-23 – 4 tph
  • York and Newcastle – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph
  • Newcastle (stops) – 17, 22, 23 – 3 tph

These are a few thoughts.

Capacity Of The Southern Leg

The busiest section is between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange, which handles 17 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives a path for recovery, according to the article.

Trains Serving Euston

The following train types serve London Euston station.

  • Full-Size – 8 tph
  • 400 metre Classic-Compatible – 5 tph
  • 200 metre Classic-Compatible – 4 tph

As a 200 metre long train needs the same track and platform resources as a 400 metre long train, by splitting and joining, it would appear that extra destinations could be served.

Platform Use At Euston

This page on the High Speed Two web site, gives details of Euston High Speed Two station.

HS2 will deliver eleven new 400m long platforms, a new concourse and improved connections to Euston and Euston Square Underground stations. Our design teams are also looking at the opportunity to create a new northerly entrance facing Camden Town as well as new east-west links across the whole station site.

So how will the eleven platforms be used?

Destinations served from London are planned to be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Lancaster – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph

  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – 2 tph
  • York – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

That is ten destinations and there will be eleven platforms.

I like it! Lack of resources is often the reason systems don’t work well and there are certainly enough platforms.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – Full-Size
  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • Liverpool – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Lancaster
  • Macclesfield – Classic-Compatible
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible
  • Sheffield – Classic-Compatible – Also serves Leeds and York

Note.

  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are three spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub, Leeds, Preston and York are not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Platform Use At Birmingham Curzon Street

Birmingham Curzon Street station has been designed to have seven platforms.

Destinations served from Birmingham Curzon Street station are planned to be as follows.

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Leeds – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • London Euston – Full-Size – 3 tph
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size – 2 tph
  • Newcastle – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph
  • Nottingham – Classic-Compatible – 1 tph

Note.

  1. The Nottingham service has been proposed by Midlands Engine Rail, but will be running High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  2. That is six destinations and there will be seven platforms.

I like it! For the same reason as London Euston.

Could platforms be allocated something like this?

  • Edinburgh/Glasgow – Classic-Compatible
  • Leeds – Full-Size
  • London Euston – Full-Size
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Full-Size
  • Newcastle/Nottingham – Classic-Compatible

Note.

  1. No  platform handles more than three tph.
  2. There are two spare platforms.
  3. Each platform would only be normally used by one train type.
  4. Only East Midlands Hub is not always served from the same platform.

Platform arrangements could be very passenger- and operator-friendly.

Back-to-Back Services via Birmingham Curzon Street

The current plan for High Speed Two envisages the following services between the main terminals served by Full-Size trains.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street – 3 tph – 45 minutes
  • London Euston and Leeds – 2 tph – 81 minutes
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 3 tph – 71 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 2 tph – 40 minutes
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly – 2 tph – 41 minutes

Suppose a traveller wanted to go between East Midlands Hub and Manchester Airport stations.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if the Leeds to Birmingham Curzon Street train, stopped in Birmingham Curzon Street alongside the train to Manchester Airport and Piccadilly, so passengers could just walk across?

Or the two services could be run Back-to-Back with a reverse in Birmingham Curzon Street station?

Note.

  1. The current fastest times between Nottingham and Manchester Airport stations are around two-and-a-half hours, with two changes.
  2. With High Speed Two, it looks like the time could be under the hour, even allowing up to eight minutes for the change at Birmingham Curzon Street.

The design of the track and stations for High Speed Two, has some interesting features that will be exploited by the train operator, to provide better services.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Birmingham And Crewe

The section is between Birmingham and Crewe, will be running 10 tph.

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

High Speed One copes well with a few interlopers in the shape of Southeastern’s Class 395 trains, which run at 140 mph, between the Eurostars.

High Speed Two is faster, but what is to stop an operator running their own Classic-Compatible trains on the following routes.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Liverpool via Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Holyhead via Crewe, Chester and an electrified North Wales Coast Line.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackpool via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Blackburn and Burnley via Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston.

Note.

  1. If these trains were say 130 metres long, they could call at all stations, without any platform lengthening.
  2. I’m sure that the clever engineers at Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation could come up with battery electric Classic-Compatible train, that could run at 225 mph on High Speed Two and had a battery range to reach Holyhead, with a small amount of electrification.
  3. A pair of trains, could work the last two services with a Split/Join at Preston.

The advantages of terminating these service in Birmingham Curzon Street would be as follows.

  • A lot more places get a fast connection to the High Speed Two network.
  • Passengers can reach London with an easy change at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • They can also walk easily between the three Birmingham stations.

But the big advantage is the trains don’t use valuable paths on High Speed Two between Birmingham Curzon Street and London Euston.

Crewe Station

In the current Avanti West Coast timetable, the following trains pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Blackpool – 4 trains per day (tpd)
  • London Euston and Chester – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Liverpool – 1 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly – 1 tph

Most trains stop at Crewe.

In the proposed High Speed Two timetable, the following trains will pass through Crewe.

  • London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Lancaster/Liverpool – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Manchester – 3 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Edinburgh/Glasgow  -1 tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester – 2 tph

Note.

  1. Only the Lancaster and Liverpool trains stop at Crewe station.
  2. North of Crewe there will be a three-way split of High Speed Two routes to Liverpool, Wigan and the North and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  3. High Speed Two will loop to the East and then join the West Coast Main Line to the South of Wigan.
  4. High Speed Two trains will use the West Coast Main Line to the North of Wigan North Western station.

This map of High Speed Two in North West England was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

 

 

Note.

  1. The current West Coast Main Line (WCML) and Phase 2a of High Speed Two are shown in blue.
  2. Phase 2b of High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The main North-South route, which is shown in blue, is the WCML passing through Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western as it goes North.
  4. The Western Branch, which is shown in blue, is the Liverpool Branch of the WCML, which serves Runcorn and Liverpool.
  5. High Speed Two, which is shown in orange, takes a faster route between Crewe and Wigan North Western.
  6. The Eastern Branch, which is shown in orange, is the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  7. The route in the East, which is shown in blue, is the Macclesfield Branch of High Speed Two, which serves Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.

The route of Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester Airport and Liverpool has still to be finalised.

Liverpool Branch

Consider.

  • The Liverpool Branch will take  two tph between London Euston and Liverpool.
  • In the future it could take up to 6 tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.

I believe that Liverpool Lime Street station, after the recent updating can handle all these trains.

Manchester Branch

This document on the Government web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation.

It indicates two important recently-made changes to the design of the Manchester Branch of High Speed Two.

  • Manchester Airport station will have four High Speed platforms instead of two.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station will have six High Speed platforms instead of four.

These changes will help the use of these stations by Northern Powerhouse Rail..

Consider.

  • The Manchester Branch will be new high speed track, which will probably be built in a tunnel serving Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • The Manchester Branch will terminate in new platforms.
  • The Manchester Branch will take  five tph between Birmingham Curzon Street or London Euston and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • In the future it could take up to six tph on Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • London Euston and Old Oak Common will be new stations on a tunnelled approach to London and will handle 18 tph.

If London Euston and Old Oak Common can handle 18 tph, I can’t see why Manchester Airport and Piccadilly stations can’t handle somewhere near a similar number of trains.

At the moment eleven tph have been allocated to the Manchester Branch.

I believe that if infrastructure for Northern Powerhouse Rail was designed so that as well as connecting to Manchester and Liverpool, it connected Manchester and the West Coast Main Line running North to Preston, Carlisle and Scotland, services to the following destinations would be possible.

  • Barrow
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Windermere

Note.

  1. Edinburgh and Glasgow would probably be a service that would alternate the destination, as it is proposed for High Speed Two’s Birmingham and Scotland service.
  2. There would probably be a need for a North Wales and Manchester service via Chester.
  3. All trains would be Classic-Compatible.

If the Manchester Branch were to be built to handle 18 tph, there would be more than enough capacity.

Crewe, Wigan And Manchester

My summing up earlier gave the number of trains between Crewe, Wigan and Manchester as follows.

  • Crewe and Manchester – 5 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via Warrington  – 1 tph
  • Crewe and Wigan via High Speed Two (new route) – 3 tph

This map of High Speed Two where the Manchester Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between Crewe and Wigan was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The Manchester Branch runs to the South of the M56,
  2. The large blue dot indicates Manchester Airport station.
  3. Wigan is to the North.
  4. Crewe is to the South.
  5. Manchester Piccadilly is to the North East.

I believe this junction will be turned into a full triangular junction, to connect Wigan directly to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • Barrow, Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston and Windermere could all have high speed connections to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. Trains could be shorter Classic-Compatible trains.
  • A Manchester and Scotland service would take the same route.

Another pair of tracks could leave the junction to the West to create a direct route between Manchester Airport and Liverpool for Northern Powerhouse Rail, by sneaking along the  M56.

Suppose extra services were as follows.

  • Manchester and Barrow – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackburn – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Blackpool – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Manchester and Scotland – 1 tph
  • Manchester and Windermere – 1 tph

The frequencies from the junction would be as follows.

  • To and from Crewe – High Speed Two (Manchester) – 5 tph – High Speed Two (North) – 3 tph = 8 tph
  • To and from Liverpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph = 6 tph
  • To and from Manchester – High Speed Two – 5 tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – 6 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 16 tph
  • To and from Wigan – High Speed Two – 3 tph – Local – 4 tph – Scotland – 1 tph = 8 tph.

Only the Manchester Branch would be working hard.

The Liverpool Connection

I indicated that another pair of tracks would need to extend the Manchester Branch towards Liverpool in the West for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • Would these tracks have a station at Warrington?
  • Would there be a connection to allow services between Liverpool and the North and Scotland?

It might even be possible to design a Liverpool connection, that avoided using the current Liverpool Branch and increased the capacity and efficiency of all trains to Liverpool.

Capacity Of The Western Leg Between Wigan And Scotland

The sections between  Crewe and Carlisle, will be running at the following frequencies.

  • Wigan and Lancaster – 4 tph
  • Lancaster and Carlisle  – 3 tph
  • Carlisle and Edinburgh  – 2.5 tph
  • Carlisle and Glasgow – 2.5 tph

Note.

  1. The unusual Scottish frequencies are caused by splitting and joining at Carlisle and alternate services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
  2. Any local high speed services and a Scotland service from Manchester, will increase the frequencies.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved West Coast Main Line.

But in some cases the trains will be replacing current services, so the increase in total frequencies will be less than it first appears.

Avanti West Coast currently run the following Scottish services.

  • One tph – London Euston and Glasgow via the most direct route.
  • One tph – London Euston and alternately Edinburgh and Glasgow via Birmingham.

This means that effectively Glasgow has 1.5 tph and Edinburgh 0.5 tph from London Euston.

The capacity of the current eleven-car Class 390 trains is 145 First and 444 Standard Class seats, which compares closely with the 500-600 seats given in Wikipedia for High Speed Two trains. So the capacity of the two trains is not that different.

But High Speed Two will be running 2.5 tph Between London Euston and both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I would expect, that Class 390 services to Scotland will be discontinued and replaced by High Speed Two services.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between Birmingham And East Midlands Hub

The section is between Birmingham and East Midlands Hub, will be running 9 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

Midlands Engine Rail is proposing a service between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham.

  • It will have a frequency of one tph.
  • It will be run by High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.
  • The journey will take 33 minutes.
  • It will run on High Speed Two infrastructure between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.

If High Speed Two has been designed with this service in mind, I doubt it will be a difficult service to setup.

  • There might be enough capacity on High Speed Two  for two tph on the route,
  • It could possibly be extended to Lincoln.

It will also depend on the service timing being consistent with an efficient use of trains and platforms.

  • Thirty-three minutes is not a good timing, as it means twenty-seven minutes wait in a platform to get a round trip time, that suits clock-face time-tabling.
  • The current Lincoln and Nottingham service takes 56 minutes for 34 miles.
  • LNER’s London Kings Cross and Lincoln service travels the 16 miles between Lincoln and Newark in 25 minutes.
  • I estimate that after track improvements,  with a single stop at Newark Castle station, that Nottingham and Lincoln could be achieved in several minutes under fifty minutes.
  • This would enable a sub-ninety minute journey time between Birmingham Curzon Street and Lincoln, with enough time to properly turn the trains at both ends of the route.
  • The three hour round trip would mean that an hourly service would need three trains.

This is probably just one of several efficient time-tabling possibilities.

Are there any other similar services?

The obvious one is surely Cambridge and Birmingham

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

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

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Sheffield

The section between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield, will be running 2 tph

As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.

But where will they come from?

This map of High Speed Two where the Sheffield Branch leaves the new High Speed Two route between East Midlands Hub and Leeds was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The main route of High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub, is shown in orange and follows the route of the M1 Motorway, towards the East of the map.
  2. The Sheffield Branch is new track to Clay Cross, where is takes over the Midland Main Line to Sheffield, which is shown in blue.
  3. The line going South in the middle of the map is the Erewash Valley Line, which goes through Langley Mill and Ilkeston stations.

I suspect Clay Cross to Sheffield will be an electrified high speed line, with a maximum speed of at least 140 mph.

Could the Erewash Valley Line have been used as an alternative route to Sheffield?

This map of High Speed Two captured from their interactive map, shows the connection of High Speed Two and the Erewash Valley Line to East Midlands Hub.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Hub is shown by the big blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  3. The route to Leeds vaguely follows the M1 Motorway.
  4. The Erewash Valley Line goes North to the East of Ilkeston.

Would have been quicker and easier to electrify the Erewash Valley Line, as the High Speed Two route to Chesterfield and Sheffield?

  • Network Rail updated the route a few years ago.
  • It does not have the problems of electrification, through a World Heritage Site, as does the route through Derby.
  • It could surely handle two tph, even if they were High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains.
  • Sheffield will be just under ninety minutes from London by High Speed Two, as opposed to two hours now.

I suspect that it all comes down to saving a few minutes to Sheffield and the civic pride of having a High Speed Two connection.

So it looks like we’ll have the following capacity between East Midlands Hub and Sheffield.

  • Between East Midlands Hub and Clay Cross, there will be the High Speed Two capacity of 18 tph.
  • Between Clay Cross and Sheffield, there will probably be an upgraded capacity of perhaps 8-10 tph.

It seems a lot of capacity for just two tph.

Consider.

  • High Speed Two is planning to run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Midlands Rail Engine is planning to run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub
  • Four tph is considered a Turn-Up-And-Go service, and could exist between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub.
  • Sheffield and Leeds, both probably need a Turn-Up-And-Go service, to and from East Midlands Hub.
  • Semi-fast services between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub, calling at Chesterfield, Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston would be possible, by using the Erewash Valley Line.
  • The Maid Marian Line will join the Robin Hood Line in adding extra connectivity to East Midlands Hub Station.
  • Leeds and East Midlands Hub could have a six tph service courtesy of High Speed Two and Midlands Rail Engine.

Using High Speed Two’s web site, the following times should be possible.

  • Sheffield and East Midlands Hub – 27 minutes
  • Sheffield and Birmingham Curzon Street – 47 minutes.

Both services allow time for an efficient service.

There are certainly many options to create a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Sheffield and East Midlands Hub and also improve connections to other locations across the area.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between East Midlands Hub And Leeds

The section is between East Midlands Hub and Leeds, will be running 5 tph

High Speed Two between Midlands Hub and Leeds is a totally new high speed line.

  • As the maximum capacity of High Speed Two is laid down in the Phase One Act as 18 tph, this gives plenty of room for more trains.
  • The Southern section of the leg closely follows the M1 Motorway.
  • Leeds, York and Newcastle will be 27, 36 and 93 minutes from East Midlands Hub, respectively.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the route of the line in Yorkshire, was captured from the interactive map on the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is marked by the blue dot in the South.
  2. Leeds is marked by the blue dot in the North West.
  3. York is marked by the blue dot in the North East.
  4. New routes are shown in orange.
  5. Upgraded routes are shown in blue.

The route seems to open up several possibilities for extra routes.

Leeds and Sheffield will be used by Northern Powerhouse Rail and there will be four tph, taking 28 minutes.

Leeds and Bedford via East Midlands Hub has been proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Services between Sheffield and the North via York must be a possibility.

This map of High Speed Two, which shows the routes to the East of Leeds, was captured from High Speed Two’s interactive map.

I think that two things might be missing.

  • A full triangular junction would surely allow services between Leeds and the North via York.
  • A high speed connection to Hull.

We shall see in the future.

Capacity Of The Eastern Leg Between York And Newcastle

The section between  York and Newcastle, will be running at a frequency of 3 tph.

Over this section the services will be running on an improved East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I shall split the conclusions into various sections.

Route And Track Layout

I think there may be places, where the route and track layout might need to be improved.

  • The Manchester Branch probably needs a triangular junction with the Western Leg of High Speed Two.
  • How Liverpool is served by Northern Powerhouse Rail needs to be decided.
  • The approach to Leeds probably needs a triangular junction with the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.
  • It is not clear how services will reach Hull.

Hopefully, these issues will become clear in the next year or so.

Capacity

The sections with the highest levels of capacity would appear to be the following.

  • London Euston and Birmingham Interchange.
  • The Manchester Branch
  • The section shared with the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle.
  • The section shared with the West Coast Main Line between Wigan and Scotland.

But on these sections extra trains can be run.

  • Birmingham and North West England
  • Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • East Midlands Hub and Leeds
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield
  • East Midlands Hub and York

I can see, this capacity being filled by high speed local services, like those proposed by Midlands Rail Engine.

Rolling Stock

The only comment, I will make, is that there could be a need for a shorter Classic-Compatible train to work local services.

 

 

 

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hull Station

On my recent visit to Hull station I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the station.

These are my thoughts on the station .

Platforms

Consider.

  • The station has seven platforms, which are numbers 1 to 7 from South to North.
  • My Hull Trains service from London arrived in the Northernmost platform, which is numbered 7.
  • Most Hull Trains services seem to use this platform.
  • LNER services also seem to use Platform 7.
  • Platforms 4, 5 and 6 seem to be the same length as Platform 7
  • A friendly station guy told me, that LNER have run nine-car Class 800 trains into the station. These trains are 234 metres long.
  • My pictures show that Platform 7 is more than adequate for Hull Train’s five-car Class 802 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • The platforms are wide.

This second Google Map shows the Western platform ends.

It looks to me, that the station should be capable of updating to have at least four platforms capable of taking trains, that are 200 metres long.

Current Long Distance Services To Hull Station

There are currently, two long distance services that terminate at Hull station.

  • One train per hour (tph) – Manchester Piccadilly – two hours
  • Eight trains per day (tpd) – London Kings Cross – two hours and forty-four minutes

Both services are run by modern trains.

Improvements To The Current London And Hull Service

I believe Hull Trains and LNER will run between London Kings Cross and Hull using battery-equipped versions of their Hitachi trains, within the next three years.

The trains will also be upgraded to make use of the digital in-cab signalling, that is being installed South of Doncaster, which will allow 140 mph running.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I estimated that this could enable a two hours and thirty minute time between London Kings Cross and Hull.

It is very likely that the service will be hourly.

Hull Station As A High Speed Station

Plans for High Speed Two are still fluid, but as I said in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, there is a possibility, that High Speed Two could be extended from Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds and ultimately to Newcastle and Hull.

In that post, I felt that services across the Pennines could be something like.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds
  • High Speed Two – One tph between London and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds

There would be four tph between Manchester Airport and Hull via Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds and other intermediate stations.

I estimate that the following timings would be possible.

  • London Euston and Hull – two hours and 10 minutes – Currently two hours and forty-four minutes to London Kings Cross
  • Liverpool and Hull – one hour and thirty minutes – No direct service
  • Manchester and Hull – one hour and three minutes – Currently two hours

As I said earlier London Kings Cross and Hull could be only twenty minutes longer by the classic route on the East Coast Main Line.

I think it will be likely, that both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will use similar High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains, which will have the following characteristics.

  • Two hundred metres long
  • Ability to run in pairs
  • 225 mph on High Speed Two
  • 125 mph and up to 140 mph on Classic High Speed Lines like East Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line and sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

It would appear that as Hull station can already handle a nine-car Class 800 train, which is 234 metre long, it could probably handle the proposed High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

I could see the following numbers of high speed trains terminating at Hull in a typical hour would be as follows.

  • Two High Speed Two trains from London Euston
  • Two Northern Powerhouse Trains from Liverpool Lime Street
  • One Hull Trains/LNER train from London Kings Cross

As Hull already has four platforms, that can accept 200 metre long trains, I don’t think the station will have any capacity problems.

Charging Battery Trains At Hull Station

If Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express, decide to convert their Class 800 and Class 802 trains, that run to and from Hull to Hitachi Regional Battery Trains, they will need charging at Hull station, to be able to reach the electrification of the East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

In Thoughts On The Design Of Hitachi’s Battery Electric Trains, I said this about having a simple charger in a station.

At stations like Hull and Scarborough, this charger could be as simple as perhaps forty metres of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

    • The train would stop in the station at the appropriate place.
    • The driver would raise the pantograph.
    • Charging would start.
    • When the battery is fully-charged, the driver would lower the pantograph.

This procedure could be easily automated and the overhead wire could be made electrically dead, if no train is connected.

Platforms 4 to 7 could be fitted out in this manner, to obtain maximum operational flexibility.

Full Electrification Of Hull Station

Full electrification of Hull station would also allow charging of any battery electric trains.

I would hope, that any partial electrification carried out to be able to charge trains would be expandable to a full electrification for the station and the connecting rail lines.

A Full Refurbishment

The station would need a full refurbishment and a possible sorting out of the approaches to the station.

But this type of project has been performed at Kings Cross and Liverpool Lime Street in recent years, so the expertise is certainly available.

These pictures are of Liverpool Lime Street station.

I could see Hull station being refurbished to this standard.

Conclusion

It is my belief that Hull would make a superb terminal station for both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail

In the interim, it could be quickly developed as a modern terminal for long-distance battery electric trains to make services across the Pennines and to London zero carbon.

The work could also be organised as a series of smaller work packages, without interrupting train services to and from Hull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hull Issues New Plea For Electrification

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Residents and businesses in Hull are being urged to support electrification of the railway to Selby and Sheffield.

This paragraph is about the difficulty of electrifying the route.

“Unlike elsewhere on the trans-Pennine routes, work here can start straightaway and would be a quick win. Our plans involve few extra land purchases, no tunnel widening, and no re-routing,” said Daren Hale, Hull City Council and Hull’s representative on the Transport for the North board.

Services to Hull station are as follows.

  • Hull Trains – London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby, Howden and Brough.
  • Hull Trains – Beverley and Hull via Cuttingham
  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby and Brough
  • Northern Trains – Halifax and Hull via Bradford Interchange, New Pudsey, Bramley, Leeds, Cross Gates, Garforth, East Garforth, Micklefield, South Milford, Selby and Brough
  • Northern Trains – Sheffield and Hull via Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Doncaster, Kirk Sandall, Hatfield & Stainforth, Thorne North, Goole, Saltmarshe, Gilberdyke, Broomfleet, Brough, Ferriby and Hessle,
  • Northern Trains – Bridlington and Hull via Nafferton, Driffield, Hutton Cranswick, Arram, Beverley and Cottingham.
  • Northern Trains – Scarborough and Hull via Seamer, Filey, Hunmanby, Bempton, Bridlington, Nafferton, Driffield, Hutton Cranswick, Arram, Beverley and Cottingham.
  • Northern Trains – York and Hull via Selby, Howden, Gilberdyke and Brough.
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Piccadilly and Hull via Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Selby, Brough

Note.

  1. Some services are joined back-to-back with a reverse at Hull station.
  2. I have simplified some of the lists of intermediate stations.
  3. Services run by Hull Trains, LNER or TransPennine Express use bi-mode Class 800 or Class 802 trains.
  4. All routes to Hull station and the platforms are not electrified.

Trains approach Hull by three routes.

  • Selby and Brough
  • Goole and Brough
  • Beverley and Cottingham

Could these three routes be electrified?

I have just flown my helicopter along all of them.

I’ve also had a lift in the cab of a Class 185 train between Hull and Leeds, courtesy of Don Coffey.

Hull And Selby via Brough

There is the following infrastructure.

  • Several major road overbridges, which all seem to have been built with clearance for overhead wires.
  • There are also some lower stone arch bridges, which may need to be given increased clearance.
  • No tunnels
  • The historic Selby Swing Bridge.
  • Four farm crossings.
  • Fourteen level crossings.

Hull And Goole via Brough

There is the following infrastructure.

  • Several major road overbridges, which all seem to have been built with clearance for overhead wires.
  • No tunnels
  • A swing bridge over the River Ouse.
  • A couple of farm crossings
  • Six level crossings

Hull And Beverley via Cottingham

There is the following infrastructure.

  • A couple of major road overbridges, which all seem to have been built with clearance for overhead wires.
  • No tunnels
  • A couple of farm crossings
  • Six level crossings

All of the routes would appear to be.

  • At least double track.
  • Not in deep cuttings.
  • Mainly in open countryside.

I feel that compared to some routes, they would be easy to electrify, but could cause a lot of disruption, whilst the level crossings and the two swing bridges were electrified.

Speeding Up Services To And From Hull

What Are The Desired  Timings?

The Rail Magazine article says this about the desired timings.

Should the plans be approved, it is expected that Hull-Leeds journey times would be cut from 57 minutes to 38, while Hull-Sheffield would drop from 86 minutes to 50 minutes.

These timings are in line with those given in this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail,

The frequency of both routes is given in the report as two trains per hour (tph)

The Performance Of An Electric Class 802 Train

As Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express will be using these trains or similar to serve Hull, I will use these trains for my calculations.

The maximum speed of a Class 802 train is 125 mph or 140 mph with digital in-cab signalling.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train.

The data sheet shows the following for a five-car Class 802 train.

It can accelerate to 100 mph and then decelerate to a stop in 200 seconds in electric mode.

The time to 125 mph and back is 350 seconds

Thoughts On Hull And Leeds

Consider.

  • The Hull and Leeds route is 52 miles long, is timed for a 75 mph train and has an average speed of 55 mph
  • There are three intermediate stops, which means that in a Hull and Leeds journey, there are four accelerate-decelerate cycles.
  • A 38 minute journey between Hull and Leeds would be an average speed of 82 mph
  • A train travelling at 100 mph would take 31 minutes to go between Hull and Leeds.
  • A train travelling at 125 mph would take 25 minutes to go between Hull and Leeds.

I also have one question.

What is the speed limit on the Selby Swing Bridge?

I have just been told it’s 25 mph. As it is close to Selby station, it could probably be considered that the stop at Selby is a little bit longer.

These could be rough timings.

  • A train travelling at 100 mph would take 31 minutes to go between Hull and Leeds plus what it takes for the four stops. at 200 seconds a stop, which adds up to 43 minutes.
  • A train travelling at 125 mph would take 25 minutes to go between Hull and Leeds plus what it takes for the four stops. at 350 seconds a stop, which adds up to 48 minutes.

Note how the longer stopping time of the faster train slows the service.

I think it would be possible to attain the required 38 minute journey, running at 100 mph.

Thoughts On Hull And Sheffield

Consider.

  • The Hull and Sheffield route is 61 miles long, is timed for a 90 mph train and has an average speed of 43 mph
  • There are five intermediate stops, which means that in a Hull and Sheffield journey, there are six accelerate-decelerate cycles.
  • A 50 minute journey between Hull and Leeds would be an average speed of 73 mph.
  • A train travelling at 100 mph would take 36 minutes to go between Hull and Sheffield.
  • A train travelling at 125 mph would take 29 minutes to go between Hull and Sheffield.

I also have one question.

What is the speed limit on the swing bridge over the River Ouse?

As there is no nearby station, I suspect it counts as another stop, if it only has a 25 mph limit.

These could be rough timings.

  • A train travelling at 100 mph would take 36 minutes to go between Hull and Sheffield plus what it takes for the six stops. at 200 seconds a stop, which adds up to 56 minutes.
  • A train travelling at 125 mph would take 29 minutes to go between Hull and Sheffield plus what it takes for the six stops. at 350 seconds a stop, which adds up to 64 minutes.

Note how the longer stopping time of the faster train slows the service.

I think it would be possible to attain the required 50 minute journey, running at 100 mph.

Conclusions From My Rough Timings

Looking at my rough timings, I can conclude the following.

  • The trains will have to have  the ability to make a station stop in a very short time. Trains using electric traction are faster at station stops.
  • The trains will need to cruise at a minimum of 100 mph on both routes.
  • The operating speed of both routes must be at least 100 mph, with perhaps 125 mph allowed in places.
  • I feel the Hull and Leeds route is the more difficult.

I also think, that having a line running at 100 mph or over, with the large number of level crossings, there are at present, would not be a good idea.

What Does Hull Want?

Hull wants what Northern Powerhouse Rail is promising.

  • Two tph between Hull and Leeds in 38 minutes and Hull and Sheffield in 50 minutes.

They’d probably also like faster electric services between Hull and Bridlington, London Kings Cross, Manchester, Scarborough and York.

When Do They Want It?

They want it now!

Is There An Alternative Solution, That Can Be Delivered Early?

This may seem to be the impossible, as electrifying between Hull and Leeds and Hull and Sheffield is not an instant project, although full electrification could be an ultimate objective.

Consider.

  • Hull and Brough are 10.5 miles apart.
  • Brough and Leeds are 41 miles apart.
  • Brough and Doncaster are 30 miles apart and Doncaster and Sheffield are 20 miles apart.
  • Brough and Temple Hirst Junction are 26 miles apart.
  • Brough and York are 42 miles apart.
  • Hull and Beverley are 8 miles apart.
  • Beverley and Bridlington are 23 miles apart.
  • Beverley and Seamer are 42 miles apart.

Note that Doncaster, Leeds and Temple Hirst Junction are all electrified.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have just launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infograpic.

It has a range of 56 miles and an operating speed of 100 mph.

Class 800 and Class 802 trains could be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

  • The three diesel engines would be exchanged for battery packs.
  • The trains would still be capable of 125 mph on fully-electrified routes like the East Coast Main Line.
  • They would be capable of 100 mph on routes like the 100 mph routes from Hull.
  • The trains would have full regenerative braking to batteries, which saves energy.
  • Below 125 mph, their acceleration and deceleration on battery power would probably be the same as when using electrification. It could even be better due to the simplicity and low impedance of batteries.

But they would need some means of charging the batteries at Hull.

A Start To Electrification

If the ultimate aim is to electrify all the lines, then why not start by electrifying.

  • Hull station.
  • Hull and Brough
  • Hull and Beverley

It would only be 18.5 miles of electrification and it doesn’t go anywhere near the swing bridges or about six level crossings.

Battery Electric Services From Hull

I will now look at how the various services could operate.

Note in the following.

  1. When I say Regional Battery Train, I mean Hitachi’s proposed train or any other battery electric train with a similar performance.
  2. I have tried to arrange all power changeovers in a station.
  3. Pantograph operation can happen at line-speed or when the train is stationary.

I have assumed a range of 56 miles on a full battery and an operating speed of 100 mph on a track that allows it.

Hull And London Kings Cross

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles – Electrified
  • Brough and Temple Hirst Junction – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Temple Hirst Junction and London Kings Cross – 169 miles – Electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Brough takes about 11 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 26 miles should be easy.
  3. One changeover between power sources will be done in Brough station.
  4. The other changeover will be done at line speed at Temple Hirst Junction, as it is now!

Hull Trains and LNER would be able to offer an all-electric service to London.

A few minutes might be saved, but they would be small compared to time savings, that will be made because of the introduction of full ERTMS in-cab signalling South of Doncaster, which will allow 140 mph running.

Hull And Leeds

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles – Electrified
  • Brough and Leeds – 41 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Brough takes about 11 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 41 miles should be easy.
  3. One changeover between power sources will be done in Brough station, with the other in Leeds station.

If Leeds and Huddersfield is electrified, TransPennine Express will be able to run an all-electric service between Manchester and Hull, using battery power in the gaps.

Hull And Sheffield

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles – Electrified
  • Brough and Doncaster – 30 miles – Not Electrified
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – 20 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Brough takes about 11 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the battery.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 30 miles should be easy.
  3. Trains would charge using the electrification at Doncaster.
  4. Doncaster and Sheffield both ways should be possible after a full charge at Doncaster station.
  5. One changeover between power sources will be done in Brough station, with the others in Doncaster station.

Hull And York

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles – Electrified
  • Brough and York- 42 miles – Not electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Brough takes about 11 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 42 miles should be easy.
  3. One changeover between power sources will be done in Brough station, with the other in York station.
  4. Trains would be fully charged for the return in York station.

This journey will also be effected by the York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme, which is described on this page on the Network Rail web site. According to the web page this involves.

  • Replace old track, sleepers, and ballast (The stones which support the track)
  • Install new signalling gantries, lights, and cabling
  • Fully electrify the route from York to Church Fenton – extending the already electrified railway from York.

There will be another five miles of electrification., which will mean the legs of the Hull and York service will be as follows.

  • Hull and Brough – 10.5 miles – Electrified
  • Brough and Church Fenton – 31.5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Church Fenton and York – 10.5 miles – Electrified

It is a classic route for a battery electric train.

Note.

  1. Church Fenton and York takes about 19 minutes, so added to the time spent in York station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. There will be a changeover between power sources in Church Fenton station.

This appears to me to be a very sensible addition to the electrification.

If you look at a Leeds and York, after the electrification it will have two legs.

  • Leeds and Church Fenton – 13 miles – Not Electrified
  • Church Fenton and York – 10.5 miles – Electrified

It is another classic route for a battery electric train.

Hull And Bridlington

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Beverley – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Beverley and Bridlington – 23 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Beverley takes about 13 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 46 miles to Bridlington and back to Beverley, should be possible.
  3. The changeovers between power sources would be in Beverley station.

If necessary, there is a bay platform at Bridlington, that could be fitted with simple electrification to charge the trains before returning.

Hull And Scarborough

The legs of the service are as follows.

  • Hull and Beverley – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Beverley and Seamer- 42 miles – Not Electrified
  • Seamer and Scarborough – 3 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Hull and Beverley takes about 13 minutes, so added to the time spent in Hull station, this must be enough time to fully-charge the batteries.
  2. Regional Battery Trains will be able to do 56 miles on a full battery so 45 miles to Scarborough should be easy.
  3. The changeovers between power sources would be in Beverley station.

There would need to be charging at Scarborough, so why not electrify between Scarborough and Seamer?

  • Power changeover would be in Seamer station.
  • The electrification could also charge battery electric trains running between York and Scarborough.
  • Seamer and York are 39 miles apart.
  • All Northern Trains and TransPennine Express services appear to stop in Seamer station.

This could be three very useful miles of electrification.

Could This Plan Based On Battery Trains Be Delivered Early?

The project could be divided into sub-projects.

Necessary Electrification

Only these double-track routes would need to electrified.

  • Hull and Brough
  • Hull and Beverley
  • Seamer and Scarborough

There would also be electrification at Hull and Scarborough stations to charge terminating trains.

In total it would be under twenty-five double-track miles of electrification.

Note.

  1. There are no swing bridges on these routes.
  2. There are no tunnels
  3. Many of the overbridges appear to be modern with adequate clearance for electrification.
  4. I don’t suspect that providing adequate power will be difficult.
  5. Hull and Scarborough are larger stations and I believe a full service can be provided, whilst the stations are being electrified.

It would not be a large and complicated electrification project.

Conversion Of Class 800 And Class 802 Trains To Regional Battery Trains

Whilst the electrification was being installed, the existing Class 800 and Class 802 trains needed by Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express could be converted to Regional Battery Trains, by the replacement of some or all of the diesel engines with battery power-packs.

I suspect LNER or GWR could be the lead customer for Hitachi’s proposed conversion of existing trains.

  • Both train companies have routes, where these trains could be deployed without any electrification or charging systems. Think London Kings Cross and Harrogate for LNER and  Paddington and Oxford for GWR.
  • Both train companies have large fleets of five-car trains, that would be suitable for conversion.
  • Both train companies have lots of experience with Hitachi’s trains.

It should be noted that GWR, Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are all part of the same company.

What About Northern Trains?

Northern Trains will need some battery electric trains, if this plan goes ahead, to run routes like.

  • Hull and Bridlington – 46 miles
  • Hull and Leeds – 41 miles
  • Hull and Scarborough – 42 miles
  • Hull and Sheffield – 40 miles
  • Hull and York – 42 miles
  • Scarborough and York – 31.5 miles
  • The distances are the lengths of the route without electrification.

I suspect they will need a train with this specification.

  • Four cars
  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Battery range of perhaps 50 miles.
  • 100 mph operating speed.

There are already some possibilities.

  • CAF are talking about a four-car battery electric version of the Class 331 train.
  • Hitachi have mentioned a battery electric Class 385 train.
  • Porterbrook have talked about converting Class 350 trains to battery electric operation.
  • Bombardier have talked about battery electric Aventras.

There are also numerous four-car electric trains, that are coming off lease that could be converted to battery electric operation.

When Could The Project Be Completed?

There are three parts to the project.

  • Under twenty-five double-track miles of electrification.
  • Adding batteries to Class 800 and Class 802 trains.
  • Battery electric trains for Northern.

As the sub-projects can be progressed independently, I can see the project being completely by the end of 2024.

Across The Pennines In A Regional Battery Train

By providing the ability to run Class 802 trains on battery power to Hull and Scarborough, the ability to run Regional Battery Trains from Liverpool in the West to Hull, Middlesbrough and Scarborough in the East under electric power, could become possible.

Looking at Liverpool and Scarborough, there are these legs.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Leeds – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and York – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. East of Manchester Victoria, there is electrification in Leeds and York stations, which could charge the train fully if it were in the station for perhaps ten minutes.
  2. Currently, stops at Leeds and York are around 4-5 minutes.
  3. Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge is being electrified.
  4. In this post, I have suggested that between Seamer and Scarborough should be electrified to charge the trains.
  5. I have also noted that between Church Fenton and York is being fully electrified.

This could mean power across the Pennines between Liverpool and Scarborough could be as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Battery Power
  • Huddersfield and Leeds – 17 miles – Battery Power
  • Leeds station – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Leeds and Church Fenton – 13 miles – Battery Power
  • Church Fenton and York – 10.5 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • York and Seamer – 39 miles – Battery Power
  • Seamer and Scarborough – 3 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery

There are three stretches of the route, where the train will be run on battery power.

  • Stalybridge and Leeds – 35 miles
  • Leeds and Church Fenton – 13 miles
  • York and Seamer – 39 miles

There will be charging at these locations.

  • West of Stalybridge
  • Through Leeds Station
  • Through York Station
  • East of Seamer Station

I feel it could be arranged that trains left the charging sections and stations with a full battery, which would enable the train to cover the next section on battery power.

To make things even easier, Network Rail are developing the Huddersfield And Westtown Upgrade, which will add extra tracks and eight miles of new electrification between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

This would change the power schedule across the Pennines between Liverpool and Scarborough to this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Battery Power
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Fewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Battery Power
  • Leeds station – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • Leeds and Church Fenton – 13 miles – Battery Power
  • Church Fenton and York – 10.5 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery
  • York and Seamer – 39 miles – Battery Power
  • Seamer and Scarborough – 3 miles – Electrification Power and Charging Battery

There are now four stretches of the route, where the train will be run on battery power.

  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles
  • Leeds and Church Fenton – 13 miles
  • York and Seamer – 39 miles

I can envisage the electrification being extended.

But battery power on this route gives all the advantages of electric trains, with none of the costs and installation problems of electrification.

Conclusion

I believe a limited electrification of lines for a few miles from the coastal terminals at Hull and Scarborough and battery electric trains can deliver zero-carbon and much faster electric trains to the railways of Yorkshire to the East of Leeds, Sheffield and York.

If this approach is used, the electrification will be much less challenging and if skates were to be worn, the scheme could be fully-implemented in around four years.

The scheme would also deliver the following.

  • Faster, all-electric TransPennine services.
  • An all-electric Hull and London service.
  • A substantial move towards decarbonisation of passenger train services in East Yorkshire.

It is also a scheme, that could be extended South into Lincolnshire, across the Pennines to Lancashire and North to Teesside and Tyneside.

 

 

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

It’s A Privilege To Work Here!

I was speaking to a young station assistant at Liverpool Lime Street station, who I suspect could have been a trainee or an apprentice, when he came out with the title of this post.

These pictures show the platforms at the station, since the recent remodelling.

Note.

  1. The platforms are wide and can take an eleven-car Class 390 train.
  2. TransPennine Express’s five-car Class 802 trains are easily handles in the shorter platforms of the Western train shed.
  3. I suspect Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains, which are fifty-two metres longer than the Class 802 trains, could fit into the Western train shed, if needed.

It is certainly a station with a large capacity and I believe, with a few tweaks the station will be able to handle High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Train Lengths Into Liverpool Lime Street

These are the lengths of the various trains that will be terminating at the station.

  • Class 350 train – eight cars – 160 metres
  • Class 350 train – twelve cars – 240 metres
  • Class 390 train – nine cars – 217.5 metres
  • Class 390 train – eleven cars – 265.3 metres
  • Class 730 train – five cars – 120 metres
  • Class 730 train – ten cars – 240 metres
  • Class 802 train – five cars – 130 metres
  • Class 802 train – ten cars – 260 metres
  • Class 807 train – seven cars – 182 metres
  • High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train – 200 metres

That looks like future-proofing to me!

 

An Almost Absence Of Red

I have looked at arrivals into Liverpool Lime Street over the last couple of days on Real Time Trains and nearly all trains seemed to be on time.

So has all the work to improve the track and signalling on the approaches to the station,  over the last couple of years, resulted in better time keeping?

Certainly, train and passenger flows seemed to be smooth.

Conclusion

Wikipedia says this about Liverpool Lime Street station.

Opened in August 1836, it is the oldest still-operating grand terminus mainline station in the world.

I’ve used Lime Street station for fifty-five years and finally, it is the station, the city needs and deserves.

I’ve been to grand termini all over the world and Lime Street may be the oldest, but now it is one of the best.

August 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Possibly One Of The Best Underground Railways In A Smaller City In The World!

I took these pictures, as I took the Wirral Line between James Street and Lime Street stations.

I do compare them with the dingy inside of Essex Road station, which was refurbished by British Rail about the same time.

Merseyrail’s stations and trains are generally immaculate and that can’t be said for the dirty and tired infrastructure on the Northern City Line. As I indicated in the title of this post, t is one of the best underground railways under the centre of a smaller city. Liverpool would probably be regarded as a second size of city as it lacks the several millions of London, Paris or Berlin.

The tunnels of Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines, would have been probably been used as a model for British Rail’s proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel, that sadly never got to be built!

Manchester would be very different today, if it had an underground railway across the City to the standard of that in Liverpool or Newcastle.

This map clipped from Wikipedia show the proposed route of the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Some of the other proposals included.

  • The tunnel would be twin bores and jus under three miles long.
  • The tunnel would be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The rolling stock would have been Class 316 trains, which would have been similar to those on Merseyrail.
  • Train frequency could have been forty trains per hour (tph)

In some ways the specification was more ambitious than Crossrail, which might be able to handle 30 tph, at some time in the future. But Dear Old Vicky, which was designed at the same time, is now handling forty tph.

Wikipedia says the following routes could have run through the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line now provides the link to Manchester Airport.
  2. The route map on the Wikipedia entry, shows only Bury and Bolton as Northern destinations. But surely fanning out the trains could have run to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Hebden Bridge, Kirkby, Preston, Rawtenstall, Tochdale, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden, Wigan and Windermere

The only problem, I could see would be that there would need to be a lot of electrification North of Manchester, some of which has now been done.

There have also been developments in recent years that would fit nicely with a system of lines running through the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

More Services In Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Victoria Stations

If you look at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of the last few years, the station is now ready for High Speed Two.

You could argue, that it would be more ready, if the Wapping Tunnel connected services to and from the East to the Northern Line, as I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, as this would remove a lot of local trains from the station.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have done the same thing for Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations and removed the local services.

This would have left more space for High Speed Two and other long distance services.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The original plan also envisaged an East-West Tunnel at a later date. – Northern Powerhouse Rail?

But the creation of capacity by the diversion of local services from Manchester Victoria into the Picc-Vic Tunnel, would surely have enabled the station to be developed thirty years ago as a station on an improved TransPennine route.

Tram-Trains

The system would have accepted tram-trains, which hadn’t been invented in the 1970s.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport had only one runway in the 1970s and I think only a few would have believed, it would have expanded like it has.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would create a superb service to the Airport, at a frequency upwards of six tph.

High Speed Two

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have created the capacity in  for Manchester Piccadilly station and allowed High Speed Two services to use the station.

In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I talked about a radical plan for extending Manchester Piccadilly station for High Speed Two, that has been put forward by Weston Williamson; the architects.

This sort of scheme would also fit well with the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Conclusion

Manchester was short-changed and not building the Picc-Vic Tunnel was a major mistake.

It would have created an underground railway in a similar mould to that of Liverpool’s, but it would probably have served a larger network.

They would probably be the best pair of underground railways for smaller cities in the world.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel

The Wapping Tunnel in Liverpool was designed by George Stephenson and was the first tunnel in the world to be bored under a city.

It used to take goods trains between Liverpool Docks and the Liverpool and Manchester Line.

During the 1970s preparations were made to connect the Wapping Tunnel to Merseyrail’s Northern Line, so that trains could run between the Northern Line and the City Line, which would have connected the North and East of the City.

But the project was never completed.

It now appears, the project is on the agenda again.

This article on TransportExtra is entitled Liverpool CR Develops Plan To Boost City Centre Rail Capacity.

The plan outlined is as follows.

  • At present, as many as two thirds of trains on the Northern Line turn back as Liverpool Central station.
  • Between four and eight trains per hour (tph) could be diverted into the Wapping Tunnel to serve places like St. Helens, Warrington Central and Wigan.
  • This would free up platforms in Liverpool Lime Street station for Inter-City and Inter-Regional services.

It is also pointed out, that a 2016 study, didn’t find any serious technical problems with the project.

I do have my thoughts on this project.

Services That Could Be Connected

Local services running from Liverpool Lime Street station include.

Manchester Oxford Road Via Warrington Central

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has a frequency of two tph.
  • One service calls at Edge Hill, Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hunts Cross, Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey For Penketh, Warrington West, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Irlam, Urmston and Deansgate.
  • The other service calls at Mossley Hill, West Allerton, Liverpool South Parkway, Hough Green, Widnes, Warrington Central, Padgate, Birchwood, Glazebrook, Irlam, Flixton, Chassen Road (1tp2h), Urmston, Humphrey Park, Trafford Park and Deansgate
  • Both trains appear to take the same route.
  • Some stations like Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West and Deansgate have lifts, but disabled access is patchy.
  • The service has a dedicated terminal at Manchester Oxford Road, which is without doubt Manchester’s worst central station for location, access to the Metrolink, onward travel and step-free access.
  • It takes seventy-two minutes. which is an inconvenient time for train operators.
  • The route is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends.

I’ve used this route several times and usually pick it up from Deansgate, as it has a convenient interchange to the Metrolink.

I am fairly certain that Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains running on battery power in the middle could handle this route.

  • They would charge the batteries at the electrified ends of the route.
  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • These trains are built for fast stops, so could all services call at all stations?
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

I estimate that these trains are fast enough to do the return trip between the Wapping Tunnel portal at Edge Hill and Manchester Oxford Road in under two hours.

  • A two-four tph stopping service between Liverpool and Manchester City Centres, that took less than an hour, would be very convenient for passengers.
  • The service would be well-connected to local tram, train and bus services in both City Centres.
  • The service would also very easy for train schedulers to integrate with other services.

Liverpool and Manchester would have the world’s first battery-powered inter-city railway.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Wigan North Western Via St. Helens Central

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has a frequency of two tph.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Prescot, Eccleston Park, Thatto Heath, St Helens Central, Garswood and Bryn
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • It takes fifty-one minutes. which is a very convenient time for train operators.

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains could handle this route, if fitted with pantographs for 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

I estimate that these trains are fast enough to do the return trip between the Wapping Tunnel portal at Edge Hill and Wigan North Western in under two hours.

  • A two-four tph stopping service between Liverpool and Wigan, that took less than an hour, would be very convenient for passengers.
  • Wigan North Western has good connections using the West Coast Main Line.
  • The service would also very easy for train schedulers to integrate with other services.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Blackpool North

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Huyton, St Helens Central, Wigan North Western, Euxton Balshaw Lane, Leyland, Preston, Kirkham & Wesham and Poulton-le-Fylde
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • It takes seventy-seven minutes. which is a reasonable time for train operators.

This is a service that could continue as now, but would probably be timed to fit well with four Merseyrail trains between the Wapping Tunnel and Wigan North Western.

Manchester Airport Via Warrington Central And Manchester Piccadilly

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West, Warrington Central, Birchwood, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Mauldeth Road
  • The route is partially-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service is operated by diesel trains.
  • The service uses the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor.
  • It takes sixty-nine minutes, which is an inconvenient time for train operators.

This is one of those services, which I think will eventually be partially replaced by other much better services.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is planning six tph between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport, which will take just twenty-six minutes.
  • Two-four tph on the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central would be a better service for the smaller stations. Passengers going to and from Manchester Airport would change at Liverpool Lime Street, Deansgate or Manchester Oxford Road.

Continuing as now, would definitely be possible.

Crewe And Manchester Airport Via Newton-le-Willows And Manchester Piccadilly

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Patricroft, Eccles, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Mauldeth Road, Burnage, East Didsbury, Gatley and Heald Green.
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service uses the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor
  • It takes eighty-five minutes, which is an inconvenient time for train operators.

This is one of those services, which I think will eventually be partially replaced by other much better services.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is planning six tph between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport, which will take just twenty-six minutes.
  • Two-four tph on the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Wigan North Western would be a better service for the smaller stations. Passengers going to and from Manchester Airport and Crewe would change at Liverpool Lime Street or Wigan North Western.

Continuing as now, would definitely be possible.

Warrington Bank Quay Via Earlstown

This service is run by Northern.

  • It has an hourly frequency.
  • The service calls at Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction and Earlestown.
  • The route is fully-electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • The service takes forty-three minute, which is a convenient time for train operators.

Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains could handle this route, if fitted with pantographs for 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • They would join the route at Edge Hill station.
  • They would offer step-free access between train and platform.
  • On Merseyrail’s principles, the service would probably be at least two tph, if not four tph.

Other than the connection of the Wapping Tunnel no extra infrastructure works would be needed.

Three Possible Routes Through Wapping

Summing up this section, these are possible routes that could be replaced by services through the Wapping Tunnel.

  • Two tph – Manchester Oxford Road
  • Two tph – Warrington Bank Quay
  • One tph – Wigan North Western

Increasing the Wigan North Western service to two tph, would increase the frequency between Edge Hill and Huyton to a very passenger-friendly four tph.

If eight tph could be accommodated in the Wapping Tunnel, the frequency could also be doubled to Manchester Oxford Road.

This would give the following services through the Wapping Tunnel.

  • Four tph – Manchester Oxford Road
  • Two tph – Warrington Bank Quay
  • Two tph – Wigan North Western

The only local services that would need to run into Liverpool Lime Street would be.

  • One tph – Northern – Blackpool North via Wigan North Western.
  • One tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Crewe via St. Helens and Newton-le-Willows.
  • One tph – Northern – Manchester Airport via Warrington Central.
  • One tph – Trains for Wales – Chester via Runcorn

I can understand, why so many seem to be enthusiastic about using the Wapping Tunnel to connect the Northern and City Lines.

Echoes Of The Brunels’ Thames Tunnel

George Stephenson’s Wapping Tunnel may be the first tunnel under a city, but the Brunels’ Thames Tunnel was the first under a navigable river.

The Brunels’ tunnel was built for horses and carts, but today it is an important rail artery of the London Overground, handling sixteen tph between Wapping and Rotherhithe.

I would expect that the Wapping Tunnel could do for Liverpool, what the Thames Tunnel has done for East London.

Modern signalling techniques probably mean that the theoretical capacity of the Wapping Tunnel is way in excess of the planned maximum frequency of eight tph.

High Speed Two Between Liverpool And London

The latest High Speed Two plans as laid out in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, say that there will be two tph between Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston.

  • Both trains will call at Old Oak Common, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Both trains will be 200 metres long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • One train will split and join with a similar service between London Euston and Lancaster.

Will these High Speed Two services replace the current Avanti West Coast services?

Northern Powerhouse Rail Between Liverpool And Manchester

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I looked at Transport for the North’s  report, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This report says that Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly will be as follows.

  • Services will go via Manchester Airport.
  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport and Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

I would assume that several of the six tph will continue across the Pennines to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Hull.

Will these Northern Powerhouse Rail services replace the current TransPennine and some of the Northern services?

Northern Powerhouse Rail Trains

Nothing has been said about the trains for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I suspect they will be versions of the 200 metre long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.

I do wonder, if Avanti West Coast have already ordered a prototype fleet of these trains,

Look at the specification of the Class 807 trains, they have ordered to boost services on the West Coast Main Line.

  • 7 x 26 metre cars.
  • 182 metres long. Shorter than an eleven-car Class 390 train.
  • All-electric, with no diesel engines or traction batteries. Are they lightweight trains with sparkling acceleration?
  • 125 mph operating speed. All Class 80x trains can do this.
  • 140 mph operating speed with ERTMS digital signalling. All Class 80x trains can do this.
  • Ability to work in pairs. All Class 80x trains can do this, up to a maximum length of twelve cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in emergency mode. I doubt fourteen cars would be a problem!

To be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, they would need to be able to cruise at 205 mph, whilst working on High Speed Two. I suspect that Hitachi have got some higher-capacity electrical gear and traction motors with lots more grunt in their extensive parts bin!

If these are a prototype fleet of classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, they will certainly get a lot of in-service testing even before the order is placed for the trains for High Speed Two.

Northern Powerhouse Rail will need trains with a slightly different specification.

  • As they won’t generally work on high speed lines, for most trains an operating speed of 140 mph will be sufficient.
  • For serving some destinations like Cleethorpes, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough and Redcar an independently-powered capability would be desirable. Sixty miles on batteries would probably be sufficient!

Nothing would appear to be out of Hitachi’s current capabilities.

Liverpool Lime Street Station After Remodelling

Liverpool Lime Street station has two groups of platforms.

  • Platforms 1-5 on the Western side
  • Platforms 6-10 on the Eastern side.

These pictures show some views of the platforms at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of 2017-2019.

Note,

  1. The platforms are not narrow!
  2. It appears that the five platforms in the Eastern group are all long enough to take an eleven-car Class 390 train, which is 265.3 metres long.
  3. TransPennine Express trains can use the Western group.

I have looked at a whole day’s traffic on Real Time Trains and it appears that the new track layout allows almost all services to use any available platform.

This flexibility must make operation of the station much easily than it was!

Liverpool Lime Street Station As A High Speed Station

It would appear that the Eastern Group of Platforms 6-10 will all be capable of the following.

  • Handling a 182 metre long Avanti West Coast Class 807 train.
  • Handling a 200 metres long classic-compatible High Speed Two train.
  • Handling a 130 metre long TransPennine Express Class 802 train.
  • In the future, handling a Northern Powerhouse Rail train, which will probably be less than 200 metres long.

But they won’t be able to handle High Speed Two’s full-size trains.

Currently, these services capable of over 125 mph are running or are planned from Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • 2 tph – Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and London Euston
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough
  • 3 trains per day(tpd) – TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow

This totals to four tph.

High Speed Two will add two classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.

Will these replace the two Avanti West Coast services?

  • They will be run by the same company.
  • They will take different routes.
  • The current service takes 134 minutes.
  • The High Speed Two train will take 94 minutes.

I can see Avanti West Coast running a  one tph slower train via stations with difficult connections to Liverpool Lime Street. Think Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.

This would bring the total to five tph.

Northern Powerhouse Rail will run six high speed trains to Manchester and beyond.

If they replaced the two TransPennine Express services, that would bring the maximum number of 200 metre long high speed trains to nine tph.

Could Liverpool Lime Street station handle nine high-speed tph?

Comparison With Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street station on High Speed Two will handle high speed trains from three directions, as will Liverpool Lime Street station.

The Birmingham station will handle nine tph on seven platforms.

As Liverpool Lime Street station will have ten platforms and also need to handle nine tph, I think it will be able to handle the trains.

Will There Be A Station In The Wapping Tunnel?

Just as London has its clay, which makes excavating for the Underground easy, the Centre of Liverpool has its sandstone, which has been honeycombed with tunnels. In addition to the Wapping Tunnel, there are two other tunnels from Edge Hill station to the Docks; the Waterloo Tunnel and the Victoria Tunnel.

Liverpool has plans for a Knowledge Quarter based on the Universities on Brownlow Hill.

As part of the development, it is intended to develop an area called Paddington Village.

Wikipedia says this about the village.

Paddington Village is a site at the eastern gateway to the city centre and has been earmarked as 1.8m sq ft of science, technology, education and health space.

This is also another paragraph.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced that the council were looking into a new Merseyrail station to serve the site. A mention of a station is made in the October 2017 Liverpool City Region Combined Authority update to the Long Term Rail Strategy. Merseytravel commissioned a feasibility report into re-opening the Wapping Tunnel in May 2016 which found that it was a valid proposal which would allow for a new station to be built that could serve the Knowledge Quarter.

Someone has thought up a proposal for a Lime Line, which would be a tram or bus system, linking the Knowledge Quarter and the City Centre.

This map shows how their proposal fits in with all the other rail systems in Liverpool City.

Note the Wapping Tunnel is shown on the map, as a dotted blue line.

  • It connects to the Northern Line to the South of Liverpool Central station.
  • It connects to the City Line to the West of Edge Hill station.
  • A station named University/KQ is shown.

A new St. James station is also shown

Conclusion

Using the Wapping Tunnel to increase capacity in Liverpool City Centre could be used if required to improve capacity for the high speed network in the city, by removing local trains from Liverpool Lime Street station.

August 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments