The Anonymous Widower

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.

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 motoway 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 Lrgh.

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 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 speeds.
  • , if they don’t stop at Crewe, 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 would stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines can 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 trains per hour (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.

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 minutes 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 stations, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

This tunnelled approach has the following advantages.

  • High Speed services between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations would have their own dedicated High Speed line.
  • 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 in Piccadilly Gardens.
  • The current Manchester Piccadilly station would only need remodelling, rather than a total rebuild.

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

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 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?
  • 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 London.

Note that the last two routes handle in excess of 16 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 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 services stopping in the station.
  • Preston station will connect passengers from Blackpool and North West Lancashire to High Speed 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 fifteen tph, raises the possibility of using 140 mph electric multiple units running High Speed suburban services.

  • Northern terminals could be Blackburn, Blackpool and Burnley.
  • Southern terminals could be Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Manchester services would call at Manchester Airport.
  • Trains would be something like the Class 395 train used for High Speed commuter services between St. Pancras and Kent.

If bi-mode Class 802 trains were to be used, the towns and cities served could increase dramatically.

  • Northern terminals could be Barrow, Hebden Bridge and Windermere.
  • Southern terminals could be Chester and Llandudno.
  • 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 to 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 125 mph electrical multiple units, like Class 395 trains, that would not delay the High Speed trains.

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.

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 train from London, without the previously planned substantial rebuilding.
  • Could the passengers at Leeds cope with all the disruption?
  • One extra High Speed train 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 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.

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 Newcastle – Four tph
  • London and Scarborough – One tph
  • London and Sunderland – Two tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – Two or three tph

Selective joining and splitting will 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.

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, Scarborough and Sunderland.

It would be the ultimate High Speed service based on a route that was designed in the Victorian era.

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 Northward 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.
  • It creates an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Trains 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.Map 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 wilst 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 mustn’t be left out of thebenefits of Northern 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
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester
  • London-Birmingham-Wigan and then on the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow.
  • London-Birmingham-East Midlands Hub-Sheffield-Leeds and then on the East Coast Main Line to Newcastle.

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.

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, gasntries and wires!

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 an 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 | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Could Hull Become A Tram-Train Terminal?

Hull Paragon station is a station on the edge of the City Centre.

On Wednesday, I arrived at the station on a train from Bridlington and was very hungry. I also needed a drink, so that I could take my medication.

Like most of the East Cost of England from Newcastle to Felixstowe, there is a shortage of gluten-free food in the stations.

So Hull joins a big club including Clacton, Felixstowe, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Middlesbrough.

Asking in the station, I found there was a Marks and Spencer in the City Centre, that was about a twenty minute walk.

So I walked it and luckily got the last gluten-free egg sandwich in East Yorkshire.

This map shows the City Centre of Hull and its relationship to the station.

The station is in the top-left hand corner and most of the shops, galleries and other buildings are in the middle.

You will also notice, that there is no small amount of space and quite a bit of water.

These pictures show the City Centre.

From what I have seen in other cities on the Continent, I think that a tram loop could be created in the city.

Tram-trains would be used, as they would need to run on both a tram network and National Rail tracks.

  • Tram-trains would arrive at an inbound platform in Hull station from the West and North.
  • They would stop in the station, so that passengers could change to and from buses and long distance trains.
  • They would then go through the station and take to a loop around the City Centre.
  • After stopping at perhaps half-a-dozen places, the tram-trains would reenter the station and stop in the outbound platform, before leaving the station.

I don’t know Hull or the travel habits of Hullensians, that well but these are a few thoughts.

The Tram-Trains

These would probably be similar to the Cardiff variant of the Class 399 tram-trains used in Sheffield’s tram-train extension to Rotherham.

The Cardiff tram-trains will be fitted with batteries to allow for a certain amount of catenary-free  street running.

I’m sure battery power would cope with the steepest hills in Hull City Centre.

The City Centre Loop

Loops like this are not very common in the UK, but there are two successful examples.

  • The Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool
  • The Heathrow Loop on the Piccadilly Line.

There were also numerous loops for merry-go-round trains, that used to deliver coal; to power stations.

This Google Map shows the enormous Drax power station, which has a capacity of nearly 4 GW.

Note.

  1. The loop on the West side, which trains use to deliver the biomass, that is now the main fuel for the station.
  2. Below the loop , there are extensive greenhouses, which use waste heat and carbon dioxide from the power station to grow salads.
  3. There is also a plant that makes building blocks from the waste ash on the site.

Power station do a lot more than just generate electricity.

Loops have several advantages.

  • The track needs is very simple and often single-track.
  • Signalling only needs to work in one direction.
  • They can handle a large number of trains.

Loops are particularly suited to trams, as they can have tight turning circles.

Main Line Electrification

Hull needs an economic boost and I believe that i the next ten years, the route between Hull and the East Coast Main Line will at least be partially-electrified.

Consider.

  • The distance between Hull and Selby by rail is thirty-one miles.
  • It is double-track.
  • It runs across fairly flat country.
  • The main problem would be the historic Selby swing bridge.
  • From my hrlicopter, it doesn’t look to be the most difficult line to electrify.

Partial-electrification with dead sections on the swing bridge and under any low bridges would be a solution. But it would need trains to be bi-mode or have battery power to jump the gaps.

Hull Trains and First TransPennine wouldn’t object.

Where Will The Tram Trains Go From Hull?

The largest tram-train network in the world is the the Karlruhe Stadtbahn.

The longest route is S4, which goes all the way to Öhringen, which is a distance of over fifty miles from Karlsruhe.

The lines are electrified, but technology moves on and ranges of fifty miles on batteries are being predicted by those who are designing trains, trams and tram-trains.

Distances and times from Hull include.

  • Beverley – 9 miles – 13 minutes
  • Bridlington – 32 miles – 50 minutes
  • Brough – 11 miles – 11 minutes
  • Doncaster – 42 miles – 68 minutes
  • Goole – 25 miles – 35 minutes
  • Scarborough – 53 miles – 87 minutes
  • Selby – 31 miles – 35 minutes
  • Sheffield – 60 miles – 113 minutes
  • York – 40 miles – 71 minutes

Note how slow the services are. Are they timed for Pacers?

I could see a two route strategy being developed.

This Google Map shows the KCOM Stadium which is about a mile out of Hull station.

The rail lines are as follows.

  • The line going North West goes to Beverley, Bridlington and Scarborough.
  • The line going South West goes to Brough, Goole, Selby and Doncaster.
  • The line going East goes to Hull station.

It should also be noted that in the South East corner of the map, part of Hull Hospital can be seen.

My initial plan would start by electrification of the line between Hull and Selby.

This would enable.the following.

  • Hull Trains to run their Class 802 trains between London and Hull on electric power. Desel power would still be needed between Hull and Beverley for one train per day in each direction.
  • First TransPennine to run their Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Hull on electric power. Diesel power would still be needed between Manchester and Selby.
  • Class 399 tram/trains could operate on the electrification between Hull and Selby.
  • Class 399 tram/trains could replenish their batteries using the electrification.

Fully-charged battery tram-trains would then have free-reign to explore, on any suitable track.

  • They could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to set down and pick up passengers.
  • They could run a second service to Beverley or Driffield on battery power.
  • They could run a third service to Goole on battery power from Gilberdyck.

Extra stops could be added at important locations, like the Hull Hospital and the KC Stadium.

Could there be a network with three routes.

  • Hull and Brough via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium, Hessle and Ferriby
  • Hull and Beverley via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium and Cottingham
  • Hull and Goole via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium, Hessle, Ferriby, Brough, Broomfleet, Gilberdyke and Saltmashe

Some things ease getting a good route structure.

  • Known traffic patterns might show where to add extra stops.
  • There are two disused platforms at Brough station.
  • Brodlington has a convenient bay platform.

Others don’t.

  • There are no closed stations between Hull and Berverley, Brough and Goole.
  • Beverley and Goole stations don’t look to be good terminals.

I’m sure a good route structure can be created.

Service Frequency

Ideally all branches should have four trains per hour (tph) for a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

A reasonable two tram-trains per hour to Beverley, Brough and Goole, would produce the following services.

  • A six tph frequency through the City Centre.
  • Hull station, Hull Hospital and the KCom Stadium would have six tph service in both directions.
  • Because two routes go via Brough, all stations to Brough, would have a four tph service both directions.
  • All stations to Beverley or Bridlington would have a two tph service in both directions.

All services would be augmented by limited stop services from Hull to Doncaster, Leeds, London, Scarborough, Sheffield and York.

Construction Needed

The following works would need to be done.

  • Electrify Hull to Selby with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Build the tram-train loop in Hull City Centre.
  • Adjust platforms, so that they can provide at least good access between all tram-trains, trains and platforms.

Hopefully, this will be enough to allow the tram-trains to start operating.

How Many Tram-Trains Would Be Needed?

My rough calculations  show that a full service could be provided by between eight and ten tram-trains. The variation is because, the performance of the tram-trains will affect the numbers required.

Conclusion

I have only roughly sketched how a tram-train network based on a loop round Hull City Centre could be developed.

In my view for it to be viable, the first thing, that needs to be done is to electrify between Hull and Selby.

 

 

 

 

 

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

New Hitachi Rolling Stock Unveiled by Hull Trains As Part Of £60m Investment

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

Five new Class 802 trains will replace Hull Train‘s current fleet of four Class 180 trains and an InterCity 125.

Currently, the InterCity 125 runs the service between Kings Cross and Beverley stations, whilst three Class 180 trains are needed to run the six round trips between Kings Cross and Hull stations.

So Hull Trains have a spare train, that can be in maintenance.

With five new Class 802 trains, replacing the current fleet, four will be needed for the current service, thus leaving a spare train.

The new trains will give various advantages.

  • The Class new 802 trains have a top speed of 140 mph, whereas the current Class 180 trains can only do 125 mph.
  • The Class 802 trains have an increase of thirteen percent in seating capacity.
  • They will obviously have a better interior, with everything passengers expect.

In a few years time, the extra speed may offer a big advantage.

The Southern part of the East Coast Main Line is being upgraded to allow 140 mph running, which would probably save around ten minutes on a journey between Kings Cross and Hull stations.

Could this time-saving mean, that extra services between Kings Cross and Hull stations are possible?

If 140 mph running allowed a round trip in under five hours, I have a feeling this could mean over ten trains per day in each direction, if there are enough paths available.

But flights of Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains running at 140 mph might just do it.

Conclusion

What would ten trains per day between Kings Cross and Hull, do for the economy of Hull?

The East Coast Main Line might not have the 250 mph operating speed of High Speed Two, but 140 mph isn’t that slow.

 

 

February 4, 2019 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

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters, visitors or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvements are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seem to be in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in service quality.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bi-Mode Ate My Electrification

The title of this post,  is the headline on an article by Roger Ford in the January 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article describes how electrification of the rail line between Selby and Hull has been dropped and quotes Chris Grayling as implying  that it’s all because the train companies have bought Class 802 trains, which are bi-mode, and won’t need electrification between Selby and Hull.

Both train companies; Hull Trains and TransPennine Express need to run high-class services with modern fast trains to Hull.

I will look at Hull Trains need in more detail.

Much of the route used by Hull Trains is along the electrified East Coast Main Line, so a 140 mph capability could be needed in the next few years, as speeds increase on that line.

If the Selby-Hull line were to be electrified, Hull Trains could run electric trains like Class 801 trains, InterCity 225s, or perhaps a version of the Stadler Flirt, that Greater Anglia will be running.

Hull Trains obviously need to increase quality and capacity on the route and it appears that the only train available is the bi-mode Class 802 train.

The only certain way Hull Trains could get new trains in a reasonable time, given that electrification is continually being kicked into the long grass,  is the bi-mode route.

Purists might not like the bi-mode train, but at least it will enable Hull to have a quality high-speed train service.

The Problems With Electrification

Electrification is needed, so that trains can run fast and efficiently, without the noise, pollution and carbon-emissions of diesel power.

But.

  • Electrification in the UK, is like trying to make a Victorian house fit for a modern lifestyle and it is even more expensive.
  • Electrification gantries and wires, ruin landscapes.
  • Much of our railway infrastructure,like stations, bridges and viaducts are beautiful structures in their own right and perhaps electrification will not be for some of them.

As we get further into the future, I think that there will be more reasons why existing lines will not be electrified.

We’re All In It Together

Several countries have a substantial proportion of lines without electrification, of which Germany, India and, the UK and the US are the most notable examples.

So ideas will be developed in these and other countries, that could be replicated in other countries with a pressing need for electrification.

The Problem Is An Opportunity For The Train Builders

Consider.

  • Hitachi have developed their Class 800 family of trains to include bi-modes.
  • Bombardier are developing trains with onboard electric storage and have a philosophy for all markets that I wrote iabout in Parallel Thinking From Bombardier.
  • Stadler have a Pandora’s box for of ideas and technologies.
  • CAF are supplying trams with onboard energy storage.

I can’t believe that Alstom, Siemens and other fFar Eastern manufacturers are not looking at using self-powered trains to cut down on electrification.

It is also worth noting that others are developing technologies, that will assist train builders in providing the trains that train companies and their passengers desire.

  • Tessla and other companies are developing batteries with a higher storage density.
  • Automatic pantograph up and down is being developed, so trains can use overhead power, where it exists.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling will be developed.
  • Trains will be driven automatically, so minimum power is used.

The train of the future will be powered and braked by electricity, and highly automated. It could be driven automatically, but I suspect like the Victoria Line or your average commercial airliner, the driver will be in overall control and  monitoring everything.

Why Trains Need An Energy Storage Capability?

If an electric train has an onboard energy storage capability, it has various advantages.

  • It can store the energy generated from regenerative braking and release it to help get the train back up to speed.
  • On board energy storage can be used with both electric and diesel-electric trains.
  • Depots can be designed with less electrification for safety and to save money.
  • Trains can be given a remote wake-up capability as I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?, so a train parked in a siding can be warmed up ready for the driver at the start of the day.
  • Trains can recover to the next station using stored power, if electrification power fails.
  • Trains can take diversions without electrification if needed.
  • Depending on the size of the storage, trains could provide a service over a limited distance on stored power alone.

Hybrid cars and buses, which have onboard energy storage,  might suggest even more reasons.

Energy Storage Can Only Get Better

Over the last few decades the energy capable of being stored in a device of a fixed physical size and weight has increased dramatically.

This process can only increase, so onboard energy storage will become more and more viable.

What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Train?

I ask this question to show the energy values involved.

If I take a nine-car Class 345 train, which will be used on Crossrail, this has a mass of less than 350 tonnes and a maximum speed of 145 kph.

1500 passengers at 80 kg each works out at another 120 tonnes.

So for this crude estimate I’ll use 450 tonnes for the mass of a loaded train.

This gives the train an energy of 365 megajoules or 101 kilowatt-hours.

This amount of energy is only a couple of kWh larger than the largest battery size of a Tessla Model S car.

Can Regenerative Braking Be Handled By Onboard Energy Storage On A Train?

As an example, look at the Stadler Flirts and Bombardier Aventras, that will be running between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Southend and Stansted Airport.

  • These are fully-electrified lines.
  • The ability to stop and restart quickly is needed as these are very busy lines, with another 110 mph train along in a couple of minutes.
  • All the passenger trains on the lines will have regenerative braking.

The electricity generated by braking can either be returned to the overhead wires using an inverter to get the voltages right or stored on the train in an onboard energy storage device.

Both methods are possible with good electrical engineering and there is probably no weight or installation advantage with either technology.

I don’t know what Stadler are doing, but this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

As this was published five years ago, I can’t believe that an innovative company like Stadler have not been thinking about onboard electrical storage.

As I showed in the previous section, the kinetic energy of a Crossrail Class 345 train is around 101 kiowatt-hours.

So it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a couple of Tessla batteries could handle the regenerative braking for a fully-loaded Crossrail train!

The same would apply to all of the trains  in East Anglia, which would probably have a bit more kinetic energy.

It can obviously be done on an Aventra, so I feel that the Flirts will do it as well.

If all the trains on the routes handled their own regenerative braking, this could mean that there would be no need for the power supply to the overhead wires to be able to handle it. Whether that would save money, I don’t know!

Can the same technology be applied to a locomotive-hauled train, like a Class 68 locomotive pulling a rake of five Mark 3 coaches at 160 kph?

The kinetic energy is slightly less than that of the Crossrail train, so it might be feasible to put onboard energy storage in the diesel-electric locomotive to reuse braking energy.

Onboard energy storage for regenerative braking will become universal on all electric or diesel-electric trains.

In March 2016, I wrote Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, which was based on this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. In the article, Marc Phillips of Bombardier is quoted as saying this.

All Electrostars to some degree can be retrofitted with batteries. We are talking the newer generation EMU as well as the older generation. So, the 387s and 378s are the ones where we have re-gen braking where we can top-up the batteries and use the braking energy to charge the batteries. That gives us the best cost-benefit over operational life.

So it would seem that the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are candidates for fitting with batteries. This would give the following advantages.

  • Electricity savings.
  • Recovery to the next station if the electricity supply fails.
  • Simplified depot layouts with less electrification.

As nearly all lines are electrified in London, the ability to travel on short routes without electrification wouldn’t be needed.

On the other hand, new services might need a new branch line or a chord between two electrified lines, which if worked with trains with onboard energy storage, would not need to be electrified.

In Don’t Mention Electrification!, I noted that in all the documents for the extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside, there is no mention of electrification, although electric trains are stated to be working the route.

So could this be the first newly-built line in the UK to be worked by electric trains powered by onboard energy storage?

How Far Will Trains Go On Onboard Energy Storage?

This is very much a case of answering these and other questions.

  • How much range do you want?
  • Does the route have lots of stops?
  • Is the route hilly?
  • How much space there is on the train?

In the end, the most important question is can you afford it?

Could We See A Tri-Mode Train?

A tri-mode train would be one that could use the following power sources.

  • Electric power from either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Diesel power.
  • Onboard energy storage.

It could even pick up 750 VDC from a tramway, if it was running as a train-tram.

Consider.

  • If you look at an Hitachi Class 800 train, I suspect that the engineers could find space somewhere for onboard energy storage.
  • The Aventra double-power-car concept, has probably been designed with a diesel version in mind.
  • A hydrogen fuel-cell would be an alternative to diesel.
  • The power control system would just switch between power sources automatically.

It’s all down to good engineering design and innovation.

I suspect, that a tri-mode train will be launched in the next few years.

Conclusions

I believe there is a lot of scope to cut the amount of electrification that is done, by using alternative technologies.

The bi-mode is in pole position, but with the advance of battery and other technologies, the current lead will not last long.

 

 

December 22, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

From Hull To Sheffield

I escaped from Hull on a train to Sheffield, as on my walk across the city from my hotel to the station, I didn’t pass one welcoming looking cafe or a suitable shop to buy my copy of The Times. I did finally find a cafe in the station called the London Way Cafe, but I’d already bought my ticket and didn’t fancy waiting an hour and a half for the train after the one I was catching.

The route to Sheffield via Goole and Doncaster is across very flat country as the pictures show.

Can I come to any conclusions?

  • I think the last time, I did this journey it was in a dreaded Pacer, but this time it was a clean Class 158 train. So some things are getting better!
  • Part of Hull station has been turned into a bus station, which is properly integrated with the trains.
  • The signposting in the station to local attractions like The Deep and the KC Stadium can’t even be judged on quality, as there isn’t any.

Much of the line is the Hull to Doncaster branch, which effectively connect the two TransPennine routes into Hull and Cleethorpes at Gilberdyke and Thorne. It is not electrified, but given the fact that Doncaster is and Sheffield could be in a few years, this line would be ideal for IPEMUs running a possible half-hourly electric service between Hull and Sheffield via Doncaster.

At present Hull trains from London take two hours thirty minutes for a direct run via Selby and if you change at Doncaster it takes a few minutes under three hours using Virgin East Coast.

So perhaps if the Sheffield to Hull service is improved using IPEMUs and a bit of selective electrification is installed from say Doncaster to Thorne or in Hull station, the service from London with a change at Doncaster could be reduced to almost the two and half hours using the direct train.

But if IPEMUs can do Doncaster to Hull, then surely Hull Trains could use them on the Doncaster route to go to Hull as an all-electric alternative. They could still serve Brough, but Selby would need to use that route.

This simple exercise shows how IPEMUs could change the rail landscape of the UK.

 

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2017 UK City Of Culture

Hull is going to be the 2017 UK City of Culture

I walked across Hull twice from my supposedly City Centre hotel, which seemed to be almost closer to Grimsby than the railway station.

The first time was in the dark and there were no signs or maps, so I had to climb up on a dual-carriageway bridge, as the direct route across the footbridge was blocked due to demolition. The taxi-driver who brought me to the hotel said that all other routes were dangerous.

Despite the hotel saying it would take twenty minutes to get to football at the KC Stadium, It took me over an hour.

The pictures were taken in the morning and it was very wet, as they show.

I had hoped to find a paper shop to buy my copy of The Times, but in the forty minute walk, I didn’t pass one open shop selling newspapers. They was also no nice cafe for breakfast.

So instead of looking around Hull, I made an executive decision to go to Meadowhall to get some breakfast.

I know it was eight o’clock, but round here in East London, most things start at seven. Even my local Carluccio’s opens at eight in the week and nine at the weekends.

I got lost both times and I couldn’t even find a taxi to take me to the station.

I have never seen a city so badly signposted in my life.

But then to many of these towns and cities, maps are a waste of money, as everybody uses smart phones.

I don’t as my left hand isn’t good enough to hold it steady enough. Also as it was raining, the screen doesn’t appear to be too readable underwater.

UK Capital of Culture 2017?

They’re having a laugh or are they trying to lure visitors into those unsavoury areas my taxi driver warned me about?

I shan’t be going back to Hull again.

The place is an absolute disgrace as regards welcoming visitors, who don’t have cars and prefer or have to walk.

 

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scarborough

I’d never been to Scarborough before so I took the opportunity to visit on my way from York to Hull.

Looking back from a few days away, I think that Scarborough, would be a better place to stay than Hull.

I came to Scarborough station on one a Class 185 train and left in a Class 158 train, so I didn’t have to experience a Pacer. According to Wikipedia the Hull to Scarborough Line is usually worked by the very acceptable Class 158 trains, sometimes coupled to something else for more capacity. This is said.

Services are usually worked by Class 158 DMUs. Summer weekends see services operated by a Class 158 coupled to a Class 153 or extra Class 158 providing a 3/4-car unit for additional capacity. Sundays also see a variety of traction traversing the line to retain crew knowledge; this can include Class 153, Class 150, Class 142 and Class 144.

 

You do wonder how much traffic this route could generate if it was electrified and run by a new four-car electric train.

It would be very expensive to electrify, as until Hull is electrified, it would be a stand-alone system for about forty miles, that was a long way from any other electrification.

But if some means were to be provided to charge the trains at Scarborough and Hull, I suspect that IPEMUs could provide services between Scarborough and Hull and Scarborough and York with ease, given the easy nature of the lines.

This would also allow the TransPennine services from Scarborough to Manchester and Liverpool to be run by high-speed IPEMUs, which could bridge the electrifdication gap between Leeds and Manchester.

In an ideal world, a service should be provided between Scarborough and Whitby, which if there was an improved service around Scarborough would probably be needed to serve the tourism industry.

That area of East Yorkshire needs to be developed with respect to the leisure and tourism opportunities it offers.

 

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Hull Trains Take The Pragmatic Decision

The September edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Hull Trains Plans Bi-Mode Fleet.

Like First Great Western, First Hull Trains seem to have lost patience with Network Rail and the article said they were thinking about ordering bi-mode or electro-diesel trains.

They have now ordered five Class 800 trains from Hitachi, as is reported here on the BBC. This is the start of the article.

A rail company is investing £68m in a fleet of faster trains to ensure shorter journey times to London.

Hull Trains said it was buying five trains capable of running on either electricity-powered routes or with diesel fuel.

The firm said the trains had been bought because of delays in country-wide electrification of the rail network.

 

So it looks like the non-electrification of Selby to Hull has caused the company to take this pragmatic decision. In the last few months, they’ve even looked at electrifying that line themselves.

At least they will not be left with a fleet of incompatible trains, as when the electrification finally happens on all their routes to Hull and Beverly, the trains can be converted to all-electric Class 801 trains.

I do wonder if the delayed electrification across the UK, will cause a few more companies to take pragmatic decisions!

I think we might see.

  1. First TransPennine ordering Class 800 Trains for Liverpool to Hull and Newcastle.
  2. Virgin ordering Class 800 Trains for London to Chester, North Wales and Holyhead.

To get around the problems of non-electrified lines.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment