The Anonymous Widower

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 Junction

Werrington Junction 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 Werrington Junction?
  • 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 | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Feltham Station – 4th January 2020

The platforms appear to have been extended over the level crossing and it looks like the major work left to do, is to finish the bridge and do the landscaping.

This certainly has been a comprehensive project.

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Engineering Work Closures Between Barnes And Feltham In June And July

There is more up-to-date information on this page on South Western Railway’s web site, which is entitled Engineering Works.

These are what I found.

Saturday 20 July and Sunday 21 July

Buses replace trains between Barnes and Feltham via Hounslow Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July

Saturday 27 July and Sunday 28 July

Buses replace trains between Barnes and Feltham via Hounslow Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July

Sunday 11 August

Buses replace trains between Barnes and Feltham via Hounslow Sunday 11 August

Sunday 18 August

Altered train services and replacement buses in the Feltham area Sunday 18 August

Sunday 25 August

Altered train services and replacement buses in the Feltham area Sunday 25 August

Thoughts On Works In The Area

My thoughts on the two projects follow.

Syon Lane Footbridge

When I wrote Why Are Replacement Buses Being Used To Syon Lane Station On July 20-21?, I didn’t find the two later closures through Syon Lane station.

I was checking the on-line timetable and it appears that the closure is not total on the days mentioned, in the current timetable.

It looks to me that Network Rail and South Western Railway are playing this in a safety first manner, as few people are going to complain, if a closure doesn’t happen and a shiny new step-free bridge has appeared and is almost ready for use.

Bedfont Lane Level Crossing Removal At Feltham Station

In The Removal Of Bedfont Lane Level Crossing, I gave a schedule of the works and it appears nothing much is slated to be done until later in the year.

I need more information about why there are closures in the Feltham area.

I did find this image of the proposed pedestrian and cycling bridge.

It certainly looks very traditional with long ramps.

This picture shows the progress on the 25th June 2019

Note the platform extensions and the pillar on the far side to support the bridge.

I’m not sure, if the ramps in the picture are part of an older bridge or new!

Conclusion

It’s all happening in Hounslow.

 

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Removal Of Bedfont Lane Level Crossing

I also passed through Feltham station and noted that the notorious Bedfont Lane level crossing had been removed.

This page on the London Borough of Houslow web site, gives details of what is happening.

This is the schedule from the leaflet.

Spring 2019

  • Network Rail to close Feltham West Level Crossing. There will be
    no access across the level crossing.
  • Access will be via the temporary stepped footbridge or step-free access via Feltham Station
  • Network Rail to remove the shopping centre bridge
  • Network Rail starts work to extend platforms at Feltham

Winter 2019/2020

  • Second step-free entrance to platform 1 open and accessible
    from Hounslow Road (note this is
    dependent on Hounslow Road
    completion)
  • Platform extensions completed

Spring 2020

  • Network Rail opens combined pedestrian and cycle railway footbridge at the level crossing site.

That all seems fairly straighforward, but a couple of visualisations would help.

This Google Map shows Feltham station a few months ago.

Note the awkward position of the Bedffont Lane level crossing to the West of the station.

Houslow’s Plans For Feltham

This page on the London Borough of Hounslow web site is entitled Funding Secured For Feltham’s Multi-Million-Pound Makeover.

It gives an overview of the £15.6million pound scheme.

These two paragraphs outline the scheme.

Network Rail is introducing ten car trains to increase capacity between London Waterloo and Reading, and proposes to increase the number of services from December 2018. To enable the longer trains to open all their doors at Feltham, and to eliminate the safety risks that were present at the level crossing, a decision was made to extend the platforms and close the level crossing following extensive consultation with local residents.

To ensure residents can still gain easy access between Bedfont and Feltham town centre, Network Rail will build a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the tracks and renovate the public space outside the station. Following the consultation, the council approved further measures to improve road safety and bus journey times between the station and Heathrow Airport, and to minimise the impact of the level crossing’s closure on surrounding roads.

There is a lot of work to do.

Conclusion

The removal of Bedfont Lane level crossing illustrates why the removal of level crossings is not always a simple process.

 

 

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

What Is Happening At Acton Central Station?

On my way home today, I stopped off at Acton Central station to have a look.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the level crossing and the partially demolished station building behind the hoarding.

The station could have a few problems in the future and may need partial rebuilding.

  • The level crossing handles four trains per hour (tph) in both directions and there are plans to increase this frequency by two tph.
  • The station is the changeover point between third-rail and overhead electrification.
  • There is no step-free access between the two platforms.

But the biggest cause of future problems could be the West London Orbital Railway.

  • This route will call at Acton Central station and it will have two services, each with four tph in both directions, giving a total of fourteen tph in each direction through the station.
  • It is also likely that some passengers will want to change direction, so they will have to use the subway.
  • The number of trains and passengers, may mean that a second entrance is needed on the Richmond-bound platform.

Could the work at Acton Central station be part of a solution?

Conclusion

It looks like it could be a second entrance is being created.

This might also make it easier for some passengers to change platforms and shut the level crossing.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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