The Anonymous Widower

Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link

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

The plan seems to have been well-received by politicians and the media.

I’ve always thought this line to be a good candidate for reopening.

  • It is only five miles long.
  • It would serve Scotland’s largest town without a rail station.
  • There must be freight opportunities for freight, as the line could serve Scotland’s largest distillery.

There is more here on the Wikipedia entry for the Levenmouth Rail Link under Cost, Feasibility And Services.

Could The Levenmouth Rail Link Be Part Of A Bigger Picture?

The Fife Circle Line is an important route into Edinburgh for commuters, shoppers and visitors.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Consider.

  • The route is not electrified.
  • A train starting in Edinburgh and going rund the loop would cover about sixty miles.
  • Trains have a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)

It would appear that it would be the sort of service that would be ideal for electric trains, like ScotRail’s Class 385 trains, where a fleet of perhaps eight trains could provide the current service.

But there is a big obstacle to electrification; the Forth Rail Bridge.

It would be a difficult engineering project, that would cause massive disruption and one that would probably be strongly opposed by the Heritage lobby.

This map from Wikipedia shows the proposed Levenmouth Rail Link.

Note how it connects to the Fife Circle Line at Glenrothes with Thorton and Kirkcaldy stations.

I estimate that the distance between Leven and Edinburgh stations would be about 31 miles.

Could Battery-Electric Trains Work To Glenrothes with Thorton And Leven?

Consider these  facts abut battery-electric trains.

  • Bombardier ran a battery-electric train on the 11.5 mile Mayflower Line in public service for three months, without a hitch in 2015.
  • Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have sold battery-electric trains.
  • Hitachi are running battery-electric trains in Japan.
  • Ranges of upwards of fifty miles are being claimed.
  • Battery-electric trains are a quality experience for passengers.

.As the Edinburgh and Leven and dinburgh and Glenrothes with Thorton routes  are about thirty miles, I believe it is now possible to run battery-electric trains on these two routes.

  • They would be charged at the Edinburgh end using the existing electrification.
  • Charging stations would be needed at Leven and Glenrothes with Thornton.
  • Electrification could also be erected as far as Dalmeny station at the Edinburgh end, which would reduce the range on batteries by about seven miles.

There would be no difficult engineering and the Forth Rail Bridge would look the same as the day it was built!

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

I covered this in more detail in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

Hitachi appear to be serious according to this article of the same name on Rail Engineer.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

Hitachi aren’t stupid and I doubt they could want for a better portfolio of launch routes, than some of those in Scotland.

  • Edinburgh and Leven over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • Edinburgh and Grenrothes with Thornton over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • The Borders Railway.

I also show in the related article, that Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig may be possible.

The Rail Network And Electrification To The West Of Edinburgh

This map shows the rail system to the West of Edinburgh.

All lines except for the route through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations are electrified.

Electrification as far as Dalmeny station, the addition of the new chord (shown in yellow) and fill in electrification to join the chord to the Glosgow wires would open up the possibilities of more routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and a connection between Glasgow and the Fife Circle.

But battery-electric trains would be needed.

ScotRail has Options For More Class 385 Trains

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 385 trains.

10 unit optional follow up order after 2020.

So ScotRail seem to have a gateway to the future.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Be Good For Tourism?

I very much doubt, that they’ll be bad for it!

Conclusion

The announcement of the reinstatement of the Levenmouth Rail Link, could be be a collateral benefit of a decision to trial or even order some battery-electric Hitachi Class 385 trains.

August 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Levenmouth’s Rail Link Moves A Step Closer In Scotland

The title of this post is the same as this article in Global Rail News.

I wrote about the Levenmouth Rail Link before in Is The Levenmouth Rail Link Going To Be Scotland’s Next New Railway?.

According to the Global Rail News article the Scottish Parliament has debated the proposal to reopen the railway and it all went well, with support from seven MSPs from various parties.

The Scottish Transport Minister; Humza Yousaf, recommended that Transport Scotland look at the project.

So perhaps nearly sixty years after it closed, the Levenmouth Rail Link could be reopened.

The project certainly has a lot going for it.

  • Levenmouth is the largest urban area in Scotland not directly served by rail.
  • The line passes the largest grain distillery in Europe.
  • The line is mostly single track and only five miles long.
  • The track is still intact, so relaying won’t be the most difficult job.
  • Only two stations need to be built.
  • Could the stations be single platform?

My only negative thought about the reinstatement of this line is that like the Borders Railway, it might suffer from London Overground Syndrome, where the new line has such a high level of patronage, that more trains have to be procured.

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A Reopened Levenmouth Rail Link

This article in Global Rail News has a title a title of Levenmouth – Scotland’s next railway?.

According to the article, the figures look good, for the reopening of the Levenouth Rail Link,  with a Benefit Cost Ration of 1.3, which compares well with  a figure of 0.96 for the successful Borders Railway.

It would be a five mile extension from the Fife Circle Line and would serve a station at Leven and a large Disgeo distillery.

 

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Is The Levenmouth Rail Link Going To Be Scotland’s Next New Railway?

I ask this question as this article in Global Rail News was asking the same question, with a title of Levenmouth – Scotland’s next railway?.

According to the article, the figures look good, for the reopening of the Levenouth Rail Link,  with a Benefit Cost Ration of 1.3, which compares well with the figure of 0.96 for the successful Borders Railway.

This is also said in the Wikipedia entry for the Fife Circle Line under Future Services.

A Leven rail link would provide better services to support major industrial sites at Fife Energy Park, Methil Docks, the Low Carbon Park (under construction), Diageo, the businesses along the Leven Valley (including Donaldsons) and major retailers in Leven located close to the line (Sainsbury, B&Q, Argos, etc.). Levenmouth is an area of high deprivation and Fife Council estimates that an hourly train link (using the Fife Circle services)to Edinburgh would increase job vacancies by 500% since commuting for work would become possible.

There is one big difference between the Borders Railway and the Levenmouth Rail Link.

On a journey to Scotland’s capital from Leven, the travellers have to cross the large water.barrier of the Firth of Forth.

Is The Firth Of Forth A Psychological Barrier?

Does the Forth act as both a psychological batter, as well as a physical barrier to travel?

I don’t know for sure, but I hear the same sort of comments from my friends in Edinburgh about Fife, as North Londoners make about South London and probably South Londoners make about the North.

The much larger Thameslink project may get all the publicity and criticism, but London’s most modern cross-river link just keeps on giving.

The East London Line  And The Levenmouth Rail Link

You might argue, what has the East London Line  got to do with the Levenmouth Rail Link?

I believe that because of the geography of the two areas, with a major waterway between two centres of population, that the massive underestimation of passenger numbers, that occurred in East London could also happen across the Forth.

Luckily, that just as Marc Brunel provided a high-quality crossing under the Thames, the Victorians did this for the Firth of Forth.

Although, it could be argued that the Scottish crossing is more iconic and you get a better view.

As an aside, if the Forth Bridge, which opened in 1890 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surely Marc Brunel’s much older Thames Tunnel, should be similarly acknowledged.

Local Rail Services Across The Firth Of Forth

At present the local services across the bridge are four trains per hour on the Fife Circle Line.

That is not a high capacity service, given the line is not electrified.

If the Levenmouth Rail Link were to be rebuilt, it would connect to the Fife Circle  and surely, it would mean that more trains could be timetabled to and from Edinburgh, via the new station at Edinburgh Gateway, which gives access to Edinburgh’s trams, the Airport and services to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Would those along the Levenmouth Rail Link respond to a new railway, as those who live in Hackney did to the East London Line?

I would be very surprised if they didn’t!

Rebuilding The Levenmouth Rail Link

The Levenmouth Rail Link is a classic branch line, with not much complication. Published plans show the following.

This Google Map shows the junction with the main line.

glenrothrsthornton

Glenrothes with Thornton station is in the South-West corner of the map on the Fife Circle Line.

  • Trains go West from the station to Edinburgh on the Fife Circle Line via Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline.
  • There is a triangular junction to the East of the station.
  • Trains go South from this junction to Edinburgh via Kirkcaldy.
  • Trains go North from this junction to Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen.

To the North of this junction, the line splits, with trains for Leven, branching off to the East.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line

Note that the junction where the Fife Circle Line splits South of Markinch station, is the one shown in the Google Map.

Electrification

The Fife Circle and the Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line are not electrified and there are no scheduled plans to do so, other than the aspiration of having more lines with electric services.

But various factors will effect the types of trains between Edinburgh and Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen.

  • Distances are not hundreds of miles.
  • Virgin’s electro-diesel Class 800 trains will be working between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • Could Hitachi build electro-diesel versions of their Class 385 trains, as they share design features with the Class 800 trains?
  • Will Hitachi add energy storage to Class 385 trains?
  • Abellio are rumoured to be introducing trains with energy storage in East Anglia. Would this expertise be used by Abellio ScotRail?

I think we could see a cost-effective strategy implemented, that included electric trains, but a limited amount of overhead wiring.

  • Edinburgh to Dalmeny – Electrified
  • The Forth Bridge could be left without wires, if it were thought too sensitive for the Heritage Taliban.
  • North Queensferry to Perth – Electrified
  • Ladybank to Dundee – Not electrified
  • Fife Circle via Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline – Electrified
  • Levenmouth Rail Link – Not electrified

Note.

  1. As Stirling and/or Dunblane will be electrified, will Stirling to Perth be electrified?
  2. Between Dalmeny and North Queensferry, diesel or battery power would be used on local services.
  3. I have flown my virtual helicopter round the Fife Circle and it doesn’t look that electrification would be a nightmare.
  4. The Levenmouth Rail Link could be run by battery trains, with a charging station, like a Railbaar, at Leven station.

Appropriate trains would provide all services.

Services

Obviously, what services are introduced depends on passenger traffic.

But after a quick look at the lines, I suspect that the Levenmouth Rail Link fits well with current services on the Fife Circle.

Bear in mind too, that reopening the St. Andrews Rail Link , could be a possibility.

Conclusion

The railways North from the Forth Bridge in the East and Stirling and Dunblane in the West to Perth and Dundee could be much improved. I would do the following.

  • Some short lengths of electrification.
  • Bi-mode or battery versions of Class 385 trains.

All trains going over the Forth Bridge, should have large windows. The Bridge Visitor Centre must also have easy access with perhaps a free shuttle bus from Dalmeny station.

One of Scotland’s major assets, must be made to work for its living.

 

 

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment