The Anonymous Widower

The Future Of TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express operates services across the Pennines.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I explored the possibilities of merging the infrastructure of High Seed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail, as proposed by this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

In my post, I proposed this service pattern across the Pennines, after sketching it on one of the 5 x 3 inch cards, that I use for notes.

  • 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
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough.

But how do proposed services across the Pennines like these, fit with the current TransPennine Express services?

Manchester Airport And Middlesbrough

The Liverpool and Sunderland service covers the same route. at the same frequency of one tph.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle

The London and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Edinburgh services cover the same route, at a doubled frequency of two tph.

Liverpool And Newcastle

The Liverpool and Edinburgh service covers the same route, at the same frequency of one tph.

Liverpool And Scarborough

I didn’t put this in thew original proposed schedule, so it would need to be added at one tph.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

The London and Hull and Liverpool and Hull services cover the same route, at an increased frequency of four tph.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield And Huddersfield And Leeds

These two services, either side of Huddersfield, are effectively local services and could either stay with TransPennine Express or be moved to Northern.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

The Liverpool and Sheffield service covers the same route, at a doubled frequency of two tph, as far as Sheffield.

One tph could be extended to |Cleethorpes.

Manchester Airport And Glasgow Central

If there is a connection between the Northbound West Coast Main Line and Westbound Northern Powerhouse Rail then this service will be possible at the current frequency of one tph.

There would need to be a West-facing terminating platform at Manchester Airport.

Alternatively, this could remain a Classic service.

Manchester Airport and Edinburgh

The London and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Edinburgh services cover the same route, at a doubled frequency of two tph.

Liverpool And Glasgow Central

If there is a connection between the Northbound West Coast Main Line and Eastbound Northern Powerhouse Rail then this service will be possible at the soon-to-be-introduced frequency of one tph.

It could use Liverpool’s High Speed station.

Alternatively, this could remain a Classic service.

New Services

I could also throw in a few other services.

Liverpool And Nottingham

Could a service between Liverpool’s new High Speed station and Nottingham be introduced with a frequency of one tph?

The route would be via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield on Northern Powerhouse Rail before reversing at Sheffield and travelling to Nottingham via Chesterfield and Alfreton.

Scarborough And Llandudno

Why not?

If the demand is there various services might be viable.

Extra Stations

I think we will also see more station calls, by both High Speed and TransPennine Express trains.

Conclusion

TransPennine Express will be a very different franchise in the future.

 

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Puzzled By New Fleets For TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express (TPE) are replacing all their trains, but their choice of three different new fleets puzzles me.

The new fleets and their routes are as follows.

Nova1

This is a fleet of nineteen five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, with probably a frequency of one tph

Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle, which I estimate will take 4:15 hours

Manchester Airport and Newcastle, which takes around 2:45 hours

These two services would probably need nine for the Edinburgh service and six for the Manchester Airport service.

This means that there are four extra trains.

If there is a spare or one in maintenance, that means that two trains are available to boost capacity on busy services if needed, by running a ten-car train.

I doubt that ten-car services to Manchester Airport could be run through the Castlefield Corridor due to the inadequate stations, but Liverpool and Edinburgh might be a route for longer trains.

I have some observations on Nova1.

  • The trains are 125 mph trains, that can be upgraded to 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • The trains will share the East Coast Main Line with LNER’s Azumas, which are other members of te same family of Hitachi trains.

The trains have been authorised to start running services.

Nova2

This is a fleet of twelve electric Class 397 trains.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes,

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, which takes around 3:30 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh, which takes around 3:15 hours.
  • New route – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which could take around 3:30 hours.

Currently, the two existing routes run at a frequency of one train per two hours, which would probably need at least seven trains.

This probably means that there will be four trains left for the service between Liverpool and Glasgow, if it assumed there is one train spare or in maintenance.

As a round trip between the two cities, would probably take eight hours, it looks like the frequency will be one train per two hours.

This would give the following services, all with a frequency of one train per two hours.

  • Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Manchester Airport and Edinburgh via Manchester Piccadilly
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central

Passengers wanting to go between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh should keep reading.

I have some observations on Nova2.

  • They are 125 mph trains that are replacing the 110 mph Class 350 trains.
  • In the next few years, these 125 mph trains will be sharing the West Coast Main Line with faster trains like Class 390 trains and the trains of High Speed Two, both of which should be capable of 140 mph, when running using in-cab signalling.
  • I would assume that the trains can be similarly upgraded, otherwise they will have to be replaced.
  • There was an option for more trains, but I suspect the success of Class 802 trains on the Great Western Railway led to it not being taken up.,

The trains should come into service later this year.

Nova3

This is a fleet of five-car rakes of Mark 5A coaches, hauled by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.

There are fourteen locomotives and driving van trailers, with enough coaches for thirteen rakes.

I would suspect that TPE are aiming to have twelve trains available for service.

According to Wikipedia, they will work the following routes, which both have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, which takes around 2:45 hours.
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough, which takes around 2:45 hours.

So with turnround at both ends, I suspect that a six hour round trip is possible. So to provide the two hourly services across the Pennines, TPE will need six trains for each route.

This explains a fleet size of twelve operational trains.

I have two observations on Nova3.

  • They are diesel-powered and will be running at times on electrified lines. But I suspect the diesel Class 68 locomotive could be replaced in the future with an electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive.
  • Questions have been raised about the speed of exit and entry from the coaches through single end doors of the coaches.
  • They have an operating speed of only 100 mph, but opportunities for higher speeds on the routes are limited to perhaps thirty to forty miles on the East Coast Main Line.

At least they should be in service within a couple of months.

Why Didn’t TPE Order A Unified Fleet?

To summarise TPE have ordered the following trains.

  • Nova1 – Nineteen Class 802 trains
  • Nova2 – Twelve Class 397 trains.
  • Nova3 – Thirteen trains consisting of four coaches topped and tailed by a a Class 68 locomotive and driving van trailer.

All forty-four trains are five cars.

Surely, it would have been easier for TPE to have a fleet, where all the trains were the same.

I suspect that all routes can be run using Class 802 trains, so it as not as if there are any special requirements for the trains.

So why didn’t TPE order a fleet of Class 802 trains?

I can only think of these reasons.

  • Hitachi couldn’t supply the required number of trains in the appropriate time-scale.
  • ,CAF made an offer that TPE couldn’t refuse.

It should also be born in mind that Great Western Railway and Hull Trains, which like TPE are  First Group companies, went down the Class 802 route.

The Future

There are various issues, that will arise in the future.

Nova2 And West Coast Main Line Operating Speed

The new Nova trains are running on TPE’s Northern and Scottish routes and as I indicated earlier, the Nova2 trains might not be fast enough in a few years time for the West Coast Main Line, which will have Class 390 trains running at 140 mph using in-cab signalling.

High Speed Two will surely make this incompatibility worse, unless CAF can upgrade the Nova2 trains for 140 mph running.

Replacing the Nova2 trains with Class 802 trains, which are being built for 140 mph running, would solve the problem.

Nova3 And Class 68 Locomotives

There are powerful reasons to replace diesel locomotives on the UK’s railways, with noise, pollution and carbon emissions at the top of the list.

As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, there will be more electrification between Manchester and York, adding to the pressure to change the traction.

  • There could be a change of locomotives to Class 88 or Class 93 locomotives, which would run using the overhead electrification, where it exists.
  • The trains could be changed to Class 802 trains.

The Class 68 locomotive is increasingly looking like an interim solution. At least, it’s a less polluting locomotive, than the dreaded and ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive.

Class 185 Replacement

TPE will still have a fleet of diesel three-car Class 185 trains.

  • They are running on routes between Manchester and Hull and Cleethorpes via Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield.
  • These are best described as just-about-adequate trains and are one of The Treasury’s boob-buys.
  • As Northern Powerhouse Rail is created, they will be increasingly running under wires.
  • Could it be likely that more capacity will be needed on routes run by these trains?
  • The capacity of a Class 185 train is 169 seats, as opposed to the 342 seats of a five-car Class 802 train.

I think it could be very likely that instead of running pairs of Class 185 trains, TPE will replace them with five-car Class 802 trains.

Conclusion

I very much feel, that over the next few years, TPE’s fleet will change further in the direction of a one-unified fleet!

 

 

 

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The government is reconsidering the route of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester and also between Birmingham and Leeds, which are jointly known as Phase 2b.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to use HS2 as a regional route, by providing two new junctions so that Northern Powerhouse Rail services could use HS2 to reach Manchester.

The Times also has a news item entitled HS2 To Link With Northern Powerhouse Line, that adds some other details to the story.

This is the start of the news item.

HS2 trains will be able to run across Northern England under plans for a fully-integrated high-speed network.

The government said yesterday that HS2 would connect into a proposed east-west route across the Pennines, enabling trains to run directly between more cities.

Four years ago, I wrote Whither HS2 And HS3?, which argued for greater integration of the two routes and more tunnelled stations under major cities to build High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail with less disruption.

Part of that post was deliberately over the top, but it seems that others have been thinking in a similar way.

The Times also says the following.

  • Two junctions near High Legh will connect High Speed Two and the East-West line.
  • High Speed Two will be realigned between Nottingham and Derby to avoid a year-long part-closure of the M1.
  • The government has insisted that both High Speed lines are necessary.
  • Northern Powerhouse trains would be able to use High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two trains may be able to run at speed direct to Liverpool, Bradford and Hull.
  • The CBI are quoted as liking the proposal.

The Times also has a map that shows the proposed routes of the High Speed railways.

At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail

This is the name of this report on the Transport for the North web site.

I will use information from this report , when it is relevant and the best available.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts on the project taking information from the two articles and the Transport for the North report.

Preamble – Line Speeds On High Speed Two, The West Coast Main And The East Coast Main Line

High Speed Two is being designed for running at a speed of 225 mph with a capacity of eighteen trains per hour (tph)

The West And East Coast Main Lines are designed for 125 mph running for most of their lengths.

In the future, with the addition of in-cab digital signalling, it is intended that these two lines will be upgraded to allow running at 140 mph.

A Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line

Looking at the map and the position of High Legh, it appears that a new High Speed line could be built Vaguely along the route of the M56 between Liverpool  and Manchester.

  • It appears to cross the Mersey to the West of Warrington.
  • It appears to go South of Warrington, where there could be a station.
  • It would call at Manchester Airport.

From this article in the Knutsford Guardian, which is entitled Government Releases New HS2 Plans For High Legh And Ashley, I suspect there will be a lot of opposition from local politicians and residents.

I seem to remember, a lot of opposition to the building of the M56.

This could be a difficult route to persuade the local people to accept.

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note how the M56 motorway passes across the North-West of the Airport.

Could the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line be alongside the motorway or even in a tunnel underneath?

This second Google Map shows the area around High Legh.

Note.

  1. The M56 going across the top of the map.
  2. The spaghetti in the North-East corner of the map is Junction 8 on the M56, where it joins the A556.
  3. The new A556 by-pass route to the West of the original route.
  4. The M6 running diagonally across the map.
  5. High Legh village is just to the North-West of the middle of the map.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the area.

High Speed Two would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

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

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

The Liverpool Lime Street Capacity Problem

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled New High-Speed Rail Station For Liverpool City Centre Takes Step Forward.

This is an extract.

A plan to build a completely new high-speed rail station in the CENTRE of Liverpool is taking a major step forward today – and Everton’s chief executive will be leading it.

Transport leaders want to build a new high-speed line into Liverpool to connect with HS2 to London and the planned Northern Powerhouse rail line across the north.

That means an entirely new “architecturally stunning” station in Liverpool city centre as Lime Street is too small to cope with the extra traffic.

So why is Lime Street station still too small, as it has been increased in capacity in the last couple of years?

I will look at the direct Virgin services between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

  • Northbound trains leave at XX:07 and take two hours and 12-14 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 26-28 minutes in the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • Sorthbound trains leave at XX:47 and take two hours and 12-16 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 4-8 minutes in the platform at Euston station.

It looks to me, that Virgin are using the platform at Lime Street station to balance the service. It does mean that trains probably keep more reliably to the timetable, but it hogs the platform at Liverpool Lime Street

Virgin want to increase the frequency to two tph  and the London and Liverpool timing of around two hours and 12-16 minutes, means that a second platform is needed at Liverpool Lime Street station.

The station has now been remodelled and at least one extra platform has been added.

The problem could also be solved if the classic Virgin services took say one hour and 52 minutes between Euston and Liverpool.

This would enable the following.

  • Trains would leave Euston and Liverpool Lime Street at the same time.
  • Trains would have eight minutes to turn round at each end of the journey.
  • There would be a very passenger-friendly journey time of under two hours.

I think this will happen at some time in the future.

  • Digital signalling and track improvements will allow a high proportion of 140 mph running.
  • New trains will have faster dwell times at stations.

, Competing against High Speed Two will drive faster services on the classic route.

High Speed Two is currently saying that London and Liverpool services will take one hour and thirty-six minutes and run at a two tph frequency.

This will probably mean that a clock-face timetable will be difficult without trains waiting in platforms at each end of the journey for a long time.

It will certainly mean that High Speed Two between London and Liverpool will need two platforms at the Northern end.

Even if the proposed one hour and thirty-six minutes was reduced to my estimate of seventy minutes to the new station, there would still be a need for two platforms. Liverpool is just a little bit too far away from London.

In addition Northern Powerhouse rail is saying that it will be running six tph between Liverpool and Manchester.

It would be difficult to fit all the platforms needed into Lime Street station.

A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station

This Google Map shows Liverpool Lime Street station and the surrounding area.

Consider.

  • Lime Street station has a well-developed network of local rail lines going North, East, South and West under the Mersey, which are being updated with new trains and extra destinations.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station is a Grade II Listed building.
  • It is surrounded to the North and West with a cluster of historically and culturally important buildings including the Grade I Listed St. George’s Hall.
  • Close to and alongside the North and South sides of the station are buildings that few would mourn if they were demolished.
  • Between the station and the University of Liverpool to the East, there is a lot of land, that is mainly surface car parking and more low-grade buildings.

I think designing a High Speed station close to the current Lime Street station could be the sort of challenge many world-class architects will relish.

How Many Platforms And What Capacity Would Be Needed For A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

We already know that the following High Speed services are planned.

  • Two tph between Liverpool and London.
  • Six tph between  Liverpool and Manchester and beyond.
  • Would extra services to Glasgow and Birmingham be needed?
  • There could also be long turnround times, which need extra platforms, as I indicated earlier.

It should also be noted that according to Wikipedia, Birmingham’s City Centre High Speed station; Birmingham Curzon Street station is being designed with seven platforms.

I could see an eighteen tph High Speed station with at least eight platforms.

  • Two platforms would be for London services
  • Three or four platforms would be for Manchester and beyond services
  • Two or three platforms would be for other and future services and service recovery.
  • All platforms would be able to accept maximum length High Speed Two trains.

The capacity of the station must be large enough for all future eventualities

I could envisage the following Northern Powerhouse Rail services, sometime in the future.

  • Four tph -Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester

There could also be two tph to each of Birmingham, Glasgow and London.

The absolute limit between Liverpool and High Legh Junction would probably be eighteen tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.

I am assuming that the High Speed sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail will be built as near as possible to High Speed Two standards, as regards train capacity, track, electrification, signalling and stations.

How Would Trains Access The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

To the East of Lime Street station is the campus of Liverpool University. There are a large number of buildings and to make things more difficult there is a cathedral, a brand-new hospital (Hopefully!) and several Listed buildings.

There is also no obvious route for a new High Speed Railway into a new station close to the current Lime Street.

I feel that the only solution is to bore a tunnel to bring the High Speed Railway to the city-centre. from perhaps six miles to the East of the city.

  • The tunnels would be only for High Speed services.
  • I suspect the preferred route would include tunnelling under some existing rail lines or motorways.
  • This would mean that High Speed services would be unhindered by local traffic, when approaching or leaving Liverpool.
  • Speed would be at least 140 mph.

This is only following a similar philosophy to that used to bring High Speed One into St. Pancras under East London, where the tunnels are under the North London Line.

Would The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station Be On The Surface Or Underground?

Recently, two semi-underground stations linked to deep tunnels have been built in the UK; Stratford International and the Paddington station for Crossrail. Crossrail and London’s Northern Line Extension have also shown how stations, that are deep underground, can have large developments on top.

I know the area around the Lime Street station well and I have a strong three-dimensional sense and feel that there is a solution that could be developed.

The final solution would be one for architects, council planners, engineers , politicians and accountants.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester Piccadilly

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations is necessary.

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

This Google Map shows the tracks between Manchester Piccadilly station and Ardwick, where Siemens have a train care facility.

Note.

  1. If the tunnels emerged at Ardwick after passing under Manchester Piccadilly station, they would be pointing in more of less the right direction to emerge at Ardwick and continue on the way to Leeds, via the Huddersfield Line
  2. Under the earlier plan, I suspect the tunnels would go in a wide loop around South Manchester.

This tunnelled approach to new underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly has the following advantages.

  • High Speed services between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations would have their own dedicated High Speed line.
  • Much of the tunnelling to the East of Manchester Piccadilly station could be under existing railway infrastructure.
  • Through and terminal platforms as needed would be provided under the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Escalators and lifts would connect the underground platforms to local services and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • By choosing the right orientation for the tunnel and position for the underground platforms, it may be possible to have a second entrance to the  underground station from Piccadilly Gardens.
  • The current Manchester Piccadilly station would only need refurbishing, rather than a total rebuild.

Manchester would have the fastest conventional airport link in the world. Who needs Hyperloop or Maglev?

Would Any High Speed Services To And From London Terminate At Manchester?

If London and Manchester trains have a sub-seventy minute journey time, trains would need to wait for some minutes in a terminal platform. It is the Liverpool problem all over again.

  • These would need to be long enough for a full-length train.
  • They would be expensive to build, as they would be underground.

So I suspect that providing services to cities beyond Manchester would actually reduce the complication and cost of the underground station.

Services at the underground station at Manchester Piccadilly would be as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly
  • High Speed Two – Three tph between Manchester Piccadilly and London
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

Surely, this means that three tph must terminate in the underground platforms!

If trains emerge at Ardwick, they could also continue on the Hope Valley Line to Sheffield.

If two tph could go to Sheffield, this means that the service pattern through the underground platforms could be.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly nd 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 Piccadillyand Leeds
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough.

I have shown that it is possible to design a schedule, where no High Speed services need to terminate in Manchester Piccadilly station.

So all the underground station would need is two through platforms.

A turnback could be provided at Ardwick for service recovery.

Overall services from the underground stations would be as follows.

  • Two tph – Edinburgh
  • Four tph – Hull
  • Nine tph – Leeds
  • Six tph – Liverpool
  • Three tph – London
  • Nine tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Newcastle
  • Two tph – Sheffield
  • One tph – Sunderland
  • Five tph – York

This was only after a few minutes juggling. I’m sure a professional could be better.

The only reason to add bay platforms to the underground station would be, if high speed regional services like those at St. Pancras were to be run terminate in Manchester.

The through station concept also means that if demand was such, that Manchester needed four or more tph to or from London, Manchester is future-proofed.

Could Island Platforms Be Built At Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Airport High Speed Stations?

Some of London’s Jubilee Line stations, with the highest capacity like Canada Water, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster, have theor Jubilee Line platforms designed to the following rules.

  • Tracks perhaps twenty or thirty metres apart.
  • A wide concourse between the two platforms, so travellers and staff can freely circulate.
  • Escalators and lifts in the concourse..
  • Platform-edge doors for safety.

It is a very good starting point, but it could be taken further.

  • Step-free access between platform and train, through wide doors..
  • Large numbers of information displays.
  • Tickets would indicate the door number to use.
  • Toilets and kiosks
  • Lots of visible staff, rather than the North’s usually few invisible versions.

Everything would be geared to a quick and easy boarding and leaving the trains.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

Liverpool And Manchester Journeys

I also suspect that nearly all Liverpool and Manchester passengers would use the High Speed services running between the city centres and Manchester Airport every ten minutes, which would take twenty-six minutes.

One estimate on the Internet says it takes fifty minutes to drive!

As both cities have extensive and interconnecting local rail, tram and bus networks, would this mean simplification of the other services between the two cities?

The Castlefield Corridor

Hopefully something will be done to sort out this route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.

