The Anonymous Widower

Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover

The title of this post is the same as an article in the March 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

These are some points from the article.

Passengers Numbers Are Recovering

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Wittingham says the recovery has been strongest on the Anglo-Scottish and Liverpool corridors, while Manchester have begun to bounce back. Slowest to recover is the London to West Midlands market; ‘there’s several operators here and we were the main carrier of business passengers, and that sector has been recovering more slowly than leisure’ says Mr. Whittingham.

Phil Whittingham is MD of Avanti West Coast.

Train Numbers Are Recovering

Avanti are building up train numbers from Euston after the pandemic.

Frequencies are as follows in trains per hour (tph)

  • Pre-Covid – 9
  • During the pandemic – 4
  • From December 2021 – 7
  • Omicron – 4
  • From February 2022 – 6
  • From May 2022 – 6+

Avanti have reacted to demand.

Three Classes Of Travel

This is a paragraph.

Avanti’s business has historically been driven by leisure travel – before Covid this accounted for broadly 60 % of passengers, with most of the rest travelling for business plus a smaller number of commuters. ‘The demand is there, and we think by next year we’ll be on the way to full recovery’ says Mr. Whittingham. ‘Leisure has been strong, especially at weekends, but the missing bit is the corporate market.’

Avanti have been running a marketing campaign and it appears to have been successful.

This paragraph describes Avanti’s new Standard Premium class.

Last year, Avanti West Coast launched a new class of travel – Standard Premium. This was first introduced in May on an upgrade-only basis before going fully live in September with the option to book online in advance. The new class sits between Standard and First, giving passengers larger seats and greater space but without some of the extras that come with First Class Travel such as complimentary refreshments and lounge access.

These are Mr. Whittingham’s comments on the three classes.

The current split of passengers is 84% Standard, 12 % First and 4 % Standard Premium, but given the latter has been in place for less than a year there is clearly scope for growth. ‘Our research shows people have been upgrading to Standard Premium rather than downgrading from First’.

I have yet to try Standard Premium, but I will next time I use Avanti.

Refreshments

Avanti have decided to serve different refreshments in Standard Premium and First classes.

  • In Standard Premium, they are now offering At Seat Orders.
  • In First, they have updated the menu.

Both seem to have been well-received.

I like this statement from Mr. Whittingham.

We’ve tried to make it a more personalised service with a less rigid structure, so we give customers what they want, when they want it, rather than when we want to give it to them.

A Consistent Offer

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Whittingham says Avanti has not yet confirmed whether t will offer three classes of travel on the new Hitachi trains it has ordered, but says the aim is to provide a more consistent offer. Assisting this will be changes in the ongoing Pendolino refurbishment, where 11-car sets are having Coach G converted from First to Standard accommodation, meaning all Pendolinos, whether nine-car or 11-car, will have three coaches for First and Standard Premium passengers.

My instinct says that the four trains will be something like.

  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Nine-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – six Standard cars
  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Eleven-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – eight Standard cars
  • Class 805 train – Hitachi – Five-car – one First/Standard Premium car – four Standard cars
  • Class 807 train – Hitachi – Seven-car – two First/Standard Premium car – five Standard cars

Note.

  1. The Class 805 and Class 807 Hitachi trains are very much plug-and-play and can be lengthened or shortened as required.
  2. A regular passenger between London and Liverpool, who regularly upgrades from Standard to Standard Premium in a Class 390 train could be a bit miffed if he couldn’t, because the service was being run by a Class 807 train.
  3. Hitachi would probably be very happy to add extra cars to the Class 805 and Class 807 trains.

As the Class 390 Pendolino trains are being refurbished, I do wonder if they will be receiving some fittings from the Hitachi trains to make sure the trains are consistent to both on-board staff and passengers.

Pendolino Investment

The Pendolino refurbishment is comprehensive.

  • It is one of the largest such programmes ever undertaken in the UK.
  • Leasing company; Angel Trains are funding the work.
  • Alstom are doing the work at Widnes.
  • There appears to be a smooth plan to refurbish all trains.
  • Coach G will be converted from First to Standard accommodation in eleven-car trains.
  • Mr. Whittingham says that all trains will come out looking like a new train.

The eleven-car trains are being converted first, as the conversion of Coach G gives a capacity benefit of around thirty seats.

The awful seats in Standard Class will be replaced with Lumo-style seats and laptop-friendly fold-down tables.

These seats will be a big improvement!

New Trains Coming

This paragraph introduces the new trains.

The second major fleet investment from Avanti is the £350 million for new trains from Hitachi, financed by Rock Rail. These comprise 13×5-car Class 805 bi-modes, ordered for destinations off the electrified route including North Wales and Shrewsbury and 10×7-car Class 807 electrics. Deployment plans for the latter are still being worked through but are likely to include services to Birmingham and Liverpool, and potentially to Blackpool.

What is not said in this paragraph, is that all trains have a redesigned front end, which I suspect is more aerodynamic.

The all-electric Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries, so have they been put on a diet, to improve the acceleration?

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to these conclusions.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster and if they cut out a couple of stops could probably break two hours.

I also calculated that a two tph service between London and Liverpool in two hours would need nine trains.

Timetable Changes

This paragraph introduces the article’s section on timetable changes.

The project in turn feeds into a major timetable change planned by Avanti and other West Coast main line operators. This will be the first significant change to West Coast main line schedules since 2008; ‘the world has changed, and we need to think about how we best serve our markets’ says Mr Whittingham.

This paragraph sums up the major changes.

Of note are the planned changes to the pattern of London to West Midlands services; the pre-Covid 20-minute interval would be amended to offer faster journey times and greater connectivity. Also featuring in the new timetable aspirations would be additional Trent Valley calls in some Liverpool and Manchester services; Mr Whittingham cites as one benefit of this the potential for improved journey times between the North West and the East Midlands via a change of train at Nuneaton. The Hitachi trains, with their better acceleration, will be particularly useful on services with more frequent stops.

The next three sections will look at some timetable changes in a bit more detail.

London And West Midlands Services

Replacement of twenty diesel Class 221 trains with thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains will mean a major reorganisation of services to the West Midlands.

  • Some current diesel services will now be electric.
  • All services between Birmingham New Street and Euston will now be electric.
  • No services will run on diesel under live electrification.
  • Avanti have promised to serve Walsall.
  • There will be extra services to Shrewsbury and other places.

The electric services will also speed up some services to the West Midlands.

North West And East Midlands Services

I will look at train times for services between the North West (Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly) and the East Midlands (Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln), where passengers change at Nuneaton.

These are the current fastest possible times according to the National Rail journey planner.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 with changes at Crewe and Nuneaton,
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 with change at Sheffield
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 with no changes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 with no changes
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 with changes at Sheffield and Doncaster
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 with change at Sheffield

Note that times are in hours:minutes.

These are all current times for the various legs if the route is via Nuneaton.

  • Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and Nuneaton – 1:18
  • Avanti West Coast – Manchester Piccadilly and Nuneaton – 1:13
  • CrossCountry – Nuneaton and Leicester – 0:27
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:48 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:20 – Time from St. Pancras and Nottingham service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Lincoln -1:42 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Nottingham and Lincoln -0:52 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.

Note that the two Avanti West Coast times have been estimated by taking the time from Real Time Trains and adding three minutes for the acceleration or deceleration at Nuneaton.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:47
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:42
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:32
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:31
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 3:26

Note that I am assuming changes at Nuneaton and Leicester are cross-platform or same platform changes that take two minutes.

But there is another level of improvement possible.

Suppose that East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service were to be extended to Nuneaton and run by a train with this specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • Battery-electric power.
  • 100 mph operating speed on battery power.
  • Range of 56 miles on battery
  • Ability to use the Midland Main Line electrification, when it is erected.

Charging stations would be needed at Nuneaton and Lincoln.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton with the one change at Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:40
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:05
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:00
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 2:57
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:52

Note.

I am assuming that the timings for the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs are as for the current trains.

I am assuming the change at Nuneaton is a cross-platform or same platform change that takes two minutes.

Trains run on battery where tracks are not electrified.

I can build a table of current times, times via Nuneaton and savings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 – 1:45 – 0:39
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 – 1:40 – 0.31
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 – 2:05 – 0:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 – 2:00 – 0.09 slower
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 – 2:57 – 0.45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 – 2:52 – 0:14 slower

It does appear that by using the 125 mph speed of the West Coast Main Line has a positive effect on some times from the North West to the East Midlands.

But times could be reduced further.

  • Installing full digital signalling, that would enable 140 mph running between Crewe and Nuneaton, could save ten minutes.
  • Improving the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs could allow faster running.

The more I look at changing at Nuneaton, I feel it is a good idea.

  • It improves the connections between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough and the North West.
  • It improves the connections between Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport and the North West, if the change at Nuneaton is to CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street service.
  • It improves the connections between Coventry and Leamington Spa and the North West.

Avanti have come up with a cunning plan, worthy of Baldrick at his best.

A Second Hourly Service Between London And Liverpool

A paragraph talks about the second hourly service between London and Liverpool.

Avanti still has ambitions to introduce a second hourly service between Euston and Liverpool, but when this will come in will depend on demand recovery.

Consider.

  • If would be desirable if some or all trains running on the route could achieve a timing of two hours between London and Liverpool.
  • It is felt that the second service should stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, where the platforms are too short for eleven-car Class 390 trains.
  • Avanti have stated they would like more stops in the Trent Valley, especially at Nuneaton, where they would connect to services to the East Midlands.
  • Nuneaton is almost exactly halfway between London and Liverpool.
  • Running two tph with Class 807 trains would need nine trains and Avanti have only ordered ten in total.

I believe that a practical timetable like this could work.

  • Class 390 train – one tph – Non-stop or perhaps a single stop in the Midlands – Under two hours
  • Class 705 train – one tph – Stopping at Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway – Current time or better

An hourly service between London and Liverpool in under two hours would surely be a passenger magnet.

February 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Station Proposed For National Arboretum

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

It has been revealed that a new station is being proposed at Alrewas between Lichfield Trent Valley high level and Wichnor Junction, which is on the line linking Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent. The original station serving the village of Alrewas was closed in 1965, although the line remained open.

A new Alrewas station would serve the National Memorial Arboretum, which is visited by more than 300,000 people a year and stages 250 events, including services of remembrance. It includes a Railway Industry Memorial, which was unveiled in May 2012, and also a memorial commemorating the thousands of prisoners of war who were forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway in the Second World War.

I first wrote about this proposed station in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

Two totally unrelated events had happened.

  • I heard the exchange during Prime Minister’s Questions and Michael Fabricant was passionate about creating the rail service on the freight-only line to give passenger train access to the National Memorial Arboretum and Alrewas.
  • Burton were playing Manchester City in the League Cup, so the Police thought it would be a good idea to shut the M6. Nothing moved for hours and many Burton supporters missed the match.

Note.

  1. Quite frankly, it is a disgrace, that the National Memorial Arboretum, has been designed for most visitors to come by car.
  2. The M6 incident was caused by illegal immigrants stuffed into the back of a truck, but surely the Police reaction to shut the motorway for so long was over the top?
  3. I have been to Burton by train a couple of times and it is one of those places, you wouldn’t go to by train, unless it was absolutely essential.

It would appear that after a quick glance, Michael Fabricant’s proposal could be one of those ideas, that would benefit a lot of travellers.

These are a few thoughts on the new service.

Services To And From Burton-on-Trent Station

I said this about services to and from Burton-on-Trent in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

If you look at the train services from the town, you can go to faraway places like Glasgow and Plymouth, but services to practical local places like Lichfield, Stoke and Derby are rare. There used to be a service to London, but that was discontinued in 2008.

A regular service between Burton and Lichfield, running at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) could connect at Lichfield to the following services.

  • Hourly services on the West Coast Main Line
  • Half-hourly services across Birmingham on the Cross-City Line.

If a decent service via Lichfield had existed, how many fans on that League Cup night, would have used the trains to get to Manchester?

Not many probably, as there would not have been a late train home, as is particularly common in The Midlands. Try getting back to London from Derby, Nottingham or Sheffield, after 21:30 for example!

I am certain, that with a station at Alrewas and a well-designed train service between Burton-on-Trent and Birmingham stations via Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield would be a positive addition to the transport system of the area.

Electrification Between Litchfield Tent Valley And Burton-on-Trent Stations

This map from Open Railway Map shows the track between Litchfield Tent Valley and Burton-on-Trent stations.

Note.

  1. Burton-on-Trent station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Lichfield Trent Valley station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield Trent Valley stations are probably less than fifteen miles apart.
  4. The orange line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Tamworth.
  5. The yellow line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Lichfield.

The National Memorial Arboretum is just South of the junction between the orange and yellow lines.

This second map from Open Railway Map shows this junction to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The National Memorial Arboretum can be seen between the two tracks.
  2. The village of Alrewas and the site of the proposed Alrewas station are to the West of the arboretum.
  3. Central Rivers depot, where CrossCountry trains are serviced, is in the North-East corner of the map.
  4. I have found a twelve car formation of Class 220 trains running between Birmingham New Street station and Central Rivers depot.

There is electrification at Lichfield Trent Valley station as this picture shows.

This electrification could be extended as far as required.

I would extend the electrification all the way to Burton-on-Trent.

  • This would mean that the Class 730 trains used on the Cross-City Line could terminate at Burton-on-Trent station, rather than Lichfield Trent Valley station, after extra stops at Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and possibly another new station at Barton-under-Needwood.
  • Excursion trains for the National Memorial Arboretum could be electric-hauled.
  • It would also mean that electric trains could reach Central Rivers depot under their own power.
  • It would probably require less than fifteen miles of double-track electrification.
  • I suspect that the West Coast Main Line electrification could provide enough power for the branch electrification to Burton-upon-Trent.

I doubt that this would be considered a major electrification scheme.

Electric Services Between Birmingham New Street And Leicester Stations Via Burton-on-Trent

Consider.

  • Leicester and Burton-on-Trent stations are under thirty miles apart on the Ivanhoe Line.
  • The Ivanhoe Line is an existing freight line, that could be opened to passenger trains.
  • Leicester is to be electrified in the Midland Main Line electrification.

A battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations via Burton-on-Trent, Alrewas and Lichfield Trent Valley stations.

It should also be noted that East Midlands Railway run a service between Lincoln and Leicester.

  • Nottingham and Leicester will probably electrified with the rest of the Midland Main Line.
  • Only thirty-four miles of the route between Leicester and Lincoln is not electrified.

If it were felt to be needed, a battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Lincoln stations.

Heritage Rail Excursions To The National Memorial Arboretum

Type “Coach Trips To The National Memorial Arboretum” and you get a good selection of trips from all over the UK.

I believe that the National Memorial Arboretum, would make the ideal destination for steam- or diesel-hauled heritage rail excursions with all the trimmings.

  • They could even be hauled by a Class 90 electric locomotive, dating from the late 1980s, if the route between Alrewas and Lichfield were to be electrified.
  • Rakes of comfortable Mark III coaches could be used.
  • A long platform at Alrewas station would be needed, so that the maximum size of heritage train could be handled.
  • For steam locomotives, there may need to be a runround loop.

Track improvements at Lichfield Trent Valley station, may allow direct services from London.

This page on the West Midlands Rail Executive web site is entitled Steam Engine Rolls Into Moor Street Station To Launch New Vintage Trains Partnership.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Historic steam engines are set to play a greater role in the region’s rail network following the signing of a ground-breaking new partnership.

The West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) has teamed up with Tyseley-based Vintage Trains in a bid to establish the Shakespeare Line as Britain’s premier mainline heritage railway.

Perhaps, it would be possible to run a heritage train like a short-formation InterCity 125 between Stratford-om-Avon and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Conclusion

Opening up of the Lichfield Trent Valley and Burton route to passenger trains opens up a lot of possibilities.

 

 

 

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is A High Capacity Freight Route Being Created On The Midland Main Line?

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a section, which is entitled Mixed Fortunes For Freight In IRP, where IRP is short for Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands.

In the section, this is said about freight on the Midland Main Line.

Whilst HS2 does relieve the MML, electrification of the route north from Kettering via Derby to Sheffield is of relatively limited use to freight, which is generally routed via Corby and Toton to Chesterfield and Rotherham. That said, assuming electrification of the passenger route includes the slow lines from Leicester to Trent and through Chesterfield, it does provide a base on which freight electrification can be built.

This would involve wiring Corby to Syston Junction (north of Leicester), Trent Junction to Clay Cross (south of Chesterfield) and Tapton Junction (north of Chesterfield) to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster.

As with the ECML, this ‘freight’ electrification would provide a diversionary route and thus greater resilience for East Midlands Railway services.

In addition, gauge clearance throughout from Corby as part of this package would also be highly beneficial in creating a direct route from the ‘Golden Triangle of Logistics’ in the East Midlands to the North East and Scotland for consumer goods supply chains, boosting modal shift to rail and decarbonisation.

It does seem to be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick at his best.

So is it feasible?

Which Routes Do Freight Trains Use Now?

Christmas in a pandemic, is not a particularly good time to look at the routes freight trains take.

But by looking at Real Time Trains, I can say this.

  • Many trains take the route via Corby and Syston Junction, rather than the direct route via Market Harborough and Leicester.
  • Leicester is quite busy with freight as trains between Felixstowe and places on the West Coast Main Line, go through the station.
  • Very few freight trains seem to take the route via Derby and the Derwent Valley Mills.
  • Most freight trains between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield seem to take the Erewash Valley Line via Toton and Ilkeston.

I don’t think the pattern will change much, if I look at the trains around the end of January.

What Do I Mean By European-Size Freight Trains?

The Wikipedia entry for loading gauge says this about about the route through the Channel Tunnel and up the Midland Main Line.

UIC GC: Channel Tunnel and Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London; with proposals to enable GB+ northwards from London via an upgraded Midland Main Line.

Note.

  1. . GC is 3.15 metres wide by 4.65 metres high.
  2. GB+ is 3.15 metres wide by 4.32 metres high.
  3. GB+ is intended to be a pan-European standard, that allows piggy-back services.
  4. British gauging is so complicated, it isn’t specified in standard units. It must be a nightmare for rolling stock designers.

I’ll take an easy way out and assume that by European-Size Freight Trains, I mean that the route must be cleared for GB+ gauge.

Could Kettering and Syston Junction Via Corby Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the current clearance is as follows.

  • Kettering and Oakham – W7
  • Oakham and Syston Junction – W8

Note.

  1. Oakham and Peterborough is also W8
  2. The main problem seems to be that between Corby and Oakham, there are five tunnels; Corby, Glaston, Manton, Seaton and Wing.
  3. There are also a few overbridges and several level crossings, but they don’t look too challenging.
  4. Between Corby and Oakham, there is the magnificent Welland viaduct, which has eighty-two arches and is Grade II Listed.
  5. Ideally, freight operators would like to run European gauge piggy-back services, with road trailers travelling on flat wagons, as they do in CargoBeamer services.

It would be a tough call to satisfy my last point, but if it can be done it would allow all Midland Main Line freight trains to take the Corby diversion and this would remove the problems of running European gauge trains through Leicester station.

This Google Map shows a section of the Welland viaduct.

It could be key, as it is fully double-track.

But could it support two heavy freight trains at the same time?

But it would be some sight to see, long European-sized freight trains running over the viaduct.

Could The Midland Main Line Between Syston And Trent Junctions Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

The route is cleared to W7 or W8 between the two junctions and on inspection with my virtual helicopter, I suspect it wouldn’t be that challenging to upgrade.

It would also be sensible to clear the Castle Donnington Line for European-size freight trains, so that they could reach the East Midlands Gateway freight terminal.

This Google Map shows the location of the East Midlands Gateway.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Parkway station is marked by the red arrow in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Castle Donnington circuit is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. The long East-West runway of East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.
  4. East Midlands Gateway is to the North of the airport.

This second Google Map shows East Midlands Gateway in more detail.

Note.

  1. In the North-East corner is Maritime Transport’s rail freight terminal.
  2. The M1 runs North-South at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park with two Amazon sheds is in the middle.
  4. The runway at East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North And Midlands has already announced that High Speed Two will join the Midland Main Line to the South of East Midlands Parkway station to serve Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • This new line will have to go past the airport, either to the North of the Logistics Park or South of the Airport.
  • Could there be a station here, both for passengers and the workers at a very busy freight airport and Logistics Park?
  • Currently, trains between the rail terminal and London, London Gateway and the Port of Felixstowe have to reverse North of the rail terminal to access the terminal.
  • All the rail links between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway would need to be built to accept European-size freight trains, to ensure maximum flexibility.

It strikes me, that there are a lot of extra features that could be added to the rail network between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway.

Could The Erewash Valley Line Via Ilkeston Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

Consider.

  • According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the Erewash Valley Line is cleared to W8.
  • According to Wikipedia, it is the second busiest freight route in the East Midlands.
  • Network Rail have spent £250 million on the line in recent years to improve junctions and improve signalling.
  • The route doesn’t have a large number of passenger services.

These pictures show Ilkeston station on the Erewash Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The recently rebuilt bridge and the separate avoiding line.
  2. The Class 158 train under the bridge is 3.81 metres high.

As the European gauge; GB+ is 4.32 metres high, I would feel that Ilkeston station can handle European-size freight trains.

I have flown my virtual helicopter all the way over the Erewash Valley Line from Toton to Clay Cross North junction.

  • It looks as if most of the not many bridges are either recent or could be updated to handle the large European-sized freight trains.
  • It should also be noted that in many places there is a third track or space for them.
  • There are three stations and the Alfreton tunnel.

After this quick look, I feel that the Erewash Valley Line will be able to handle European-size freight trains.

Could Tapton Junction to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

This route has very few bridges and I doubt updating wouldn’t cause too many problems.

CargoBeamer

Would it be possible for one of CargoBeamer’s piggy-back trains carrying trailers to run between the Channel Tunnel and the rail terminal at East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park or perhaps another terminal further up the Midland Main Line?

If they could use the Gospel Oak and Barking Line to access the Midland Main Line, I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It appears that it should be possible to allow European-size freight trains to run between the North of England and the Channel Tunnel.

 

 

January 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leicester Station – 4th Jan 2022

Leicester station has a Grade II Listed frontage.

Note.

  1. It is an impressive Victorian station.
  2. The station building is on a bridge over the tracks.
  3. The station is also on one of the main roads through Leicester.
  4. The road layout is very complicated.

This 3D Google Map, shows an aerial view of the station.

Note.

  1. There four platforms, which are numbered 1-4 from the left.
  2. The expresses between London and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield use the two middle tracks.
  3. Other main line and East-West services  use the outside platforms.
  4. There is an avoiding line for freight services.

This second 3D Google Map, shows an enlargement of the frontage of the station.

There are plans to increase the capacity of the station.

A fifth platform will be added.

Three miles of quadruple track will be be built South of the station.

The Midland Main Line is also to be electrified.

This second set of pictures shows the platforms at Leicester station.

Note.

  1. The tunnels under the road and the station entrance.
  2. They are not very large.
  3. There are five tracks.

It is going to be a tight squeeze to electrify under the bridge.

January 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Midland Main Line Electrification – 4th Jan 2022

I took these pictures from the train today, as I went to Leicester.

Note.

  1. We overtook the Class 360 train to Corby, just before it left the main line at Kettering North junction.
  2. Once past Kettering North junction, the Midland Main Line is only two tracks as far as Leicester station.
  3. A lot of the gantries on the two slow lines seem tall.
  4. At least twenty gantries had been installed North of the junction.

Some of the new gantries looked to be lighter than those South of the junction, but then they are only supporting electrification for two tracks, rather than four.

This Google Map shows the junction.

In this section, my train overtook the train to Corby.

  • The track going North-West goes to Leicester.
  • The track going North-East goes to Corby.
  • The track going South goes to Kettering.
  • It looks like to the West of the Midland Main Line is a large electricity sub-station.

In the tenth of my pictures you can see the three vertical poles opposite the sub-station, which can be picked out in the map.

 

January 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 27 Comments

Hitachi Rail And Angel Trains To Create Intercity Battery Hybrid Train On TransPennine Express

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Hitachi Rail.

The press release starts with these three points.

  • Hitachi Rail, Angel Trains and TransPeninne Express (TPE) agree to trial retrofitting battery on intercity train
  • Trial, starting next year, can cut fuel usage by at least 20% and reduce emissions on Transpennine network from 2022 onwards
  • Tri-mode service can cut noise pollution in urban areas and improve air quality.

Hitachi also point to this infographic.

This very much looks to be a step forward from the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train that was announced in December 2020 in this press release from Hitachi which is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

The specifications are very similar, except for the following.

  • The battery range is given as five kilometres.
  • Fuel savings are up to 30% instead of at least 20%.
  • A performance increase of 30 % is claimed.
  • The upgrade appears to be able to be fitted to Hitachi intercity trains, as opposed to a straight replacement of one engine by batteries.

It looks to me, that Hitachi have been working hard to improve their design.

I think this paragraph of the press release is key.

The trial will see a diesel engine replaced by batteries to help power a five-carriage train, along with the two remaining engines. The power provided by the batteries will help to reduce the amount of fuel required to operate the train.

Hitachi don’t say, but I suspect the trains and their batteries have a lot of energy saving features.

  • Regenerative braking is already used to power some services like lighting and air-conditioning on the trains.
  • But I suspect regenerative braking will also be used to recharge the batteries.
  • A sophisticated computer system will drive the train in the most optimal manner.
  • Hopefully, diesel will only be used as a last resort.

Features like these and others will enable the trains to jump gaps in the electrification. As more and more tricks are added and batteries hold more charge, the gaps the trains will be able to cross will get larger.

Five kilometres might not sound much, but I think it could be surprisingly useful.

I will use an example from the Midland Main Line to illustrate how the trains and discontinuous electrification might work.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I described the problems at Leicester station and how discontinuous electrification could solve the problem.

The following is a modified extract from that post.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area. Leicester and all train passengers would love that!

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish at a convenient point in Leicester station or just to the North.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of up to five kilometres on battery power.

Note.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

Trains would probably use a stopping profile in Leicester station, that ensured they stopped with full batteries.

This would mean they had enough electricity to get back up to speed and reconnect to the electrification on the other side of the station.

To get an idea at how long five kilometres is in the Centre of Leicester, this Google Map shows the Leicester station.

Note that the platforms are around three hundred metres long.

In other words the electrification can be kept well away from the station and its troublesome bridge.

How much money would be saved and disruption avoided?

Application To The TransPennine Express Routes

These are the various routes, where Class 802 trains could be used.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh, Newcastle, Scarborough Or York

Sections are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 31.7 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified

Note.

  1. All services take a common route between Liverpool Lime Street and York.
  2. A surprising amount is electrified.
  3. A further 42 miles are being electrified.
  4. The 3 km Morley Tunnel between Dewsbury and Leeds might not be electrified.
  5. The 5 km  Standedge Tunnel between Huddersfield and Stalybridge might not be electrified.

It looks to me that the 5 km battery range will avoid electrification of two long Victorian tunnels.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle Or Redcar Central

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13.2 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • York and Newcastle – 80.2 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

Sections are as follows.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge – 7.5 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles – Diesel
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified probably by 2024
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.2 miles – Diesel
  • Leeds and Selby – 21 miles – Diesel
  • Selby and Hull – 31miles – Diesel

The route goes through the Morley and Standedge tunnels.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

The route goes through the Standedge tunnel.

Huddersfield And Leeds

The route goes through the Morley tunnel.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

The Hope Valley Line which is part of this route has three tunnels.

Perhaps they will use a bit of diesel to get through Totley.

The Future

This paragraph sums up what Hitachi and Angel Trains could see as a possible future direction.

Once complete, the trial provides a pathway for Hitachi Rail, the train builder and maintainer, and Angel Trains, the train’s owner to develop plans to retrofit batteries to the wider fleet.

These plans will probably go in the directions like decarbonisation, more efficient operation and better standards for passengers.

Conclusion

This looks like a solution that has been helped by real ale in an appropriate hostelry.

  • The battery range has been chosen so Network Rail don’t necessarily have to electrify the tunnels.
  • Full electrification can be used either side of the tunnels.
  • Will any stations not be electrified. After all if the trains are using battery power in stations do they need electrification?
  • It might be useful to have some more bi-mode freight locomotives, that could traverse the tunnels on diesel or batteries.

Hitachi and Network Rail certainly seem to be cooking up a solution.

 

 

 

November 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A 1500 Tonne Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Nuneaton

I am writing this post to show how I believe the new Class 93 locomotive would haul a freight train between the Port of Felixstowe and Nuneaton, where it would join the West Coast Main Line for Liverpool, Manchester mor Scotland.

Why 1500 Tonnes?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Re-Engineering Rail Freight, gives a few more details about the operation of the Class 93 locomotives.

This is said about performance.

As a result, the 86-tonne Class 93 is capable of hauling 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified routes and 2,500 tonnes on electrified routes. With a route availability (RA) of seven, it can be used on most of the rail network.

So as I’m talking about non-electrified routes, I’ll use 1500 tonnes.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction – 13.5 miles – 43 minutes -18.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction – 12.1 miles – 24 minutes -30.2 mph – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.3 miles – 77 minutes -29.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – 58 minutes -31.6 mph – Not Electrified
  • Peterborough and Werrington Junction – 3.1 miles – 5 minutes -37.2 mph – Electrified
  • Werrington Junction and Leicester – 49.1 miles – 97 minutes -30.4 mph – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 18.8 miles – 27 minutes -41.8 mph – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The train only averages around 40 mph on two sections.
  2. There is electrification at between Europa Junction and Haughley Junction, at Ely and Peterborough, that could be used to fully charge the batteries.
  3. In Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK), I calculated that the 80 kWh batteries in a Class 93 locomotive hauling a 1500 tonne load can accelerate the train to 40 mph.

I can see some innovative junctions being created, where electrification starts and finishes, so that batteries are fully charged as the trains pass through.

  • There must be tremendous possibilities at Ely, Haughley and Werrington to take trains smartly through the junctions and send, them on their way with full batteries.
  • All have modern electrification, hopefully with a strong power supply, so how far could the electrification be continued on the lines without electrification?
  • Given that the pantographs on the Class 93 locomotives, will have all the alacrity and speed to go up and down like a whore’s drawers, I’m sure there will be many places on the UK rail network to top up the batteries.

Consider going between Ely and Peterborough.

  • Leaving Ely, the train will have a battery containing enough energy to get them to forty mph.
  • Once rolling along at forty, the Cat would take them to the East Coast Main Line, where they would arrive with an almost flat battery.
  • It would then be a case of pan up and on to Peterborough.

These are my ideas for how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction

Consider.

  • This is a 100 mph line.
  • It is fully-electrified.
  • All the passenger trains will be running at this speed.

If the freight ran at that speed, up to 17 minutes could be saved.

Haughley Junction And Ely

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

There are also plans to improve Haughley Junction, which I wrote about in Haughley Junction Improvements.

One possibility would be to extend the electrification from Haughley Junction a few miles to the West, to cut down diesel use in both Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains and any freight trains hauled by Class 93 locomotives.

As there are plans for an A14 Parkway station at Chippenham Junction, which is 25 miles to the West of Haughley Junction, it might be sensible to electrify around Chippenham Junction.

Ely and Peterborough

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

It should also be noted that the tracks at Ely are to be remodelled.

  • Would it not be sensible to have sufficient electrification at the station, so that a Class 93 locomotive leaves the area with full batteries?
  • Acceleration to operating speed would be on battery power, thus further reducing diesel use.

It probably wouldn’t be the most difficult of projects at Peterborough to electrify between Peterborough East Junction and Werrington Junction on the Stamford Lines used by the freight trains.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that the route between Ely and Peterborough should be an early electrification project.

  • It would give a second electrified route between London and Peterborough, which could be a valuable diversion route.
  • It would allow bi-mode trains to work easier to and from Peterborough.
  • It would be a great help to Class 93 locomotives hauling freight out of Felixstowe.

As the Ely-Peterborough Line has a 75 mph operating speed, it would Class 73 locomotive-hauled freights would save around thirty ,inutes.

Peterborough and Werrington Junction

This section looks to be being electrified during the building of the Werrington Dive Under.

Werrington Junction and Leicester

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

Leicester and Nuneaton

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries,

As there is full electrification at Nuneaton, this electrification could be extended for a few miles towards Leicester.

Conclusion

This has only been a rough analysis, but it does show that Class 93 locomotives can offer advantages in running freight trains between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.

But selective lengths of electrification would bring time and diesel savings.

January 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification

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

This is the key section of the article.

During a House of Commons debate on transport on September 17, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said in response to a question from Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North): “We are currently delivering the Midland Main Line upgrade, which includes electrification from London to Kettering, with additional electrification to Market Harborough being developed.

“Further electrification of the MML is currently at an early stage, but it is being examined by Network Rail.”

Stephenson said the DfT will continue to work closely with NR on the development of a proposal that would include approaches to advancing the delivery of electrification across the route.

The title of the article, probably sums it up well.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Having read lots of stories about electrification of Midland Main Line, I think the following must be born in mind.

  • Electrification on the line will reach as far North as Market Harborough station.
  • The route between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction will be shared with High Speed Two. It will obviously need to be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • The section of the Midland Main Line between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Heritage Taliban will love the electrification, with a vengeance.
  • Electrification through Leicester station could be tricky, as the station building and the A6 road are over the tracks and there is limited clearance. Electrification could involve major disruption to the trains for some time.

These are some of the distances involved of sections of the route that are not electrified.

  • Market Harborough and Derby are 54 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction are 67 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Chesterfield are 70 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Nottingham are 44 miles apart
  • Market Harborough and Leicester are 16 miles apart.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction are 21 miles apart.

Since 2017, when electrification for the full route was originally abandoned, there have been big changes in rolling stock technology.

The biggest change has been the development of battery trains.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification for their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The trains have a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  2. The trains can cruise at 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Hitachi have said that all of their AT-300 trains can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.
  4. Trains are converted by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with battery packs.
  5. I suspect these battery packs look like a diesel engine in terms of control inputs and performance to the driver and the train’s computer.

It is extremely likely, that the bi-mode Class 810 trains, which are a version of the AT-300 train, that have been ordered for the Midland Main Line can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

These trains have four diesel engines, as opposed to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, which only have three.

These are reasons, why the trains could need four engines.

  • The trains need more power to work the Midland Main Line. I think this is unlikely.
  • Four engine positions gives ,more flexibility when converting to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Four battery packs could give a longer range of up to 120 kilometres or 75 miles.

It could just be, that Hitachi are just being conservative, as engines can easily be removed or replaced. The fifth-car might even be fitted with all the wiring and other gubbins, so that a fifth-engine or battery pack can be added.

I suspect the train’s computer works on a Plug-And-Play principle, so when the train is started, it looks round each car to see how many diesel engines and battery packs are available and it then controls the train according to what power is available.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield By Battery Electric Train

Any battery electric train going between London St. Pancras and Sheffield will need to be charged, at both ends of the route.

  • At the London end, it will use the electrification currently being erected as far as Market Harborough station.
  • At the Sheffield end, the easiest way to charge the trains, would be to bring forward the electrification and updating between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction, that is needed for High Speed Two.

This will leave a 67 mile gap in the electrification between Market Harborough station and Clay Cross North junction.

It looks to me, the Class 810 trains should be able to run between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, after the following projects are undertaken.

  • Class 810 trains are given four battery packs and a battery range of 75 miles.
  • Electrification is installed between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction.

Trains would need to leave Market Harborough station going North and Clay Cross Junction going South with full batteries.

Note.

  1. Trains currently take over an hour to go between Chesterfield to Sheffield and then back to Chesterfield, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  2. Trains currently take around an hour to go between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. Chesterfield station is only three miles further, so if power changeover, needed to be in a station, it could be performed there.
  4. Leeds and Sheffield are under fifty miles apart and as both stations would be electrified, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services could be extended to start and finish at Leeds.

London St. Pancras and Sheffield can be run by battery electric trains.

London St. Pancras And Nottingham By Battery Electric Train

Could a battery electric train go from Market Harborough to Nottingham and back, after being fully-charged on the hour-long trip from London?

  • The trip is 44 miles each way or 88 miles for a round trip.
  • Services have either three or eight stops, of which two or three respectively are at stations without electrification.
  • Trains seem to take over thirty minutes to turnback at Nottingham station.

Extra power North of Market Harborough will also be needed.

  • To provide hotel power for the train, during turnback at Nottingham station.
  • To compensate for power losses at station stops.

If 75 miles is the maximum battery range, I doubt that a round trip is possible.

I also believe, that Hitachi must be developing a practical solution to charging a train during turnback, at a station like Nottingham, where trains take nearly thirty minutes to turnback.

If the Class 810 trains have a battery range of 75 miles, they would be able to handle the London St. Pancras and Nottingham service, with charging at Nottingham.

Conclusion

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Increased Services To Nottingham And Leicester, via Syston And Loughborough From Melton Mowbray

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It is one of a pair of submissions from the local MP; Alicia Kearns. The other is More Stopping Services At Radcliffe-on-Trent And Bottesford Stations On The Poacher Line Between Grantham And Nottingham.

When I heard of the MP’s submissions, I wrote MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough and the following uses that post as a starting point.

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton Mowbray 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 Mowbray 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 frequency 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 North 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 these 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 installed, 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

I think the ideal way to achieve the MP’s objective would be to extend a proportion of London St. Pancras and Corby services to  the Midland Main Line.

But the problem with this, is that the Corby trains will be Class 360 trains, which are electric, so the thirty-six mile route between Corby and the Midland Main Line would need to be electrified.

On the other hand, a shuttle train could be used between Corby and Leicester.

They would call at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Syston stations.

If the Midland Main Line to the North of Leicester were to be electrified, Battery electric trains could be used on the route, with charging at Leicester and Corby.

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Midlands Rail Hub

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Midlands Rail Hub.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Midlands Rail Hub – our flagship project – is the biggest upgrade of our rail network for a generation.

The page contains this helpful map.

There is also a table of journeys and the improvements to be made.

  • Birmingham – Nottingham – +1 tph – 72 minutes – 59 minutes
  • Birmingham – Leicester – +2 tph – 66 minutes – 42 minutes
  • Birmingham – Hereford – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 65 minutes
  • Bitmingham – Worcester – +1 tph – 40 minutes – 35 minutes
  • Birmingham – Derby – +2 tph – 38 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Leicester – +2 tph – 57 minutes – 38 minutes
  • Coventry – Nottingham -+2 tph – 99 minutes – 63 minutes
  • Birmingham – Bristol – +1 tph – 85 minutes – 80 minutes
  • Birmingham – Cardiff – +1 tph – 117 minutes – 112 minutes
  • Birmingham – Kings Norton – +2 tph – 18 minutes – 14 minutes

Note that the data by each route is the increase in frequency in trains per hour (tph), the current journey time and the future journey time.

I’ll now look at each route in more detail.

Birmingham And Bristol

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Bristol Temple Meads stations are 90 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Bristol service goes through to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester Piccadilly, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two to the North of Birmingham?

Birmingham And Cardiff

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central stations are 108 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Worcestershire Parkway, Cheltenham Spa. Gloucester and Newport.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 80 minutes

As CrossCrountry’s Birmingham and Cardiff service goes through to Nottingham, would it not be convenient, if the service could use High Speed Two between Birmingham and Nottingham?

It would appear that both Bristol and Cardiff services could benefit from a High Speed Two connection.

This map from High Speed Two shows the line’s route through the Water Orton area.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in various colours.
  2. High Speed Two splits at the Eastern edge of the map, with the Northern link going to Northern destinations and the Southern link going to Birmingham Interchange and London.
  3. Curving across the map beneath it, is the M6 motorway, with Spaghetti Junction off the map to the West.
  4. Water Orton station is in the North East corner of the map.
  5. The Birmingham and Peterborough Line, which connects Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations via Water Orton runs just tom the North of the route of High Speed Two shown on the map.

This Google Map shows the area.

I wonder if it would be possible to provide links so that the following would be possible.

  • Trains running East from New Street station could join High Speed Two to run to East Midlands Hub, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  • Trains from the North could run into New Street station and then continue to Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham.

The trains would have to be classic-compatible High Speed Two trains. These would fit into New Street station, as they are shorter than Class 390 trains and will have a aimilar height and width.

Time savings could be as follows.

  • Bristol/Cardiff and Edinburgh – 110 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Manchester Piccadilly- 50 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Newcastle – 80 minutes
  • Bristol/Cardiff and Nottingham – 45 minutes

All trains would be direct.

Birmingham And Derby

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Derby stations are 41 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Wilnecote, Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 38 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Derby use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Birmingham And Hereford Via Worcester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Hereford stations are 55 miles apart.
  • Current service is one tph, which is provided by West Midlands Trains, and goes via Bromsgrove, Malvern Link and Great Malvern.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 85 minutes
  • Future journey time is 65 minutes
  • The track between Bromsgrove and Birmingham is electrified.
  • Hereford and Bromsgrove are 41 miles apart.
  • Worcester and Bromsgrove are 13 miles apart.

With charging facilities at Worcester, this route would be an ideal one for battery electric trains.

Birmingham And Leicester

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations are 40 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Water Orton, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Narborough.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 66 minutes
  • Future journey time is 42 minutes

Birmingham – Nottingham

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham stations are 57 miles apart.
  • Current service is two tph, which is provided by CrossCountry and goes via Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent and Derby.
  • There is to be an increase of one tph.
  • Current journey time is 72 minutes
  • Future journey time is 59 minutes
  • High Speed Two will run three tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and East Midlands Hub station in 20 minutes.
  • Midlands Connect will run one tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Nottingham Station in 30 minutes. See Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station

Will passengers between Birmingham and Nottingham use High Speed Two services, which will be four tph or the current ones?

Coventry And Leicester

Consider.

  • Coventry and Leicester are 28 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Nuneaton
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 57 minutes
  • Future journey time is 38 minutes

I suspect that a direct Coventry and Leicester service is being provided that does one of the following.

  • Reverses in Nuneaton station.
  • Takes a new flyover to cross the West Coast Main Line.

Would the Southern terminus of the route be Coventry, Leamington Spa or Stratford-on-Avon?

Coventry And Nottingham

Consider.

  • Coventry and Nottingham are 55 miles apart.
  • There is currently no direct train and a change is needed at Birmingham New Street or at both Nuneaton and Leicester.
  • There is to be an increase of two tph.
  • Current journey time is 99 minutes
  • Future journey time is 63 minutes

Would this service be an extension of the Coventry and Leicester service?

As Leicester and Nottingham takes around thirty minutes, this could be the case.

Birmingham And Kings Norton Via The Camp Hill Line

The Midlands Rail Hub page, says this about the Bordesley Chords, which will connect Birmingham Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line.

Construction of the Bordesley Chords, two viaducts creating new paths to the East Midlands and South West from Birmingham Moor Street Station.

This Google Map shows where they will be built.

Note.

  1. The Football ground in the North-East corner of the map is St. Andrew’s, which is Birmingham City’s home ground.
  2. The rail line going North South across the map and passing to the West side of the ground is the Camp Hill Line, which leads to Water Orton station in the North and Kings Norton station in the South.
  3. The station in the middle of the map is Bordesley station.
  4. The rail line going NW-SE across the map through the station is the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, which is a couple of miles to the North-West.

The two Bordesley chords will be double-track chords linking the following routes.

  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going South to Kings Norton via new stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • Moor Street station to the Camp Hill Line going North to Water Orton station.

The initial service would appear to be two tph between Moor Street and Kings Norton stations.

CrossCountry Trains and Moor Street Station

Consider.

  • Birmingham New Street station is very busy.
  • Some CrossCountry trains take a Water Orton-Birmingham New Street-Kings Norton route across the city.

Could these trains go between Water Orton and Kings Norton, with a reverse in Moor Street station?

  • Plymouth and Edinburgh Waverley
  • Cardiff Central and Nottingham

And could these services terminate at Moor Street station?

  • Birmingham New Street and Nottingham
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport via Leicester
  • Birmingham New Street and Leicester

It would seem there must be scope improve the operation of New Street station, by using Moor Street station and the Bordesley chords.

If all these trains used Moor Street station it would be a very busy station.

In an hour it would handle these trains via the Bordesley chords.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cardiff Central
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • West Midlands Railway – 2 tph – Kings Norton
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Leicester
  • CrossCountry – 2 tph – Nottingham
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Stansted Airport

That is a balanced five tph to the North and five tph to the South.

There would also be the existing services.

  • Chiltern Trains – 2 tph – London Marylebone and Birmingham
  • West Midlands Railway – 6 tph – Dorridge/Stratford-upon-Avon/Whittocks End and Stourbridge Junction

There would also be the proposed Moor Street and Oxford service.

Battery Electric Trains

If we assume that a battery electric train has a battery range equal to or longer than Hitachi’s quoted figure of 56 miles, these routes are possibilities for battery electric trains.

  • Birmingham and Leicester with either electrification or charging at Leicester.
  • Birmingham and Hereford with charging at Hereford
  • Birmingham and Kings Norton
  • Birmingham and Oxford with charging at Oxford and Banbury
  • Coventry and Leicester

If the Midland Main Line is electrified in the Nottingham Area, then all services to Nottingham could be added.

CrossCountry And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • There are up to half-a-dozen spare hourly paths on both the Northern legs of High Speed Two.
  • Using High Speed Two tracks to the North of Birmingham can speed up services considerably.
  • CrossCountry needs a new fleet of trains.
  • Services could be run using classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The trains might be shorter and would certainly have independent power sources.

It could be a large improvement in quality and journey times, with all current destinations served.

The only extra infrastructure needed would be a connecting junction near Water Orton station. A junction there would work, whether services used Moor Street or New Street station in Birmingham.

Cnnclusion

The concept of a Midlands Rail Hub is very sound.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments