The Anonymous Widower

Electrification Plans For Line Between Fife And Clackmannanshire

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The next stage of development work is due to begin for Network Rail engineers between Alloa and Longannet, which could see passenger services return between Clackmannanshire and Fife.

The article also makes these points.

  • As part of the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation plan, it is hoped the former freight line will be electrified.
  • Engineers will be conducting survey work and site and geological investigations.
  • Three new stations are also hoped to be introduced at Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.
  • The work is also hoping to bring a two trains per hour (tph) passenger service between Alloa and Longannet.

There will be a lot of surveying and planning before work starts.

Existing Rail Routes And Services In The Area

These are the current routes and services in the area.

Alloa Station

Alloa station was closed in October 1968, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and re-opened in 2008.

Wikipedia says this about the re-opening.

Under Scottish Executive funding, the line between Stirling and Alloa was reopened to both passenger and freight traffic, with a key benefit being a reduction in congestion on the Forth Railway Bridge.

The basic train service is an hourly service to Stirling and Glasgow run by a Class 385 train.

Journey times are as follows.

  • Alloa and Stirling – 9-15 minutes
  • Alloa and Glasgow Queen Street – 45 minutes

Trains seem to take about twelve minutes to turnround at Alloa station.

This Google Map shows Alloa station.

Note.

  1. The station currently only has one platform.
  2. A second line is already laid through the station and although, it is not electrified, the gantries are positioned to electrify the second track.
  3. The two tracks merge into one to the West of the station.
  4. All passenger trains currently use the Southern platform.

This picture shows the station, just before the electric train services started.

The station also must have one of the largest station shops in the UK, which is an Asda superstore.

The Kincardine Line

The Kincardine Line is the one proposed for electrification.

  • It is currently, a freight-only route, that was re-opened to serve Longannet power station.
  • At Alloa station, it is an extension of the route from Stirling.
  • It may be connected to the new Talgo factory at Longannet, that I wrote about in A Spaniard In The Works!, as the factory will surely need electrified rail access, if any electric trains for the UK are to be built or serviced there.
  • The line passes through Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.

As the route used to handle long coal trains, could it handle a 200 metre long classic-compatible high speed train, that Talgo might build for High Speed Two at Longannet?

The Fife Circle Line

According to Wikipedia, the Fife Circle Line is the local service North from Edinburgh, that goes in a long loop through Fife.

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

Note.

  1. The route is double-track.
  2. The route is not electrified.
  3. The train service is generally two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  4. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  5. The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  6. Trains appear to wait between three and seven minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton before returning to Edinburgh by the alternate route.

The map doesn’t show the connection with the Kincardine Line at Dunfermline Town station.

This Google Map shows the Fife Circle Line, through Dunfermline Town station.

Note.

  1. Dunfermline Town station at the top of the map, is indicated by a station sign.
  2. The Northbound Fife Circle Line to Cowdenbeath leaves the map in a North-Easterly direction.
  3. The Southbound Fife Circle Line to Rosyth and Dalmeny, runs behind the building that looks strangely like a signpost and leaves the map in a Southerly direction
  4. There is a junction, called Charlestown Junction, where the Kincardine Line joins the Fife Circle Line.

This Google Map shows Charlestown junction.

Note.

  1. The Fife Circle Line is double-track.
  2. The Kincardine Line is only single-track.
  3. Trains must enter and leave the Kincardine Line from a Northerly direction.
  4. There is a cross-over between Charlestown junction and Dunfermline Town station.

The Google Map shows Dunfermline Town station to a larger scale.

It looks like fitting in an additional platform could be difficult.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

I am introducing this train into the discussion, as the train might be an alternative to electrifying the Kincardine Line.

This infographic from Hitachi, describes the train.

Note that 90 kilometres is fifty-six miles.

From what Hitachi have said, it is likely that Class 385 trains, as used by ScotRail could be fitted with batteries and become a version of the Regional Battery Train.

  • They could be three or four cars.
  • They could work in pairs.
  • They would have a 100 mph operating speed.

Even on battery power, they might save time, against the current diesel units working services in Scotland.

Regional Battery Trains And The Fife Circle Line

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.

A train going round the Fife Circle Route would do the following legs.

  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Dalmeny and Glenrothes with Thornton via Cowdenbeath – 22.3 miles – Not electrified
  • Glenrothes with Thornton and Dalmeny via Kirkaldy – 21.4 miles – Not electrified
  • South Gyle and Dalmeny – 5 miles – Not electrified.
  • Edinburgh and South Gyle – 4.5 miles – All but one mile electrified.

This gives the following  totals

  • Not electrified via Cowdenbeath – 28.3 miles
  • Not electrified via Kirkcaldy – 27.4 miles
  • Round trip – 62.7 miles
  • Electrified – 7 miles

It would be very tight for a Regional Battery Train to do a round trip of 62.7 miles consistently with a range of just 56 miles, with only seven miles of electrification at the Edinburgh end.

But if charging at Glenrothes with Thornton were added, this would enable the trains to start out on the near thirty miles without electrification with full batteries from both ends. They would be unlikely to run out of power halfway.

Regional Battery Trains And The Levenmouth Rail Link

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I wrote about the five-mile long Levenmouth Rail Link, and how it could be run by battery trains.

Since I wrote that post, Hitachi have announced their Regional Battery Train.

  • If these were used on the route, they would join the Fife Circle at Thornton North Junction.
  • I estimate that the track distance that is not electrified between Leven and Edinburgh via Thornton North junction, is about thirty-five miles, whether the trains go via Glenrothes with Thornton and Cowdenbeath or Kirkcaldy,

As with the Glenrothes with Thornton service, if there was charging at at both ends, the route would be within comfortable range of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains.

Regional Battery Trains And The Kincardine Line

Rough distances by road along the Kincardine Line are as follows.

  • Alloa and Longannet – 8 miles
  • Alloa and Dunfermline Town – 15 miles
  • Alloa and Glenrothes with Thornton via Dunfermline Town – 30 miles

This would surely mean that Regional Battery Trains could work all these routes.

  • Trains would leave Alloa with full batteries after charging on the electrification from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
  • Longannet and Dunfermline Town could be served by a return trip from Alloa on batteries.
  • Charging at the Fife end would only be needed for the Glenrothes with Thornton route.

Some might think, that this would mean the Kincardine Line needn’t be electrified. But I feel Talgo will want an electrified route to their factory, so trains can move in and out under electric power.

The Design Of The Kincardine Route

These are my thoughts on various topics, taken vaguely from West to East.

Alloa Station

Alloa station already has two tracks, but as the plans envisage two tph between Alloa and Longannet, I am fairly certain a second platform will be needed at Alloa.

There is certainly space, but the station would also need a bridge for passengers.

Perhaps, the architects will use something like this bridge design.

This step-free bridge won the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition, but has yet to be deployed on the UK rail network.

Will the two tph service between Alloa and Longannet continue West to Stirling?

I suspect the track layout with a passing loop at Cambus to add to the one at Alloa station will give sufficient track capacity, so I suspect there will be two tph between Longannet and Stirling.

Would both services terminate at Glasgow or would one go to Glasgow, with the other to Edinburgh?

Clackmannan Station

The small town of Clackmannan has a population of about 3,500 and used to be served by Clackmannan and Kennet station, which closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the town of Clackmannan.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line runs between the North West and South-East corners of the map, through the centre of the town.
  2. The original Clackmannan and Kennet station was to the South-East of this map.

This second Google map shows an enlargement of part of the town.

It would appear that there is space for a station.

  • Only a single platform would be needed.
  • What is the plan for the development site?

It could be designed as a walkway station, as has been proposed for Magor and Undy station in Wales.

Kincardine Station

The Kincardine Line runs between the small town of Kincardine and the River Forth and Kincardine station closed in 1930.

This Google Map shows the railway alongside the river.

Note.

  1. Kincardine Bridge crossing the Firth of Forth.
  2. The bridge can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.
  3. The Kincardine Line running along the river.
  4. It is not a long walk between the town centre and the railway.
  5. The blue dot to the South of the road junction marks the start of the Fife Coastal Path, which is over a hundred miles long.

Will the station be built in this area?

Longannet Station

Longannet power station was at the time of closure in 2016, the third-largest coal-fired power station in Europe.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note.

  1. The actual power station is in the middle.
  2. To the West is the coal store.
  3. The Kincardine Line comes along the river and then loops North of the power station, before curving down to the river to go to the East.
  4. There appears to be two triangular junctions either side of the coal store with a loop around the store to allow delivery of coal.

This second Google Map shows between the power station and the coal store.

Note.

  1. The Kincardine Line running West-East across the map.
  2. The triangular junction connecting it to the loop line around the coal store.
  3. The coal conveyor that used to move coal from the store to the power station.

I’d certainly like to see the plans for the site, as it is one with a lot of potential.

  • There is space for a large rail-connected factory for Talgo.
  • The station could be placed at the most convenient place.
  • There is space for a two platform station to make sure a two tph service is possible.
  • There could be lots of housing and industrial units.
  • there could be waterside housing.
  • There could be a convenient rail service to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

It could be a big development for the Central Belt of Scotland.

Onward To Dunfermline

I have followed the route to Dunfermline Town station in my helicopter and it doesn’t seem the most difficult of lines to reopen.

  • Unlike many lines like this, there doesn’t appear to be too many bridges or level crossings.
  • The connection to the Fife Circle Line looks to be adequate.

I have these thoughts.

  • Cn this section of the line, could more stations be added?
  • As the Fife Circle Line is not electrified, would battery electric trains be ideal?
  • Would turnround facilities be needed at Dunfermline Town stations.

But at the moment, the plan is only to go as far as Longannet.

Thoughts On The Stations

The stations would generally be very simple.

  • Alloa would be a two-platform station.
  • Longannet might need provision for a passing loop and a second platform, so extension to Dunfermline wouldn’t be difficult.
  • All other stations could be single platforms.
  • All stations would be step-free.

Only two-platform stations would need footbridges.

Final Thoughts On Electrification

Consider.

  • All services on the Fife Circle Line, Kincardine Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link could be run using Hitachi’s proposed Regional Battery Train, with a few charging facilities at selected stations.
  • Talgo will need an electrified line to Longannet
  • As Alloa and Dunfermline Town is only about 15 miles, a Regional Battery Train could run a return trip without recharging.

It would appear that only the single-track between Alloa and Longannet needs to be electrified.

Conclusion

This looks to be a good scheme.

September 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘World First’: SGN Launches Bid For 300 Green Hydrogen Homes Project In Fife

This title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Business Green.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Around 300 homes in Scotland could soon have their heating and cooking powered by green hydrogen produced from renewable electricity under proposals for “the world’s first green hydrogen-to-homes network” unveiled today by SGN.

A few points from the article.

  • Construction could start in the winter of 2020/21.
  • The project will take two or three years.
  • The modified houses appear to be in Levenmouth.
  • The project has been dubbed H100 Fife.
  • The hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis using electricity generated by offshore wind.

The article also gives a round-up of the state of hydrogen in the UK.

Could This Have Other Implications For Levenmouth?

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I discussed the rebuilding of the Levenmouth Rail Link.

I suggested that the route could be run by Hitachi Class 385 trains with batteries, which Hitachi have stated are being developed. I covered the trains in more detail in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

If there were to be a source of hydrogen at Levenmouth, could hydrogen-powered trains be used on the route?

The Levenmouth Rail link could be a prototype for other short rail links in Scotland.

 

In

 

 

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Around The Fife Circle Line

Although, I’ve been to Scotland many times, I’d never knowingly been over the Forth Bridge in good light.

So I went all the way round the Fife Circle Line and took these pictures.

The route was fairly busy and I very much feel that the three-car Class 170 train could at times be rather small for the route.

The Fife Circle Line

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

Consider.

The route is double-track.

  • The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton station via Comdenbeath is 22.3 miles
  • The distance from Dalmeny to Glenrothes with Thornton station via Kirkcaldy is 21.4 miles
  • The train I was on waited a couple of minutes at Glenrothes with Thornton station before turning to Edinburgh.

In addition my pictures show the following.

  • Many of the bridges are high- enough to allow electrification.
  • On the East side of the Circle, there are some old stone bridges that would need to be raised for electrification.
  • Some of the stations are step-free with ramps.

Overall, it is a typically-Scottish neat-and-tidy line, that needs some improvement, like longer electric trains and some improved stations with step-free access.

Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

In my view, there are two major obstacles to full-electrification of the Fife Circle Line.

The Forth Rail Bridge

I feel that engineers could electrify the Forth Rail Bridge without too much difficulty.

But that is not the problem.

  • The bridge is on the main route between Edinburgh and Aberdeen and North East Scotland and electrification would cause major disruption during the installation.
  • There is also the Heritage Lobby, who would probably be totally against major changes to a World Heritage Site.

For these reasons, I don’t think that the Forth Bridge will be electrified.

The Stone Bridges On The Eastern Side Of The Circle

There are nearly a dozen stone arch bridges on the route through Kirkcaldy and raising these for electrification would cause major disruption to one of Scorland’s main rail routes.

Third-Rail Electrification Of The Fife Circle Line

In my view, this would be an option to get round the problems of disruption and the Forth Rail Bridge.

But, third-rail electrifrication is still-considered a method non-grata, despite being used successfully for over a hundred years in Merseyside and South of London.

I do wonder, if Brexit will make it easier to install third-rail systems.

Certainly, Hitachi who would probably make most of the electric trains that would use the Forth Rail Bridge and the Fife Circle Line have the technology for third-rail trains, which they used on the Class 395 trains for HighSpeed commuter services to Kent.

I do wonder, if Brexit will make it easier to install third-rail systems.

Battery-Electric Trains On The Fife Circle Line

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I discussed Hitachi’s plan to fit batteries to Class 385 trains, so they could run on unelectrified lines.

The Fife Circle Line would be an ideal route for battery-electric trains.

This map shows the rail lines to the South of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Note.

  1. An unelectrified line, through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations, connects the Forth Bridge to the main electrifield Edinburgh and Glasgow Line through Edinburgh Park station.
  2. There is also another unelectrified line, that connects the Forth Rail Bridge to Linlithgow, Falkirk and Glasgow.
  3. Shown in yellow is a proposed chord, which would create another route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Electrification as far as Dalmeny station, which is between the Forth Bridge and the proposed chord would enable LNER’s bi-mode Class 800 trains to use electric power for a few extra miles.

As I said earlier, the distance between Dalmeny and Glenrothes with Thorntonh station is under twenty-five miles using either the Western or Eastern side of the Fife Circle Line.

  • Twenty-five miles is well within range of a battery-electric train, that has charged the battery using the electrification between Edinburgh and Dalmeny.
  • Most quoted ranges for battery-electric trains are in the order of sixty miles, so a well-designed train could probably do a complete round trip from Dalmeny station.
  • A charging point could be provided at Glenrothes with Thorton station to top up the batteries, whilst the train waits to return, if that were deemed necessary.

In my view, the Fife Circle Line is an ideal route for battery-electric trains. Especially, as the only new infrastructure required is as follows.

  • Electrification to Dalmeny station, which may be under consideration anyway.
  • Provision of a charging station at Glenrothes with Thornton station.

It is undoubtedly, the lowest cost way to provide new electric trains on the Fife Circle Line.

How Big Would The Batteries Need To Be?

I use a figure of three kWh per vehicle mile for the energy consumption of an electric multiple unit running on a typical route. My reasoning for this figure is given in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?.

On that basis a three-car Class 385 train would need a battery capacity of 3x3x50 or 450 kWh to do a complete trip around the Fife Circle Line.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh in a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

Surely, Hitachi have the technology to put 450 kWh in a three-car Class 385 train.

Trains On The Levenmouth Rail Link

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I talked about using Class 385 trains with batteries on the Levenmouth Rail Link.

The same Class 385 trains with batteies could do both routes.

Extension To The Borders Railway

There has been suggestions, that Borders Railway and Fife Circle Line trains run back-to-back across Edinburgh.

It is just over thirty miles between Newcraighall, where the electrification from Edinburgh ends, and Tweedbank.

With a charging station at Tweedbank, Class 385 trains with batteries could run both routes.

Conclusion

It appears that running battery-electric Class 385 trains on the Fife Circle Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link is a feasible option.

It would also be superb publicity for the company, who supplied the trains, if videos were shown of the trains on the Forth Rail Bridge.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , , , | 8 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