  • I am very surprised that freight trains for Trafford Park Freight Terminal still use the Castlefield Corridor.
  • Will there still be a need to provide as many services to Manchester Airport, as surely passengers will use the High Speed route, which will be running every ten minutes and will probably be a escalator or lift away?
  • Would there be any need for long distance services to run through the route?
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and York would go via Northern Powerhouse Rail under Manchester Piccadilly and the City Centre.
  • Manchester Airport to Liverpool and Warrington would leave the Airport to the West and go direct.
  • Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Preston would leave the airport to the West and would take the West Coast Main Line at High Legh.
  • Manchester Airport to Birmingham, and London would leave the airport to the West and would take High Speed Two at High Legh.

I think the Castlefield Corridor end up as a series of train or tram-train routes across Manchester.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line is a series of routes across Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line is a series of routes across Birmingham.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is a series of routes across Newcastle.
  • Thameslink is a series of routes across London.
  • The East London Line is a series of routes across East London.

Note that the last two routes, have been planned to handle in excess of 20 tph.

Why should the Castlefield Corridor routes be any different?

It’s just another cross-city line!

If there was a direct escalator and lift connection from Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station, the routes through the Castlefield Corridor would be a superb system connecting passengers to  High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The Future Of The West Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • It appears Crewe and Warrington will be by-passed by new High Speed tracks.
  • A new Warrington station with calls from High Speed Two services,  will have good rail links to Chester, East Liverpool, North Wales and West Manchester.
  • Wigan station is well-connected with commuter lines to Kirkby, Liverpool, Manchester and Southport, which would bring passengers to High Speed Two services stopping in the station.
  • Preston station will connect passengers from Blackpool and North West Lancashire to High Speed Two services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston converted into quadruple track all the way.

  • Two High Speed tracks with at least 140 mph running and only one stop at Wigan.
  • Two slow tracks for freight and local services, with stops as necessary.

Separation of High Speed services on 140 mph tracks with perhaps a capacity of at least fifteen tph, raises the possibility of using 140 mph electric multiple units running High Speed regional services.

  • Northern terminals could be Blackburn, Blackpool and Burnley.
  • Southern terminals could be Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Stoke.
  • Liverpool services would terminate in the new High Speed platforms.
  • Manchester services would call at Manchester Airport.
  • Manchester services would terminate in bay platforms in the underground High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly, with quick and easy access to the High Speed services.
  • All High Speed local services would call at Preston and Wigan.

Trains would have the following characteristics.

  • Capable of 140 mph running.
  • High capacity, quality interiors.
  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • Able to use platform-edge door used by the High Speed trains.

Think of a modernised Class 195 train, used for high speed commuter services between St. Pancras and Kent.

If a battery-electric capability could be added, the towns and cities served could increase dramatically.

  • Northern terminals could be Barrow, Hebden Bridge and Windermere.
  • Southern terminals could be Chester.
  • Carlisle could be served using the Cumbria Coast Line via Barrow, Sellafield, Workington and Whitehaven.

I can see a large High Speed regional network developing around a 140 mph West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston.

North of Preston, the West Coast Main Line will become a double-track line with the passenger trains travelling at 140 mph.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

In Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North, I compared the current route between Leeds and Manchester with the Ipswich and Norwich route, that I know well.

  • Both routes are roughly the same length.
  • Ipswich and Norwich has a 100 mph line speed, with usually just two stops.
  • Manchester and Leeds has a much slower line speed, with umpteen stops.
  • The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 train per hour (tph).
  • Norwich and Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Two alternative routes are proposed.

  • The black route would be created by upgrading the Huddersfield Line.
  • The yellow route would be a new route via Bradford.

The Transport for the North report says this about the Leeds-Manchester service.

  • There will be six tph.
  • The journey will take 25 minutes.

The next two sections give my thoughts on these options.

Upgrading The Huddersfield Line

It will be a tough ask to upgrade this line so that a twenty-five minute time can be achieved.

I suspect though, it wouldn’t have been suggested unless it were possible.

Manchester And Leeds Via Bradford Low Moor

The Transport for the North report indicates that this could be via Bradford Low Moor station.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

Upgrade Or Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds?

Obviously, the tunnel would take several years to bore.

So to get Northern Powerhouse Rail up and running, the Huddersfield Line would be upgraded first.

At a future time, the tunnel would be constructed.

Hopefully, it could be built, when the finance became available, without disrupting existing train services.

After the tunnel was built, there could be a division of services.

  • High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services would use the tunnel.
  • Stopping services would use the Classic route on the Huddersfield Line.

All passengers would get the service they need.

Freight would have an extra route, if it could use the High Speed tunnel.

High Speed Lines East Of Leeds

I’ll repeat the map I included earlier, which shows the route of High Speed Two and the  two Northern Powerhouse Rail routes to the East of Leeds.

The three Junctions labelled on the map are.

  1. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Leeds – North East services.
  2. Junction on High Speed Two Leeds spur to facilitate through services via existing Leeds station.
  3. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Sheffield – Leeds services.

The two main Northern Powerhouse Rail routes East of Leeds are.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

Having ridden around these lines in the last few weeks, I believe that these routes could be  upgraded to a High Speed standard.

  • The East Coast Main Line is mainly four-track and could be capable of 140 mph running, with in-cab digital signalling.
  • An electrified link between Leeds and the East Coast Main Line has been promised for years.
  • Replace the Selby swing bridge and the line between Leeds and Hull could probably be upgraded to an electrified 125 mph line with 140 mph available with in-cab signalling.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report gives these proposed details of services East of Leeds.

  • Leeds and Newcastle -four tph in 58 minutes.
  • Leeds and Hull – two tph in 38 minutes

If all the lines East of Leeds were electrified, local services could be run by 140 mph electrical multiple units, likethose I proposed for Liverpool and Manchester High Speed regional services. These would not delay the High Speed services.

Liverpool and Hull Timings

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report doesn’t give a timing for this route across Northern England, but it does give the intermediate timings

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 25 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

This gives a time of 90 minutes between Liverpool and Hull, which compares with the current fastest time of 2:32 hours.

In addition, the frequency of the service would certainly be at least two tph and possibly as high as four tph.

Hull Station As A High Speed Terminal

Hull station has been earmarked for some time as an Eastern terminal for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This Google Map shows the station.

The station is large, with six platforms, and would have no problem accommodating long High Speed Two trains.

Could using Hull station as a terminal for a London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull service be a sensible response to saving costs and reducing disruption in the building of High Speed Two to Leeds?

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will need a High Speed link across or under the Pennines, but Leeds station is congested.
  • The new Junction 2 on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map, has been designed to allow services through Leeds station.
  • Leeds station probably would not be able to turn round a High Speed servicefrom London, without the previously planned substantial rebuilding.
  • Could the passengers at Leeds cope with all the disruption?
  • One extra High Speed service in both directions between Manchester and Hull every hour, could probably be accommodated using modern digital signalling.
  • The train might even split and join at Leeds to serve both Newcastle and Hull.

Using Hull as a terminal probably has other advantages.

  • There is probably space to add a stabling facility close to the station.
  • Upgrading the route between Hull and Selby, would speed-up London to Kings Cross services via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Electrification between Hull and Leeds would allow substantial improvement in local services around Hull.

If you look at the whole High Speed Two route between London and Hull via Manchester and Leeds, the route would be as follows.

  • High Speed Two between London and Crewe.
  • New High Speed railway between Crewe and Manchester via High Legh and Manchester Airport
  • New High Speed route across or under the Pennines to Leeds.
  • Upgraded line between Leeds and Hull.

I believe that it would be possible to run between London and Manchester at 225 mph and up to 140 mph on all the rest of the route.

Manchester Airport Connectivity

If High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are developed as laid out in the Transport for the North report, the following cities will be connected to Manchester Airport.

  • Birmingham – High Speed Two
  • Blackpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Bradford – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Carlisle – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Edinburgh – Northern Powerhouse Rail/East Coast Main Line
  • Glasgow – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Hull – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Leeds – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • London – High Speed Two
  • Newcastle -High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Preston – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Sheffield – Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Sunderland –  Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • York – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail

Manchester Airport will probably become the most important station in the North with High Speed connections to a large part of England and Scotland.

The Big Advantage Of Route Sharing

Suppose you have arrived in Manchester Airport and need to get home in Hull.

Because both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will run between the Airport and Hull, the frequency will be increased.

There could be the following services.

  • High Speed Two – 2 tph between London and Hull
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – 2 tph between Liverpool and Hull

Giving a train every fifteen minutes.

High Speed East Coast Between London and Yorkshire, the North East Of England and Edinburgh

The East Coast Main Line is not mentioned in either of the articles, I have quoted in this post.

This line will see big changes in the next few years.

  • All services from East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and LNER and some services from TransPennine Express will be run by 140 mph-capable Class 800/801/802 trains.
  • ERTMS will be installed between London and Doncaster.
  • Extra tracks will be added in places.
  • Werrington Junction will be improved.

Large sections of the line will be capable of 140 mph running.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 88 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I think we may have the making of a railway race between London and Leeds

  • London Kings Cross via Peterborough, Wakefield and Doncaster
  • London Euston via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • London Euston via Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Bradford.

In addition, if the Leeds and Hull Line via Selby were to be upgraded to a High Speed route capable of running at up to  140 mph, I believe that by 2024 or 2025 could see London and Hull covered in under two hours.

The East Coast Main Line will be a High Speed Line in all but name.

The improvements and the 140 mph operating speed will create more capacity and I believe services from Kings Cross could be something like.

  • London and Bradford – Two tph
  • London and Edinburgh – Three or four tph – One or two tph via Leeds
  • London and Hull – Two tph
  • London and Leeds – Three or four tph
  • London and Lincoln – Two tph
  • London and Middlesbrough – Two tph
  • London and Newcastle – Four tph
  • London and Scarborough – One tph
  • London and Sunderland – Two tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – Two or three tph

Selective joining and splitting could be used to make better use of paths South of Doncaster.

I haven’t proven it, but my gut feeling for the numbers, is that LNER with their fleet of Azumas, will be capable of running a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

I suspect, that hey’ll have to buy a few more trains.

With the open access operators providing extra services, I suspect that there will be at least two tph between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland.

It would be the ultimate High Speed service based on a route that was designed by Victorians.

To make the most of the East Coast Main Line improvements, the following Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements should be done.

  • Leeds to Hull
  • Leeds to the Northbound East Coast Main Line

I’ve already discussed the first, but the second would do the following.

  • Speed up services between Leeds and Newcastle and Scotland.
  • Allow LNER to run electric trains between London and Scotland via Leeds.
  • Create an electrified route between Neville Hill Depot and York.
  • Create an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Services To Sheffield

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in East Yorkshire.

I can remember, when the Master Cutler used to run to Sheffield via the East Coast Main Line in the 1960s.

Even if a train took thirty minutes to go between Sheffield and  Doncaster, it will still be a journey time of under two hours between London Kings Cross and Sheffield.

But note that on the map the route between Sheffield and Doncaster is shown as to be improved for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the route were to be electrified, it could give Sheffield and Rotherham a High Speed route to London Kings Cross.

The Classic route to Sheffield via the Midland Main Line is being upgraded.

  • It will be electrified as far North as Market Harborough.
  • Much of the route will have a 125 mph operating speed and perhaps 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • It  will share the 15.5 mile Northern section of the spur between High Speed Two and Sheffield, meaning it will be electrified between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

So when the new 125 mph bi-mode trains start running between St. Pancras and Sheffield, I would suspect that timings on this route could be below the two-hour mark.

Sheffield will get a much improved train service to and from the South.

Sheffield And Hull

The map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, shows a route between Sheffield and Hull via Doncaster as improved Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • It includes Sheffield and Doncaster, which could be improved to a High Speed electrified line.
  • Part of the route between Doncaster and Selby is  the East Coast Main Line, which should be able to sustain 140 mph running in a few years.
  • Selby and Hull, is another route to be improved by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning two tph in fifty minutes between Sheffield and Hull.

They could be 125 mph electric multiple units, which are a bit better than the current Pacers.

Some local services use a second route via Doncaster, Thorne, Goole, Gilberdyke and Brough.

Between Doncaster and Gilberdyke is not planned for improvement in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, but at only twenty-five miles, it could easily be run by using 125 mph battery-electric trains, which would charge their batteries whilst running at both ends of the route.

  • I wonder if it would be best to electrify the Thorne/Goole first, to give diversion for trains between Doncaster and Hull, whilst the Selby Swing Bridge is electrified.
  • I have just read on this page of the Historic England web site, that the Selby Swing Bridge was Listed as Grade II ion the 23rd April 2015. So is this the reason why the electrification between Leeds and Hull has stalled?
  • An electrified Thorne/Google route, might be used for local trains, whilst expresses used the Selby route.
  • Selby has a couple of useful West-facing bay platforms.

There certainly seems to be some innovative Project Management at work

After all, train operators wouldn’t probably want to cut off one of their markets, whilst upgrading and electrification are underway.

Sheffield and Grimsby Via Doncaster and Scunthorpe

This route is shown on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map.

  • There is an hourly TransPennine Express service between Cleethorpes station and Manchester Airport via Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Sheffield.
  • There are a few sundry local services.
  • The route serves the important Port of Immingham.
  • A large renewable energy industry is developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • British Steel has just folded at Scunthorpe.

The route doesn’t really fit the Northern Powerhouse ideal and it has a totally inadequate passenger service.

Could this route be improved to provide better rail services to the area, that sometimes, the rest of the UK forgets?

  • Electrification might be needed to handle the heavy freight from Scunthorpe and Immingham.
  • Would an LNER service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes be welcomed?
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport needs to at least be doubled in frequency.

With all the energy projects going on in North Lincolnshire, this area could become the Lincolnshire Powerhouse.

Sheffield And Leeds

Long-terms plans for traffic between these two cities will probably be by Junctions 2 and 3 on the map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report, suggests that the trains will use High Speed Two and some infrastructure improvements and will run at a frequency of four tph and take 28 minutes.

This is a good service and compares well with what is planned between Ipswich and Norwich.

In the meantime, the main route is the Hallam Line, where trains take eighty minutes for the forty-five miles

Let’s hope Northern’s more powerful new Class 195 trains, bring the journey time under the hour.

Barnsley and Rotherham mustn’t be left out of the benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Is this the beginning of Yorkshire Powerhouse Rail?

Sheffield And Manchester

The Northern Powerhouse Rail map has this route marked as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

As a lot of freight traffic is generated along the Hope Valley Line, which is the only route between the two cities, will this route be upgraded for a faster speed and greater capacity.

Will the Hope Valley Line be electrified?

  • At the Western end, it is electrified as far as far as Hazel Grove station.
  • At the Eastern end, High Speed Two will mean there will be electrification at Dore Junction.
  • The distance between Dore Junction and Hazel Grove station is about thirty miles.
  • My helicopter didn’t show that many bridges or level crossings.
  • There are three long tunnels on the route, which are a total of eight miles long. Depending on their condition, these could be easy or difficult to electrify.
  • Much of the electrification at the Western end looks in need of replacement.

This is one for the project engineers and accountants, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this route electrified.

High Speed Two Routes

From the map it appears that in addition to the current proposed routes for High Speed Two trains.

  • London-Birmingham-Liverpool (96 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester (68 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Wigan and then on the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow. (218 mins from 248)
  • London-Birmingham-East Midlands Hub-Sheffield-Leeds (82 mins from 132) and then on the East Coast Main Line to Newcastle 138 mins from 172)

Two new routes would be added via the new High Legh junctions.

  • London-Birmingham–Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Newcastle

In addition Liverpool would be served via the High Legh junctions.

This page on The Guardian is a useful guide to current and HS2 tomings, which I have used here.

My best estimates for the new layout are as follows.

London-Birmingham-Liverpool via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds via High Legh – 92 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull via High Legh – 130 mins

Note.

  1. To avoid problems, Liverpool and Manchester will probably end up with the same scheduled times.
  2. I suspect that the High Legh route may save more time, than I have estimated.
  3. Any savings South of High Legh will benefit all routes.

As under the new proposals London and High Legh will be continuous High Speed line, with High Speed spurs to Liverpool, Manchester Airport and Manchester, it would appear that the proposals offer faster journey times to the area.

Building High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

There is an old Project Management phrase about

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row!

I think, that someone has been thinking hard as it appears the building of the second phase of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail together can offer a lot of benefits.

These are my thoughts on the project order.

Devise An Intelligent Electrification Philosophy

Transport for Wales and their contractors are devising an intelligent discontinuous electrification philosophy for the South Wales Metro.

The Hallam, Hope Valley and Huddersfield Lines will be tricky to improve and electrify.

  • They run through picturesque countryside.
  • There are a large number of overbridges and some level crossings..
  • There could be objections.
  • There are some long tunnels.
  • Access could be difficult.
  • Speed limits will need to be increased.

Every trick will need to be employed.

  • Instead of rebuilding overbridges, electrification  could be discontinuous as in South Wales.
  • Trains would have enough energy storage to bridge gaps in electrification.
  • Tunnels will be electrified using rails on the roof or as third-rail.
  • Intelligent fast-charging for trains with batteries will be deployed.

Less obtrusive electrification could also be used, as  I described in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Leeds And Sheffield Improvements

Leeds and Manchester is a difficult rail journey, but so is Leeds and Sheffield.

This route can be improved, by doing what I indicated earlier.

  • Complete the electrification.
  • Improve the track and signalling where necessary.
  • Build new stations at Barnsley Dearne Valley and Rotherham.
  • From 2022, East Midlands Railway should run at least one tph between St. Pancras and Leeds via Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate.
  • Add extra trains between Sheffield and Leeds to give Northern Powerhouse Rail’s promised four tph in twenty-eight minutes

This would introduce competition and options for travel to and from Leeds.

Conclusion – This upgrade would bring large benefits to the area and should have the highest priority.

Lines East Of Leeds

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

The trains that the train operators have ordered can run all the services.

Once ERTMS is installed on the East Coast Main Line, train travel between London and Hull could be under two hours.

Conclusion – These lines should be improved sooner rather than later.

Midland Main Line Between Clay Cross Junction And Sheffield

This section of track will be shared between High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line.

  • It is 15.5 miles long.
  • It will be electrified.
  • The only intermediate station is Chesterfield, which will need to be substantially rebuilt.
  • It will have a high line speed, perhaps even in excess of 140 mph.
  • Currently, the line carries about ten tph in both directions.

Completing this sub-project early would give benefits.

  • The bi-mode trains due to be introduced on the Midland Main Line in 2022, would benefit from the improved electrified line.
  • Timings on services between London and Sheffield would be reduced to under two hours.

An electrical supply for the electrification would have to be provided in Sheffield, which would be useful, if other electrification projects were to be started in the area.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later.

Electrification Of The Hope Valley Line

Work is already planned to upgrade capacity on the Hope Valley Line.

Having looked at several electrification projects in the last few years, it is my belief that delays can occur because of bad surveys and preparation work done too late and in great haste.

So why not do as much of this work, whilst the capacity is upgraded?

Electrification of what would be a well-surveyed and prepared railway, with an immaculate track, must be a lot easier to plan, install and deliver on time.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later, especially as it could be a test project for other lines through the hills.

Improvement And Possible Electrification Of The Huddersfield Line

Improvement of this line could probably give a large benefit to services between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield.

  • Current services on the line would be speeded up.
  • More services could be possible.

On the down side, it is a busy route and improvement will be very difficult.

Conclusion – This important route should be improved as soon as possible.

Building The Liverpool And Manchester High Speed Line

This will be a large and complex project.

It will involve building the following.

  • Around thirty miles of new railway.
  • New platforms and/or stations in Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • A Tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Diversion of the West Coast Main Line through or around Crewe and Warrington.
  • Building of the two junctions at High Legh.
  • Connection to High Speed Two towards Birmingham and London.

It is my opinion, that the diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be opened at the same time as High Speed Two reaches Crewe, in 2027.

Conclusion -The diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be given priority, but the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed line can be done later.

Good Project Management Is Needed

I am sure, that Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two can work together to produce a schedule that delivers benefits in a steady stream.

They must be bold and not allow the politicians to derail the project or move it in an unsustainable direction, based on pressure from their constituents.

Conclusion

Linking the building of Phase Two of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail would appear to be a sensible solution to expanding the economy of Northern England.

 

 

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

An Alternative View On HS3

This article on CityMetric is entitled Is Crossrail For The North The Biggest Priority For The North?

The article presents a lot of information and finishes with this paragraph.

None of which is to say that HS3 (I’m sticking with that name) is a bad idea: the existing trans-pennine links are shocking, and it’s pretty gross that transport secretary Chris Grayling scrapped plans to invest in rail in the north in literally the same week he called for another £30bn railway line for London. But if money is scarce, there may be better things we can do with it.

In Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North, I came to this conclusion.

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

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

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

The plan is also needed as soon as possible.

Perhaps, a high speed route or routes across the North of England could be paired with improved local rail, tram and bus services in all urban areas.

 

August 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North

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

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

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

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

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

How Would I Design Crossrail Of The North?

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

Urban Areas Of The North

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

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

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

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

Northern Connect

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

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

The North TransPennine Routes

TransPennine operate these North Pennine  routes.

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

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

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

Manchester Victoria To Leeds

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

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

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

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

The Huddersfield Line And The Great Eastern Main Line Compared

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

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

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

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

The Effect Of Electrification On The Great Eastern Main Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electrifying Between Leeds And Manchester Victoria Stations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Bi-Mode Train

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

Obviously, interior fitment would be up to the operator.

Class 195 Trains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Station dwell times can also be reduced.

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

This is typical at Huddersfield.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manchester Victoria To Manchester Airport

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

Manchester Victoria To Liverpool

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

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

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

I suspect all of this is in progress.

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

Leeds To Hull

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

A few thoughts on the route.

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

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

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

York To Scarborough

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

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

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

I doubt York to Scarborough will be electrified.

Northallerton To Middlesbrough

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

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

Conclusions

I have come to the following conclusions.

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

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

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

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

The plan is also needed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

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

HS2 Potential To Northern Connectivity Not To Be Underestimated, Says Percy

This is the title of an article in Rail Technology Magazine.

Rail and road connectivity is not a simple matter.

Although there is a need for East-West routes across the North, there is also the need for better High Speed Rail connections between pairs of cities like.

  • Newcastle and Leeds
  • Leeds and Nottingham
  • Sheffield and Nottingham
  • Birmingham and Manchester
  • Leeds and Sheffield
  • Birmingham and Leeds.
  • Birmingham and Preston

All these connections will be provided by HS2.

Of the other major links that are needed.

  • Manchester and Sheffield
  • Manchester and Leeds
  • Blackpool and Leeds
  • Leeds and Hull
  • Liverpool and Manchester

The first three are very difficult because of the terrain.

Because Leeds has good High Speed Rail connectivity to the cities East of the Pennines via HS2, the Leeds-Manchester route is probably the most important.

As High Speed Rail is a long term project, it will tend to grow, where the returns and needs are greatest.

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Expanding Manchester Piccadilly Station

This announcement on the Government web site is entitled Put HS3 at the heart of a High Speed North – Adonis.

This is an extract.

Recommendation six: Proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station should be prepared jointly by TfN, Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council, Network Rail, DfT and HS2 Ltd.

These organisations should work to together to deliver:

a) Detailed plans for the new east-west platforms 15/16 to facilitate delivery early in Control Period 6 and unlock the development potential of the Mayfield site;

b) A masterplan for the longer-term development of Manchester Piccadilly station as a whole, incorporating capacity for HS2 services and options for the delivery and timing of platform capacity for HS3; and

c) Proposals for funding and financing the station redevelopment, including for private sector and local contributions.

I know Manchester Piccadilly station well  and it has multiple space problems. These pictures illustrate some of the problems on the North side of the station.

You have lots of short trains and long platforms, which means the following.

  • Passengers have to walk long distances.
  • There is confusion of which train to take with more than one in the platform.
  • It must be a nightmare for train operators and their staff.

Surely some reorganisation could improve this mess, that was probably designed by Topsy.

On the South side of the station, there are two of the most crowded platforms in the UK. Platforms 13/14 need a serious sorting out.

Currently, services from Platform 13 seem to go to the following.

  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds
  • Manchester Airport
  • Norwich
  • Scarborough
  • Sheffield
  • York

And from Platform 14 to the following.

  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Liverpool
  • Southport

Most of the services seem to be provided by TransPennine Express and I think it is true to say, that when and if the Ordsall Chord is opened, there will be a sorting out of services on these two platforms.

But I do feel that the solution is Network Rail’s preferred one of adding platforms 15/16. They can’t be built soon enough, to ease the overcrowding.

This Google Map shows the layout of Manchester Piccadilly station.

Manchester Piccadilly Station

Manchester Piccadilly Station

The current Platforms 13/14 are along the bottom of the station, connected to the main station by the two small bridges. I would assume that the two new platforms will go on the south side of 13/14.

Wikipedia gives more details of developments related to the Northern Hub and HS2.

It is going to be a tight fit to get all the lines and platforms into the area.

The more I look at the station, the more I tend to think that the Picc-Vic Tunnel might have been a good solution.

It makes me wonder if it would be more efficient for HS2 and HS3 to share a route through Manchester from the Airport to Victoria and on to Huddersfield and Leeds. It would need to be mainly in tunnel and could go right under the city with underground stations. I wrote about it in Rethinking HS2 And HS3.

Surely, if two high speed lines are to go through Manchester, they should share a route?

I have also received this image from a reader; Ben.

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

Ben’s plan illustrates some advantages of a cross-city tunnel, which probably include.

  • Less demolition at stations served by HS2.
  • HS2 and HS3 could probably share platforms.
  • Release of platforms at Piccadilly.
  • A station in the centre of the city.
  • Better links to the trams and local train services
  • Ability to continue in tunnel towards Huddersfield and Leeds.

Remember that we’ve improved our tunnelling capability by a large amount in recent years.

Crossrail in London has also developed station designs and layouts, that could be used in Manchester.

  • Massive double-ended stations to effectively serve two separate locations.
  • Lines and station layouts to ease and encourage same platform interchange.
  • Moving walkways and inclined lifts, where necessary to ease passenger movement.
  • Island platforms to ease interchange between directions and branches, as at Whitechapel.

So could the most passenger friendly station, just called Manchester, be built under the city?

I don’t think that the current plans for Piccadilly, which are just so much conservative dross will be realised, as someone will come up with something much better. But then recommendation six encourages that!

 

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rethinking HS2 And HS3

There is an article on the Rail News web site entitled  Sheffield-Leeds HS2 route ‘to be shared with HS3’.

The article bases their article on a document called Rolling Stock Perspective, published by the Department of Transport and comes to the conclusion, that HS2 and HS3 may share tracks between Leeds and Sheffield.

In a post, which I called Whither HS2 and HS3?, I suggested HS2 and HS3 shared tracks between Manchester Interchange (Airport), Manchester and Leeds, and also said that both HS2 and HS3 should serve Leeds and Sheffield. So I might have got it right!

The one thing, I did get right in that post was the last statement.

The one thing we mustn’t do is build HS2 as it is currently designed, as we can do much better than is proposed.

Certainly, it appears that there is a lot of serious thinking going on in the design of HS2 and HS3. Today it was about linking HS2 and HS3, whereas yesterday it was about linking HS1 and HS2.

Who knows what idea will turn up next?

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Whither HS2 And HS3?

This morning there is an article in The Independent, which is entitled SNP fury as HS2 finds ‘no business case’ for taking fast train service to Scotland. Here’s the first paragraph.

The £50bn High Speed Two rail link will not be extended to Scotland, as the team behind the project has found there is “no business case” for the undertaking.

There may not be a conventional business case, as some of the reasons for developing a high speed railway up and down the country are emotional or for a country, where none of us will still be alive.

When HS2 is talked about in the media, freight is rarely mentioned outside of specialist magazines and web sites.

Although, HS2 will be built for the biggest freight trains, there are no plans for using it for this purpose at present. But, if the high speed line moves passengers away from the conventional East Coast, West Coast and Midland Main Lines, this will reduce the number of passenger trains and open up more paths for much needed freight trains to drive the economy.

The Electric Spine will take pressure off existing routes to the North and Scotland, but it does nothing to increase capacity north of Warrington and York, where both the East and West Coast Main Lines do not have the capacity of their southern ends. Some extra tracks and easier routes may be possible in places on these two Main Lines, but upgrading them will be difficult and politically sensitive.

The only other way to create more capacity between the North of England and Central Scotland is to electrify the Settle to Carlisle Line and complete and electrify the Waverley Route to Edinburgh.

I also mistrust all forecasts of passenger ridership on the railways. Two examples illustrate how bad they can be.

The estimate for traffic through the Channel Tunnel was very much on the high side and only now are the number of train passengers rising substantially towards that figure.

Locally, to me, the London Overground was started with three-car trains, which just five years later they are now converting to five cars. The original estimate ranks with some of the most spectacularly bad Treasury and Department of Transport predictions.

Add to this the usual mistakes, where they get the number of trains wrong and lumber places with unsuitable, inadequate or poorly designed trains, that are often unique one-offs to fit the budget. This means you can’t easily rustle up some more standard trains. At least with the Overground, Bombardier delivered the Class 378 trains, which can be cut and pasted into new formations and are still in production.

If you want to see an inadequate set of trains look at the Class 185 trains built for Trans Pennine services. Wikipedia has a whole section devoted to Overcrowding and Passenger Feedback. I have this feeling that some of the other trains ordered lately might be disasters, as the dead hand of the Treasury was too much on the decision.

So I can understand, why the SNP are angry that HS2 will not be extended to Scotland. More capacity is needed between England and Scotland for both freight and passengers, and if that is new capacity, it is likely that it would work well and in a reliable way, using standard trains that are just not UK-only specials, bought from the Treasury’s scraps and petty cash.

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 CityDistrict and East London Lines are passing untroubled over the giant hole and through the building site for the new station.

I would have no idea as to the costs of this method of construction, but it surely must be more affordable, than creating a new station or modifying an old one, by traditional methods.

A station in Manchester could probably be created in a similar manner with a giant double-ended station linking into Manchester Piccadilly station at the Southern end and Manchester Victoria station at the Northern. This is a Google Earth image of Manchester city centre between the two main stations.

Manchester Piccadily And Victoria

Manchester Piccadily And Victoria

Victoria is at the top and Piccadilly is at the bottom. The distance between the two stations is probably a couple of hundred metres more than between Moorgate and Liverpool Street, so designing a station deep beneath the city centre should be possible with a bit of help from long escalators and perhaps a travalator. If nothing else, it would be a wonderful way to transfer between the two stations in Manchester’s rain. It could also have entrances in places like Piccadilly Gardens

Leeds station could be a number of platforms for the high-speed lines under the current station.

Since HS2 has been proposed and still-born, the Northern Powerhouse and HS3 has arrived.

In my view we should plan HS2 and HS3 together and construct them together, as needs determine and budgets allow.

HS2 would start in London, possibly in an underground station which would be under one of the three stations on the Euston Road; Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. It would probably be under Euston, but wherever it was it would be closely integrated into the Crossrail 2 station, which would be under Euston Road at right angles to the other lines and will serve the three current and the new HS2 stations.

I wouldn’t totally rebuild Euston station for HS2, as the station is so complicated and second-rate in its relationship with the Underground, that creating a decent connection between the current station would be so difficult to do without gumming up London’s transport system for umpteen years.

The approach used at Kings Cross to create the magnificent station we have today should be copied, where the main station was left virtually intact and new Underground entrances and subways were dug and tunnelled out to get the Underground connection working and then build a spacious station to give access to the platforms  for the long-distance trains.

I also think that it would be better to build Crossrail 2 first and connect it to the three current stations on Euston Road, then tunnel HS2 accurately into the knitting.

The current Euston station would be kept fully operational throughout the construction of HS2 and only when that line is complete, would Euston station be given the sort of upgrade that has been so successfully done at Kings Cross, St. Pancras, Waterloo and Paddington.

HS2 would go North to a station at Old Oak Common, probably mostly in tunnel and it would then pass stations at Birmingham Interchange (Airport), Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Interchange (Airport), Manchester and Leeds. I would put the stations in tunnels underneath the current transport hubs.

A branch off the main HS2, north of Birmingham, would go under Nottingham, Sheffield, finally rejoining the main HS2 at Leeds.

And why not balance the network, by having a branch off HS2 south of Birmingham going towards Bristol and Cardiff.

If the alignments were developed correctly, then loops under cities like Stoke might be possible.

HS3 could actually be integrated into HS2. Perhaps it would start under Liverpool Lime Street and then pass under Manchester Interchange, Manchester and Leeds.

From Leeds the HS2 and HS3 would split again, with one branch going North to Newcastle via York and the other going to Hull via Sheffield and Doncaster.

Obviously, this is only a back-of-an-envelop design and properly thought through it could be much better.

But I do feel that HS2 and HS3 will both benefit if they share a route between Manchester Interchange and Leeds, via perhaps Manchester and Huddersfield.

One of the aims of this design is to create a high-speed railway network, with as little demolition and disruption to the workings of our cities as possible.

What happens in Scotland is tricky, as in my view a lot of improvements are mainly Scottish solutions. For instance, as I said, the Waverley Route needs to be rebuilt to a high standard with electrification, Glasgow Crossrail needs to be created and Edinburgh to Glasgow needs to be fully electrified.

But when Newcastle gets a high speed connection to the south, the final piece in the jigsaw of high-speed lines would be to extend HS2 to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Hopefully, by the time that happens, we’ll have learned how to do it in a quick, affordable and non-disruptive way.

The one thing we mustn’t do is build HS2 as it is currently designed, as we can do much better than is proposed.

 

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments