The Anonymous Widower

Steam Engine Hits Car At Sheringham Level Crossing

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

As it appears that no-one was hurt, I think that I can quote the article, which includes a less than serious quote from Norfolk Police.

General manager Andrew Munden said the Sweet Briar Lane crossing’s lights and sirens were sounding at the time.

“We are all so relieved that this was a low speed collision and that no-one was injured,” he said.

Services resumed by the afternoon after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch had given permission to clear the site, Mr Munden said.

PC Jon Parker, of Norfolk Police tweeted: “Currently on scene at a train vs car incident. Unsurprisingly, the train emerged the victor.”

I wonder when a steam engine was last involved in a level crossing accident in the UK.

Looking at this section on Wikipedia, there has only been one accident between a road vehicle and a steam engine and that was a horse and cart in 1832.

There must be others! But we all know that Wikipedia always gets its facts right!

That accident is described in detail in the Wikipedia entry for the Leicester and Swannington Railway.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

A Pedestrian Level Crossing And A Lone Coradia iLint At Bremervörde Station

öI’d waited at Buxtehude station for a Coradia iLint to appear in vain, so I moved on to Bremervörde station, where I took these pictures.

It turned out that one train had returned to the factory, so there wasn’t much to see. Coupled with the news I heard earlier about Not Enough Drivers, I suspect that the Germans seem to be suffering in the same way, as we are on the introduction of new trains.

 

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Full-Barrier Level Crossing For Pedestrians And Cyclists At Bremervörde Station

I photographed this full-barrier level crossing For pedestrians and cyclists At Bremervörde station.

I watched the crossing for several minutes as my train waited for a green signal and pedestrians and cyclists crossed safely at times when the barriers were up. The barrier were also lowered, so that a train could proceed into the nearby depot.

Nobody seemed to disregard the barriers.

Perhaps, though the Germans are better than obeying orders than we are? Although, walking about Hamburg, I did feel that German pedestrians cross in more dangerous ways, than Londoners do.

Surely, if the Germans can put in this level crossing under the same European Health and Safety rules as we use, then we can do the same?

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Think Again, If You Think We Have Too Many Level Crossings!

These are some pictures of the level crossing on the route between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven stations.

Some seemed to be very busy, but others were just on a concrete farm track.

I think with the exception of in the electrified Bremerhaven section, I didn’t see any bridges over the route.

The other feature visible from the line, was the large number of wind turbines.

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

How Removing Level Crossings Can Get Complicated And Expensive

This article in the East Anglian Daily Times is entitled Multi-Million Pound Lift Could Boost Rail Link From Sudbury To Colchester.

Greater Anglia intend to improve the service on the Gainsborough Line by running direct services between Sudbury and Colchester Town stations.

One of the reasons for doing this, is that the increasing number of passengers travelling between Sudbury and Colchester will avoid changing trains at Marks Tey station.

This Google Map shows Marks Tey station.

Note.

  • The two platforms on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The single platform for the Gainsborough Line.
  • The footbridge over the main line.

As can be seen, the only step-free interchange with the Gainsborough Line is to and from trains going North to Colchester and Ipswich.

These pictures show the frootbridge and the Gainsborough Line platform.

It is not an ideal interchange for passengers other than the unencumbered, fit and healthy.

I suspect some passengers from Sudbury to London might even take a train to Colchester first and then use the lifts to change to a London train.

And then there’s the Car Parking!

Note in the Google Map, that the station has two car parks, one on each side of the line. So most using the car parks will have to cross the line on the footbridge.

Also note, that the car park on the Northern side of the station, is connected to the station using a pedestrian crossing over the single track rail line, that connects the Gainsborough Line to the Great Eastern Main Line.

According to the East Anglian article, this rail line is used twice a day. But when the Sudbury to Colchester Town service starts, it will be used twice an hour. Anf if this service is successful, I can see Greater Anglia wanting to run the service with a frequency of two trains per hour (tph), which would mean four tph going over the pedestrian crossing.

Understandably, Network Rail want to remove the pedestrian crossing.

This is a paragraph from the East Anglian article.

The national fund has £300m available – and Mr Burles said he estimated that the cost of the work at Marks Tey would be between £4m and £5m. It is at the top of Greater Anglia’s “wish list,” but political support would be necessary if the money was to be released.

As to the political support, the Gainsborough Line and Marks Tey are in a total of five constituencies; all of which are Conservative.

I suspect, Chris Grayling could be under severe pressure from this one.

Although you have to remember that to many civil servants in the Department of Transport, Suffolk is just an area, you pass through on the way to your weekend cottage in Norfolk.

 

 

August 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Ely In A Class 387 Train

I’ve not used one of the Class 387 trains on this route before.

It was nice to get a table to be able to lay my paper flat.

I was going via Ely to Ipswich for two reasons.

  • Yet again, there was no direct service between Liverpool Street and Ipswich.
  • Ely makes a change from Cambridge and I wanted to photograph the level crossing.

These are some of the pictures I took.

Note.

  • With a bit of smartening up, the Class 387 train makes the newer Class 700 train, look very ordinary.
  • The Ely by-pass is coming on.
  • The level crossing by the station is one of the UK’s worst.

Ely is becoming a much more important interchange, with five train operating companies using the station.

 

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Musings On The West Anglia Main Line

The West Anglia Main Line is the main railway between Liverpool Street station in the City of London and the Scientific Powerhouse of Cambridge via Stansred Airport.

This post started off as The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams, when I got caught in a jam caused by the level crossing at Enfield Lock station.

It has since grown into a long post of the inadequacies of this important main line.

The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams

These are pictures I took at Enfield Lock station in mid-morning.

I had arrived at the station at 11:04 and my train had departed on its way at 11:08.

I was in no hurry taking the pictures and I left at 11:22 after eight trains had gone through, without the gates being raised.

In two of the pictures, you can see a discarded broken gate. Was it caused by an irate motorist?

After I got back to the station, the barriers were still going up and down like a whore’s drawers and talking to a fellow passenger, she said it happens all the time.

Improving The West Anglia Main Line

Consider the following, which could effect what happens in the future.

  • Stansted Airport, Greater Anglia, Transport for London, the London Borough of Enfield, Cambridge City Council and the local MPs, all want the line to be four-tracked so that services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport can have their own dedicated fast lines.
  • ,Greater Anglia have ordered lots of new trains and I suspect they want to run much-needed extra services into both Stratford and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Enfield Lock could be a Crossrail 2 station in ten years or so.
  • Crossrail 2 would want to run up to twelve trains per hour (tph).

It is a certainly a case of squeezing a couple of gallons into a pint pot.

Enfield Lock And Brimsdown

To make matters worse there is another equally congested level crossing at the next station to the South; Brimsdown.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock station is in the North West corner of the map, with Brimsdown in the South West corner.
  2. Mollinson Avenue, which tracks along the railway to its East, is nearly all dual carriageway.
  3. These is a lot of industrial premises in the area.
  4. There are a lot of distribution depots that need road access for heavy trucks.
  5. It is going to use all the ingenuity that Network Rail can muster to squeeze two extra tracks between those two stations.

If ever there was an area that needs an increased rail service it is this stretch of the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations.

Improving The Lea Valley Lines

I suspect that British Rail foresaw the problem in the 1950s, as by 1960, they had electrified all the Lea Valley Lines including the goods-only Southbury Loop, which is now part of the London Overground, who run two tph on the route.

Both London Overground and Greater Anglia are getting new Aventra trains, which should increase the capacity and speed up services on both routes.

However, this could create a problem, in that they are such good trains, they may persuade more commuters to leave their cars at home and take the trains.

More Frequent Services

London Overground like to run four tph on their various routes.

At present, their Lea Valley services are as follows.

  • 4 tph from Liverpool Street to Chingford.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, with more services in the Peak and when Spurs are playing at home.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt.

I suspect that they would like to run four tph all day and that after Crossrail opens and releases some platforms at Liverpool Street, this might happen.

However in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I publish a table, which says that from 2019, Enfield Town will get four tph.

Greater Anglia must be looking to improve services on the West Anglia Main Line, so that all stations South of Broxbourne get four tph, with perhaps two tph to each of  Liverpool Street and Stratford.

And then there’s STAR, which is a new service between Stratford and Angel Road stations. This article on IanVisits, which is entitled One of London’s quietest train stations set for major upgrade, gives a good explanation of this service, which will provide four tph between Stratford and a rebuilt Angel Road station, which will be renamed Meridian Water.

More Terminal Capacity In London

Adding these services together, I feel that  more capacity is needed at the London terminals of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

There are two short term solutions and one long term one.

Create More Capacity At Liverpool Street

This is the simplest short-term solution.

In the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Street station, this is said.

Once Crossrail opens, platform 18 at the main Liverpool Street station will be decommissioned to allow platforms 16 and 17 to be extended, enabling them to accommodate longer trains.

I would assume this platform-lengthening is to accommodate the full-length Class 345 trains, that will run the Peak Hour service between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park stations.

I suppose too, having two platforms in Liverpool Street, that are capable of handling Crossrail trains must also be useful in special or exceptional circumstances.

Platform 18 is a curiosity, in that it is used by c2c as a diversion platform, when Fenchurch Street station is closed because of engineering works.

So after the work on platforms 16 and 17 is complete, will it be recommissioned?

That leaves fifteen platforms for Greater Anglia and London Overground to argue over.

If you compare the way Liverpool Street is organised compared to some more modern stations, I suspect that more modern trains can be handled without any expensive modifications to the existing station.

Modern practice means that a single platform can easily handle four tph, so as destinations like Norwich and Southend will only have three tph, could it mean that these destinations can be served by a single platform?

It would certainly make it easy for me, if I knew the fast Ipswich trains always left from platform 9.

I suspect that as London Overground has only three destinations; Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town, whiich have a maximum frequency of four tph, that they could easily manage with four platforms; one for each destination and a spare.

This would give Greater Anglia eleven platforms.

Note this about Greater Anglia’s new trains.

  • The Class 745 trains will be of a fixed formation of twelve cars.
  • Will the three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?
  • Will the five-car Class 720 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?

Having seen how Class 395 trains and others can do this in under a couple of minutes and the flexibility of destinations it gives, I will be very surprised if Greater Anglia haven’t specified this capability.

  • As an example, two four-car Class 755 trains could start at Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds respectively and then join at Ipswich, before proceeding to London as an eight-car train.
  • Would it be sensible that all trains go into Liverpool Street at maximum length?
  • Trains might split and join at Ipswich, Colchester and perhaps Chelmsford. All that is needed is a long platform.

Perhaps Greater Anglia’s platforms at Liverpool Street could be allocated something like this.

For Flirts (Class 745 and Class 755)

  • Norwich
  • Ipswich/Lowestoft
  • Stansted Airport
  • Cambridge

For Aventras (Class 720)

  • Bishops Stordford/Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Colchester/Harwich
  • Clacton/Walton
  • Chelmsford/Braintree
  • Southend

On this rough assessment, it would appear that at least for a few years Liverpool Street station could cope.

Developing Stratford As A Second Terminal

Consider these facts about the railway hub at Stratford.

  • Stratford has not been fully developed as a terminal for the West Anglia routes and only handles two tph to and from Bishops Stortford.
  • Stratford has two platforms 11 and 12, that were built to serve the West Anglia routes; the West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Platforms 11 and 12 are on the High Meads Loop, which would reverse the trains on West Anglia routes.
  • Stratford is well connected to Crossrail, Central and Jubilee Lines of the Underground, the DLR, the Overground , Highspeed services to Kent and Greater Anglia services on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Stratford has better connections than Liverpool Street to London Bridge and Waterloo
  • Stratford could have excellent connections to Highspeed services to Kent and Continental services at Ashford International.
  • Stratford will be only a few minutes from Liverpool Street on Crossrail.

Stratford is also a destination in its own right, with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the massive shopping complex.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complex at Stratford.

It is very much capable of development.

  • Better connections could be made between Stratford International and the main station.
  • The subways in the complex could be improved.
  • The Hall Farm Curve could be reinstated to give direct connections between Stratford and Walthamstow/Chingford.

I would not be surprised if Greater Anglia increased their services to and from Stratford.

I could also envisage a timetable, where trains alternate between the two terminals., as every passenger will have their favoured terninal.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is the long-term solution.

Upwards of ten tph will run between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale, before entering the tunnel to Central and South West London.

It will obviously handle all the local services South of Broxbourne, with just the services from the North continuing to Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Following Abbey Wood, Reading and Shenfield stations on Crossrail, I think that we would see Broxbourne station developed as a simple interchange between longer distance services and Crossrail 2.

Both services would have their own tracks to London.

Conclusion

The West Anglia Main Line urgently needs improvement and this improvement can be broken down into a series of smaller projects, the first three of which have already started and could be completed by 2020.

  1. Creation of STAR – The Stratford-Angel Road Metro – Already started.
  2. Building of new Meridian Water station to replace Angel Road station – Already started.
  3. Rebuilding of Tottenham Hale station – Already started.
  4. Post-Crossrail Improvements at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations.
  5. Removal of level crossings at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Waltham Cross
  6. Four-tracking between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.
  7. Step-Free Stations
  8. Reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

These projects will also get the main line Crossrail 2-ready.

This process has already started with the creation of STAR, which will create a third track as far as Angel Road station. In the article on IanVisits, this is said.

Along the tracks nearby there are already hi-vis wearing Network Rail contractors clearing the land to prepare it for the Stratford to Angel Road (STAR) rail upgrade project which will see a third railway track added. Passive provision for a fourth track will be included for Crossrail 2.

This work has already closed the level crossing at Nothumberland Park station.

In Innovation In Railway Projects, I describe how Network Rail are aiming to create a pipeline of smaller projects.

I feel that some parts of the updating of the West Anglia Main Line can be done in this way.

 

 

 

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Level Crossing At Hampden Park Station

I was in Eastbourne today, so I went and had a look at the level crossing at Hampden Park station.

To make sense of the pictures, this is a Google Map of the station.

You can even see cars waiting by the crossing. In various places on the web it is described as one of the busiest in Europe.

As someone who is very capable at solving mathematical puzzles, which is probably why I was good at writing resource scheduling algorithms, I tend to look at this level crossing as an extreme multi-variable problem.

  • The railway objective is to get up to fourteen trains per hour (tph) through the crossing and the station with perhaps six trains stopping at the station.
  • The road objective is to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.
  • From web reports mentioning the crossing, the natives are getting restless.

It does strike me, that something must be done to reduce both road and rail traffic through the crossing.

Remote Control Of The Level Crossing

One thing that was done in February 2015 was to close the signal box at the station and move control of the crossing to the Three Bridges Regional Operations Centre.

Hopefully with time, this will result in trains going into Eastbourne passing trains coming out at the level crossing, thus reducing the number of level crossing closures.

Reducing Road Traffic

This is a Google Map of the area around the station and the level crossing.

Note how the A2280 road goes from one side of the crossing to the other in a wide semi-circle to the South.

  • Is the signage good enough to encourage drivers to use the A2280?
  • Does the A2280 have enough capacity?
  • Are any classes of vehicles banned from using the  crossing?
  • Does level crossing traffic increase when children are going to and from school?
  • Are there any cycleways?

As I was on foot and don’t live nearby, I wouldn’t know the answers to these questions.

A Turn Up And Go Service Between Hampden Park And Eastbourne

On the Birmingham, Liverpool and London principle of what constitutes a Turn-Up-And-Go service, there should be four tph in both directions on a route.

So there needs to be at least four tph in both directions that stop at both Hampden Park and Eastbourne.

Tickets To And From Eastbourne

If you buy a ticket to Liverpool, it allows you to go to any the city’s central stations.

I would also make Hampden Park an Eastbourne station, so that a ticket to Eastbourne was valid to both Eastbourne and Hapden Park stations.

Tickets Between Hampden Park And Eastbourne

I’d make this free to all those in the following categories.

  • Those having a ticket to or from Eastbourne stations.
  • Disabled passengers.
  • People who had paid something like a tenner for a yearly pass.

Yearly passes would be available for all those, who lived or worked in the area.

All monies raised on the yearly passes would go to an appropriate local charity.

Would making the short journey free, mean that many living near Hampden Park station used the train to go to Easstbourne? And would this reduce traffic on the level crossing?

A Step-Free Bridge At Hampden Park Station

What would be the effects of putting a step-free bridge with lifts, that could be used by rail passengers and those wanting to cross the rail line, when the crossing is closed?

Reducing Rail Traffic

I believe that by controlling the trains on a one-in one-out basis as I described earlier, that a few closures an hour could be avoided.

But more closures could be eliminated if the chord was reinstated that allowed trains to by-pass Eastbourne.

This Google Map shows the area North of Hampden Park station.

Three stations are shown on the map.

A triangle of rail lines or their former locations can be picked out between the station.

Note too how the A22 road passes up to the East of Hampden Park to join the A27.

This road also crosses the former track of the East Coastway Line just South of the A27 in open country.

Would it be a sensible idea to build an |Eastbourne Parkway station at this location?

Using the by-pass and stopping at Eastbourne Parkway station would have the following effects.

  • A few minutes journey time would be saved.
  • There would be two less closures of the Hampden Park level crossing.
  • Passengers from Eastbourne wanting to catch a train to the West would change at Polegate station.
  • Passengers from Eastbourne wanting to catch a train to the Wast would change at Pevensey Bay station.

I’m certain, that a good scheme can be devised, that probably would make all changes of train, ones where passengers didn’t need to change platforms.

Conclusion

I think that the number of closures of the Hampden Park level crossing could be reduced to perhaps four or five an hour, where one train went in to Eastbourne and aother came out.

I also think that drivers can be nudged, so that they don’t travel across the level crossing so often.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Level Crossings And Signal Boxes

As I travel around Germany on trains, I am surprised at the number of level crossings and signal boxes.

Level Crossings

On the South Harz Line, there must have been half a dozen between Northeim and Nordhausen.

I don’t know if the Germans have a similar policy to Network Rail of aiming to remove all crossings, but if they do, they have a lot to do.

But the area did suffer the serious Langenweddingen Level Crossing Disaster in 1967.

Signal Boxes

Every station seemed to have a signal box.

Although, I did find this in the Wikipedia entry for the South Harz Railway.

Signalling on the South Harz line will in future use electronic interlockings that are remotely controlled from a centre in Göttingen.

So it does seem there is a certain amount of ongoing modernisation.

Conclusions

I’m very much of the opinion, that there is still a lot of technical modernisation to be done on German railways.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spot Of Bother On The Rother

There is an article in the Sunday Times with the title of Residents Get Up Steam To Halt Eailway Extension.

It has a subtitle of.

A plan to link a heritage line to the national network is dividing a Sussex community.

It’s all about the Rother Valley Railway wanting to create a 2.5 mile link between Robertsbridge and Bodlam.

This section called Future Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Rother Valley Eailway says a lot more.

There is also this article on Kent Online, which is entitled Rail groups get go-ahead to extend Tenterden-Bodiam line to Robertsbridge.

There are a lot of long comments, of which this from Zaphod is one.

Disgusting. The concoction of smoke billowing out of these things is horrendous. To inflict this on an already over polluted part of Britain is insane. Due ti the travelling nature of this loco it will make sure we all get a lung full. All those with long problems, asthma, bronchitis etc etc are going to suffer. They put grotesque pictures on cig packets to discourage us from smoking then inflict us with this … duh. But I do love these machines & their engineering but unfortunately firing one of these up & running it across the countryside is pure and simple LETHAL.

It doesn’t look to be full steam ahead just yet.

If I have a problem, it is that they propose to use a level crossing to cross the A21.

This Google Map shows the route of the line from Robertsbridge station to the A21.

Note that the A21 leads down from the roundabout in the North-East corner of the map.

This map from Wikipedia shows the Western end of the Rother Valley Railway.

My question is the following.

Why would any sane Planning Authority allow the creation of three new level crossings, given the problems and the strong feelings they create?

Perhaps the economic benefits justify the disruption!

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment