The Anonymous Widower

Cambridge To Ipswich In A Class 755 Train

Because of the usual buses on the Great Eastern Main Line, to get to the football at Ipswich, I went via Cambridge and had a drink with a friend in the City.

The journey is timetabled to take seventy five minutes with seven or eight intermediate stops.

These were my observations.

  • We arrived in Ipswich a couple of minutes late.
  • At times the train was travelling at 75 mph.
  • The operating speed is given in Wikipedia as 40-75 mph.
  • Some stops were executed from brakes on to brakes off in around thirty seconds.
  • I wasn’t sure, but the pantograph may go up and down at Stowmarket, depending if the train is going East or West.
  • Cambridge to Stowmarket averaged 43 mph, whereas Stowmarket to Ipswich averaged 48 mph, which would seem to indicate use of the electrification.

I suspect that there isn’t much room to speed up the service, especially as the current 75 minutes gives a convenient turnround with a round trip of three hours.

Which means three trains are needed for the hourly service.

Surprise

What surprised me was the timing of the station stops.

As I said, some were around thirty seconds, with the longest at Stowmarket, where I assume the train picked up the electrification.

It certainly shows how modern trains can do station stops fast.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Old And New At Ipswich

I took these pictures at Ipswich, yesterday.

There seemed to be a lot of old Class 86 locomotives and new Class 755 trains around.

February 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

First Time On A Saturday

Yesterday, after a dreadful match at Ipswich, I came back to London in a new Class 745 train.

I have a feeling, this was the first time that the trains have been running with passengers on a Saturday.

They really are seriously good trains!

I shall be interested to see how the number of passengers increase between London and Norwich via Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich.

February 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Trip On The East Suffolk Line In A New Stadler Class 755 Train

Today, I took a round trip between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations, along the East Suffolk Line, in one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains.

These are my observations and comments.

Stations

The stations vary between the very good and the very basic.

  • I don’t think that any station has a step-free bridge to cross the line.
  • Many stations are just a single platform.
  • Crossing the line often involves a nearby level crossing.
  • Westerfield, Woodbridge, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth and Beccles have two platforms.
  • Lowestoft and Ipswich are both step-free from the street to the platforms.
  • There also appears to be step-free access between the new trains and the platforms.

Overall, from what I could see from the train, each stop was fairly efficient, although I do think that when the drivers and train staff, fully get to grips with the trains, that there is time to be saved on each of the ten stops.

Consider.

  • These trains have much better acceleration and deceleration, than the trains for which the timetable was written.
  • The trains have level access between train and platform. At Lowestoft, I saw an electric wheelchair roll out of the train at a smart speed.
  • These trains set the Gold Standard for step-free access.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a minute and possibly two minutes saved at each station.

That would reduce the current journey time of one hour and thirty minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich by perhaps ten minutes.

Level Crossings

Consider.

  • Over the years, Greater Anglia and its predecessors right back teyond British Rail have been plagued by accidents at level crossings.
  • Network Rail would like to close them all,
  • But there are always a lot of local objections especially in rural counties like Suffolk.
  • Removal is often expensive, as a new toad of several miles needs to be constructed.

I noticed perhaps ten crossings on my trip.

A big problem is that at many stations on the East Suffolk Line, there is a level crossing and it is often the only way to cross the line.

This Google Map shows Saxmundham station.

This is typical of the line. But here at Saxmundham, there is probably enough space to squeeze in a step-free bridge like this one, that won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition.

There are lots of rural stations like Saxmundham in the country, so why should suburban stations get all the investment?

How long will it be before one of the new Class 755 trains hits a vehicle on an East Anglian level crossing?

Other Traffic

The only other trains that I saw on the route were Greater Anglia trains going the other way, which we passed in stations like Beccles and Saxmundham.

Checking on realtrimetrains.co.uk, there appears to have been no trains other than the Lowestoft and Ipswich service all day.

It appears that although parts of the route are only single track, that a well-designed timetable operated by well-trained and well-performing staff can provide a reliable hourly service.

Line Speed

I brought my personal dynamometer car with me and the train trundled along at a very easy and leisurely 55-60 mph, which is around the operating speed of the line of 55 mph.

Consider.

  • The train gave me the impression, that all those 2,920 kW in the diesel engines could go a bit faster.
  • The timetable was probably designed around a Class 156 train, which has just 425 kW per car, as opposed to the 730 kW per car of the Stadler train.
  • I estimate that the Stadler train is about sixty percent heavier per car, but it does have a lot of electrical gubbins to carry around.
  • The weight of the Stadler train does appear to be lighter per car than a Class 170 train.

I would expect that a well-driven Class 755 train has the power and speed to skip from station to station along the East Suffolk Line at several minutes faster than the timetable.

The line is 49 miles long and trains typically take 90 minutes between Lowestoft and Ipswich. That is an average speed of just under 33 mph.

The leg between Saxmundham and Darsham is just over four miles long and it takes nine minutes. This is an average speed of 27 mph.

Consider

  • The acceleration of a Class 755 train is 0.9 m/s², which means to get up to a line speed of 60 mph takes thirty seconds.
  • Four miles at 60 mph takes four minutes.
  • Driver assistance software can tell the driver exactly where to start slowing for the next station.

It might be possible to do the Saxmundham and Darsham leg in perhaps three or four minutes less than the current timetable.

How much time could be saved on the whole route between Lowestoft and Ipswich?

Trains Needed

Look at a typical Off Peak pattern.

  • An Off Peak train is the 1007 from Lowestoft, which arrives at Ipswich at 1136.
  • This train returns from Ipswich at 1217, which arrives in Lowestoft at 1343.
  • It then leaves Lowestoft for Ipswich at 1407.

The train takes four hours to do a round trip on the route, with forty-one minutes wait at Ipswich and twenty-four minutes wait at Lowestoft.

As trains are scheduled from Lowestoft at 1107, 1207 and 1307, four trains will be needed to provide the service.

This is very inefficient.

I feel that it is totally possible for the new trains to run between Lowestoft and Ipswich in around an hour and fifteen minutes, which would mean a saving of between one-two minutes on each leg of the journey.

Suppose though the trains could achieve this time, with an allowance of fifteen minutes to turn the trains at the two end stations.

This would mean that the round trip is now three hours and only three trains will be needed to provide the service.

The Possibility Of A Half-Hourly Service

The current timetable waits for awkward times in each of the end stations.

But my proposed hour and fifteen minute journey with a fifteen minute turnround could offer the possibility of a half-hourly service.

  • Suppose two trains left Ipswich and Lowestoft at identical times on the hour.
  • They would arrive at their destination an hour and fifteen minutes later at a quarter past the hour.
  • By the half-hour, they would be ready to return to the other station.
  • They would arrive back at the start at a quarter to the hour and fifteen minutes they would be ready to repeat the cycle.

The only problem would be to make sure all trains met each other at a place, where they could pass.

The half-hourly service would need six trains. or two more than the current service.

I don’t think that any major engineering works will be needed, although , there might be a need to adjust a passing loop or the signalling.

This is probably only one of many possibilities to provide a half-hourly services.

A Service Between Ipswich And Leiston And Aldeburgh

As I passed this branch the orange army was clearing the track of years of tree and other plant growth.

I’ve always thought that this would be a good idea and I wrote about it in A Station For Leiston.

  • A half-hourly service would need two trains.
  • It would add extra capacity between Ipswich and Saxmundham.
  • It would certainly be needed if Sizewell C is built.
  • Much of the route is double-track between Saxmundham and Ipswich.

It should also be noted that Sizewell has a high-capacity electricity grid connection and with the growtyh of offshore wind, Sizewell might be the ideal place for a large energy storage facility,

Cambridge And Lowestoft?

I took a train recently between Cambridge and Norwich and I noticed it went on to Cromer and Sheringham.

This was just Greater Anglia’s way of scheduling the trains for their convenience.

But could the same joining be done between these two services.

  • Lowestoft and Ipswich
  • Ipswich and Cambridge

It would do the following.

  • Make better use of Platform 1 at Ipswich.
  • Improve train utilisation.
  • It might encourage day trippers to the coast to use the trains.
  • It would improve the link from East Suffolk to Stabsted Airport.
  • Create a comprehensive service, that connects all the major towns in Suffolk.
  • It would connect these Suffolk towns; Lowestoft, Beccles, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmund’s and Newnarket.
  • It would serve the proposed A14 Parkway station.
  • It would be an excellent feeder sewrvice for the East-West Rail Link.

It would be a true TransSuffolk railway.

Could There Be A Lowestoft And Great Yarmouth Service?

There has been talk of a new service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth stations.

There are two options to provide a service.

  • Reinstatement of the Reedham Curve that was closed in 1880.
  • By reversing the train in Reedham station.

I describe these options in Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns.

As the second option does not need any extra infrastructure, I think it is more likely.

This was my conclusion about the route with a reverse.

Typical timings appear to be.

  • Between Reedham and Yarmouth – 14-16 minutes
  • Between Reedham and Lowestoft – 24-26 minutes

Given that the Class 755 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are optimised for fast stops.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-forty minute time between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.

It would appear that one train could run an hourly shuttle between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

A Scenic Route Between Norwich And Ipswich

Using the current times between Ipswich and Lowestoft and Norwich and Yarmouth, it also looks like a sub-three hour scenic route is possible between Ipswich and Norwich.

It could be East Anglia’s version of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Onboard Catering

The East Suffolk Line service currently takes ninety minutes.

I feel that this service is one that could benefit from a coffee service from a trolley.

The service could be provided by Greater Anglia or as on the Settle & Carlisle Line, by the local Community Rail Partnership.

Conclusion

The arrival of Class 755 trains on the East Suffolk Line could be the start of something special!

 

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ipswich and Felixstowe In A New Class 755 Train

These pictures show my trip frip from Ipswich to Felixstowe and back in a new Class 755 train.

Some points about the journey.

The Class 755 Train Was Fast

Between Derby Road and Trimley stations, the train rattled on at around 70 mph, which is consistent with the current operating speed of 75 mph of the Felixstowe Branch Line.

Looking at Real Time Trains, my train yesterday took four minutes to do the eight miles between Derby Road and Trimley stations and arrived four minutes ahead of schedule.

  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is much faster than that assumed for trains on the line.
  • The new track is probably capable of handling faster trains.
  • The figures on Real Time Trains have a measure of error.

Once the Class 755 train had cleared the junction at the start of the loop, the freight train waiting to come out could leave.

The New Loop

The train I took, illustrated how the new loop allows a passenger train to into into Felixstowe, at the same time as a freight train is coming out.

  • The freight train positions itself in the loop.
  • The Class 755 train, goes like a rat up a drainpipe down the Northern track and stops into Trimley station.
  • As soon as the Class 755 train has passed the freight train, the freight train continues through Derby Road and Westerfield stations  to the Great Eastern Main Line..

It looks like the performance of the Class 755 trains, is used to make sure the required timetable is kept.

Could A Second Half-Hourly Service Passenger Service On The Branch?

Consider.

  • Felixstowe and the surrounding villages is an area that could be developed with more housing, so there could be a large increase in passenger traffic between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • The new trains could be very successful in attracting new passengers to the route.

I would be very surprised if Network Rail had designed the new loop at Trimley, without a plan to allow it to be upgrdaed to a half-hourly service.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Just Look How The Port Of Felixstowe Has Grown

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Capacity Enhancement Goes Live.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Funded by the Strategic Freight Network, with a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK (HP-UK), a £60.4 million investment to create a new 1.4km loop on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk was successfully brought into service on 29 May 2019, on time and on budget. It facilitates an increase from 33 to 47 freight train paths a day in each direction on this key artery, carrying the highest freight tonnage in the country and serving the largest container port in the UK.

High Speed Two it is not, but if you read the article, you’ll see that a substantial amount of work has been done, involving track, footbridges, level crossings and signalling.

I can remember the Port of Felixstowe, when it was a just a small basin, with the Little Ships Hotel, a couple of warehouses and the giant seaplane crane. A couple of times, I used the Harwich Ferry to cross the harbour to Harwich on the Brightlingsea.

In some ways Felixstowe has come a long way in those sixty years.

With the increase in capacity on the Felixstowe Branch Line, the rail link can handle the container traffic through the Port better!

Note this about trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

  • 47 freight trains per day between Ipswich and Felixstowe is roughly two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • The current passenger service is one tph.
  • In addition, there is an hourly Ipswich and Lowestoft train, which shares track between Ipswich and Westerfield Junction.
  • The new Class 755 trains are faster and will have shorter dwell times than the current trains.

Between Ipswich and Westerfield, there are four tph.

  • The route is double-track.
  • Not all trains stop at Westerfield
  • The level-crossing at Westerfield station has been improved and is now is a Manually Controlled Barrier with CCTV
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box.

Between Westerfield and Felixstowe, there are three tph.

  • The route is single track with loops to the East of Derby Road and the West of Trimley stations.
  • The level crossings have been improved and three have been converted to Manually Cntrolled Barriers.
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box..

It looks to my untrained eye, that these service pattern are possible.

So what will happen in the future?

In the next few sections, I talk about the future.

Could More Passenger Trains Be Run To Felixstowe And Lowestoft?

I suspect here, that the limiting factor will be platform capacity at Ipswich station.

Ipswich station will have at least four tph running between Stowmarket and Colchester (3 x London and Norwich and 1 x Peterborough and Colchester), that will use Plstform 2 at Ipswich station. I suspect that this means Lowestoft and Felixstowe trains will have to share the Bay Platform 1.

With good signalling and precision driving, I suspect that the single platform could handle 2 tph to both Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

There would only ever be one train in Platform 1 at Ipswich station, unlike now, where two trains share. The new Class 755 trains will be just too long.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The current timetable is as follows.

  • Leaves Ipswich at XX:58 and arrives Felixstowe at XX:24
  • Leaves Felixstowe at XX:28 and arrives Ipswich at XX::54

Note.

  1. The clock-face nature of the timetable.
  2. Both journeys are 26 minutes
  3. There is four minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

This service would need two trains and if there’s one thing that Abellio Greater Anglia aren’t short of, it’s three-car Cl;ass 755 trains.

If the trains had the branch to themselves, there could be a two tph service between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

But they have to share it with freight trains running at two tph.

This would mean the following.

  • Five tph between Ipswich and Westerfield
  • Four tph between Westerfield and Felixstowe.

As two tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe is likely to be on Greater Anglia’s wish list, I suspect the new track layout was designed with this service in mind.

Currently, there is one or two cars per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe, but a two tph service would mean a minimum of six cars per hour or a massive increase in capacity.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Lowestoft?

The current timetable between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations is as follows.

  • An almost clock-face hourly service in both directions.
  • A journey time of just under one-and-a-half hours.
  • There are nine stops on the route.
  • There are several minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

When the new Class 755 trains are working the route, the following will apply.

  • The Class 755 trains are faster and have a shorter dwell time in stations.
  • There will be four London and Lowestoft services per day.

I think it is true to say, that journey times will be reduced.

I suspect that the following could be possible.

  • A journey time of perhaps one hour and twenty minutes.
  • Trains would leave Lowestoft at XX:07
  • Trains would leave Ipswich at XX:37

This or something like it, would be an acceptable clockface timetable.

I strongly believe that an improved service will be possible between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

  • I feel that two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft might be difficult to achieve without extra works on the track.
  • Extra capacity can be added by using four-car Class 755 trains on the route.
  • Faster services will certainly be introduced, as the train’s faster speed and shorter dwell times will knock several minutes from the journey.

I also think, that it may be possible to introduce a second service on the Southern section of the route, which runs to perhaps Leiston or even Aldeburgh. This would give the busier Southern section of the route two tph.

So Platform 1 at Ipswich station could see the following trains.

  • Two tph Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • One tph Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • One tph Ipswich and Leiston/Aldeburgh

I believe that timetabling of the route would not be a difficult task!

Four Trains Per Day Between Lowestoft and London

The London and Lowestoft service could be arranged as follows.

  • Lowestoft station has three platforms., so one could be reserved for the London service.
  • If the last service arrived back late or the first service needed to leave early, the dedicated platform could be used for overnight stabling.
  • When running between Ipswich and Lowestoft it would take over, one of the Ipswich and Lowestoft paths.
  • The trains will stop at all stations between Ipswich and Lowstoft, as there will be jealousy between users.
  • It would call in the through platforms 2 and 3 at Ipswich station..
  • The trains would make as few calls as possible South of Ipswich, as the Lowestoft train will be a fourth fast London service in the hour.

No new infrastructure would be required.

Could London And Lowestoft Services Be A Dedicated Shuttle Train?

This may have marketing advantages, as the train could have its own livery and perhaps a buffet or a catering trolley.

If you assume that the working day for a train is 0600-2400, then this means the following.

  • A round trip must be performed in four and a half hours.
  • A London and Lowestoft time of two hours and fifteen minutes,.
  • The journey time would include the turnround time at the destination.

As Ipswich and London times of an hour are possible with a 100 mph trains, like the Class 755 train, Ipswich and Lowestoft would have to be run in a time as close to an hour as possible.

Consider.

  • The only trains on the East Suffolk Line will be Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Class 755 trains may be able to stop at stations in under a minute.
  • Line speed could possibly be increased, as the route appears reasonably straight
  • Some level crossings could probably be removed.
  • The current average speed on the line is around 35 mph.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia have run tests with the current Class 170 trains, which are 100 mph trains to determine what times are possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if using a single shuttle train to run the four trains per day between London and Lowestoft, is possible.

  • Services could leave Lowestoft at 06:00, 10:30, 15:00 and 19:30
  • Services could leave Liverpool Street at 08:15, 12:45, 17:15 and 21:45

The last service would arrive back in Lowestoft at midnight.

Tram-Trains Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four tph  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

It looks like the plan is to fully-double the branch line to the East of Derby Road station.

To the West of Derby Road, the line is mainly single track until it joins the East Suffolk Line close to Westerfield station.

The problem is that the single-track railway goes over the over the Spring Road Viaduct. Rebuilding the viaduct to add the second track, would be something that everybody would want to totally avoid, as how would the containers from forty-seven freight trains per day in both directions, be moved in and out of the Port of Felixstowe?

If the capacity can’t be increased, the demand will have to be reduced.

A Possible Tram-Train Proposal

The East West Rail report is proposing that the 1-2 tph passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe should be replaced by a four tph tram-train service.

  • The tram-train service would start at Ipswich station, running as a tram.
  • It would probably meander through Ipswich, serving places like Portman Road, the Town Centre< Christchurch Park, the new housing in the North, Ipswich Hospital and the Retail Parks in the East.
  • If Ipswich gets a new Northern Ring Road, the tram-trains, might run on the original by-pass, that goes past Ipswich Hospital.
  • It would then join the double-track section of the Felixstowe Branch Line on the Eastern outskirts of the town.
  • Extra stops might be built between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • At Felixstowe station, the tram-trains could revert to tram mode and might even go as far as the sea-front, using battery-power.

There are a lot of possibilities to give Ipswich and Felixstowe, one of the best local transport links in the world.

There will be some collateral benefits.

  • Extra freight trains can probably be squeezed through.
  • Ipswich Hospital will get the updated transport links, that it badly needs.
  • Road traffic would be reduced.

I also believe that the tram-train could be added to the Felixstowe Branch Line without disrupting trains, freight or passengers.

Electrification

I can remember reports from the 1960s, which said that felt the Felixstowe Branch Line would be electrified.

  • With a frequency of four tph, the route would surely be electrified for the tram-trains.
  • It would probably be electrified at 25 KVAC, so that freight trains could take advantage.
  • When street running in Ipswich and Felizstowe,, 750 VDC electrfication or battery-power could be used.

There would be no extra electrification needed to enable all freight trains going via London to be electric-hauled.

Freight Locomotives

I think it likely, that increasingly, we’ll see Class 93 locomotives and other electro diesel locomotives with a Last Mile capability taking freight trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

These new breed of 110 mph locomotives will be able to take maximum-length freight trains on routes to, from and through London, but a new locomotive will be needed to take trains across East Anglia to Ely and Pryrtborough and then on to the Midlands and the Notth.

Conclusion

The Port of Felixstowe and the railways connecting it to the rest of the UK have come a long way in sixty years and they will expand more in the next decade or two!

August 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The East-West Rail Link Plans For Services Between Reading And East Anglia

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link.

This post is particularly about services to Reading and the report says this about services between Reading and East Anglia.

Proposed Core Train Services

This is a sentence.

It has been assumed that, by this stage, a half hourly service will operate on the Central and Western sections between Oxford – Cambridge.

The report then goes on to add.

25 minutes are added to the Oxford journey time to represent the option of one service being extended to / from Reading with a Reading – Oxford non-stop.

So that looks like there will be a core hourly service between Reading and Cambridge, which will take 98 minutes.

The report then goes on to detail how various towns and cities in East Anglia will be connected to Reading.

Bury St. Edmunds

2h16 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Great Yarmouth

3h14 hourly direct

Ipswich

2h43 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Lowestoft

3h30 hourly with change at Norwich and cross platform change at Reedham.

Norwich

2h40 hourly direct

Trains For The Route

It looks like there will be two direct hourly train services.

  • Reading and Great Yarmouth via Cambridge and Norwich, which will take three hours and fourteen minutes.
  • Oxford and Ipswich via Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, which will take two hours and nineteen minutes.

The long term service pattern, envisages extending the Oxford and Ipswich service to Manningtree, which would add twenty-five minutes.

These are long services and given the overcrowding that happens on the current service between Norwich and Liverpool, I would think that the trains should be as follows.

  • At least four or five cars.
  • An on-board buffet.
  • At least 100 mph operation.

I also think the trains should be bi-mode trains, able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification or onboard power.

How Many Trains?

It looks like the Reading and Great Yarmouth service would be a seven-hour round trip, which would need seven trains.

The future Oxford and Manningtree service would be a six-hour round trip, which would need six trains.

So add in an allowance for maintenance and a spare, I suspect the fleet should be sixteen trains.

 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty Is Just Seventy Days Away!

This article on the Norwich Evening News is entitled At Last! High Speed Train Service Delivering Norwich To London In 90 Minutes Will Soon Begin.

This is the key section.

The first of the faster services are due to come into service on Monday, May 20.

The 90-minute services will depart from Norwich at 9am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and will call at Ipswich at 9.33am and 5.33pm.

Meanwhile the London Liverpool Street service departs at 11am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and calls at Ipswich at 11.55am and 7.57pm.

Greater Anglia said it will shave 12 minutes off the current fastest journey between Norwich and London and cut the fastest journey between Ipswich and London by four minutes.

I shall be on the first train from London as far as Ipswich.

I don’t want to get tainted do I?

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – The Future Of Ipswich Station

Ipswich station is going to get a lot of extra services over the next few years and may need extra platforms.

In a few years the services at the station could include.

  • Greater Anglia – London and Norwich – Three trains per hour (tph)
  • Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Lowestoft – One tph (Three trains per day are London and Lowestoft)
  • Greater Anglia – Colchester and Peterborough – One tph
  • Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Felixstowe – Four tph (tram-trains)
  • East West Rail – Manningtree and Oxford/Reading – One tph

In a typical hour there will be five tph going through the station, with some hours having an extra train between London and Lowestoft.

So in this timetable that means that Ipswich station will only be handling one through train every 10-12 minutes in each direction, three of which will be twelve cars long.

Only one Lowestoft trains and four Felixstowe tram-trains will terminate at Ipswich station  There is a long-enough convenient platform 1 for the Lowestoft trains, but where would the Felixstowe service be turned round?

I took these pictures as I passed through Ipswich station.

As often happens, the Felixstowe train had to be turned back in the vSouthbound through Platform 2. Not a particularly good procedure!

Building a new platform at Ipswich station will be difficult.

  • To build it next to Platform 1 will mean that there will be a lot of reorganisation of the station behind Platform 1.
  • Building it on the far side of the station will be expensive and also mean Felixstowe services will have to cross the main lines, which will cause disruption.

I would expect that sorting Ipswich station could be a sum of at least £5million and possibly a lot more. There would also be a lot of disruption during the rebuilding.

As the pictures show, there would be space outside the station to put a tram stop, that would be capable of handling four tram-trains per hour to Felixstowe.

Conclusion

If this happens and the Ipswich and Felixstowe service is replaced with a frequent tram-train, it will be a big boost to the economy for both Ipswich and Felixstowe.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment