The Anonymous Widower

Level Crossing Trouble On The Northumberland Line

There is an article on Chronicle Live, which is entitled Exodus Fears Over Northumberland Line Underpass Plans For Ashington.

There is also this sub-heading.

Opponents of a planned underpass in Ashington as part of work on the Northumberland Line rail project are being urged to have their say.

So what are some people protesting about?

This page on the ABC Railway Guide is entitled Hospital Crossing Level Crossing and gives details of the level crossing, that Network Rail want to replace with an underpass.

  • The crossing is a public footpath crossing with whistleboards.
  • Individual and collective risk rating is high.
  • It is used by 110 pedestrians and cyclists per day.
  • There don’t seem to have been many recent incidents.

I know of a similar crossing in a similar town to Ashington, where there have been several deaths and suicides.

As the Northumberland Line is likely to have a half-hourly service, which will mean four trains per hour (tph) over the crossing, I doubt any Health and Safety professional would sign off the Northumberland Line without separation of the trains from pedestrians and cyclists.

Admittedly, the main complaint of the residents is noise and drunken pedestrians, but aren’t the latter most likely to be run over by a train.

There is also suggestions that the crossing be moved further to the North.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note how the crossing zig-zags across the railway.

This second Google Map shows a 3D visualisation from the East.

The proposed underpass would appear to connect Roseneath Court in the bottom-left and Darnley Road in the top-right.

  • It does appear that the current route goes behind houses on both sides of the railway.
  • I would suspect that underpasses could be built in line with both Roseneath Court and Darnley Road.
  • But either route would mean that the noisy and the drunks would walk further in a parallel direction to the railway and would create more disturbance.

This level crossing argument will run and run, as many do.

The Effect Of Battery-Electric Trains

I think it is likely that services on this line could be run by battery-electric trains.

These trains could be new trains from CAF, Hitachi or Vivarail or modern electrical multiple units, that have been upgraded with batteries.

  • They would be capable of 100 mph or more on the East Coast Main Line.
  • They would run on battery power at an appropriate speed of perhaps 80 mph  on the Northumberland Line, which is not planned to be electrified.
  • I suspect the passenger trains will cruise up and down the Northumberland Line faster than the current freigtht trains.
  • On battery power with no overhead wires, they will be very quiet trains.

Paradoxically, these new trains, although much better for passengers, could be more dangerous for the users of level crossings because of their faster speed and lower noise.

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Russian Convoys

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Five-Train Platoons To Operate With Virtual Coupling.

This is the first paragraph.

Russian Railways is planning to use platooning technology to operate flights of up to five freight trains next year using radio data exchange between locomotives to create a virtual coupling. The aims to reduce headways from 12 to 6 to 8 min, increasing capacity on congested sections of the Trans-Siberian main line.

As a Control Engineer, I must believe that if the Russians get the programming right, then it should work.

Similar techniques will probably be used with digital signalling in the UK and Europe, where each train is controlled by the signalling. But each train will probably have a driver.

The problem in Russia could also be the large number of ungated level crossings, which according to some I’ve met  are prone to a lot of accidents, as drivers regularly chance it after too much vodka.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Purfleet Station – 19th August 2021

According to this article on Ian Visits, Purfleet station is going to be transformed and renamed Purfleet-on-Thames station.

  • The station will be moved Northwards
  • 2850 homes will be built in the local area.
  • The current level crossing will be replaced by a bridge.

So I went to the station, took a look and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The level crossing is at the Southern end of the station.
  2. Whilst I was there, I didn’t see anybody use the footbridge.
  3. Everybody used the level crossing.
  4. The bus stops could be better placed.

But the station building and the platforms weren’t in the worst of conditions.

This Google Map shows Purfleet station.

Note.

  1. It would appear that the only building in the way of moving the road to the North would be the station ticket office.
  2. As my pictures show the platforms are long and could probably be extended at the Northern end.

The article on Ian Visits has a good map of the area, showing the development and the new road layout.

It would be good if building bridges to replace level crossings was always as easy as this.

 

August 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Cambridge Re-signalling, Relock and Recontrol Project

This project is Network Rail’s big signalling project in the Cambridge area and it is fully described in this document on the Network Rail web site.

The project is called the C3R Project for short and its scope is described in this Network Rail infographic.

Note.

  1. 125 miles of track are to be resignalled.
  2. Seventeen stations are likely to be resignalled.
  3. Eight level-crossings are to be upgraded.

Network Rail’s document splits the project into five sections.

  • Cambridge Power Signal Box – This will be upgraded.
  • Safety Interlocking Equipment – This will be upgraded with a computer-based system.
  • Closure Of Three Signal Boxes – Control will be relocated to Cambridge Power Signal Box.
  • Seven Level Crossing Upgrades – These will be upgraded to full barrier crossings.
  • Land Acquisition – As necessary to complete the works.

Upon completion the project will have replaced around 690 signalling assets.

Network Rail also say that the outline design contract to Alstom and it is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2021.

Network Rail also says this about completion.

Subject to obtaining the necessary consents and design approvals, the detailed design and delivery of the signalling upgrade could begin by end of 2021 and be complete around the end of 2024.

My experience of project management and the railways of East Anglia, says that subject to one caveat, that this is a reasonable timescale.

The Level Crossing Problem

The problem could be the level crossings, as local interests are very protective of their supposed right to cross unhindered.

I particularly remember the Little Cornard Derailment, because a solicitor, who regularly instructed my late wife, was seriously injured in the derailment.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

The Little Cornard derailment occurred on 17 August 2010 when a passenger train collided with a road vehicle on a level crossing on the Gainsborough Line near Little Cornard, Suffolk, and partly derailed. The vehicle, a tanker lorry, had begun crossing over the track when the Class 156 train from Sudbury destined for Marks Tey struck it whilst travelling at a speed of approximately 40 miles per hour (64 km/h)

Note.

Although, my late wife had died in 2007, one of her barrister colleagues told me of the link.

East Anglia and other rural parts of the UK suffer regularly from this type of accident.

This Google Map shows a 3D visualization of the site of the derailment.

It appears to be rather remote.

I am totally appalled that there was such primitive safety equipment on this crossing.

  • I have worked in seriously dangerous chemical plants, where Health and Safety rules forbade anyone entering the plant without full training.
  • As a sixteen-year-old in 1963, I was designing and installing systems on industrial guillotines, so that workers didn’t lose their hands.
  • A proportion of work, I did whilst working for ICI was about Health and Safety.
  • I have travelled extensively in tour buses in Eastern Europe and seen some appealing driving at level crossings.
  • According to a Hungarian friend, if you want to see bad driving at level crossings try Russia. He put it down to the local firewater.

This experience leeds me to believe that one of two things should be done with all level crossings on the railway.

  1. There should be a strong safety system on the crossing.
  2. The level crossing should be closed.

Will Network Rail be allowed by local interests to upgrade all the crossings they need?

The Level Crossings Network Rail Propose To Upgrade

These are the crossings Network Rail propose to upgrade.

Meldreth Road Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Meldreth Road level crossing.

Note.

  1. Meldreth Road is the A10 between Cambridge and Royston.
  2. The double-track rail is the Cambridge Line between Cambridge and the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The line has a maximum speed of 90 mph.
  4. In every hour there are up to 10-12 passenger trains per hour (tph) through the level crossing.
  5. There are perhaps ten other trains per day, or less than one tph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 90 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Sun Glare
  • Frequent Trains

It is very much a classic case of a busy railway crossing a busy road.

I also think that Network Rail has another problem here.

Pressure from train operators and passengers, could lead to more and faster trains through this level crossing.

In my view, the best solution to that problem would be to drop the railway into a cutting and put the road on a bridge over the top.

But this would be a very expensive and disruptive solution, which might mean that the road and/or railway were to be closed for several months.

The only other solution would be to run all trains between Royston and Cambridge under the control of digital signalling and Automatic Train Operation.

Trains would be timed so, that trains in opposite directions crossed on the level crossing, when the full barriers were down to stop traffic.

If this could be done, it could have various effects.

  • This would halve the number of level crossing closures in every hour.
  • The timekeeping might even impress drivers.
  • It might even train drivers to expect two trains, so if one was a minute or so late, they might be more prepared to wait.

This technique would give whole new meaning to a double cross.

This page on the My Councillor web site, gives details of opposition to the project by Councillor Susan van der Ven.

Six Mile Bottom Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Six Mile Bottom level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1304 which is the main link between Newmarket and the South.
  2. The road can get very busy, when there is a big race meeting.
  3. The rail track is only single track.
  4. The line has a maximum speed of up to 75 mph.
  5. In every hour there are no more than one passenger tph in both directions.
  6. There are some occasional freight trains over the crossing.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 60 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Large Numbers Of Users
  • Sun Glare

I used to drive across this level crossing regularly, when I lived in the area and the trouble is that it is on a straight road, that encourages high speed.

Legend has it, that this was one of public roads used by Vincent to test their high performance motorcycles.

In the time I lived near the crossing, I can remember a serious accident between a car and a train, at the crossing.

It would appear that a partial solution has been applied.

This video shows how much brighter LED lights have been fitted to the crossing.

 

Let’s hope this encourages drivers to slow down, when the crossing is closed.

How many other level crossings would be improved with bright LED lights like these?

Dullingham Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Dullingham level crossing.

Note.

  1. The current barriers are operated manually by the signalman in Dullingham signal box.
  2. The road is a local road and the small amount of traffic could probably be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers.
  3. The rail line is the same at that at Six Mile Bottom, but is double-track.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 60 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing is Near a Station
  • Crossing Approach
  • Sun Glare

From my local experience, I suspect that an automatic crossing with full barriers might even cause less delay to road traffic.

Milton Fen Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Milton Fen level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is a local road and the small amount of traffic could probably be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers.
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Sun Glare
  • Frequent Trains

It should also be noted that I can find reports of serious accidents and deaths on this crossing.

It looks to me, that an automatic crossing with full barriers could work well on this level crossing.

Waterbeach Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Waterbeach level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is a local road, but could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.
  5. Waterbeach station is split with one platform either side of the level crossing, which is used by passengers to cross the line.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing is Near a Station
  • Crossing Approach
  • Large Numbers of Users
  • Blocking Back
  • Frequent Trains

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

There is probably a long-term solution for this level crossing

Under Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, this is said.

Plans to develop a New Town of 8,000 to 9,000 homes on the former Waterbeach Barracks site have been outlined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. As part of the proposal, there are plans to relocate the station to a new site and extend the platforms to accommodate 12 car trains.

Surely, a well-designed transport network to serve all these houses would see the level crossing closed and a new station built at a convenient location.

Dimmocks Cote Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Dimmocks Cote level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1123, so could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are three passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75 mph.

The ABC Railway Guide gives a line speed of 75 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Infrequent Trains
  • Deliberate Misuse or User Error

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

Croxton Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Croxton level crossing.

Note.

  1. The road is the A1075, so could the traffic be easily handled by an automatic crossing with full barriers?
  2. The railway is the Breckland Line between Norwich and Ely.
  3. It looks like there are two passenger tph and the occasional freight trains through this crossing.
  4. The line speed of the rail line is 75-90 mph.

It should also be noted that Network Rail rate this crossing as high risk.

The ABC Railway Guide gives the line speed as 40 mph and adds these risk factors.

  • Poor Visibility for Approaching Road Vehicles
  • Crossing Approach
  • Large Numbers of Users
  • Sun Glare
  • Deliberate Misuse or User Error

This crossing sounds like it could be an accident waiting to happen.

Although, I would feel that installing similar lights to those at Six Mile Bottom could be a big help!

Summarising The Proposed Level Crossing Upgrades

I can split these by topic.

Full Barrier installation

It would appear that all barriers can probably be replaced with the latest full barrier technology.

Improved Lighting

The video from Six Mile Bottom was impressive and probably shows how fairly simple improvements can increase safety.

Local Opposition

On this brief summary of all the level crossings, that Network Rail propose to upgrade to automatic crossing with full barriers, it would appear that only the Meldreth Road crossing is seeing opposition from local interests. Although, I do have doubts, that the development of all those houses at Waterbeach will ever happen because of local opposition.

Major Construction Works

It would appear that only two upgrades could require major works.

Meldreth Road – But only if it was felt that a substantial solution was needed.

Waterbeach – If a new station were to be built to cater for future housing development.

The others would only need barrier replacement and other appropriate improvements.

I would also feel that most of the work could be carried out without major disruption to train services or road traffic.

Modern Digital Signalling With Automatic Train Operation

Modern digital signalling with in-cab displays and a measure of automatic train operation offers three main gains to train operators and passengers.

  • More services can be squeezed safely into the existing network, without building controversial and expensive new lines.
  • Trains can run at higher average speeds.
  • Trains can run to timetable easier.

It should be noted that South of Doncaster the East Coast Main Line is being converted to this type of signalling and this will allow the Azumas and other trains to run at 140 mph, where the track allows, to speed up services between King’s Cross and the North.

Services Between King’s Cross and Cambridge

South of Hitchin, some services between King’s Cross and Cambridge share the lines with the expresses to and from the North.

For that reason the 100 mph Class 700 trains and the 110 mph Class 387 trains, would be out of their speed range like Morris Minors on the M1.

In 2018, I wrote Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, based on an article in Rail Magazine, which called for 125 mph trains to Cambridge and King’s Lynn, so they wouldn’t slow the expresses.

It does appear to me that the digital signalling part of the C3R Project will enable 125 mph trains to run between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge.

  • Oxford has 125 mph non-stop local trains to London, so why not Cambridge?
  • A nine-car Class 800 train has a similar seating capacity to a twelve-car Class 700 train, but the seats are better and the train can travel at 125 mph.
  • These trains would significantly reduce the fifty minute journey time between King’s Cross and Cambridge.

This would be a real Cambridge Express.

Developing Services Around Cambridge

Just as full digital signalling is helping London to expand its railways with Crossrail and Thameslink. I believe that the C3R Project will help to squeeze more trains through Cambridge.

In a few years time, I believe Cambridge will have a core route consisting of Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations with much expanded services to Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Ipswich, Kings Lynn, London, Norwich, Peterborough, Stansted Airport, Stevenage and Wisbech.

Ten years ago, I was told by one of Cambridge’s eminent thinkers, that Cambridge needed the connectivity to bring in the people that the economy needs.

The pandemic has changed things, but not Cambridge’s desire to create more businesses expand.

A Connection To Peterborough

Peterborough is the other half of Cambridgeshire’s area and shares the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority with Cambridge.

Peterborough station is well connected to the North and Midlands.

  • LNER’s connect the station to most stations  on the East Coast Main Line.
  • It has hourly services to Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

But the connection between Cambridge and Peterborough is not of the quality and frequency that the two cities need.

A Connection To Stevenage

Stevenage is an important manufacturing and technology centre, with a strong presence in aerospace.

Stevenage station is well connected to the North and South.

  • LNER and other services connect the station to most stations South of Leeds and York on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The new service from East Coast Trains will provide a direct service to Newcastle and Edinburgh with a frequency of seven trains per day (tpd).
  • It has a direct suburban line to King’s Cross.
  • It has a direct suburban line to Moorgate.

Stevenage seems to be acquiring more long distance services as time progresses.

But the connection between Cambridge and Stevenage is currently poor, at just two tph, which stop everywhere.

Improve the connection between Cambridge and Stevenage and have more calls of services to and from the North at Stevenage and Cambridge and \stevenage would benefit.

Currently, the fast Cambridge services take 27 minutes to do the 30.3 miles between Cambridge and Stevenage, which is an average speed of 67.3 mph.

A Connection To Wisbech

Progress seems to be being made on a service between Cambridge and Wisbech, which I wrote about in Hope For Wisbech Line Revival.

This was the conclusion of that post.

I very much feel that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail can create a very useful branch line to Wisbech.

There is not much infrastructure to be built and upgraded.

    • A new station will be built at Wisbech, which I feel is likely to be a Park-and-Ride on the A47.
    • A bay platform will probably need to be reopened at March station.
    • March station will need to be step-free.
    • There may be a station and a passing loop at Coldham.
    • Track and signalling will need to be replaced.

But the big project needed is the remodelling at Ely, which will have to be done to increase capacity, through the bottleneck.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains would appear to be ideal for the branch and could operate on battery power.

This connection could be a very valuable connection.

It certainly looks like there are better plans to connect Wisbech to Cambridge, than there are to improve the connections between Cambridge and Peterborough and Stevenage.

Conclusion

The C3R Project will give the Cambridge compatible signalling with the East Coast Main Line and I feel increasingly Cambridge could be treated as a series of stations just off the East Coast Main Line and we might see some services develop, that seem strange to today’s travellers.

A simple example could be a Regional Metro running between Peterborough and Stevenage.

  • It would call at March, Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge South, Royston and Hitchin.
  • It would run at a frequency upwards of two tph.
  • It could even connect to Lincoln.

Other North-South services through Cambridge like Thameslink and Norwich and Stansted would combine to give perhaps six tph through the three main Cambridge stations.

The C3R Project will open up lots of possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Does Harlow Need An Improved Train Service?

I ask this question, because I am increasingly seeing articles like this one on My London, which is entitled The Large Town Just Outside London Desperate For A London Underground Station.

The town is Harlow.

This Google Map shows the West Anglia Main Line, as it runs through the North of the town.

Note.

On the face of it the town seems well-served by the trains.

Harlow Town Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Town station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has four platforms.
  2. The station has full step-free access.
  3. The station has 697 parking spaces with 18 fully accessible spaces.

The station was built in the 1950s and is a Grade II Listed building.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 2 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale and Stansted Mountfitchet

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. The Stansted services are fast services and take 29 minutes between London Liverpool Street and Harlow Town.
  3. The other services seem to take a few minutes longer.
  4. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get six tph.
  5. Bishop’s Stortford gets a four tph service from Harlow Town.
  6. The two Cambridge stations only get two tph.

Harlow Town station has a fairly good service, but it could probably be improved.

Harlow Mill Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Mill station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station has step-free access to the London-bound platform only.
  3. The station has 29 parking spaces with 1 fully accessible space.

The station was built in the 1840s and gets about 13 % of the passengers compared to Harlow Town station.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 1 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get only two tph.
  3. Bishop’s Stortford gets two tph service from Harlow Mill.
  4. The two Cambridge stations only get one tph.

Unless you lived or worked nearby, I doubt you would be likely to use Harlow Mill station.

Recent And Planned Improvements

These improvements are planned and it is very unlikely they won’t happen.

Class 710 Trains

London Overground now runs new four-car Class 710 trains between London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt.

  • Each has 189 seats and can accept 489 standing passengers.
  • Busy services to Cheshunt will probably are pair of trains.
  • There are four tph between Cheshunt and London.
  • Will the trains shave a few minutes from journey times?

This massive increase in capacity and train quality must attract some passengers to change to and from the London Overground at Cheshunt.

Class 720 Trains

Greater Anglia has 133 new five-car Class 720 trains on order.

  • Each has 540 seats and can accept 145 standing passengers.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Busy services through Harlow will probably be a pair of these trains.

These new trains will be a massive increase in capacity and should attract more passengers to the route.

Class 745 Trains

Greater Anglia has recently introduced ten new twelve-car Class 745 trains on Stansted Express services.

  • Each has 767 seats.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They run a two tph service between Harlow Town and London Liverpool Street station and Stansted Airport.

These new trains should attract more passengers to the route.

Crossrail

Services through Harlow will connect to Crossrail at both London Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Will this mean that some passengers will switch from the Victoria Line to Crossrail for their onward journeys?

  • Crossrail will have more capacity than the Victoria Line.
  • Bond Street, Canary Wharf, Heathrow, Paddington and West London will be easier by Crossrail.
  • Victoria and Waterloo will probably be easier by the Victoria Line.
  • London Liverpool Street station’s new connection to the Northern Line will give easier access to parts of South London.
  • London Liverpool Street station will have much improved step-free connections to all London Underground lines.

Crossrail will certainly change the way many people travel between Harlow and London.

Four Lines Modernisation

This page on the Transport for London web site explains the Four Lines Modernisation. This is the first paragraph.

We’re transforming the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. When the work is done we’ll be able to run trains more frequently and reliably to make journeys faster and more comfortable.

The project should increase Peak Hour capacity by 33 %.

This will benefit those who change trains at London Liverpool Street between the West Anglia Main Line and the Circle and Metropolitan Lines.

Possible Improvements

These are possible improvements that may happen.

Crossrail 2

It is unlikely, that a start will be made on Crossrail 2 in the near future.

Victoria Line Improvements

The Victoria Line will continue to do, what it has done reliability for over fifty years.

But there could be improvements.

I also suspect that engineers will find a way to increase the frequency to forty tph.

Four Tracks On The West Anglia Main Line

There are two reasons for four-tracking sections of the West Anglia Main Line.

  • To separate Crossrail 2 trains from fast expresses to Stansted and Cambridge.
  • To speed up services to and from Stansted Airport.

However four-tracking the route between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations would probably be very beneficial.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge services could be speeded up.
  • Extra services could be run on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • It could make it easier to extend the Overground from Cheshunt.

Four-tracking will be needed for Crossrail 2, so there is surely the possibility, that it could be done earlier to bring benefits to those living along the Lea Valley.

ERTMS Signalling On The West Anglia Main Line

ERTMS Signalling could speed up services and increase their number on the West Anglia Main Line.

It might also enable four-tracking, which would be very disruptive to both train services and road traffic to be delayed.

Station Improvements On The West Anglia Main Line

The stations between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge are a poor bunch with only Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park, Meridian Water, Waltham Cross, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishop’s Stortford and Audley End having full step-free access.

Some of the other stations need refurbishment and step-free access.

As step-free access will be needed for Crossrail 2, why not setup a rolling program of station improvements.

Level Crossings On The West Anglia Main Line

There are four level crossings on the route to the South of Broxbourne, including three at Cheshunt, Enfield Lock and Brimsdown stations.

They all need to be removed for safety reasons.

New Trains And Capacity

The new trains being rolled out by Greater Anglia and the London Overground will certainly have effects on the services on the West Anglia Main Line.

  • The better performance could speed up services by a few minutes.
  • The capacity increase on the new trains should be welcome.
  • The trains will be of better quality than those they replace.

I also wonder, if the better quality of the trains and their facilities will surely attract more passengers. I suspect the train companies hope so!

Extending The London Overground

This map from cartometro.com shows Cheshunt station and Cheshunt Junction just to the South.

Note.

  1. The two platforms on the West Anglia Main Line and the single bay platform for the London Overground.
  2. The level crossing to the North of Cheshunt station.
  3. The comprehensive Cheshunt Junction which trains to go between the Southbury Loop and the West Anglia Main Line.

Cheshunt Junction is occasionally used by Greater Anglia trains to access the Southbury Loop.

It certainly seems to me, that the Overground could connect to the West Anglia Main Line.

  • All trains from London going to the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 2.
  • All trains to London coming from the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 1.
  • The bay Platform 3 would still be available to turn local trains on the Southbury Loop.
  • An extra crossover could probably be inserted to allow trains from London on the West Anglia Main Line to use Platform 3.

London Overground trains could run to a terminal further North.

Trains Between Cheshunt And London

It is worth looking at the number of trains between Cheshunt and London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport via West Anglia Main Line
  • London Overground – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt via the Southbury Loop

This means that the West Anglia Main Line has 10 tph and the Southbury Loop has 4 tph.

This suggests possibilities.

  • Move some services from the West Anglia Main Line to the Southbury Loop.
  • Extend some or all of the London Overground trains to the North of Cheshunt.
  • Stations like Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Harlow, Hertford East and Ware could get extra services to London.
  • The new services would connect to extra stations without changing trains.

Very little new infrastructure would be required.

Bishop’s Stortford Station As A London Overground Destination

Bishop’s Stortford station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Bishop’s Stortford station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • London Overground’s Class 710 trains only have an operating speed of only 75 mph.
  • The trains may need a speed upgrade to serve Bishop’s Stortford, as their speed could slow the Cambridge and Stansted Airport expresses.

If the London Overground services ran to Bishop’s Stortford station, all the smaller stations South of Bishop’s Stortford, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Bishop’s Stortford station may be a possibility, as a destination of two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Broxbourne Station As A London Overground Destination

Broxbourne station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North

Consider.

  • Broxbourne station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • As Broxbourne is only 3.2 miles and six minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Broxbourne station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Harlow Town Station As A London Overground Destination

Harlow Town station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Harlow Town station could probably easilyhandle up to an extra four tph.
  • If one is needed there would appear to be space for a turnback facility or an extra platform.
  • As Harlow Town is only 5.4 miles and eight minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

If the London Overground services ran to Harlow Town station, all the smaller stations South of Harlow Town, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Harlow Town station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to four tph on the London Overground route to London.

Hertford East Station As A London Overground Destination

Hertford East station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • There is an extra tph in the Peak.

Consider.

  • Hertford East station has platforms long enough for eight-car trains and may need modification to accommodate a pair of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.
  • Ware station would need to be remodelled to increase frequency above three tph.
  • As the route from Broxbourne is on a branch line, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Hertford East station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Conclusion

I think the best two destinations of the London Overground service to the North of Cheshunt would be Harlow and Hertford East.

  • Trains could terminate at Harlow Town station to connect with Stansted Express and Cambridge trains.
  • It appears that the slightly shorter Class 710 trains may have advantages when using the short platforms at Hertford East station.

Perhaps each destination should receive two tph.

  • Harlow Town would be connected to the Overground.
  • Passengers using stations between Hackney Downs and Cheshunt on the Southbury Loop would change at Harlow Town to and from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.
  • But the biggest benefit would be that two paths on the West Anglia Main Line would be released, as the two tph to Hertford East would be using the Southbury Loop.

I feel there are possibilities to increase the number of trains on the West Anglia Main Line without adding expensive extra tracks.

 

 

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Network Rail Invest In A New Footbridge For Goring-by-Sea

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

It describes work being done at Goring-by-Sea station, which includes.

  • Platform lengthening.
  • Refurbishment of the footbridge.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

Note the footbridge, by the level crossing, at the Western end of the station.

It would appear, that the platform lengthening is being done to support a new timetable, whilst Gatwick Airport station is upgraded.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Arundel Chord built, as has been proposed as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Arundel Chord.

I visited on the 8th of December 2020 and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It appears the Eastbound platform has been extended.
  2. From what I could see of the footbridge, it is certainly showing its age and needs a make-over.
  3. Whilst I was there, the level crossing by the station, was shut for thirteen minutes.

Are Network Rail going to do something about the level crossing?

 

 

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Fed Up Council Threatens Injunction Against Network Rail Over Closure Of Milton Keynes Railway Crossing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Milton Keynes Citizen.

This looks like the ultimate level crossing argument between a council and Network Rail.

In some ways it’s all a bit ironic, as Network Rail’s headquarters is in Milton Keynes.

This Google Map shows the disputed crossing in Woburn Sands.

Note.

  1. The railway is the Marston Vale Line.
  2. Woburn Sands station and a level crossing is at the Western edge of the map.
  3. Swallowfield Lower School is at the Eastern edge of the map.
  4. Cranfield Road runs along the Northern side of the railway.

The row is all about the closure of the foot crossing, that links Cranfield Road and the school.

I live on a road to a primary school. At school times, there is heavy traffic on the pavement, with a lot of younger children in buggies and others with scooters.

  • A lot of the younger children are probably not going to school, but are too young to be left at home, by themselves.
  • I also see a couple of children in wheel-chairs.

I suspect the traffic to Swallowfield Lower school will be similar.

  • A bridge over the railway with steps would not be an adequate solution.
  • A bridge with lifts would be expensive.
  • A bridge with ramps would probably be difficult to fit in the restricted site.
  • A shallow subway with a ramp either side would probably be the only acceptable and affordable solution.

This picture shows such a subway at Enfield Lock station.

Could one like this, be dug under the railway at Woburn Sands?

November 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Unlocking Capacity And Services Through Bramley (Hants)

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

Bramley Station

Bramley (Hants) station is on the  Reading-Basingstoke Line, which is 15.5 miles long.

  • The line is double-track.
  • Bramley station is the nearest one to Basingstoke station.
  • The two stations are about five miles apart.
  • The basic local service is two trains per hour (tph), with trains taking a few minutes under half-an-hour.
  • The speed limit is listed in Wikipedia at 75 mph and my Class 165 train was travelling at about 60 mph on both journeys between Basingstoke and Bramley stations.

This Google Map shows Bramley station.

Note the level crossing, just to the North of the station.

These are some pictures, that I took, whilst I spent about thirty minutes at Bramley station.

Note

  1. In the thirty minutes, I was at the station, two long freight trains and three passenger trains came through.
  2. The level crossing barriers were going up and down like a whore’s drawers.
  3. Each level crossing closure resulted in long queues at the barriers.

It reminded me how bad the level crossing at Brimsdown station used to be in the Peak in 1966, when I crossed it twice every day to go to and from work at Enfield Rolling Mills. At least I was on two wheels and it gave me a break from pedalling!

There is more on the problems of the level crossing on this article on the Bramley Parish Council web site, which is entitled Living With Our Level Crossing.

Current Future Plans For the Reading-Basingstoke Line

The Wikipedia entry for the Reading-Basingstoke Line has a Future section, where this is said.

The railway is listed with Network Rail as part of route 13, the Great Western main line, and was due to be electrified with 25 kV overhead wiring by 2017 as part of the modernisation of the main line.[8] In July 2007, plans were agreed to build a station in Reading south of Southcote Junction in the Green Park business park, serving the southern suburbs of Reading and also the Madejski Stadium. Construction of Reading Green Park railway station was expected to be completed in 2010; the plans were suspended in 2011, but were reinstated in 2013. It is now set to open by the end of 2020[9], with electrification along the line at a later date.

It is my view, that the new Reading Green Park station will probably mean that four tph between Reading and Basingstoke stations will be needed. especially if a second new station were to be built at Chineham.

But four tph would probably be impossible, without improving the traffic of both rail and road through Bramley.

Solving The Level Crossing Problem

Ideally, the level crossing should be closed and the road diverted or put on a bridge,

If you look at a wider map of the area, building a by-pass to enable road traffic to avoid the crossing will be difficult if not impossible.

But this is not an untypical problem on rail networks and not just in the UK.

I suspect that with precise train control using digital ERTMS  signalling, trains and level crossing closures can be timed to improve traffic on both road and rail.

Consider.

  • If trains crossed on the level crossing and they were under precise control, this would reduce the number of level crossing closures per hour.
  • If the line speed was higher and the trains ran faster, this should ease timetabling, as there could be more train paths per hour.
  • Faster accelerating electric trains would save time too, by shortening station dwell times.
  • A third track might be laid in places.
  • The signalling could possibly drive the train or tell the driver exactly what speed to travel, so trains passed on the crossing or in the station.

As Network Rail and their contractors roll-out ERTMS, they’ll discover better and more intelligent ways to deploy the system.

Electric Trains Would Help

Electric trains accelerate faster and if they use regenerative braking to batteries, this cuts station dwell times.

But powering them by electrification would mean the connecting lines between the Reading and Basingstoke Lines and the nearest electrified lines would also have to be electrified.  This would make the scheme excessively expensive.

But Battery Electric Trains Could Be Better!

I believe that battery electric trains, would be a more-than-viable alternative.

  • You still get the performance advantages of electric trains.
  • With charging at just one end of the route, a battery electric train could run a round trip on battery power.

The big advantage, would be that the only new electrification infrastructure needed would be to charge the trains.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Reading Station

Reading is a fully electrified station and the shuttle trains to and from Basingstoke station, appear to use Platform 2.

This Google Map shows electrification gantries over Platforms 1, 2 and 3 at Reading station.

Note.

  1. The route between Reading station and Southcote junction, where the Basingstoke and Newbury routes divide, may be under two miles, but it is fully electrified.
  2. Trains take three minutes to travel between Reading station and Southcote junction.
  3. Trains wait for up to twenty minutes in the platform at Reading station.

It would appear that trains get enough time at Reading to fully charge the batteries.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Basingstoke Station

The shuttle trains between Reading and Basingstoke stations, appear to use Platform 5 in Basingstoke station.

This Google Map shows Platform 5 at Basingstoke station.

Platform 5 is towards the top of the map and contains a two-car train.

These pictures show the platform.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space on the North side of Platform 5 to install another platform, if one should be needed.
  2. It appears from the Google Map, that Platform 5 could take a four-car train.
  3. The platform is wide and spacious for passengers.
  4. I suspect a Fast Charge system of some sort could be installed in this platform.

As at Reading, trains can take around twenty minutes to turn back at Basingstoke, which would be ideal for a battery charge.

What Trains Could Work The Shuttle?

After South Western Railway‘s interim Managing Director; Mark Hopwood’s comments, that led me to write Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, these trains must be a possibility.

I also think, that as both South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are both First Group companies, there won’t be too much argument about who supplies the trains for the shuttle.

CrossCountry Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

CrossCountry will need to replace their Class 220 trains with electric or bi-mode trains soon, to meet the dates for decarbonisation.

The prime candidate must be a dual-voltage version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which could easily work the 15.5 miles between Reading and Basingstoke on battery power, after charging up on the electrification at both ends.

The trains could also be easily fitted with the ERTMS signalling equipment that will be required to go smoothly along the line.

Freight Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

We might see this section of the UK rail network, electrified for freight, but as it would require lots of connecting electrification, I think it is more likely that freight locomotives will be powered by an alternative fuel like hydrogen or bio-diesel. This would cut electrification needs, but still reduce carbon emissions.

Freight locomotives are already being fitted with the required ERTMS signalling equipment.

 

Conclusion

I am absolutely sure, that there’s a technological solution in there, that can increase the number of trains through Bramley.

But diverting the road traffic and clossing the level crossing would appear to be difficult.

 

 

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Mid Norfolk Railway has finished work on the refurbishment of the level crossing on Yaxham Road at Dereham.

The work is a first for the Mid Norfolk Railway as the technology has never been used at such a busy crossing on the entire rail system.

The new level crossing has been completed using a system that has been developed by Edilon Sedra, a Dutch railway infrastructure company.

By all accounts it appears to be a job well done,

It also appears Network Rail and Transport for London are very interested in what has been done.

Could this be, because it looks like the work has a fifty year maintenance-free lifespan?

This Google Map shows the site.

Note the single track railway running North-South under the flyover.

As you can see from some of the pictures in the article, the actual level crossing is under the flyover. Not the easiest place to work!

Conclusion

This appears to be another successful co-operation between a heritage railway, Network Rail and local interests.

Following on from the co-operation between the Mid-Norfolk Railway and Greater Anglia over train storage, that I wrote about in Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, could the rebuilding of the level crossing be part of a larger scheme to allow Greater Anglia to use Mid-Norfolk rails to run a commuter service to Dereham?

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Will The East Coast Main Line Give High Speed Two A Run For Its Money To The North East Of England?

I have looked up High Speed Two timings on their Journey Time Calculator and compared them with current LNER timetables.

  • London-Leeds – Current – 136 minutes – HS2 – 81 minutes
  • London-York – Current – 111 minutes – HS2 – 84 minutes
  • London – Darlington – Current – 141 minutes – HS2 – 112 minutes
  • York- Darlington – Current – 27 minutes – HS2 – 26 minutes
  • London – Durham – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 138 minutes
  • York – Durham – Current – 45 minutes – HS2 – 44 minutes
  • London – Newcastle – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 137 minutes
  • York – Newcastle – Current – 55 minutes – HS2 – 51 minutes
  • London – Edinburgh – Current – 259 minutes – HS2 – 220 minutes
  • Newcastle – Edinburgh – Current – 83 minutes – HS2 – 83 minutes
  • York – Edinburgh – Current – 138 minutes – HS2 – 134 minutes

Note.

  1. I have assumed that Newcastle and Edinburgh takes 83 minutes, which is the current timing.
  2. The time savings possible to the North of Leeds are only a few minutes.
  3. As an example, the straight route between York and Darlington is 34 miles, which means an average speed of only 75 mph.

Serious work needs to be done North of York to improve timings.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

Various improvements to the East Coast Main Line are in process of building designed or built.

Extra Tracks

These example of more tracks are from the Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line.

  • Four tracks are being restored between Huntington and Woodwalton.
  • Freight loops between York and Darlington.

There are probably other places, which will see extra tracks in the next few years.

Power Supply And Electrification

Wikipedia identified places where the power supply and the electrification could be better.

This sentence indicates the comprehensive nature of the planned work.

Power supply upgrades (PSU) between Wood Green and Bawtry (Phase 1 – completed in September 2017) and Bawtry to Edinburgh (Phase 2), including some overhead lines (OLE) support improvements, rewiring of the contact and catenary wires, and headspan to portal conversions (HS2P) which were installed at Conington in January 2018.

The Hertford Loop Line is also due to have some power supply upgrades.

Station Improvements

Darlington, Kings Cross, Stevenage and York will have track improvements, which will improve the capacity of the tracks through the stations.

Werrington Dive Under

The Werrington Dive Under will be a big improvement. This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. This will mean that trains for the GN/GE line no longer need to cross the fast lines on the level, nor use the Up Fast line between Peterborough station and the junction. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed. In turn, this will remove 21 minutes from the fastest King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley service, and 13 minutes from the fastest King’s Cross to Leeds service. It will also see an increase of 1,050 ‘intercity’ seats per hour on express trains through Peterborough.

The upgrade will add two more train paths to the route and knock 21 and 13 minutes off the faster Edinburgh and Leeds services respectively.

The Newark Flat Crossing

This is the railway equivalent of a light-controlled pedestrian crossing in the middle of a motorway.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line running roughly North-South
  2. The A 46 road crossing the line.
  3. The Nottingham-Lincoln Line running parallel to the railway.
  4. A chord allowing trains to go between the Nottingham-Lincoln Line and Newark North Gate station, which is to the South.
  5. The River Trent.

Complicated it certainly is!

I wrote about the problems in The Newark Crossing and felt something radical needed to be done.

Looking at the numbers of trains at the Newark Crossing.

  • The number of trains crossing the East Coast Main Line, is typically about three to five trains per hour (tph) and they block the East Coast Main Line for about two minutes.
  • But then there could be a fast train around every four minutes on the East Coast Main Line, with eight tph in both directions.

The numbers of trains and their speeds would probably cut out a Control Engineer’s solution, where all trains are computer controlled through the junction.

Although, it might be possible to reduce the number of conflicting trains on the East Coast Main Line dramatically, by arranging a Northbound and a Southbound express passed each other at the flat junction.

There’s also the problem of what happens if a crossing train fails, as it goes over the East Coast Main Line. But that must be a problem now!

Whatever happens here will be a well-thought through solution and it will add to the capacity of the East Coast Main Line and increase the line-speed from the current 100 mph.

Level Crossings

Wikipedia says this about level crossings.

Level crossing closures between King’s Cross and Doncaster: As of July 2015 this will no longer be conducted as a single closure of 73 level crossings but will be conducted on a case-by case basis (for example, Abbots Ripton Level Crossing will close as part of the HW4T scheme).

It is my personal view that all should be removed.

ERTMS Signalling

Wikipedia says this about the installation of ERTMS digital in-cab signalling.

The line between London King’s Cross and Bawtry, on the approach to Doncaster, will be signalled with Level 2 ERTMS. The target date for operational ERTMS services is December 2018 with completion in 2020.

Note that, ERTMS is needed for 140 mph running.

140 mpg Running

Wkipedia says this about 140 mph running.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ERTMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs.

A rough calculation indicates that up to eleven minutes could be saved by this upgrade, between London and Darlington.

Prospective Timings On The East Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • The package of new trains level crossing closures, ERTMS, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU, which is collectively known as L2E4 should deliver Edinburgh in four hours.
  • Nineteen minutes need to be saved on current times.
  • I believe that if the train takes four hours or less, travellers will switch from the airlines.
  • High Speed Two are aiming for a time of 220 minutes, but is this by the West or East Coast routes?
  • As their proposed Glasgow service has a similar time, I assume it is by the West Coast route.
  • Wikipedia states that an Open Access Operator was thinking of running Class 390 trains or Pendelinos between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in 223 minutes.

If the managers of LNER are the least bit ambitious, I can see them wanting to run a service between London and Edinburgh, in a time that is several minutes under four hours.

It should always be remembered that the East Coast Main Line was built for speed, as these true stories illustrate.

  • Mallard set the world speed record for steam locomotives in 1938 of 126 mph, on the line.
  • The record time between London and Edinburgh was set in 1991 by an InterCity 225 train at a minute under three-and-a-half hours.

I even have my own special memory of the line, which I wrote about in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses. Behind a Deltic or Class 55 locomotive, I went from Darlington to London in two hours and fifteen minutes, which is faster than today’s fastest trains. Not bad for a 1960s design, but the train was a coach short and had a clear run. And was probably extremely-well driven.

Is the East Coast Main Line and especially the section South of Darlington, a route, where a knowledgeable driver can coax the maximum out of a high speed train?

Possible savings over the next few years include.

Werrington Junction

When this is completed, it could knock twenty-one minutes off the timings to Edinburgh.

Newark Crossing

How much time could be saved here?

There must be some time savings if the line speed can be increased from 100 mph.

140 mph Running

The various improvements in L2E4 are intended to enable services to run between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.

  • Does L2E4 include any possible time savings from the Werrington Dive Under?
  • Does L2E4 include any possible time savings from improvements at Newark?
  • What is the completion date for L2E4?
  • Most of the time savings for L2E4 will be South of Darlington as the track is straighter.

As I said earlier a rough calculation indicates that L2E4 will save about eleven minutes to the South of Darlington.

Conclusion

There must be over thirty minutes of savings to be accumulated on the East Coast Main Line. Much of it because of the Werrington and Newark improvements will be South of Darlington.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings like these.

  • London-Leeds – Current – 136 minutes – HS2 – 81 minutes – Possible ECML – 120 minutes
  • London-York – Current – 111 minutes – HS2 – 84 minutes – Possible ECML – 90 minutes
  • London – Darlington – Current – 141 minutes – HS2 – 112 minutes – Possible ECML – 115 minutes
  • London – Durham – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 138 minutes – Possible ECML – 130 minutes
  • London – Newcastle – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 137 minutes – Possible ECML – 130 minutes
  • London – Edinburgh – Current – 259 minutes – HS2 – 220 minutes – Possible ECML – 210 minutes

It looks to me, that the East Coast Main Line could be fulfilling the aspirations of British Rail’s engineers of the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments