The Anonymous Widower

MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Melton Times.

This is the introductory sub-title.

A campaign has been launched by the Melton’s MP to improve services passing and operating from the town station and the one at Bottesford.

Alicia Kearns has submitted two bids to the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

I’ll now look at the two proposals in more detail.

More Regular Services To Bottesford

Wikipedia says this about services at Bottesford station.

  • The service is generally every two hours to Nottingham in the West and Skegness in the East.
  • Some trains call at Grantham and give connection to the East Coast Main Line.
  • LNER services at Grantham connect to Doncaster, King’s Cross, Leeds, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stevenage, Wakefield and York.
  • Bottesford is in the Borough of Melton and their is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Melton. A typical journey takes over two-and-a-half hours with two changes, that can include a wait of an hour at Leicester station.
  • Bottesford is in the County of Leicester. There is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Leicester.

I think the MP has a point and an improved and more frequent service at Bottesford could be very beneficial.

  • Many routes like this in the UK have an hourly service and I suspect many communities along the Poacher Line would benefit from this frequency.
  • All services calling at Grantham for East Coast Main Line services would be useful.
  • Do services have a good interchange at Nottingham for Midland Main Line services?

It looks like improvements at Bottesford wouldn’t require any new expensive infrastructure, but they would need more trains.

More Services Through Melton

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frquency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland.
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on this trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be erected, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery=equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

The MP’s plan is worth pursuing.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Green Light For Revived West Midlands Passenger Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Passenger trains are set to return to the line between Walsall and Wolverhampton, having been withdrawn 12 years ago. Since then, the line has been used for freight.

These points are made about the proposed service.

The West Midlands Mayor; Andy Street is quoted as saying he’s pleased with the scheme.

And well might he be!

This to me is a classic reopening scheme.

  • There is a fully-electrified freight route, that runs between Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • There used to be three intermediate stations; Darlaston James Bridge, Willenhall Bilston Lane and Portobello.
  • The first two intermediate stations closed in 1965 and the last in 1973.
  • Network Rail have said, it will be possible to run the extra trains needed.
  • The direct Walsall and Wolverhampton service will complete an hourly or better triangular service between Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • This triangular route is also fully-electrified.
  • If extra rolling stock is needed, there are quite a few suitable electric multiple units, that are sitting in sidings or will be replaced by new trains in the next couple of years.

Except for the building of the new intermediate stations, nothing would appear to be high cost.

The project must have a high benefit cost ratio.

A Possible Extension From From Walsall To Aldridge

In the Wikipedia entry for Walsall station, this is said.

There are also plans to reopen a terminus single platform at Aldridge for trains to Birmingham New Street via Walsall but not to Sutton Coldfield and Water Orton.

This service would be on part of the freight-only Sutton Park Line between Walsall and Water Orton stations and is regularly used by freight trains avoiding Birmingham New Street station.

This Google Map shows the Sutton Park Line through Aldridge.

Note.

  1. The Sutton Park Line is double track and not electrified.
  2. The road running South of the railway is called Station Road.

There would appear to be space for a reopened station. between the railway and Station Road.

  • It could have a single platform.
  • There could be adequate car parking.
  • There would be no need for an expensive bridge.
  • The station could be designed to be converted into a two-platform station if a full service were to be run on the Sutton Park Line at a future date.

As the station would be no more than about five miles from Walsall station and its electrification, the extended service from Walsall could be run by a battery-electric train.

Conclusion

I predict, that if this route is reopened and it is a success, other parts of the UK will want to open more freight lines to passenger traffic.

These similar projects have already been widely mentioned.

Most of these reopening, would just need refurbishment and some new stations.

 

 

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reinstatement Of The Ivanhoe Line

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

The Ivanhoe Line, is a half-completed project left over from the days of British Rail.

  • The main objective appears to be to extend the current line between Lincoln and Leicester via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough stations to Burton-upon-Trent along the freight-only Leicester-Burton-upon-Trent Line.
  • Some new stations will be added.

In January 2020, I wrote Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester, after reading an article on Derbyshire Live.

I finished that article by listing the possibilities.

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to East Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

It now looks like it’s all going to be turned into a plan for reality.

I do have some questions.

What Will Be The Solution To The Knighton Junction Problem?

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

It looks like the preferred solution, will be to build a new station to the South of Knighton Junction.

  • The station would only need a single platform.
  • It could be easily fitted in alongside the Midland Main Line.

Trains will reverse to get around the tight corner.

Will There Be A Station At Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would Leicester City want a station?

Could The Ivanhoe Line Be Connected To High Speed Two At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?

I heard an MP on the radio, who was very much against High Speed Two and that led me to write Could High Speed Two Have A Station At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?.

I think this is a serious possibility in the future.

Could East Midlands Railway Use The Route To Run A London And Burton-on-Trent Service?

Consider.

  • East Midlands Railway‘s Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery, that would give the trains a battery range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • The trains would have a charge time of perhaps 10 minutes.
  • The distance between Knighton Junction and Burton-on-Trent is around 35 miles.
  • The distance between Knighton Junction and the Northern limit of the electrification at Market Harborough station is fifteen miles.
  • The distance between Market Harborough and Burton-on-Trent stations is 50 miles.

I think it would be possible for a battery-electric Class 810 train to run between London and Burton-on-Trent.

  • The batteries would need to be charged at Burton-on-Trent.
  • Perhaps, the easiest way to provide charging facilities would be to electrify the last ten miles between Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Burton-on-Trent stations
  • The service could call at all or selected stations between Knighton Junction and Burton-on-Trent.

I think this could be a very useful service, even if it only ran a couple of times every day.

Could Battery-Electric Trains Run The Whole Ivanhoe Line Between Lincoln And Burton-on-Trent?

The problem is not the trains, but the lack of electrification between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction.

Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

But it would be a difficult station to electrify because of a bridge with limited clearance.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I discussed how the following.

  • Discontinuous electrification through Leicester station.
  • Electrification between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrifying the High Speed Two route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

Would allow Hitachi Class 810 trains, equipped with batteries to run between London and Sheffield on electric power alone.

Consider.

  • As I have said East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries with a range of 55 to 65 miles.
  • The gap between Leicester station and the end of the electrification at Market Harborough is sixteen miles.
  • Knighton Junction is less than two miles South of Leicester station.
  • Burton-on-Trent is around forty miles from Leicester station.
  • All passenger trains passing through Leicester station, stop in the station to set down and pick up passengers.

It would thus appear that the following would be possible.

  • A Northbound battery-electric  train from St. Pancras to Leicester or further North could reach Leicester on battery power from Market Harborough.
  • A Northbound battery-electric train from Burton-on-Trent to Leicester or further North could reach Leicester on battery power from Burton-on-Trent.
  • A Southbound train from Leicester or further North to St. Pancras could reach Market Harborough on battery power from Leicester.
  • A Southbound train from Leicester or further North to Burton-on-Trent could reach Burton-on-Trent on battery power from Leicester.

Trains leaving Leicester would need to be fully charged.

So how would this be arranged?

I think the simplest method would be to electrify the  section of the Midland Main Line between Leicester and Derby stations.

  • The route is probably not the most difficult to electrify.
  • East Midlands Parkway has good electrical connections, as it is next to Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
  • Nottingham is just nine miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby is thirty miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Clay Cross North Junction, where the joint electrified section with High Speed Two commences is twenty-one miles from Derby.
  • Lincoln is forty-two miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Battery-electric trains could use this electrification for both traction power and to charge their batteries.
  • As the trains would use battery power between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, the sensitive issue of electrifying through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills, will have been avoided.

All East Midlands Railway’s InterCity services would be totally carbon-free.

It should also be noted, that as Lincoln is only forty-two miles from East Midlands Parkway, provided there was the ability to recharge the trains at Lincoln, the whole Ivinghoe route between Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent could be run by a suitable battery-electric train.

Could Hydrogen Trains Run The Whole Ivanhoe Line Between Lincoln And Burton-on-Trent?

If the route can be run by a battery-electric train, I can see no reason, why a hydrogen-powered train couldn’t do a good job on the route.

I suspect that the Alstom Breeze and any future trains, that are designed for hydrogen power, will also be able to use electrification, where it exists.

So, if any more electrification was erected on the Midland Main Line, the hydrogen trains would take advantage.

The hydrogen trains would need to be refuelled, but because of their long range, this would probably only be a twice a day operation at most.

There is probably space for a refuelling point, at either end of the route.

Conclusion

This is a good scheme, that should have been completed decades ago.

 

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could High Speed Two Have A Station At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?

This morning, I was listening to Andrew Bridgen, who is the Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire, giving the reasons for a strong opposition to High Speed Two.

  • High Speed Two will reduce the number of services between Leicester and London.
  • His constituency does not have a rail station.
  • His constituency would do better for the Ivanhoe Line to get a passenger service.
  • His constituents are badly affected by the building of the line.
  • His constituents will need to drive North to East Midlands Hub station to use High Speed Two.

Some points are valid, although I think no rail company would reduce the number of services between Leicester and London.

The Future Of Services Between Leicester And London

East Midlands Railway currently run four trains per hour (tph) between Leicester and London, with the fastest trains taking five minutes over the hour.

New 125 mph bi-mode Class 804 trains, will be running all main line services on the Midland Main Line from 2023, using electric power between London and Market Harborough.

It is also planned to increase the line speed between London and Market Harborough to 140 mph, so the trains can really use their design speed, by updating the electrification, signalling and track.

From these published plans, I would feel that East Midlands Railway are intending that all Leicester and London services are within the hour.

Reinstatement Of Services On The Ivanhoe Line

This has been promised off-and-on for some time and I wrote about it in Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester, after one of my alerts picked up “hydrogen trains”.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Ivanhoe Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the Ivanhoe Line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Given the government’s enthusiasm for reopening lines closed by Beeching, I suspect that this line will be reopened to passenger traffic in the next few years.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Station

This section of the route map for High Speed Two, shows where the Ivanhoe Line crosses it, just by a major road junction outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in orange.
  2. The Ivanhoe Line runs West-East from the West edge of the map and after crossing the A42 and High Speed Two it curves South-East.

Where the two lines cross would it be sensible to build a simple interchange station?

  • Andrew Bridgen’s constituency has a electorate of over 72,000.
  • The station would be well-connected to the road network via the the M42, A42 and A51.
  • There would appear to be plenty of space for parking.
  • It would ease the problems of going by train between Leicester and Birmingham.
  • A bridge will have to be built at the location of the station to carry High Speed Two over the Ivanhoe Line, so why not design the bridge with simple platforms?
  • As High Speed Two’s trains will be designed with fast acceleration and deceleration, the stops would be very quick
  • Passengers would only be allowed on the High Speed Two platforms, when trains are in the station.

Perhaps given its location it could be called the Heart of England Parkway station?

The Station Site

This Google Map shows the station site.

Note.

  1. The Ivanhoe Line is at the bottom of the map.
  2. There is a spur from the line into the space.
  3. High Speed Two will run almost North-South parallel to the A42.

It looks like an abandoned open-cast coal-mine or quarry. Does anybody else know better?

Conclusion

There has already been speculation for the building of a similar station, which I wrote about in Should High Speed Two Have A Station At Calvert?, so perhaps it’s not a totally crazy idea,

Perhaps, there are other places, where High Speed Two crosses other main lines, where parkway stations could be built?

 

 

February 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Derbyshire Live.

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.

Possibilities

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments