The Anonymous Widower

Tortillas From Kings Cross Square

If you are arriving at Kings Cross station and feel a little peckish, it is often worthwhile to check out the offerings in Kings Cross Square in front of the station.

I found these delicious gluten-free tortillas last week.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On A 140 mph East Coast Main Line Between London And Doncaster

The East Coast Main Line is being upgraded with digital signalling to allow Azumas and other high speed trains to run at 140 mph for most of the route, starting with the section between London and Doncaster.

There is also a string of projects all along the line to improve operating speed, cut out slow trains and improve junctions and crossings.

Finsbury Park And Stevenage

In The New Fifth Platform At Stevenage Station – 11th October 2019, I talked about the improvements at the Northern end of the Hertford Loop Line, which I believe could allow the fast lines between Stevenage and Finsbury Park stations to be exclusively used by digitally-signalled 140 mph trains.

Currently, these passenger services run between Stevenage and Finsbury Park in a typical hour.

  • LNER – Edinburgh – 2 trains – #
  • LNER – Leeds – 2 trains – #
  • LNER – Newark or York – 1 train – #
  • Great Northern – Cambridge and Ely expresses – 2 trains
  • Thameslink – Cambridge stopping trains – 2 trains.
  • Thameslink – Peterborough and Horsham – 2 trains
  • Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton – 1 train
  • Hull Trains – 7 trains per day. – #
  • Grand Central – 9 trains per day. – #
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day. – From 2021. – #

The services can be divided into four groups.

140 mph Non-Stop Expresses

Services marked with a hash (#) will probably  be run by versions of Hitachi Class 80x trains or similar, which will be capable of 140 mph running under digital signalling, between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

The twenty-one services run by Hull Trains, Grand Central and East Coast Trains, will probably add up to less than two trains per hour (tph).

This means that there is a need to run seven tph between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely Expresses

Currently, these go non-stop between Kings Cross and Cambridge on the fast lines.

Surely, these should be 140 mph-capable trains, so they fit in with all the fast expresses.

After all, Oxford is served by 140 mph-capable trains, so why not Cambridge?

Cambridge Stopping Trains

The half-hourly Cambridge stopping trains have to stop in Welwyn North station,

  • They will have to use the fast lines between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations, as there are only two tracks.
  • Currently, trains are timetabled to take nine minutes to pass through the double-track section.
  • North and South of the double-track section, the services will use the slow lines, as they call at several stations

But these services still leave forty-five minutes in every hour, in which to fit the 140 mph services through the restricting double track section.

These services will be replaced by a two tph Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East stations.

Thameslink Cross-London Services

The two Thamelink Cross-London services between Peterborough and Horsham and Cambridge and Brighton, go non-stop between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

So could these three services use the Hertford Loop Line?

  • North of Stevenage, they use the slow lines.
  • South of Finsbury Park, they use the slow lines to access the Canal Tunnels for the Thameslink platforms at  St. Pancras.
  • Would calls at perhaps Alexandra Palace, Enfield Chase and Hertford North be worthwhile.

The only disadvantage would be that the route would be a few minutes slower, than using the main line.

Trains Terminating At Kings Cross Station

In each hour, it appears that the following trains will terminate at Kings Cross station.

  • Seven 140 mph expresses, that are going North of Hitchin.
  • Two 140 mph expresses, that are going to Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two stopping services, that are going to Cambridge.

The station has nine platforms in the main station and three in the suburban station at the side.

The Wikipedia entry for Kings Cross station, has a section entitled Future Remodelling, where this is said.

In January 2018, it was announced that half the station would close for 3 months from January to March 2020 for remodelling work to the station and its approach, expected to cost £237 million. This includes rationalisation of the tracks, reopening the third tunnel to the approach of the station and closure of platform 10.

The remodelling must allow an increase in numbers of trains terminating at Kings Cross, especially as the problems in the throat should be sorted.

These points should be noted about the High Speed Two platforms at Euston.

  • There are eleven platforms.
  • They can handle eighteen tph.
  • The trains will be up to four hundred metres long.

Considering that a nine-car Class 801 train is less than 240 metres long, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Kings Cross can handle eighteen tph.

Does that mean that Kings Cross station can accommodate another seven services?

Would The East Coast Main Line Be Able To Handle Eighteen 140 mph Expresses An Hour?

If Kings Cross station can handle eighteen tph, then the two fast lines of the East Coast Main Line must be able to handle this number of trains.

  • The two fast lines of the East Coast Main Line between London and Doncaster could be considered a smaller and slower version of High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two has a capacity of eighteen tph.
  • High Speed Two trains are almost twice as fast as those on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Signalling on the East Coast Main Line will have to deal with slower trains, where there are less than four tracks, as over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station.

This is just the sort of challenge, for which digital signalling has been created.

Spare Capacity South Of Hitchin

Suppose in a couple of years the following has been done.

  • Kings Cross station has been remodelled.
  • The Hertford Loop Line has been updated for more and faster trains.
  • Thameslink services can use the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Thameslink is running the full 24 tph service.
  • The Cambridge stopper has been changed into a Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.
  • Cambridge and Brighton has become a two tph service.
  • Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely expresses are run by 140 mph-capable trains.

This would mean the following frequencies, to the South of Hitchin.

  • Seven tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and the North, with some stopping at Stevenage.
  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Cambridge and Brighton routed via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Peterborough and Horsham routed via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Two tph – 100 mph Thameslink services between Cambridge and Maidstone East routed via the East Coast Main Line. The slow line will be used except over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station.

Note.

  1. There will also be a two tph Thameslink service in the Peak between Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks. This can be discounted as it avoids the tricky bits of the East Coast Main Line.
  2. Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough would be routed via the Hertford Loop ine, at a frequency of four tph.
  3. All Thameslink services would be routed via the Canal Tunnels and St. Pancras station.
  4. Kings Cross would only be handling 140 mph-capable trains, at a frequency of nine tph.

If the capacity of the 140 mph fast lines is the same as the similar High Speed Two, then eighteen tph should be possible.

Planned trains could be as follows.

  • Seven tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and the North, with some stopping at Stevenage.
  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.

Does that mean another seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and Hitchin?

As only nine tph would be going into Kings Cross, the station should have no difficulty handling that number of trains. It could possibly handle another nine tph.

Spare Capacity North Of Hitchin

At Hitchin, the following services wukk go to and from Cambridge.

  • Two tph – 140 mph-capable expresses between Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely.
  • Two tph – Thameslink service between Cambridge and Maidstone East.

The other Thameslink services can be ignored, as they use the slow lines between Stevenage and Hitchin and the Hertford Loop Line, so they are out of the way of the 140 mph services.

Does that mean another ten tph can be accommodated between Hitchin and the North?

What Limits The Number Of Extra Trains?

My crude estimation appears to show the following.

  • Kings Cross station may be able to handle another nine tph.
  • Between Kings Cross and Hitchin may be able to handle another seven trains.
  • North of Hitchin may be able to handle another ten trains.

It would appear that the double track section over the Digswell viaduct and through Welwyn North station, limits the capacity of the whole route.

Estimated Timings

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I stated this.

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.

There could be a race to Leeds between High speed Two and Classic services on the East Coast Main Line.

Speculation On Extra Services

It would not be right, if I didn’t have a small speculation.

Cambridge Services

Consider.

  • Oxford and Cambridge both have two main routes to and from London.
  • Both have a fast service running at a frequency of two tph.
  • Both have other quality, but slower services.

It could be argued that extra fast services are run to Cambridge, but this would use up two valuable paths over the Digswell viaduct.

Perhaps it would be better to copy Greater Anglia’s solution for London and Norwich services and order a high quality purpose-designed train for the route.

  • 140 mph-capability
  • Digitally-signalled
  • 240 metres long
  • High quality interior

There would need to be some platform lengthening between Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

Leeds Services

Leeds currently has two tph from Kings Cross and Manchester Piccadilly has three tph from Euston.

Leeds also has a daily direct service to Aberdeen.

I suspect that there could be a sorting out at Leeds, which would mean it gets a third service from London.

Conclusion

If something similar to what I have proposed is possible, it looks like as many as an extra seven tph can be accommodated between Kings Cross and the North.

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Travelling From Edinburgh To London Next Wednesday

I am going to Scotland for a couple of days and will be returning on Wednesday.

I have just booked a First Class Advance Ticket for £69.30

  • I used my Senior Railcard.
  • The train leaves at 19:36 and s the last direct train South.
  • The train arrives in London at 01:05, which isn’t too late for me, as I can get a taxi home, for a reasonable fare.
  • I can even get an all-night bus to the stop round the corner.
  • I will be served complimentary snacks on the train.

Out of curiosity, I looked up easyJet

These were possible flights and prices, between Edinburgh and Gatwick Airports.

  • 06:05 – 07:35 – 65.55
  • 13:40 – 15:20 – £82.72
  • 15:35 – 17:15 – £88.78
  • 21:15 – 22:45 – £125.14

In addition, I would have to add about a tenner for getting to the Airports and perhaps ninety minutes before and after the flight.

So it looks to me, that my train ticket is better value, quicker and may get me home only an hour or so, later than the last flight, which will be twice the price.

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In One Of LNER’s New Azumas

The Azuma is the name given by LNER‘s new Class 800 trains.

I rode in one today from Peterborough to Kings Cross after deliberately doing the trip the other way in an InterCity 125.

I took these pictures.

These are my thoughts.

The Brand-Name

The Azuma brand-name is one of those names, that was either thought-up for a fee of several million pounds by a specialist agency or it was thought up by a few serious real-ale drinkers in a comfortable pub, in front of a roaring fire or a blazing sun.

  • It is actually Japanese for East, so I doubt it will be controversial.
  • It is catchy and if say Simon Calder said that he liked the new Azuma, it might result in extra ticket sales.
  • It will differentiate LNER from their competitors running differently-liveried examples of the same Class 800 train.
  • Does it suggest speed in English, with the zoom in the middle?

LNER obviously like it, as Wikipedia says they retained the name, which was devised by the previous franchise holder; Virgin Trains East Coast.

Thinking through the history of the East Coast Main Line, I can only remember one class of locomotives or trains, that got a name; the Class 55 locomotive or Deltic. For those of my generation, Deltics are often iconic. In The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses, I describe a memorable trip behind a Deltic.

The Livery

The livery is distinctly cheeky, with an eye suggested around the front side-window!

The eye certainly stands out, which could be a good way to get extra seat sales.

It also appears that the livery has changed from the original Virgin East Coast design.

I like it!

The Interior

The interior is simple, practical and bright with some innovative touches.

  • I was in Standard and there were a reasonable number of good-sized tables, which is always welcome.
  • The seats seemed better than those fitted to the Class 800 trains on Great Western Railway (GWR).
  • The electronic seat registration status displays were clear and understandable.
  • I didn’t use the wi-fi or the charging points, but others were using them and one guy said they worked fine.
  • Our ticket collector had a moan and I suspect there are a few problems that will be corrected as necessary.

But then trains always get a lot better after their first major update.

Comparison With Great Western Railway’s Version

The general consensus between two other passengers and myself, was that the seats in the Azuma were more comfortable, than those of GWR’s Class 800 trains.

A Three Class Train

Like some other services in the UK, the Azuma is effectively a three-class train.

  • First Class
  • Standard Class with a table.
  • Bog Standard Class

I find it interesting that East Midlands Railway are promising that all seats will have tables, which already happens on some services on Chiltern Railways.

I wonder if LNER’s competitors; East Coast Trains, Grand Central and Hull Trains will offer more tables.

As a regular user of Chiltern Railways, I can see more tables being added to all main line services.

Performance

As the pictures show, I followed the train speed with the Speedview app on my phone.

After accelerating away from Peterborough 125 mph was held to Stevenage and then after slowing for the twin-track section over the Digswell Viaduct, the train maintained 100 mph for most opf the way until Kings Cross.

I think we will see improved performance onf the East Coast Main Line, with speeds increasing and journey times decreasing.

  • There are plans to add extra tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough.
  • The flyunder at Werrington will be completed.
  • There are plans for improvements to the North at Newark, Doncaster and York.
  • Digital signalling will allow 140 mph running of Azumas and other Class 800 trains.
  • It has been suggested that capacity on the route would improve with 125 mph trains running to Kings Lynn.

If all operators were running Class 800 trains, this would surely increase capacity.

Splitting And Joining

This document on the Hitachi web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-Speed Rolling Stock For UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a sentence from the document.

It also incorporates an automatic coupling system that shortens the time taken to couple or uncouple trains while stopped at a station.

Their Kentish cousins have been at it for several years.

LNER have not disclosed how they will use splitting and joining, but there are possibilities, where two five-car trains leave London as a ten-car train and then split en route to serve two destinations.

  • London to Aberdeen and Inverness, splitting, at Edinburgh.
  • London to Harrogate or Skipton and Middlesborough, splitting at Leeds.
  • London to Lincoln and Hull, splitting at Newark.

Trains would join at the same stations, when returning South.

The splitting and joining has advantages over the current fixed-length InterCity 125 and InterCity 225.

  • A five-car Azuma, only needs a 130 metre long platform. So services to destinations like Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland without a long platform become possible without expensive platform extensions.
  • Train paths on the East Coast Main Line are being used more efficiently, as in some cases two destinations are served by one service into Kings Cross.

There are some disadvantages.

  • Travellers must make sure they get into the correct part of the train.
  • There is probably more staff on the train, as both five-car trains need a full crew.
  • Returning South, trains must keep to time precisely to the joining station, to avoid delaying another service.
  • All possible calling points on the East Coast Main Line, must be able to handle ten-car trains But as these are less than twenty metres longer than an InterCity 225, lengthening shouldn’t be a major exercise.

It’s probably best to consider the two five-car trains as separate services, which happened to be coupled together on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should also be noted that several stations like Kings Cross, Doncaster, York and others have entrances in the middle of the platform, which is convenient for either the front or rear train.

Bicycles, Surf Boards And Oversized Luggage

I don’t think you get many surfboards on London to Leeds services, but a member of LNER’s staff told me, that during the recent Tour de Yorkshire, there were a lot of passengers with bicycles. This could be a problem on the Azuma,, as the nine-car train has only four spaces, with a five-car just two.

With the conversion of Scottish services to Azumas, I can see that luggage could be a problem.

I took this picture at Edinburgh, where this luggage is about to be swallowed by the locomotive of an InterCity 125.

I can see a time, when there will be a need to add another car to some nine-car trains, to make sure all the bicycles, surf boards and oversized luggage can be accommodated on the train.

  • Are LNER cutting themselves off from upmarket golf tours, where passengers travel between London and Gleneagles in First Class luxury?
  • GWR have a similar problem on South West England services and I think, it will get more serious in the next few years, as more people take up cycling and surfing.
  • It appears GWR have resorted to banning surf-boards.
  • ScotRail have opted to convert redundant single-car Class 153 trains, into multi-purpose additional carriages to enhance services on the West Highland Line.

I can also see a problem on the London to Inverness services. In Promoting The Highland Main Line, I wrote about the efforts of the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership to encourage more visitors to their iconic line and the surrounding area.

Many of the visitors that are attracted to the area, might come with bicycles, golf bags, climbing equipment and other oversized baggage.

So could we see an extra multi-purpose car added to some Azumas working between London and Scotland?

  • The Class 800 trains can be lengthened to as long as twelve cars.
  • Manufacturing of extra cars in the next few years, should be relatively easy.
  • Adding extra cars is a simple cut-and-paste, with the train software ascertaining the train formation.
  • Most platforms are probably long enough for at least ten-car trains.
  • A ten-car Class 800 formation is only fifteen metres longer than a nine-car InterCity 225.
  • There may be opportunities to carry high-value, urgent or perishable freight.

Obviously, the train operators’ needs to satisfy their markets and their finances will decide if extra cars are worth adding.

But I think, that we’ll see some ten-car Azumas on the London and Aerdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness routes.

Conclusion

The train appears to meet the specification, but as regards bulky luggage, it could be that the specification is lacking.

 

 

 

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Two East Midland Power Cars In Kings Cross

I was surprised to see two East Midlands Class 43 locomotives in Kings Cross station yesterday.

I have noticed an East Midlands-branded set recently and it looks like they have been separated.

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Could London Get A New Tube Line Between Canary Wharf And Euston?

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

The article makes some interesting points.

  • The line has been proposed by the owners of Canary Wharf.
  • Getting to Canary Wharf from Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras is difficult.
  • Property developers have always decided where London’s railways go.
  • The plan would seem to have just one intermediate stop at Blackfriars station.

These new or improved services will be happening in the next ten years.

  • More and faster services to/from the Midlands and the North West at Euston.
  • High Speed Two services at Euston
  • More and faster services to/from the East Midlands and Sheffield at St. Pancras.
  • More Continental services at St. Pancras
  • More and faster services to/from Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland at Kings Cross.

These lead me to the conclusion, that a new rail link is needed across London.

A Possible Western Extension To The Docklands Light Railway

In A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway, I wrote about a possible Western extension of the Docklands Light Railway.

his map from Transport for London, shows this possible Western extension of the DLR.

This was my analysis.

With all the problems of the funding of Crossrail 2, that I wrote about in Crossrail 2 Review Prompts Fresh Delays, could this extension of the DLR, be a good idea?

Consider,

  • Victoria, Euston and St. Pancras are prosposed Crossrail 2 stations.
  • It would link Canary Wharf and the City of London to Eurostar, Northern and Scottish services and High Speed 2.
  • It would give all of the Docklands Light Railway network access to Thameslink.
  • A pair of well-designed termini at Euston and St. Panras would probably increase frequency and capacity on the Bank branch of the system.
  • The DLR is getting new higher capacity trains.
  • Bank station is being upgraded with forty percent more passenger capacity.
  • Holborn station is being upgraded and hopefully will be future-proofed for this extension.
  • One big advantage at City Thameslink, is that Thameslink and the proposed DLR extension will cross at right-angles, thus probably making designing a good step-free interchange easier.
  • The Bank Branch of the DLR currently handles 15 tph, but could probably handle more, if they went on to two terminal stations at St Pancras and Victoria..
  • Waterloo and City Line can run at twenty-four tph.

Cinderella she may be, but then she always delivers, when there is a desperate need, just as she did magnificently at the 2012 Olympics.

The only problem with this extension of the DLR, is that compared to the rest of the system, the views will be terrible.

For myself and all the others living along the East London Line, with a step-free change at Shadwell, we would get excellent access to Euston, Saint Pancras and Victoria

But could the line still be called the Docklands Light Railway, as it spreads its tentacles further?

Will Cinderella come to the help of Canary Wharf for a second time?

I remember, when the Lewisham extension of the DLR was built without fuss, fanfare and cost and time overruns a couple of decades ago.

It was a triumph of sensible engineering.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The trains are Class 802 trains, similar to those used by FirstGroup companies; Hull Trains and Great Western Railway.

These are some points from the article.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

These are my observations.

Earlier Start

I suspect that the service can’t start earlier, due to one of the following.

  • The lead time in building the trains.
  • Completion of the new Werrington Junction.
  • Completion of the sorting of Kings Cross.
  • Completion of the works at Stevenage station.

The track works will probably be needed to create the extra paths needed on the East Coast Main Line.

Electric-Only Trains

Most other Class 802 trains are bi-mode trains, but will these be electric-only?

Capacity Issues

If the trains prove too small, they can just add extra carriages or two trains can run as a pair.

Timetables

Trains will probably take nine hours for a round-trip, allowing 30 minutes for turnround.

This would mean that two trains leaving London and Edinburgh at six, would arrive back at home after two round trips around midnight.

Conclusion

I think it will be a successful service.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nervous Operators Force Network Rail To Defer King’s Cross Plan

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

King’s Cross station has to be closed for three months, so that tracks, electrification and signalling can be replaced and modernised for about 1.5 miles from the buffer stops at the station.

The original dates of the closure were to have been between December 2019 and March 2020, but now it looks like it could be delayed by up to a year.

The article on the web site, is a shortened version of the article in the magazine, where this is said.

Closure dates have yet to be announced, and NR is still developing a passenger handling strategy which could include long-distance services at Finsbury Park or some services terminating at Peterborough. Some trains could even be rerouted into London Liverpool Street.

I wonder, if Network Rail’s planners are cursing that the around thirty miles between Peterborough and Ely is not electrified.

If it were electrified, it would allow electric trains as well as diesel and bi-mode trains to access Liverpool Street station via the West Anglia Main Line.

What Benefits Would There Be From Electrifying Peterborough To Ely?

I can imagine Oxford-educated civil servants in the Department of Transport and The Treasury dismissing calls for more electrification in the backwater of East Anglia, after the successful electrification to Norwich in the 1980s.

But now Cambridge is powering ahead and East Anglia is on the rise, with the massive Port of Felixstowe needing large numbers of freight trains to other parts of mainland UK.

This East Anglian success gives reasons for the electrification of the Peterborough-Ely Line.

Direct Electric Trains Between Peterborough And Cambridge

I have met Cambridge thinkers, who believe that Peterborough is the ideal place for businesses, who need to expand from Cambridge.

Peterborough has the space that Cambridge lacks.

But the transport links between the two cities are abysmal.

  • The A14 is only a two-lane dual-carriageway, although a motorway-standard section is being added around Huntingdon.
  • Peterborough station has been improved in recent years.
  • The direct train service is an hourly three-car diesel service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport, which doesn’t stop at the increasingly-important Cambridge North station.

The road will get better, but the rail service needs improvement.

  • There needs to be at least two direct trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • They would stop at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely and March.
  • End-to-end timing would be under an hour.
  • Greater Anglia will have the four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains, which would be ideal for the route from next year.

If the Peterborough- Ely Line was electrified, Greater Anglia could use five-car Class 720 trains.

An Electric Diversion Route For The East Coast Main Line

The works at Kings Cross station, and the possible proposal to run some trains into Liverpool Street station, show that an electric diversion route would be useful, when there are closures or problems on the East Coast Main Line.

In the case of the Kings Cross closure, if Peterborough were to be used as the terminal for some trains from the North, then I suspect some high-capacity Class 800 trains could shuttle passengers to Liverpool Street.

If the date of the Kings Cross closure is 2020, then certain things may help.

  • Crossrail will be running.
  • Extra trains will be running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • Hull Trains will be running bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • There could be more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • There could be more capacity and some longer platforms at Liverpool Street.

What would really help, is the proposed four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

The latter could prove extremely useful, when Network Rail decide to bite the bullet and four-track the Digswell Viaduct.

Extending Greater Anglia’s Network

Greater Anglia have bought new bi-mode Class 755 trains.

This would appear to be more than enough to covering the current services, as they are replacing twenty-six trains with a total of fifty-eight coaches with thirty-eight trains with a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is 46 % more trains and 137 % more coaches.

The new trains are also genuine 100 mph trains on both electricity and diesel.

Obviously, Greater Anglia will be running extra services, but with the explosive growth around Cambridge, coupled with the new Cambridge North station, I feel they will be running extra services on the Peterborough to Cambridge route and perhaps further.

The new Werrington Grade Separation will make a difference.

  • It will open in a couple of years.
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln won’t block the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Leicester route could also be improved.

So services to and from Lincoln and Leicester would probably be easier to run from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

CrossCountry run a service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport stations.

  • The service stops at Coleshill Parlway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely and.Cambridge and Audley End stations.
  • The service doesn’t stop at Cambridge North station.
  • The service is run by an inadequate Class 170 train, which sometimes is only two coaches and totally full.
  • Trains take just over three hours ten minutes for the journey.

Will Greater Anglia take over this route? Or possibly run a second train as far as Leicester?

Their Class 755 trains with better performance and specification would offer the following.

  • Electric running between Ely and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Greater passenger capacity.
  • wi-fi, plugs and USB sockets.
  • A three hour journey both ways.
  • The extra performance would probably allow an extra important stop at Cambridge North station.

The new trains would certainly offer what passengers want.

CrossCountry run an extra train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester, so perhaps at the Western end, the Greater Anglia service need only go as far as Leicester.

At the Stansted end of the route, there will be an hourly train between Stansted Airport and Norwich, so there could be scope for perhaps cutting one the services back to Cambridge.

Obviously, time-tabling would sort it out to the benefit of the train operators and passengers, but I can envisage a set of services like this.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport – CrossCountry – 1 tph
  • Leicester and Cambridge – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Colchester and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Nottingham (Currently Liverpool Lime Street) – 1 tph

Adding these up you get.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge – 2 tph – As now!
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge North – 2 tph – New service!
  • Cambridge and Ely – 4 tph – At least!
  • Ely and Peterborough – 4 tph – At least!
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 2 tph – Up from 1 tph
  • Stansted Airport and Peterbough – 1 tph – As now!
  • Cambridge and Leicester – 2 tph = Up from 1 tph.

This pattern or something like it would be much better for all.

If the Ely-Peterborough section of the were to be electrified then it would enable the following.

  • A reduced journey time for electric or bi-mode trains.
  • If required Greater Anglia could run an extra electric service using Class 720 trains between Stansted Airport and Peterbough.

I said earlier that the Werrington Grade Separation will make it easier to run services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

So why not add an hourly service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I can envisage, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked at the southern end, that there might be enough capacity for a Liverpool Street to Lincoln service via Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.

But whatever happens Greater Anglia’s choice of bi-mode Class 755 trains, seems to give them the flexibility to match services to passengers needs.

Electro-Diesel and Battery-Electric Freight Locomotives

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel freight locomotive, that can use either power from overhead electrification or an pnboard diesel engine.

I believe that locomotives like this will become more common and that eventually, we’ll see a battery-electric heavy freight locomotive.

I wrote about the latter in Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive.

The Peterborough-Ely Line will see increasing numbers of trains hauled by these powerful electric locomotives, with either diesel or battery power to propel them over the gaps in the electrification.

Electrifying the line would speed these hybrid trains through and increase the capacity of the route.

Conclusion

Network Rail have annoyed the train operators with their planning and timing of the upgrade at Kings Cross station.

It looks to me, that the part of the problem, is that there is no viable electrified secondary route to London.

Bi-mode trains can use the Peterborough-Ely Line to go to Liverpool Street via Cambridge.

This line is one of those routes that sits in a sea of electrification, which carries a lot of traffic, that would bring several benefits if it were to be electrified.

  • Direct electric trains between Cambridge and Peterborough, would greatly improve the spasmodic service between the two cities, with large economic benefits to the county.
  • An electric diversion route would be created from Peterborough to Liverpool Street via Ely and Cambridge.
  • It would allow Greater Anglia to develop routes West of Cambridge to places like Lincoln and Leicester using their future fleet of Class 755 trains.
  • It would also make it easier for battery-electric freight locomotives to cover the busy freight route between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

I also feel that it wouldn’t be the most difficult route to electrify.

The Fens are flat.

There is no history of mining.

The track is fairly straight and simple.

I suspect that it could become a high-quality 90-100 mph, electrified line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pedestrian Tunnels In London’s Transport System

I take particular interest in pedestrian tunnels, as I believe properly designed tunnels can be a solution to improving access to stations.

This list will be extended as I photograph more.

Bank – Bank And Monument Escalator Connection

I still think of this tunnel, as an escalator connection, as that was how it was marked on the tube map in the 1950s.

It is two escalators down a walk between the Docklands Light Railway platforms and then two escalators up at the other end.

Verdict – The connection is being upgraded.

Bank- Central To Northern Interchange Tunnel

This is the shortest way from the Central Line to the Northern Line.

It does involve a descent of a circular staircase.

When the Bank station upgrade is complete this route will be replaced by an escalator connection between the two lines.

This visualisation shows the connecting escalators.

Note.

  1. The two wide highest level tunnels are the Central Line.
  2. The infamous curved Central Line platforms,create a large gap to mind.
  3. The two mid-level crossed tunnels are the existing Bank and Monument Escalator Connection and the Waterloo & City Tunnel.
  4. The four narrower lowest level tunnels are from bottom to top; the Southbound Northern Line, a new tunnel with a travelator; the old Southbound Northern Line tunnel and the Northbound Northern Line tunnel.
  5. The old Southbound Northern Line tunnel will become a passenger walkway.

Poking through all this spaghetti are the three escalators connecting the Central Line level with the Northern Line level.

Verdict – This connection will become much better.

Bank – Waterloo & City Inclined Travelator

The inclined travelators that link the Waterloo & City Line platforms and the main station entrances around Bank junction, are unique on the London Underground.

There are other travelators, but no others are inclined.

Verdict – I wonder why there are no others, as this pair seem to work very well.

Bank – Waterloo & City Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Waterloo & City Line platforms at Bank station to the central tunnel at Bank station.

Verdict – It is a linear oasis in an otherwise dingy and cramped station.

Bond Street – Northern Entrance Tunnel

This new tunnel connects the new Northern entrance at Bond Street station to the platforms.

Incidentally, I’d arrived at Bond Street station through the main entrance and it was an awfully overcrowded scrum. The Northern entrance was quiet, as the pictures show.

The entrance is steps or a lift between the street and its own gate line and then a well-lit wide passage to the escalators.

In future, it will link to a wide tunnel to the Western end of the Crossrail platforms at the station.

It is much better way to enter Bond Street station.

Verdict – London and other cities with underground railways, need more new station entrances like this.

Green Park – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines at Green Park station.

The opening dates of the three lines, through the station were.

  • Piccadilly Line – 1906 – Modernised in the 1930s with escalators.
  • Victoria Line – 1969
  • Jubilee Line – 1979

Since 1979 the station has been continually improved and is step-free.

This map from carto.metre.free.fr shows the lines at Green Park station.

Note that the Jubilee Line is below the other lines and when the extension was built, it was a radical change to what was originally planned. The lines to the right lead to Charing Cross station and those going South to Westminster station.

The interchange tunnel is long and usually very crowded. I had an incident recently, where I was walking slowly to the Victoria Line and a group of tourists all with four-wheeled cases, were nudging me to go faster. When we all got to the steps at the end, there was an enforced slow down.

Verdict – I avoid interchanging at Green Park like the plague.

Kings Cross – Eastern Tunnel

This tunnel runs which used to be part of the access to the old Kings Cross Thameslink station, runs from East of Kings Cross station and then has access to the main tunnel connecting the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

It has partial escalator access at the Eastern end, where the buses from Islington and the East stop outside the old station entrance. Although getting buses to the East mens crossing the busy Pentonville Road.

Verdict – Needs improvement

Kings Cross – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Eastern Tunnel at Kings Cross to the escalators and lifts that lead to the Northern ticket hall Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station. On the way is connects to the Victoria, Piccadilly and Northern Lines.

It is a long walk, especially, if you have accessed it, as I often do, from the Eastern Tunnel which is convenient for buses from Islington and Dalston.

Verdict – Too long and boring

Kings Cross – St. Pancras Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a wide, comfortable tunnel with a double handrail down the middle.

Note that the middle picture shows the connection to the next tunnel.

Verdict – Useful and a better walk than the surface alternative in cold or wet weather.

Kings Cross – Pancras Square Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras Square to the underground tunnel, that links St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall of Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a good example of how to create a tunnel.

It has up and down escalators at the St. Pancras Square entrance.

Verdict – Good design and a pleasant walk.

Knightsbridge – Northern Exit Tunnel

This tunnel at Knightsbridge station was built in 2010 to connect the new entrance on the North side of Knightsbridge.

It looks to me that Transport for London had to make do with less space than they needed.

Verdict – Rather narrow and utilitarian.

Paddington – Bakerloo Line Link

This project to create a pedestrian link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington is currently being built.

  • It will be one hundred and thirty metres long.
  • It will be twenty-five metres below the Paddington station concourse.
  • The design uses a route to avoid existing station facilities.
  • The tunnel is being built without major disruption to Bakerloo Line passengers.
  • It will have lifts and escalators at both ends.
  • The tunnel will handle five thousand passengers per hour in the Peak.

In August 2016, I wrote Paddington Is Operational Again, which describes the tunnel in detail.

Verdict – I have a feeling that this could be one of the most impressive parts of Crossrail.

I can’t wait for this tunnel to open.

South Kensington – Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel

The Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel at South Kensington station is unique in London, as it was built in 1885 and it is Grade II Listed.

As the pictures show, it can get very busy.

Verdict – A Victorian idea, that hasn’t been copied much.

Tottenham Court Road – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connect the Central and Northern Lines at Tottenham Court Road station.

It is a bit lacking in colour to my liking. But at least there is some of Eduardo palotzi’s tiles at one end.

Verdict – Bland and too long.

Victoria – New Tunnels

Victoria station has had a new entrance at Cardinal Place and a lot of new tunnels to sort out the poor connectivity, added in the last couple of years.

As the pictures show, not all the tunnels are finished.

Verdict – Victoria is no longer a station yo avoid

Waterloo – Interchange Travelator

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Underground lines at Waterloo station.

Note the large separation of the platforms of the Jubilee Line and those of the Bakerloo and Northern Lines.

The solution was to install a travelator, when the Jubilee Line Extension was built.

Although expense wasn’t spared on the project, I think we would give it a more decorative lining today.

Verdict – It works.

Whitechapel – Refurbished Overground Staircases

There are two staircases between the District/Hammersmith & City Lines and the East London Line, that are being refurbished for Crossrail.

It looks like the work is of a high quality and that the old rails have not been replaced.

Verdict – These were scruffy tunnels a couple of years ago.

Summing Up

Some tunnels are obviously better than others, but what surprised me, was how well the Exhibition Rpad Tunnel to the museums coped with large numbers of passengers.

Perhaps, the Victorians got it right, as some of the best tunnels in my examples are the wider ones.

Comparing the Northern Exit Tunnel at Knightsbridge with the Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, shows how a wide tunnel and entrance, built with a lift, is a much better solution, than a narrow tunnel and entrance, without a lift.

The only narrow tunnel, that seems to work well is the tunnel connecting the Waterloo & City Line to the main Bank station complex.

But this tunnel is well-lit and I suspect tends to have passengers going the same way most of the time.

It also appears that recent tunnels like those at Bond Street and Victoria, are much better than those built about ten years ago, like the tunnel at Knightsbridge.

The Future

After Crossrail, London has a number of large station projects in the pipeline, some of which will require new connecting tunnels for passengers.

  • The upgrading of Bank station is underway, where tunnels are being dug and escalators, travelators and lifts and being installed.
  • The upgrading of Knightsbridge station is underway, but this will be simpler and I don’t think the upgrade includes more tunnels.
  • The upgrading of Camden Town, Holborn and Walthamstow stations are in the planning stage. All will probably involve creating a new entrance connected to the existing platforms with lifts and escalators, but no long tunnels.
  • Oxford Circus station is likely to be the subject of a major upgrade.
  • Euston and Euston Square stations are being upgraded for the arrival of High Speed Two and there will be new tunnels to dig, between the two stations.

There are also possible new lines to consider, which may or may not be built.

  • Bakerloo Line Extension
  • Crossrail 2
  • Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead
  • Docklands Light Railway to Euston, St. Pancras and Victoria.

All will be built with lots of entrances and exits, and interchanges with existing lines, so it is likely, there will be quite a few connecting tunnels.

Conclusion

I think that three tunnel projects will define a lot of the thinking about pedestrian access in the future.

  • The Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, which surfaces in a commercial development.
  • The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, which appears to be setting new standards of design and construction.
  • The narrow well-lit tunnel at Bank.

Could we see lessons learned with these newly-built tunnels applied to projects like Oxford Circus and Euston stations?

 

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Google Grabs The Best Site In London For Its Massive Groundscraper

This Google Map the site where the massive groundscraper is being built.

Note.

  1. Kings Cross station, which is on the right of the map, has extensive connections to the North-East of England and Scotland.
  2. St. Pancras station, which is on the left of the map, has extensive connections to the Midlands and Belgium, France and the Netherlands, with more services to come including Germany, Switzerland and Western France.
  3. Thameslink runs North-South beneath St. Pancras station, has extensive connections to Bedfordshire, Herfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  4. There are also six Underground Lines.
  5. Gatwick and Luton Airports have direct connections and City, Heathrow and Southend Airports  only need a step-free change.
  6. Improvements in the next few years could mean that HS2 and all of London’s five airports will have a fast direct connection to the area.

In the middle of all these railway lines, sits Google’s groundscraper, which shows as a white structure towards the top of the map.

These pictures show the area between the two stations, the under-construction groundscraper and the new blocks.

And these pictures show the progress on the site.

There is not much that is visible yet!

More Pictures!

But the building will be more visible soon! For those who can’t wait, this article from the Daily Mail has a lot of visualisations.

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , , , | 1 Comment