The Anonymous Widower

Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ Proposed

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

This is the introductory sentence.

A Manchester Piccadilly ‘super hub’ has been proposed as part of the High Speed North rail project.

And these two paragraphs lay out the proposed design.

To create the super hub, the report suggests a new tunnel from Ordsall into Manchester Piccadilly from the west, which could connect to High Speed 2 (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Fast trains from Chester and North Wales, Liverpool, Blackpool, Barrow and Glasgow could travel through the super hub with services emerging eastwards and across the Pennines to Leeds/Bradford, Sheffield, Hull, York and Newcastle.

Five 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.

Last year, I wrote Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, which was an attempt to add detail to this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The proposed Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ fits very well with the Transport for the North report.

  • The station, could have entrances and exits were all over Manchester City Centre
  • The main platforms could be long East-West through platforms, that would have direct tunnelled approaches from both directions.
  • There could also be terminating platforms to take services from North Wales, Blackpool, Barrow and Glasgow.
  • According to the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two, the Western tunnel would be 7.5 miles long and link Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations at speeds of up to 142 mph.
  • As a High Speed Two size tunnel will be needed on the Eastern approach, if High Speed Two trains eventually use the route, could this tunnel extend for perhaps five miles with speeds of up to 142 mph, to speed up journey times?
  • Journey times between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations could be under four minutes.

The Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’, High Speed Two And Liverpool

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.

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

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

Will a Liverpool and Manchester time of 26 minutes be possible with two stops?

  • I estimate Liverpool and Manchester will be a distance of 43 miles.
  • As the will be a newly-built railway high speed railway, I suspect it will be at least a 125 mph line between Liverpool and Manchester Airport.
  • But it is perfected feasible, that this section could be designed for speeds up to 140 mph or even the High Speed Two speed of 186 mph.
  • TransPennine Express‘s current Class 802 trains, can run at up to 140 mph, so could take advantage of the higher speed.
  • In addition, the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two says that trains will use the Manchester Airport to Manchester City Centre tunnel at speeds of up to 142 mph.

Calculating journey times for various average speeds, including the two stops at Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport stations gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 26 minutes
  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 140 mph – 18 minutes

If the Liverpool and Manchester Airport section were to be built to High Speed Two standards, I can see a very comfortable Liverpool and Manchester time of under twenty minutes.

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

Going East From The Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’

The principle long-distance destinations to the East of Manchester Piccadilly station use one of two routes.

The Huddersfield Line to Leeds and beyond.

The Hope Valley Line to Sheffield and beyond.

Both routes leave the Manchester Branch of the West Coast Man Line out of Manchester Piccadilly station at Ardwick Junction.

This Google Map shows Ardwick Junction, Ardwick station and the Siemens Train Care Facility.

It would appear that the Eastern portal of the tunnels that lead to the proposed underground platforms of the Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super-Hub’ could emerge in this area.

Note.

  1. Ardwick station is about a mile from Manchester Piccadilly station.
  2. The Sheffield and Leeds routes split about a mile to the East of Ardwick station.
  3. The large site of the Train Care Facility, could surely be used for the tunnel portal.

The Transport for the North report says this about the services to the East from Manchester.

  • Sic tph between Manchester and Leeds are planned.
  • Four tph between Manchester and Sheffield are planned.

Ten tph through the underground platforms is surely possible, when Crossrail will handle 24 tph with full digital signalling.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

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 between Manchester and Leeds.

  • 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.

In Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?, I detailed Network Rail’s £2.9 billion proposal to upgrade the existing route between Huddersfield and Leeds. This is the black route.

If this project results in the full electrification between Leeds and Hudderfield, the Leeds and Manchester route will have these characteristics.

  • It will be about forty-two miles long
  • All except the sixteen mile section between Stalybridge and Huddersfield is electrified or is planned to be so.
  • Network Rail have published plans to upgrade Huddersfield station.
  • The section between Huddersfield and Dewbury will be upgraded to four tracks.
  • The approach to the underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station could be in a two-mile 100 mph tunnel.
  • Twenty-five minutes between Leeds and Manchester will need an average speed of 100 mph.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that with a few other improvements, that the twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester is possible.

New 140 mph Trains Will Be Needed

Consider a Blackpool and Leeds service via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Huddersfield.

  • It could be a fully-electrified route, if between Stalybridge and Huddersfield were to be electrified.
  • Much of the route would be cleared for at least 140 mph running including the West Coast Main Line and the new route between Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • Some sections of the route would allow more than 140 mph, but most would be 140 mph or less.

Without doubt, trains capable of running at 140 mph would be needed to make full use of the operating speeds available.

 

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five cars long. This is the length of TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains.

TransPennine Express’s Services

These are TransPennine Express services that run in the North of England and to Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • Intermediate stations are Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth

The service is 305 miles long and takes four hours and 25 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

Note that the distance between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, which is the only section of the route without electrification is sixty-three miles, which is just within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

That is too close for my liking, as what happens, if the train gets delayed by an operational incident.

In this article on the BBC, which was published in August 2019 and is entitled Detailed TransPennine £2.9bn Rail Upgrade Plans Unveiled, the following is said.

  • The route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will be electrified.
  • Parts of this route will have two extra tracks.
  • The plans will be going to full consultation, later in the year.

This would mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

The two sections without electrification are well within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train.

It should also be noted that the electrification between Newcastle and Edinburgh is rather down on power and needs upgrading.

I would suspect that Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train could handle this power deficiency by using the batteries.

Liverpool Lime Street And Scarborough

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Lea Green, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Garforth, York, Malton and Seamer

The service is 142 miles long and takes two hours and 58 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

Between Liverpool Lime Street and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh service.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

As Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train has a range of 55-65 miles on battery power, it looks to me that this service could be handled by the train.

It would need a Fast Charging system at Scarborough to recharge the batteries to be able to return to York.

But, as the timetable allows a generous turn-round, fully-charging the batteries shouldn’t be a problem.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and one minute.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 86 miles – Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the two Liverpool Lime Street services, that I discussed previously.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

Manchester Airport And Redcar Central

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Gatley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby and Middlesbrough

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and fifteen minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Northallerton – 35 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Not Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

As with the Scarborough service, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Redcar Central.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Selby and Brough

The service is 94 miles long and takes two hours and four minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield  – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Hull – 52 miles – Not Electrified

Between Huddersfield and Leeds, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route.

As with the Scarborough and Redcar Central services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Hull.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite

The service is 25 miles long and takes forty-three minutes.

The route is without electrification.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at either end using the electrification.

Huddersfield And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Deighton, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Batley, Morley and Cottingley

The service is 17 miles long and takes thirty-six minutes.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at Leeds using the electrification.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall Interchange, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby Town

The service is 124 miles long and takes two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

he route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Stockport – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Stockport and Sheffield  – 37 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Doncaster – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles – Not Electrified

There would need to be some en route charging and surely the easiest way to achieve this would be to extend the electrification at Doncaster to Sheffield.

As with the other services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Cleethorpes.

Manchester Airport And Glasgow Central Or Edinburgh Waverley Via Preston

This service is all-electric.

Conclusion

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train can handle all of TransPennine’s routes without using one drop of diesel.

What I have found interesting, is that the eight miles of electrification between Huddersfield and Dewsbury appears to make the operation of a battery-electric train a lot easier.

It looks like someone at Hitachi and Network Rail have taken a calculator to a decent hostelry and worked out a cunning plan!

 

 

 

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Upgrading Mirfield Station

Mirfield station is due to be upgraded as part of Network Rail’s £2.9billion project to upgrade the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations, that I wrote about in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

This Google Map shows the station and the surrounding land.

These pictures show the station.

Currently, it is a three-station platform, with a wide island Platform 1/2 and a separate platform 3. The platforms are used as follows.

  • Platform 1 for all Eastbound trains.
  • Platform 2 for Westbound through trains.
  • Platform 3 for Westbound stopping trains.

This document on the Digital Railway web site is entitled Transpennine Route Upgrade SDO1 ETCS – Analysis.

It is mainly about using digital signalling called ETCS on the Transpennine Route, but it does give these track layouts between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

This is the current layout.

This is a reduced four-track layout.

In Proposed Track Layouts Between Huddersfield And Dewsbury, I came to the conclusion, that the reduced four-track layout or something better could handle the current trains through the area.

If the reduced four-track layout is used, the requirements for a new Mirfield station can now be stated.

  • Platforms 1/2 sharing an island on the slow tracks.
  • Platforms 3/4 sharing an island on the fast tracks.
  • Some better shelters than at present.
  • Step-free footbridges or a tunnel

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Mirfield station?

  • There is plenty of space.
  • The bridge would have the correct clearance for the electrification.

It could also replace the subway to Platform 1/2.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Upgrading Ravensthorpe Station

Ravensthorpe station is due to be upgraded as part of Network Rail’s £2.9billion project to upgrade the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations, that I wrote about in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

This Google Map shows the station and the surrounding land.

Note.

  1. The lines through the station go between Huddersfield in the East and Dewsbury in the North-East.
  2. The line going East goes to Wakefield.

These pictures show the station.

I did try to get a picture of the bridges over the River Calder, but I was unable to find the route and the weather was about to deteriorate.

The station is currently just two platforms on the lines between Huddersfield and Dewsbury, with a terrible overbridge, a poor shelter and a couple of seats.

The Wikipedia entry for Ravensthorpe station says this.

Ravensthorpe station is adjacent to Thornhill LNW (London North Western) Junction, where a line branches to Wakefield Kirkgate. There are plans to extend the station by building new platforms on this line, which was built by the former Manchester and Leeds Railway.

This document on the Digital Railway web site is entitled Transpennine Route Upgrade SDO1 ETCS – Analysis.

It is mainly about using digital signalling called ETCS on the Transpennine Route, but it does give these track layouts between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

This is the current layout.

This is a reduced four-track layout.

In Proposed Track Layouts Between Huddersfield And Dewsbury, I came to the conclusion, that the reduced four-track layout or something better could handle the current trains through the area.

If the reduced four-track layout is used, the requirements for a new Ravensthorpe station can now be stated.

  • Two platforms on the tracks to and from Dewsbury.
  • Two platforms on the tracks to and from Wakefield.
  • Some better shelters than at present.
  • Step-free footbridges.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Ravensthorpe station?

  • The platforms from Dewsbury and to Wakefield, could probably be arranged as a walk-across interchange.
  • This would mean that the flexible nature of the bridge design would enable a single bridge with three lifts and three sets of stairs to be erected to join all the platforms together.
  • The bridge would have the correct clearance for the electrification.

I doubt it would be the most complicated of stations.

 

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposed Track Layouts Between Huddersfield And Dewsbury

Tracks between Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations are due to be upgraded as part of Network Rail’s £2.9billion project to upgrade the Huddersfield Line between the two stations, that I wrote about in Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

This document on the Digital Railway web site is entitled Transpennine Route Upgrade SDO1 ETCS – Analysis.

It is mainly about using digital signalling called ETCS on the Transpennine Route, but it does give these track layouts between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

This is the current layout.

This is a full four-track layout.

This is a reduced four-track layout.

As I see it, if the reduced layout can handle the required number of services, it has major advantages over the full scheme.

  • There are no changes to track  layout between Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury stations.
  • Rebuilding Ravensthotpe station should be a smaller project.
  • The current and reduced layout have three tracks between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe stations.
  • There are no expensive new bridges to be built.

By using bi-directional running on the centre track between Ravensthorpe and Mirfield stations, which is controlled by ETCS, the track layout is simplified, with three tracks instead of four.

  • Slow trains from Huddersfield to Dewsbury will dive under the Brighouse lines and call in/pass Platform 1 at Mirfield station before going straight on to Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury. This is as trains do now.
  • Slow trains from Dewsbury to Huddersfield will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 2 at Mirfield station before turning South-West  on to Huddersfield. This is as trains do now.
  • Fast trains from Huddersfield to Dewsbury will call in/pass Platform 3 at Mirfield station and then cross over to the top track and go straight on to Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury.
  • Fast trains from Dewsbury to Huddersfield will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 4 at Mirfield station before turning South-West  on to Huddersfield.
  • Trains from Brighouse  to Wakefield will call in/pass Platform 1 at Mirfield station and then cross to the centre track and go straight on to Wakefield. This is as trains do now.
  • Trains from Wakefield to Brighouse will use the centre track from East to West and call in/pass Platform 2 at Mirfield station and go straight on to Brighouse.

Note.

  1. Platforms at Mirfield station are numbered 1 to 4 from the North
  2. The slow lines between Mirfield and Huddersfield are shown in black.
  3. The fast lines between Mirfield and Huddersfield are shown in blue.
  4. Passengers can use Platforms 1/2 as a cross-platform interchange between slow Huddersfield-Leeds and Brighouse-Wakefield services.

I also think it likely, that the proposed layout will improve the timetable.

Conclusion

I think it is highly likely that the reduced four-track layout will be used.

Unless of course something better is devised.

 

 

 

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route

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

It is planned to be a comprehensive upgrade to the Huddersfield Line that includes.

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

This project should be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line.

Here are my thoughts on the upgrade.

Where Is Westtown?

Westtown is a difficult place to find on Google Maps.

This Google Map is the best I can do.

Note that Dewsbury station is at the North-East of the map and Ravensthorpe station is in the South-West corner, with the Huddersfield Line going through both stations.

  • To the South-West the line goes to Mirfield, Deighton and Huddersfield.
  • To the North-East the line goes to Batley, Morley, Cottingley and Leeds.

Westtown can be seen indicated to the West of the Huddersfield Line, North of the River Calder.

Railways Between Dewsbury And Huddersfield

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Huddersfield Line, shows the route between Dewsbury and Huddersfield stations.

Note the Leeds New Line, which was built by the London and North Eastern Railway and opened in 1900.

It appears to have been closed between 1960 and 1990.

Everybody blames Beeching for the closure of railways, but this closure started before he reported.

But it does seem, that LNER decided that four tracks were needed between Leeds and Huddersfield and that British Railways felt that two was enough.

It now appears that part of the solution to increasing capacity is to create a four-track section of the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Westtown.

We often blame the state of our railways on poor Victorian planning and engineering, but it does appear that they got it right here and British Rail got it wrong, in the 1960s.

A Very Busy Line

If you look at the traffic through Dewsbury station, it is a busy train-spotters paradise, with five scheduled trains per hour (tph) typically stopping at the station and several more passing through.

Four-Tracking Between Huddersfield And Westtown

This is Network Rail’s preferred solution to providing more capacity between Huddersfield and Desbury.

It is not going to be simple engineering all the way.

This Google Map shows the Huddersfield Line crossing the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal South of Dewsbury station and to the North of Ravensthorpe station.

Note the two double-track bridges over the waterways.

This page on Georgraph has a picture of the bridge over the River Calder. It looks an excellent example of a Victorian wrought iron bridge.

Depending on their condition, these might need to be replaced, but they will certainly need to be upgraded to four tracks.

This Google Map shows Ravensthorpe station and the rail lines in the area in more detail.

The line going East from Ravensthorpe goes to Wakefield Kirkgate station, although there are no platforms at Ravensthorpe.

The Wikipedia entry for Ravensthorpe station says this.

Ravensthorpe station is adjacent to Thornhill LNW (London North Western) Junction, where a line branches to Wakefield Kirkgate. There are plans to extend the station by building new platforms on this line, which was built by the former Manchester and Leeds Railway.

It looks to me that there are possibilities to rebuild Ravensthorpe station and the lines in the area to meet the following objectives.

  • Two fast lines and two slow lines through the station.
  • Platforms for Dewbury and Leeds services.
  • Platforms for Wakefield Kirkgate services.
  • Four tracks to as close to Dewsbury station as possible.

It must help that a lot of the land North of the line to Wakefield Kirkgate, appears to be devoid of buildings.

The engineering would not be difficult, but probably extensive and expensive.

It should be noted that the Werrington Diver Under near Peterborough, which is a similar scale of project, was costed at £200 million.

West of Ravensthorpe station, there appears to be plenty of space to fit in two extra tracks alongside the current pair.

This Google Map shows Ravensthorpe station and the tracks to the West.

Note that there is space on both sides of the current tracks and a bridge.

But between Ravensthorpe and Mirfield stations, there are at least three more bridges.

This Google Map shows Mirfield station and the tracks to the West.

There could be problems adding extra tracks here.

  • The track and platform layout is unusual.
  • There may be a lack of space at the station.

But the biggest problem will probably be four-tracking the bridge over the River Calder.

This Google Map shows the bridge in more detail.

It does appear that the bridge currently has three tracks and might have at some time had four tracks.

If the two extra tracks could be added to this bridge, it would probably be heroic engineering at a high cost, given the difficulty of the site.

But I think engineers have replaced similar bridges on UK railways in recent years.

After Mirfield, the tracks take a wide loop to the North to go to Deighton station.

The tracks were probably built to follow the contours above the River Calder, so hopefully despite the terrain, they could be fairly level.

This Google Map shows the tracks through Deighton station.

It certainly looks that there should be room for two extra tracks.

Between Deighton and Huddersfield stations, it would appear that four-tracking would be as easy as any part of the route.

Looking at the stations from the air from my helicopter (i.e. Google Maps), I suspect that one way to four-track the line would be to proceed in something like this way.

  • Rebuild and four-track the bridge over the River Calder at Mirfield station.
  • Build the junction and the bridges to the North-East of Ravensthorpe station.
  • Create a pair of fast lines on the South side of the current tracks.
  • Move all traffic onto these new fast lines.
  • Rebuild the existing railway and the stations.

There may be a need for replacement buses, whilst the stations are rebuilt, but hopefully through services could continue.

Electrification

The Rail Technology Magazine opens with this paragraph.

Major station upgrades and plans to rebuild and electrify an 8-mile stretch of track have been put forward by Network Rail as part of a public consultation on a major upgrade to the TransPennine route.

As it is eight miles between Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations, it would seem likely that the electrification will stretch between the two stations.

This would enable TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains to switch between electric and diesel power in the stations, if this is preferred by the operator.

Line Speed

The eight miles section of track will never have a particularly high speed, given the not very straight route and the terrain.

Currently, trains that stop at both Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations take eight minutes for the trip. Even trains going at speed through both stations seem no faster.

Four-tracking will surely allow fast expresses to pass local services and freight trains, but will the improvement save much time?

If trains could average 100 mph between Huddersfield and Dewsbury, just over three minutes could be saved.

Station Upgrades

The three stations between Huddersfield and Dewbury will all be upgraded, as will Hudderfield station.

The three smaller stations will probably be rebuilt as four platform stations or two platform stations with two through lines for fast services.

In Huddersfield And High Speed Two, I showed several pictures of Huddersfield station.

  • It will not be easy to upgrade to a full four-track station.
  • There are three through tracks and some bay platforms.

The two main through platforms are on the South side of the station, so if the two fast lines were on the South side of the route between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe, this could enable an efficient station at Huddersfield.

I also think, there could be a problem at Huddersfield station, with trains to Sheffield on the Penistone Line, if more and faster trains were going through the station.

A New Timetable

I suspect that, if and when the upgrade is finished, that a new timetable will be brought in.

A possibility could be. that TransPennine Express trains run non-stop between Huddersfield and Leeds.

Now that Northern are getting new trains, perhaps these could run a Turn-Up-And-Go service of a train every fifteen minutes between Huddersfield and Leeds.

Heritage Issues

Huddersfield station is a Grade I Listed building and I suspect that the three bridges I have noted are lListed as well.

Will the Heritage lobby object to electrification in these sensitive areas?

Onward To Manchester

I have flown my helicopter between Huddersfield and Stalybridge and if the proposed improvement is successful, I suspect that the route to the West can be improved as far as Stalybridge.

  • The route is at least double track.
  • It looks like in places, it once had more tracks.
  • The trackside margins are fairly generous.
  • There doesn’t seem to be too many bridges.
  • Electrification will soon be as far as Stalybridge from Manchester.

After my quick look, I don’t think that electrifying between Huddersfield and Manchester would be too challenging, except for possibly, the Standedge Tunnel.

Onward To Leeds

The route between Dewsbury and Leeds is double track, with the only complication of the Morley Tunnel.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that all the difficult bits to creation of an electrified route between Manchester and Leeds via the Huddersfield Line, are in the stretch between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

So perhaps it makes sense to sort out the difficult bits first, with this £2.9billion project.

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 10 Comments