The Anonymous Widower

Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link

Skelmersdale is the second largest town in the North West of |England without a railway station.

But it does appear that things are progressing towards the town having what is probably a much-needed station.

This article in the Southport Visiter is entitled Funding boost for new rail link to Skelmersdale.

Reading the article, you get the impression that all the stakeholders have got together and come up with a sensible plan.

The Route

The article says this about the route.

The plan would see Merseyrail services extended on from the current terminus at Kirkby station to serve Headbolt Lane, Rainford and Skelmersdale. Skelmersdale would become the new interchange for Merseyrail, and Northern Services on to Wigan and Manchester.

This would seem to be a well-thought out plan to use Skelmersdale as an interchange.

This Google Map shows the Southern part of Skelmersdale and the railway that runs through Rainford and Upholland stations.

Note.

  1. The town centre of Skelmersdale is the Concourse, which is marked by the town’s name in the top-centre of the map.
  2. The Kirkby Branch Line runs across the map.
  3. Rainford station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. Upholland station is on the left-centre of the map.
  5. Kirkby station and the new Headbolt Lane station would be West of Rainford station on the existing line which is single track.
  6. The track from Rainford through Upholland and to the East is double-track.

It looks like a triangular junction would be created East of Rainford, that would allow trains from both the East (Upholland, Wigan and Manchester) and trains from the West (Kirkby and Liverpool) to turn to the North to a station in Skelmersdale.

Looking at the area in more detail from my virtual helicopter, I’m certain that  a station could be placed close to the town centre with the capability of handling four trains per hour from both Liverpool and Manchester.

The station would probably need two platforms; one for Liverpool and one for Manchester.

There would be various possibilities for the track layout between the station and the existing Kirkby Branch Line.

In the simplest form, each platform would have an independent single track, which would allow trains from both Liverpool and Manchester to arrive and depart from Skelmersdale simultaneously.

I would also arrange the two platforms as opposite faces of a shared island platform.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains from Liverpool and Manchester would arrive at the same time.
  • Trains to Liverpool and Manchester would depart a few minutes later at the same time.
  • Passengers needing to change at the station would only have to walk across the platform and wait for the other train to leave.
  • A coffee kiosk and a shop could be positioned on the shared platform.

The Northern end of the platform could be open and passengers could walk straight into the Shopping Centre or to the parking.

It would not only be passenger-friendly, but totally step-free and very affordable.

The only restriction would be that trains must be able to do the following in under fifteen minutes.

  1. Travel from the Kirkby Branch Line to Skelmersdale station.
  2. Turnback the train at Skelmersdale.
  3. Travel from Skelmersdale station to the Kirkby Branch Line.

I have said fifteen minutes, as that would be needed for four trains per hour.

This might not be possible with the current Class 508 and Class 142 trains, unless they were extremely well driven, but Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains and Northern’s 100 mph Class 319 trains, would probably be able to handle the service.

It would be a unique way to serve a town like Skelmersdale, which is a few miles from a double-track line.

The only complicated track-work needed would be where the branch joined the Kirkby Branch Line.

Electrification

Merseyrail’s network is electrified using 750 VDC third-rail, whereas if the line to Manchester were to be electrified it would probably use 25 KVAC overhead wires, as has been used all over North-West England.

Keeping the two lines independent would enable each to have its own system. This layout has been used between Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington stations on the London Overground and it has worked successfully for over seven years.

The article in the Southport Visiter also says this.

Merseyrail’s new trains will be running on the existing network from 2020, and trials to run them beyond the existing electrified ‘third rail’ track could help inform the scope of the Skelmersdale scheme, potentially meaning that major changes to install electrified track wouldn’t be needed. Developments in Northern trains over the next few years could also remove the requirement for lineside infrastructure and power connections as part of the project.

In Battery EMUs For Merseyrail, I talked about how Stadler were going to fit batteries to two of the new Merseyyrail trains.

I’m sure that if the third-rail electrification was extended from Kirkby to Rainford, that one of the new Stadler trains will be able to reach Skelmersdale and return.

The Stadler trains might even be able to travel from the existing electrification at Kirkby to Skelmersdale and back.

Northern could run the service between Skelmersdale and Manchester, using their new Class 769 trains, which can operate on lines with or without electrification.

This could mean that the link to Skelmersdale station could be built without electrification.

Kirkby Station

Kirkby station would only need minor rebuilding as it is effectively a single long platform, where Liverpool and Manchester trains meet head-on.

The barrier in the middle of the single-track under the bridge would need removing and there would be some moving of signals, but nothing very expensive would be needed.

Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station would be another single platform station, which would serve trains going between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

Rainford Station

Rainford station wouldn’t need any modification, but it might be reduced to a single step-free platform.

A Co-Operative Project

The article in the Southport Visiter says this.

The Skelmersdale Project is led by Lancashire County Council, involving Merseytravel, West Lancashire Borough Council, Merseyrail, Northern Rail and Network Rail.

This must be the key to the success of the project.

The Cost Of The Project

The article in the Southport Visiter says that the current estimate of the project cost is £300 million.

These actions will need to be done.

  • Create the track to connect Skelmersdale station to the Kirkby Branch Line.
  • Build a shared double-platform station at Skelmersdale.
  • Build a single-platform station at Headbolt Lane.
  • Upgrade the signalling.
  • Deliver the new Stadler trains and ascertain their range on batteries.
  • Northern must acquire some trains for Skelmersdale to Manchester.

It looks to me, that a budget of £300 million would be adequate.

Building The Project

The major work would be creating the junction East of Rainford station and the route to Skelmerrsdale and its new station.

If it could be built without any major electrification, it shouldn’t be the most difficult of construction projects.

Headbolt Lane station could be built as a single platform alongside the existing line.

It looks to me, that this is a classic project that fits into Network Rail’s new philosophy as outlined in this article in Rail echnology Magazine, which is entitled Carne: I’m determined for private sector to directly invest in railway.

Conclusion

It is an excellent plan!

 

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

London Businesses Endorse Calls For ‘Crossrail for the North’

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

This is said.

A statement from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) admitted that travelling in the north was a “tortuous, time-consuming experience” and that improved travel in the region needed to be seen as a top future priority by the government.

But perhaps this is this most telling statement, from the LCCI’s Policy Director.

It is interesting to note that the distance between Leeds and Liverpool is roughly the same as the whole length of London Underground’s Central Line – yet that northern journey can sometimes nearly take double the time,

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry have a very valid point.

Some typical journeys between Liverpool and Leeds.

  • Liverpool to Newcastle train – One hour twenty-eight minutes
  • Liverpool to Scarborough train – One hour forty-six minutes

And across London from Ealing Broadway to Stratford

  • Central Line – 53 minutes – Actual
  • Crossrail – 27 minutes – Predicted

I would read the following into these figures.

  1. Why does a Scarborough service take twenty minutes longer than a Newcastle one?
  2. Creating a new route can create substantial saving of time.

This suggests to me a two phase approach to creating a better service across the North.

In the first phase new trains, track and signalling improvements and more efficient operation, are used to cut the time as much as possible.

In The Pressure For More Rail Electrification, I speculated that the following times could be possible.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 30 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 28 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 22 minutes

When the following are done.

  1. Liverpool to Manchester Victoria could be speeded up by a couple of minutes, after the addition of the fourth track at Huyton.
  2. According to the time table, most dwell times are reasonable, but nine minutes is allowed at Manchester Victoria.
  3. Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge electrification is completed.
  4. All trains that can’t cruise at 100 mph are removed from the route.

One,  three and four are already underway and if the track were to be improved across Chat Moss, which currently has a 75 mph speed limit, I reckon that a reliable time of 60-70 minutes would be possible with a Class 800 train.

This would use electrification between Liverpool and Stalybridge and diesel from there to Leeds.

But even with selective electrification between Stalybridge and Leeds, the sort of times the North needs will not be attained.

Some form of new route will be needed in phase two of speeding up trains between Liverpool and Leeds.

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North

There has been a lot of talk recently about HS3 or Crossrail Of The North.

On Radio 5 Live, this morning, Lord Adonis said a lot of sensible things about the high speed line from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

His plea was for a plan for a start and he suggested that an objective would be to halve the journey time from Manchester to Leeds and have a train every few minutes.

He suggested it could be probably built using a mixture of new track alignments and existing railways.

I agree with what he said, but the problem is that every Tom, Dick and Harriet has their own ideas of what they want.

How Would I Design Crossrail Of The North?

I can at least look at this without favouring any one of the North’s great urban area.

Urban Areas Of The North

I will list those with populations of over 200,000,, from this list in Wikipedia.

  • Manchester – 2,553,379
  • West Yorkshire – 1,777,934
  • Liverpool – 864,122
  • Tyneside – 774,891
  • Nottingham – 729,977
  • Sheffield – 685,368
  • Teeside – 376,633
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 372,775
  • Sunderland – 335,415
  • Birkenhead – 325,264
  • Hull – 314,018
  • Preston – 313,322
  • Blackpool – 239,409
  • Barnsley – 223,281

Urban areas with populations between 100,000 and 200,000 include Wigan, Mansfield, Warrington, Doncaster, York, Burnley, Blackburn, Grimsby, Accrington, Burton, Lincoln and Chesterfield.

Some of the connections between pairs of these areas are truly dreadful despite being only fifty or so files apart.

Northern Connect

I would think it reasonable that all these centres of population have good, preferably direct,  connections between them.

Northern obviously think this way as they are creating a concept called Northern Connect, using new Class 195 trains to connect many of these areas with a quality service.

The North TransPennine Routes

TransPennine operate these North Peenine  routes.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) – Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport to York
  • 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street – Scarborough
  • 1 tph – Manchester Piccadilly to Hull

Note that the opening of the Ordsal Chord iin a few months, might change the routing of some of these services.

All of these services use the Huddersfield Line between Manchester and Leeds, stopping at both Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

 

Manchester Victoria To Leeds

As Lord Adonis said, the important section is between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

I’ll start with a comparison of a series of rail journeys, all of which are about the same length.

  1. The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 tph
  2. Norwich to Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.
  3. Glasgow to Edinburgh currently takes about fifty minutes, at a frequency of 4 tph.
  4. Cardiff to Swansea currently takes 52-54 minutes, at a frequency of 2 tph.

It does seem that the North has a point if  two of East Anglia’s larger cities get a better service than Leeds and Manchester.

The Huddersfield Line And The Great Eastern Main Line Compared

It is also enlightening to compare the Manchester to Leeds Line via Huddersfield to Ipswich To Norwich section of the Great Eastern Main Line.

It should be noted that I’m comparing these two lines, as both have lived on scraps from Central Government for decades. I also know the Great Eastern Main Line well!

  • Both lines are double-track.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is flat.
  • The Huddersfield Line is rather hilly
  • Norwich-Ipswich has only two stations and only the occasional slower service.
  • The Huddersfield Line has numerous stations and local services.
  • Norwich-Ipswich is electrified to a robust standard.
  • On the Huddersfield Line, only Manchester to Stalybridge is scheduled for electrification.
  • Norwich-Ipswich has a 100 mph speed limit, that could possibly be raised in places.
  • I can’t find the speed limit on the Huddersfield Line, but suspect it could be less than 100 mph.

It is truthful to say that the Huddersfield Line is a much more challenging route than the Norwich to Ipswich.

The Effect Of Electrification On The Great Eastern Main Line

It might appear that the electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line makes for the difference in times.

But it should also be remembered that Ipswich to Norwich wasn’t electrified until the mid 1980s and if I remember correctly before that date, the fastest expresses were timed at two hours from Norwich to London with just two stops. The fastest services now are ten minutes under two hours with four stops.

With the introduction of the new Class 745 trains, timings of ninety minutes have been promised to the Department for Transport.

Timings did not drop significantly with the electrification in the mid-1980s, Services just became more reliable with more stops, as electric trains can accelerate better.

The decrease in timings over the next few years will be down to the following.

  • Removal of bottlenecks like Trowse Bridge.
  • Increase in speed limits.
  • Trains with a shorter dwell time at stations.
  • Trains with better acceleration and braking.
  • Improved track and signalling.
  • All passenger trains on the line will have the same performance.

I will be very interested to see what timings, the Class 745 trains eventually achieve!

Electrifying Between Leeds And Manchester Victoria Stations

It looks like the electrification between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations will be complete by the end of this year.

The central section of the route is problematical with the Grade 1 Listed Huddersfield station and large numbers of bridges.

In TransPennine Electrification And Piccadilly Upgrade Now Also In Doubt, I came to these conclusions about electrifying the route.

  1. Electrification would not go anywhere near Huddersfield, as the heritage lobby and their lawyers would have a field day.

  2. Standedge and Morley tunnels are over 2,000 metres long, double track and Standedge is level. If they needed refurbishment in the future, perhaps they could be electrified with an overhead rail, so that bi-modes could have a couple of miles of electricity.

  3. Electrification might be extended at the Manchester and Leeds ends of the line, so that the two cities could improve their local suburban electric networks.

  4. An alternative would be that the Leeds and Manchester suburban electric networks were provided with a few Class 769 trains or even some brand new four-car bi-modes.

  5. Services between Leeds and Manchester would be run by fast bi-modes.

Is there a more difficult stretch of possibleelectrification in the UK?

The Ultimate Bi-Mode Train

Currently four bi-mode trains are planned for introduction into the UK.

Note.

  • Two hundred and eleven bi-mode trains have been ordered.
  • Nineteen Class 802 trains have been ordered for TransPennine routes.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I look at the prospect of using energy storage in Hitachi’s bi-mode trains.

The Class 802 train is probably something like the ultimate bi-mode train.

  • 125 mph using electrification.
  • 100 mph under diesel power
  • Regenerative braking at all times using energy storage.
  • Automatic pantograph raising and lowering.
  • Sophisticated in-cab signalling.

Obviously, interior fitment would be up to the operator.

Class 195 Trains

Northern is acquiring 25 x two-car and 30 x three-car Class 195 trains.

These are 100 mph trains, so it must be a good idea to make sure all Northern services that use the same routes as TransPennine services are run by these faster trains.

Short/Medium Term – A Classic Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

TransPennine Express are already planning to run Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester and Leeds. It looks to me, that whoever plans their train policy, saw the electrification crisis coming.

I wonder what times they can achieve between Leeds and Manchester Victoria, if the following were to be done.

  • Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria electrification is complete.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

The reason for the same operating speed of 100 mph, enables trains to follow each other in a stream. It could be 90 mph, if that was easier for the route.

Station dwell times can also be reduced.

Due to overcrowding, the TransPennine dwell times, must currently be some of the worst in the UK.

This is typical at Huddersfield.

Not even the Japanese with their pushers could get this to work.

But a modern train like the Class 802 train with wide lobbies and adequate capacity should cope.

So what time could be possible, if everything goes as planned?

If Norwich to Ipswich which is about the same distance as Leeds to Manchester, can be achieved in thirty minutes, I believe it is possible that the Northern route could be achieved in the same time or perhaps thirty-five minutes.

Thirty-five minutes should be adequate for a few years, if say there was a train every ten minutes!

Long Term – A Genuine High Speed Manchester Victoria To Leeds Route

I’ve flown my virtual helicopter between Manchester and Leeds and it is not flat agricultural land like seventy percent of the route of HS2.

I believe that creating a genuine high speed route, with say a 140 mph top speed across the Pennines will be a major engineering challenge that will make Crossrail in London look easy.

It may even be more economic to develop 140 mph hydrogen-powered tilting trains, that can run on the classic route at 125 mph.

Only one thing matters to passengers; a fast reliable and very comfortable and affordable  train service across the country.

Manchester Victoria To Manchester Airport

When the Ordsall Chord opens any Leeds to Manchester Victoria service can continue to Deansgate, Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations.

Manchester Victoria To Liverpool

Currently, services between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria stations take a few minutes over half-an-hour.

I would suspect that thirty minutes is achievable, if the following is done.

  • The four-tracking at Huyton is completed.
  • Track and signalling is the best it can be.
  • The route has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • All trains on the route are 100 mph capable.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.

I suspect all of this is in progress.

Note, this is very similar work, to that needed between Manchester and Leeds.

Leeds To Hull

Currently, services between Leeds and Hull stations take a few minutes under an hour.

A few thoughts on the route.

  • The Selby Line from  Leeds to Hull is double-track and not electrified.
  • From my virtual helicopter, it appears to be straight in very flat country, so it is no wonder Hull Trains offered to electrify the line.
  • If the Selby swing bridge were to be sorted, it could become a 100 mph line with trains to match.
  • Northern replaces their scrapyard specials with Class 195 trains.
  • Modern in-cab signalling.

I suspect quite a few minutes could be taken off this route which is about fifty miles.

I suspect this line will eventually be electrified, as it could give sound time savings and it looks relatively easy.

York To Scarborough

Currently, services between York and Scarborough stations take forty-nine minutes, with one tph.

  • Similar improvements to the double-track unelectrified line as for the Leeds to Hull route, could be made.
  • But if the line has a problem , it is that it has 89 level crossings, although Network Rail intends to close them all before 2025.

I wonder, if the time can be reduced between York and Scarborough, such that two tph can be timetabled.

I doubt York to Scarborough will be electrified.

Northallerton To Middlesbrough

This short line is quite heavily used and is a valuable diversion route, so I suspect nothing urgent needs to be done.

Like Leeds to Hull, I suspect this line will eventually be electrified.

Conclusions

I have come to the following conclusions.

  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds is achievable in half-an-hour with the new trains on order and no major infrastructure, other than that already planned.
  • Any line where TransPennine Express services run needs to have the highest possible operating speed and no slow trains.
  • Northern need to get their Class 195 trains into service as soon as possible.

Improvements are much-needed in the North, which could include.

  • A short/medium term plan to deliver the best possible service with the new trains ordered by Northern and TransPennine Express.
  • A long term plan to deliver a genuine 140 mph service across the North of England.
  • A plan to improve the Calder Valley and Hope Valley Lines across the Pennines.
  • A plan to improve some of the poor connections across the North.
  • A strategy to make the best use of connections with HS2.

A detailed plan is needed that lays down what should be done in the next ten to twenty years.

The plan is also needed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

NR States Ambition To Keep Liverpool Moving During Major Lime Street Work

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Liverpool Lime Street will remain “open for business” whilst it undergoes major work this autumn, Network Rail has today reassured passengers in the region.

The latest stage of work will take place between 30 September and 22 October in what is one of the biggest upgrades the station has seen since the 19th century.

The station upgrade is part of a £340 million railway investment in the Liverpool City Region.

This document from Network Rail describes the scope of the project in detail.

These are some extracts from the document.

What Are The Benefits For Passengers?

The Liverpool City Region Railway Upgrade Plan will deliver for passengers:

  •  A bigger and better railway network with longer and faster trains
  •  More reliable railway infrastructure
  • Better facilities for passengers, especially at stations
  • Increased capacity/additional services

What Will This Mean In Practice?

  • Three extra services per hour, in and out of Lime Street station, such as the planned new First Transpennine Express
    services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019.
  • Better east-west connectivity to and from Liverpool.
  • New services to Chester via Liverpool South Parkway and the opportunity to develop more routes into North Wales in the future.
  • New station facilities and interchange at Newton-Le-Willows.
  • A new station at ‘Maghull North’ to support growth in passenger demand.
  • New signalling which will improve the reliability of the network and speed up decision making to minimise disruption.
  • Works to facilitate the running of new trains on the Wirral and Northern lines.

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Liverpool Lime Street station will be getting a major upgrade consisting of the following.

  • Two new platforms between the current platforms 7 and 8.
  • Platform lengthening.
  • Improved signalling and electrification.
  • More shops.

This should enable another three trains per hour to be handled.

It’s over fifty years since I first arrived in Lime Street to go to Liverpool University and the station has changed a lot in those years. Network Rail are saying, that this upgrade will cope with the doubling of passenger number expected before 2043.

Using Liverpool South Parkway Station As A Relief Terminus

The upgrade will mean that at times during the works, trains into Liverpool will not be able to access Lime Street. So some trains will terminate at Liverpool South Parkway station from where passengers can take Merseyrail’s Northern Line to the City Centre.

How many of our large cities can cope, when the main station is closed?

  • Glasgow proved they can, when Queen Street station was closed.
  • London is managing biow, with mahor works going on at Waterloo.
  • Manchester’s ability to cope will surely be greatly improved when the Ordsall Chord opens.
  • Birmingham seemed to manage during the rebuilding of New Street station.
  • Newcastle has the Metro to help.
  • Sheffield has a second station at Meadowhall.

Would Leeds be the city to struggle?

Liverpool will probably cope well, as there are various rail routes into the City, that avoid Lime Street, most of which have four trains per hour.

I always remember the Liverpool Bus Strike of around 1967. Liverpudlians just walked, as did most of the students like me, who needed to get into the University.

I don’t think, it will come to walking this time, as Network Rail have promised quality buses.

Conclusion

There is a lot of work to do, but after the example of Waterloo, it is likely to go fairly well to plan.

But there will be a few hiccups.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Does Northern See Wigan As A Class 769 Train Hub?

The Wikipedia entry for Northern, shows under their entry for eight Class 769 trains, that the routes they will cover include.

  • Liverpool to Wigan
  • Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton.

Wigan is a proud and friendly town and I wrote about it in Wigan On The Up.

The West Coast Main Line through Wigan North Western station is electrified and Northern run half-hourly electric services to Liverpool using Class 319 trains.

But the other station; Wigan Wallgate is not wired and is definitely Pacer territory.

Liverpool to Wigan

As Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western is fully electrified, I would be very surprised if Northern would run a bi-mode Class 769 train on this route, except as a stand-in for a failed Class 319 train.

Routes to places North of Wigan North Western, like Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston will be fully-electrified, so these routes can be served by the Class 319 trains.

Northern could be thinking of running a service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackburn/Burnley for which a Class 769 train would be ideal.

But I think more likely, is that they are thinking of using Class 769 trains on the Kirkby Branch Line, which currently links Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations.

Consider.

  • There is talk of running this branch as a shuttle.
  • Wigan Wallgate station already has a suitable bay platform for a shuttle.
  • The route is double-track except between Kirkby and Rainford stations.
  • Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate takes a convenient twenty-four minutes.
  • Merseyrail have a long term ambition to built a new Headbolt Lane station, as an interchange between their Northern Line and services to Wigan and Manchester.
  • Merseyrail want to serve Skelmersdale.

Could this route be the reason for the reported Battery EMUs For Merseyrail?

  1. The Class 769 trains are used between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations as a shuttle.
  2. Two trains would be able to provide a two trains per hour (tph) service, without any new infrastructure.
  3. Merseyrail ascertain that their new Stadler trains can travel between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and back on battery power.
  4. Merseyrail determine if a fast charging station is needed in the bay platform at Wigan Wallgate for their Stadler trains.

If the Class 769 trains show the passenger traffic is there and the Stadler trains can handle the route on batteries, could we see some or all of the Merseyrail Northern Line services extended to Wigan Wallgate?

Because the Stadler trains will be fast modern trains designed to execute stops quickly, I suspect that even on the single track section of line between Kirkby and Rainford stations, they could run at the frequency of four tph, that is currently run all day between Kirkby and Liverpool Central stations.

  • This would mean that the the current four tph to Kirkby would become four tph to Wigan Wallgate.
  • The service would be run by brand-new Stadler trains.
  • The track at Kirkby would have to be relaid to allow trains to run straight through.
  • The signalling would probably need updating.
  • Means to charge the trains at Wigan Wallgate might need to be provided.
  • A new single-platform station could be built at Headbolt Lane.
  • The four stations between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate would get four tph in both directions.

It would give The Train To Wigan Pier a whole new meaning.

Once they had done their good works in proving the route, the Class 769 trains would be posted elsewhere to do more missionary work.

Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton

This is the other route mentioned in Wikipedia.

Consider.

  • Bolton to Manchester will be electrified, by the end of the year.
  • The route passes through Ince, Hindley, Westhoughton and Lostock.

Class 769 trains travelling this route,  would open a second electrified route between Manchester and Preston via Wigan.

Manchester to Southport

Why was this route not mentioned?

  • Manchester to Southport is a route run mainly by Pacers to a frequency of two tph.
  • Some trains go via Bolton and some via Atherton.
  • The route via Bolton will be partly electrified by the end of the year.
  • The route via Atherton is not electrified.

I suspect that under current plans of just eight Class 769 trains, there aren’t enough to use them on this busy route.

Ideally, this route should be run with two tph going on each of the routes to Manchester from Wigan Wallgate.

The Future

Northern have ordered both diesel and electric Civity multiple units from CAF.

In Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order, I looked at how CAF had proposed battery-electric Civity trains for Auckland.

I’m sure CAF wouldn’t mind varying the order.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Borderlands Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talked about the Borderlands Line.

The article says this about the line and the passenger service.

The line is currently worked by two ATW Class 150/2 Sprinter units, which do their best to maintain the clockface hourly frequency. The Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users Association told the Wales & Borders franchise inquiry performance is far from ideal, highlighting late running frequently leads to trains being turned back at Shotton, meaning they do not reach Bidston to connect with Merseyrail services to Liverpool and leaving lengthy gaps at intermediate stations in England.

The article then talks about electrifying the line, but Network Rail have indicated that this would cost £207million. Apparently, third-rail electriication now needs palisade fencing along the track.

Enter The Class 455 Flex Train

In The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I commented on the report, that Porterbrook were also looking at converting Class 455 trains to bi-modes.

Consider.

  • These trains could probably work Merseyrail’s tunnels, as they are closely related to the current trains.
  • They have quality 2 x 2 interiors.
  • They meet all regulations.
  • Performance is similar to the current trains.
  • They are four-cars.
  • Porterbrook will have ninety-one trains to place, when South Western Railway replaces them with Aventras.

The only problem is that the interiors are very red, which might upset half of Merseyside.

But I think it is possible that we could see Class 455 Flex trains working the Borderlands Line.

  • From Wrexham to Bidston, they would use their on-board diesel engines.
  • At Bidston, they would change from diesel to third-rail electric power.
  • From Bidston to Liverpool, they would join the queue of trains from the Wirral and go round the newly-rebuilt Loop Line.

I’m pretty sure, that if Merseyrail have signalled the Loop appropriately, that there would be enough capacity in the Loop to run two trains per hour (tph) between Wrexham and Liverpool.

Based on the following current timings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street -to Bidston – 17 minutes
  • Bidston to Wrexham – 1 hour

With a few performance tweaks, I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could do the round trip in well under three hours.

So three trains could easily handle the current hourly service, but would give the following advantages.

  • Direct access to Liverpool City Centre.
  • Four-cars instead of two.
  • A much better interior.

The only problem would be checking that the Class 455 trains would fit the tunnels in the Loop Line. But seeing, that  the Class 455 trains, were built as a successor to the Class 508 trains used by Merseyrail, I suspect they fit.

Could Class 319 Flex Trains Be Used?

The reason I looked at Class 455 Flex trains first is that in a article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled ‘319 Flex’ Units To Be Class 769, this is said.

The company reports considerable interest in the concept and expects further orders soon, while it is also considering transferring the concept to other rolling stock, such as Class 455 EMUs.

As Porterbrook will soon receiving around ninety of these trains from South Western Railway, these struck me as possibilities for the Borderlands Line.

If you look at Merseyrail’s current Class 507 and Class 508 trains, Class 455 trains and Class 319 trains, they all appear to have a similar 2.82 metre width and a 3.58 metre height.

So if Class 319 Flex trains could work the tunnels under Liverpool, what would this do to service on the Borderlands Line.

  • Their 90 mph as opposed to 75 mph operating speed could bring the round trip under two and a half hours.
  • Five trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.
  • Wrexham to Liverpool times of under an hour and fifteen minutes should be possible.
  • The better performance of the trains would allow extra stops to be made with ease.
  • The trains can have First Class seats and fully-accessible toilets.

In Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies, I noted how Arriva Trains Wales are acquiring five Class 319 Flex trains as cover for the refurbishment of Class 150 and Class 158 trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So once all of these diesel trains have been refurbished, will we be seeing the Class 319 Flex trains moved to the Borderlands Line?

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Halton Curve

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Halton Curve.

The curve will allow services between Liverpool Lime Street, South Liverpool and Liverpool Airport to Chester and North Wales.

The article says this.

Initially, Merseytravel will subsidise an hourly Chester-Liverpool service via the Halton Curve, as a first step in the development of enhanced services using the curve.

It then goes on to quote Huw Jenkins if Merseytravel as saying.

It would be a priority for the new Wales and Borders franchise to introduce regular services via the curve to Liverpool from significant stations in North Wales, including Bangor, Llandudno and Wrexham.

The business case for the Halton Curve is also stated to include.

  • Bangor to Liverpool in 140 minutes.
  • Llandudno to Liverpool in 130 minutes.
  • Create an alternative route between Liverpool and Cardiff via Chester and Shrewsbury.

I would suspect that the direct service between Cardiff and Liverpool will take about three and a half hours in something like a Class 802 train.

These trains could also probably travel between Liverpool and Shrewsbury in around ninety minutes, giving access to all the West Wales services at Shrewsbury station.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that when we look back on the reinstatement of the Halton Curve in a couple of decades, it could be a raging success and a very bad case of what I call London Overground Syndrome.

This is my definition of the disease.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital and across the UK, despite various eradication programs.

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvement are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seems in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in speed.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pop Group That Saved A City With A Little Help From Their Friends

It is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of one of the best albums of all time; Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I bought the album and still have it somewhere.

But I don’t think most people understand how the Beatles changed a city completely.

Liverpool in the sixties had nasty undercurrents of violence and religious hatred. But  in the five years, I lived in the city, these changed for the better, with the rivalry being transferred to support for your favourite group or football team.

Liverpool acquired a belief that it could take on the world and win.

Now, when I go back regularly, I find a confident, bustling, modern and friendly city, that compares to any in the world.

But what would have happened if the Beatles hadn’t?

April 5, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Pier Head On A Sunny Morning

When I was a student at Liverpool University in the 1960s, this area was so different.

I can only remember, the Three Graces and the Memorial to those with no known grave.

Incidentally, I talked to one of the volunteers in the Tate Liverpool and he says that Friday is often quiet in Liverpool. The gallery certainly was, but they were between exhibitions.

The statue looking out to sea is of Captain Frederick John “Johnnie” Walker, who  was the most successful anti-submarine warfare commander during the Battle of the Atlantic.

 

 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment