The Anonymous Widower

Man Dies After Being Hit By Train As Services Out Of Lime Street Cancelled

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Liverpool Echo.

These paragraphs describe the incident.

Cheshire Police were called to Hartford station in Northwich at around 4pm on Monday, May 23, following reports of a man being hit by a train. Once officers and paramedics arrived at the scene the station was closed to all trains and British Transport Police were called.

British Transport Police have confirmed when emergency services arrived at the scene the man was already dead. Officers are currently working to identify the man and inform their next of kin.

At 15:47, I left Liverpool Lime Street station for London and this was my journey.

  • We stopped at Runcorn and waited there about 15 minutes.
  • We then reversed back to Liverpool and got off the train.
  • We were then told to get back on the train.
  • I actually sat opposite my original seat in coach U, but there was a bit of chaos as Avanti West Coast were combining passengers for the 15:47 and 16:47.
  • We left Liverpool at 17:23.
  • The route was through Manchester and then South from Manchester Piccadilly.
  • We finally arrived in London at 20:18

The journey had taken five hours and thirty-four minutes.

In addition the 17:47, 18:47 and the 19:47 were cancelled, with some passengers taken by bus to Crewe.

May 24, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Liverpool Shows The World How To Plan A New Station

Liverpool and Liverpudlians tend to do things differently.

This article on Liverpool Business News is entitled First Look At New Baltic Triangle Station.

This is the first paragraph.

St James station closed in 1917 but images and a video fly-through of a proposed new Merseyrail station to serve the fast-growing Baltic Triangle in Liverpool have been released – and you can help choose a name.

These are my thoughts about the new Liverpool St. James station.

The Video Fly-Through

Merseyrail produced a high-class video fly-through for Headbolt Lane station and it is my belief that these types of presentation are the best way to show everybody what the Transport Authority, Local and National Government are planning to deliver.

Note.

  • The station is very cycling-friendly.
  • The proposal includes a cafe and toilets.
  • There are escalators from the surface to the platforms.

My only fault with the video, is that it uses the old Class 508 trains, rather than the new Class 777 trains. But that is being picky!

The Station Name

Liverpool already has a station called Liverpool James Street station.

The UK also has seven railway stations with James in the name and the whole world has a total of twelve, which are listed in Wikipedia.

So to avoid any possible confusion, the three chosen names seem to be a good idea.

  • Liverpool Baltic
  • Liverpool Parliament Street
  • Liverpool Riverside

Cast your vote before February 18th  by clicking here.

I can’t remember a station name being chosen by an Internet vote.

At least a write-in name is not allowed, which should avoid a silly name like Station McStationFace.

Conclusion

Liverpool are to be congratulated on their planning exercise for the new station.

January 20, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Penmaenmawr Quarry Rail Terminal Opens

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Hanson has reopened its Penmaenmawr railhead in north Wales, as part of its strategy to reduce vehicle movements and associated CO2 emissions.

The quarrying company has spent £300 000 refurbishing the facility, including upgrades to the railhead conveyor which was last used in 2012. The first trial service was operated by GB Railfreight and transported stone to the Tuebrook depot near Liverpool to test the equipment and uncover any operational issues within the quarry and at the railhead.

The aim is to one one train per week between North Wales and North West England.

This Google Map shows the Penmaenmawr railhead.

Note.

  1. Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.
  2. The railhead is in the bottom-left corner of the map.
  3. The North Wales Expressway is between the railway and the beach.

There is a conveyor leading to the South and this second Google Map shows the vast quarry complex.

Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.

It does appear to me, that this is a good move by Hanson.

  • If the quarry can be worked economically, it is surely worthwhile exploiting.
  • Opening new quarries, is generally not an easy process.
  • Even using diesel locomotives on the aggregate trains, probably saves carbon compared to trucks.
  • Closing the quarry would probably not be good for the area.
  • They only want to run one train per week.
  • I wonder, if the train goes through the Halton Curve that opened a couple of years ago.
  • Penmaenmawr and Tuebrook Sidings are a route of about eighty miles.

But I think in the future it could be a very good move, as at least one of three things will happen.

  • The North Wales Coast Line will be electrified.
  • Someone will develop a hydrogen-electric freight locomotive.
  • Wabtec will develop their battery-electric locomotive for the UK with a UK-sized FLXdrive battery.

All possibilities will help Hanson lower the carbon footprint of the route.

Given too, that Hanson will probably decarbonise their quarrying operations by using hydrogen-powered equipment, it should be possible to arrange a hydrogen supply at Penmaenmawr.

 

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

East Midlands Commuter Programme

The East Midlands Commuter Programme has been launched.

It has its own web site, with this mission statement.

Working Towards A Srosperous East Midlands By Investing In Rail

And this more expansive statement.

East Midlands Commuter Programme is a scheme to introduce a high-frequency and high-quality rail service across the East Midlands with as little new infrastructure as possible, as well as lobbying for the extension of NET trams into Derby, East Midlands Airport and more.

So what is the flesh on the bones?

Four Stages

These are.

It looks to me, that there is the start of good things there, but full information is not on the web site yet.

Every plan put forward must be capable of being built.

I shall not comment further until the plan has been completed, published and handed to the Government.

Liverpool’s Vision For Rail was published by the region in July 2021 and it is a complete and well-thought out plan.

In October 2021, I was able to write Chancellor To Fund £710m Merseyrail Expansion.

Work has already started on the first extension to Headbolt Lane station.

At a very much smaller level, look what happened in Devon with the Dartmoor Line, where a small scheme was delivered quickly.

We now also have two further smaller well-planned schemes underway; the Northumberland Line and the Levenmouth Rail Link in Scotland.

Conclusion

I would suspect, that if the East Midlands can write a plan that is complete, fully-costed and deliverable, then they will get the same result as the Liverpool City Region.

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Chancellor To Fund £710m Merseyrail Expansion

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Liverpool Business News.

This is the first sentence.

In his Budget on October 27 Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hand Liverpool city region £710m to extend the Merseyrail network using battery-operated trains.

I wrote about Merseyrail’s plans in Liverpool’s Vision For Rail.

This is a map of how the network might look.

Battery trains might serve Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan and Wrexham.

There is also this tailpiece to the Liverpool Business News article.

In August LBN also revealed Mr Rotheram was in talks with senior Government officials about taking full control of the Merseyrail network, including the physical infrastructure, Full devolution of the network would give the CA direct control over significant areas of land, opening up the opportunity for new development.

That seems very sensible.

October 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Life After Pancreatic Cancer

The London Marathon always throws up human stories.

This one from the Argus, which is entitled Youngest London Marathon Runner Raising Funds For Medics Who Saved Her Life, is one of the best I can remember.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The youngest runner in the London Marathon is undertaking the challenge to raise money for the medics who saved her life by carrying out surgery to remove a tumour from her gut the size of a large grapefruit.

Lucy Harvey, from Poole, Dorset, was admitted to Poole Hospital in January 2019 with appendicitis, but the pre-op scans identified a mass on her pancreas.

This story has really touched me.

  • My son died at 37 from pancreatic cancer.
  • His daughter, who is now eighteen, was born with a congenital hernia of the diaphragm and was saved by heroic surgery in the Royal London Hospital by Vanessa Wright.
  • I support pancreatic cancer research at Liverpool University, where I met my late wife in the 1960s.
  • I raised a little bit of money, for the pancreatic cancer study I talk about in There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!.

My granddaughter now lives a reasonably normal life!

October 3, 2021 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Property Buyers Want Train To Take The Strain, Says Rightmove

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s Times.

Aooarently people are buying houses within an hour’s commute to London, with Chelmsford, Crewe and Sittingbourne being especially popular.

Note.

  1. Chelmsford will soon be served by a new train fleet.
  2. Sittingbourne is served by Southeastern’s HighSpeed trains.
  3. Crewe is served by fast services and will be on High Speed Two, earlier than many places.

Liverpool and Birmingham City Centres are also popular according to the article.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Liverpool Stripped Of Unesco World Heritage Status

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

This is the first paragraph under the picture.

Liverpool has been stripped of its World Heritage status after a UN committee found developments threatened the value of the city’s waterfront.

Liverpool politicians seem united against the action.

I wonder, if the UNESCO committee are a load of snobs, as you should judge Liverpool not as one but a vast string of waterfront sites and buildings.

This picture was taken from a Birkenhead ferry.

It is a very ordinary picture, as it doesn’t show the two cathedrals on the hills behind.

Since, I left Liverpool University in the 1960s, there have been several developments at the Pier Head.

The Albert Dock complex with the Tate Liverpool has been created.

  • The Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been extended in front of The Three Graces to reach the Albert Dock.
  • The Liverpool One Shopping Centre has been built on the behind the Three Graces as an extension to Liverpool’s main Shopping Centre.
  • Liverpool City Museum has been built between the Albert Dock complex and The Three Graces.
  • There are statues everywhere including to the Beatles and Billy Fury. I saw both in performance.
  • There is the Memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • The Pier Head and Ferry Terminal has been completely rebuilt.
  • There is a Cruise Terminal capable of taking the largest cruise ships.
  • The new Everton Stadium will be built a couple of hundred metres to the left of the distinctive Liver Building.

To me, the most unusual is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal extended in front of The Three Graces. But that allowed narrow boats to sail between Leeds and the Albert Dock.

Conclusion

It is a site, where most people can spend a couple of days.

Should Liverpool Be A World Heritage Site?

Go spend two days there and then decide.

 

 

 

July 21, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 15 Comments

Liverpool’s Vision For Rail

This document on the Liverpool City Region web site is entitled Metro Mayor’s Vision Of A Merseyrail for All Takes Vital Step Forward With Successful Trial Of New Battery-Powered Trains.

It makes these points in the first part of the document.

  • Game-changing technology paves way for Merseyrail network expansion across the Liverpool City Region and beyond
  • Merseyrail services could reach as far as Wrexham and Preston
  • City Region is at the forefront of the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology.

The new battery-powered trains would certainly go a long way to  enable, these objectives.

  • Battery-powered trains would need a range of 26.9 miles to go between Bidston and Wrexham stations.
  • Battery-powered trains would need a range of 15.3 miles to go between Ormskirk and Preston stations.

This link is to the North Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter for Spring 2021.

This is said about battery range of the new Class 777 trains.

Later model Class 777’s have the ability to leave the 3rd rail and operate under battery power for 20 miles or more with a full load thus
permitting expansion of the Merseyrail network beyond its current limits.

I suspect they will also have regenerative braking to batteries, which will increase the range and allow Preston and Wrexham stations to be achieved without charge.

It certainly sounds like Preston and Wrexham and all the intermediate stations,  will be added to the Merseyrail network.

As to the third point above about the introduction of pioneering energy efficient technology, I suspect this is mainly regenerative braking to batteries and replacement of elderly worn-out power supply equipment.

There is more in the Liverpool City Region document.

Expanding Merseyrail

This is said.

The game-changing technology could allow the Merseyrail network to extend across all six city region boroughs to places like Rainhill in St Helens, Woodchurch on the Wirral and Widnes in Halton.

It could also allow the new fleet to operate as far afield as Skelmersdale, Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

Note.

  1. A 25 KVAC capability could well be needed. But that is built into the Class 777 trains.
  2. Chargers could be needed at some of these stations. I suspect Stadler have a Swiss manufacturer in mind.

In the run-up to May’s elections, the Mayor pledged to deliver ‘Merseyrail for All, a commitment to connecting under-served communities to the Merseyrail network.

New Stations

Initially the battery-powered trains, which are considerably greener, using up to 30% less energy than the existing fleet, are set to run on services to a planned new station at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby.

The wider Merseyrail for All programme could ensure every community is well served by an integrated public transport network and new and refurbished train stations are also high on the agenda.

They could include:

  • The Baltic Triangle in Liverpool
  • Carr Mill in St Helens
  • Woodchurch on the Wirral

Note.

Tram-Trains And Trackless Trams

The document says this.

Tram-Train technology and trackless trams will also be looked at as potential means of extending the Merseyrail network into hard-to-reach places. The technology could benefit areas such as Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Speke, Kirkby Town Centre, Southport Town Centre, Wirral Waters and the Knowledge Quarter.

Tram-trains built by Stadler in Valencia are already running in Sheffield and in the next few years they should be deployed on the South Wales Metro.

TStadler are also building Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains, so I suspect they’ll go together like peaches and cream.

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the document refers to as trackless trams?

Battery Train Trials

The article finishes with this summary of the battery train trials. This is said.

Under the battery trials, financed by the Transforming Cities Fund, one of the new class 777 trains fitted with the battery technology was tested on the Northern line.

The batteries exceeded expectations with the trains travelling up to 20 miles per run without the need for re-charging.

The battery trains would remove the need for the third ‘electric’ rail, enabling the trains to travel beyond the existing network without major track investment.

The units passed all tests during four weeks of trials on the City Region’s rail network in May and June.

The Combined Authority and partners are still assessing the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the programme and will provide more information regarding the roll out as soon as it has been agreed.

It looks to me, if all these plans get implemented successfully, Liverpool City Region will have one of the best public transport systems of any similar-sized cities in the world.

The Full Plan As A Map

This article on the BBC is entitled Battery-Powered Trains Part Of Merseyrail Expansion Plan.

The article contains this map.

There is no key or explanation, but it appears that the pink lines are new routes, where Merseyrail will run trains.

Before I discuss each of the possible routes, I will discuss two big factors, that will affect a lot of my thinking.

The West Coast Main Line

Avanti West Coast have the following stops in trains per hour (tph)  at these stations on the West Coast Main Line as its trains pass the East of Merseyside to and from London Euston.

  • Crewe – At least 5 tph
  • Warrington Bank Quay – At least 2 tph
  • Preston – At least 1 tph

These frequencies are in addition to these direct trains from London Euston.

  • 1 tph to Liverpool Lime Street, which will rise to 2 tph in the December 2022, with a call at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Occasional services to Chester throughout the day.

Passengers do not have to go via Liverpool Lime Street to travel to London.

In addition. there are useful services run by TransPennine Express between Liverpool Lime Street and Scotland, that call at Preston.

In Future; High Speed Two

This will call at Crewe, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Preston and Warrington.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains were in all sorts of troubles and the service is now run directly by the Government’s Operator of Last Resort. I suspect that any reasonable offer to takeover over a service will be looked at favourably.

I will now look at Merseyrail’s new routes.

Ormskirk And Southport Via The Burscough Curve

Consider.

  • This route has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • A curve between Burscough Bridge and Burscough Junction will have to be rebuilt on a former alignment.
  • Southport and Ormskirk are about 13 miles apart.
  • Southport and Ormskirk have third-rail electrified lines to Liverpool and the South.

It would be an ideal route for battery-electric trains with a range of 20 miles.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near five stations a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It gives Southport a town of over 91,000 people more capacity to the city of Liverpool for jobs, leisure and shopping.
  • Will it open up more opportunities for new housing in villages like Burscough?

It will certainly give Merseyrail operational advantages to Southport.

Ormskirk And Preston

Consider.

  • Takeover of this Northern Trains route has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • Preston and Ormskirk are about 15.3 miles and 32 minutes apart.
  • Omskirk has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Preston has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living near the Ormskirk and Preston Line a direct link to Liverpool.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between North Liverpool and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced to under thirty minutes.

As football is so important to the Liverpool economy, would a time around forty-five minutes between Preston and Sandhills station tempt football supporters going to Anfield and Goodison Park to use the train and then perhaps a trackless tram to the stadium?

This Google map shows the location of Anfield, Goodison Park and Sandhills station.

Note.

  1. Anfield is in the bottom-right corner of the map and is marked by a red arrow.
  2. Goodison is in the top-right corner of the map, slightly to the West of Anfield.
  3. Sandhills station is in the bottom-left corner of the map.

Both stadia are around a mile and a half from the station.

Southport And Preston

Once the Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston services are up and running, it would surely be possible to run a Southport and Preston service.

  • There would be a reverse at Ormskirk.
  • The two sections of Ormskirk and Southport and Ormskirk and Preston would both need battery power.
  • Whilst the driver changed ends at Ormskirk, the train would be recharged using a fast and efficient charger.
  • Times between Southport and Preston would be under an hour.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It gives those living in Southport, a direct link to Preston.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between Southport and Preston, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.

This service could be very valuable for passengers, but I suspect the route could be implemented with minimal infrastructure changes at Ormskirk station.

Ormskirk Station

This picture shows Ormskirk’s single platform from the Merseyrail end.

Note.

  1. The Liverpool train in the foreground.
  2. The Preston train in the background.
  3. The solid barrier between the trains.

 

I wonder if the following would be possible with the barrier removed.

  • The long platform would be treated as one platform divided into two.
  • Perhaps they will be the Liverpool and Preston/Southport platform,
  • Trains that will leave the station for Liverpool will stop in the Liverpool platform.
  • Trains that will leave the station for Preston or Southport will stop in the Preston/Southport platform.
  • Through trains between Liverpool and Preston or Southport would be possible.
  • A train between Preston and Southport could reverse in the Preston/Southport platform, whilst trains for Liverpool used the Liverpool platform.

It looks like it’s an efficient layout borrowed from somewhere else. and Stadler have probably seen it before.

Headbolt Lane Station

In Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through, I described the new Headbolt Lane station.

This screen capture is from the video in that post,

Note.

  1. Two platforms going away from the camera and one platform and what looks to be a siding going towards the camera.
  2. There appears to be no direct connection between the two different sets of tracks.

Until proven wrong, I believe that the camera is looking towards Liverpool, as it would mean that Liverpool services had two platforms. But they currently make do with one at Kirkby.

There is a walk through between the tracks, which

  • Enables passengers to access the second platform.
  • Allows passengers to enter the station from the other side.
  • Allows non-passengers to cross the tracks on the level.
  • Avoids the need to build a bridge.

It is certainly an innovative design.

If occasional trains need to go through, could there be a lift-out section of the walk-through?

But as there are buffer stops on the tracks in the three platforms, that are either side of the walk-through, I suspect it will never happen, as it’s too much hassle.

In the Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station this is said.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced in July 2021 that a trial of a battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) version of the new Class 777 will serve the new station, when it opens. This will not require all of the line extension to Headbolt Lane to be electrified.

Merseyrail would appear to have neatly side-stepped, the Office of Road and Rail’s policy of no more third-rail electrification.

But I’m sure Merseyrail could put an approved train-charging system in the station.

  • They would need one if a Class 777 train arrived with a flat battery.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.
  • They would need one to charge trains on the Headbolt Lane and Wigan Wallgate service, if the service were to be run by battery-electric trains.

The system could be based on a short length of overhead wire and a slim pantograph or a system like Railbaar from Furrer + Frey.

But does it give any clues as to the orientation of the station in the video?

  • As there are three platforms and a siding, that meet at Headbolt Lane station, all could be fitted with chargers. to make sure the services are reliable.
  • Liverpool services could be handled at either end, as it only needs one platform.
  • Skelmersdale and Wigan services could probably share a platform, but they would be better surely using two platforms.
  • The siding could be created into a platform for extra services to be added to the Merseyrail network

So there is no pressing reason, why the station cannot be North or South of the railway.

I suspect road layout and land use issues will eventually decide, the orientation of the station.

Headbolt Lane And Skelmersdale

Consider.

  • This has been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail and Lancashire County Council.
  • Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale are just a few miles apart.
  • Direct running between Liverpool and Skelmersdale will not be possible, but it will be a step-free change between trains.

The Wikipedia entry for Headbolt Lane station seems to indicate a proposed extension of the Northern Line with the next stop being the existing Rainford station. This would surely not add greatly to costs and bring Merseyrail to more fare-paying customers.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • Skelmersdale is a town of nearly 39,000 and is said to be one of the largest towns in England without a rail connection.
  • At Headbolt Lane passengers will be able to change for Liverpool or Manchester.

A lot of passengers will have received a modern train service.

Headbolt Lane And Wigan

Consider.

  • This service is currently run by Northern trains.
  • Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations are just over twelve miles apart.
  • Someone, who should know told me that by the time High Speed Two starts running through Wigan at a frequency of two tph, the two Wigan stations will have been combined.
  • Headbolt Lane station could be the drop-off point for those needing to go to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on both the current West Coast Main Line and the future High Speed Two.

What better way to start that journey than on one of Merseyrail’s battery-electric Class 777 trains.

What would it do for passengers?

With modern battery-electric trains linking Headbolt Lane station to the combined Wigan station complex, this route could be the zero-carbon route between large parts of Liverpool and cantres of tourism and employment along and to the East of the M6 and the West Coast Main Line.

Liverpool South Parkway And Warrington Central

Consider.

  • This would be takeover of part of the current Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road service.
  • The map shows the service going at least as far as Warrington Central station.
  • Stations between Hunts Cross and Warrington Central include Halewood, Hough Green, Widnes, Sankey and the new Warrington West stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street – 5.5 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Warrington Central – 12.7 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Trafford Park – 25.4 miles
  • Liverpool South Parkway and Manchester Oxford Road – 28.7 miles

The following sections of the route have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street
  • East of Trafford Park.

With a bit more electrification at either end, the whole route should be in range of a battery-electric Class 777 train.

Or the Class 777 trains could be fitted with bigger batteries!

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • This is a route that has needed decent trains for years and has finally got new Class 195 trains.
  • But, in addition, the battery-electric Class 777 trains would decarbonise the route.

The major problem, though is not infrastructure or trains, but surely Andy Burnham, who is the outspoken Mayor of Greater Manchester and could object to Merseyrail invading his patch.

Merseyrail’s Cheshire Ambitions

This is a section of the map shown on the BBC article, showing Cheshire.

It looks like there could be as many as three routes.

  • Chester and Crewe
  • Chester and Runcorn East
  • Ellesmere Port and Runcorn East

I’ll now cover the routes in detail.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Crewe are about 21,2 miles and 25 minutes apart.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Crewe has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.
  • There is a proposal, that Beeston Castle and Tarporley station be re-opened.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • If trains will run between Crewe and Liverpool, this creates a second route between the two major stations.
  • It creates a direct link in modern electric trains between The Wirral and Crewe, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.
  • The journey time could be reduced by enough to increase service frequency on the route.

I This would be a very useful extension of the Merseyrail network.

Chester And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the existing Trains for Wales service.
  • Chester And Runcorn East are about 13.1 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Chester has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would enable a Merseyrail circular route from Liverpool Lime Street to Chester via Edge Hill, Wavertree Technology Park, Broad Green, Roby, Huyton, Whiston, Rainhill, Lea Green, St Helens Junction, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham, Runcorn East and Helsby.
  • After Chester, it could take the Wirral Line back to Liverpool to make it a true Mersey Circular service.

Would a Mersey Circular service be a good idea?

Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East

Consider.

  • This been a long term aspiration of Merseyrail.
  • This would be a takeover by Merseyrail of the infrequent Northern Rail service.
  • Ellesmere Port And Runcorn East are about 10.8 miles apart.
  • Two stations and five miles further on is Warrington Bank Quay station.
  • Ellesmere Port has 750 VDC third-rail electrification and Warrington Bank Quay has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 777 trains have been built so they can be updated to dual voltage.

It certainly looks to be a route that could be handled by a battery-electric Class 777 train.

What would it do for passengers?

  • It would certainly improve rail transport along the South Bank of the Mersey from Ellesmere Port to Warrington Bank Quay or Runcorn East depending on the Eastern terminus.
  • If the terminal were to be Warrington Bank Quay that would sort out the charging.
  • It could create a direct link in modern electric trains between Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay, for onward travel on West Coast Main Line services and High Speed Two in the future.

I feel that an Ellesmere Port and Warrington Bank Quay service would be good for the area.

The Borderlands Line

I’ve left the Borderlands Line to last, as I feel it will be a lot more than commuter and leisure line between Liverpool and Wrexham.

  • It crosses the border between England and Wales
  • The line is 26.9 miles of double track, with a single-track extension of under two miles between the two Wrexham stations.
  • It has over twenty stations with more planned in both countries
  • It crosses a couple of rivers on long steel bridges.
  • It brings commuters to Liverpool and takes workers to the high-tech factories of companies like Airbus and Toyota on Deeside.
  • It connects to a lot of golf courses, one of which is the Open Championship course  at Royal Liverpool.
  • Once in Wales it has two connections to the North Wales Coast Line, which runs between Chester and holyhead.

It is no ordinary railway and is ripe for improvement to bridge passengers to employment sites and leisure areas along its route.

The line has one big problem in that passengers need to change trains at Bidston between Liverpool and Wrexham stations.

  • Between Bidston and Liverpool the Merseyrail electric trains to and from  Hoylake are used and they turn in the Liverpool Loop under Liverpool City Centre calling at four stations before returning.
  • Between Bidston and Wrexham, diesel multiple units are used.

It is a route design straight out of the 1970s of men with minds without imagination. Even British Rail were designing battery-electric trains in the 1950s, which I wrote about in Did The Queen Ever Ride In This Train?.

Merseyrail intend to right the wrongs of the past using battery-electric Class 777 trains.

  • As electric versions of these trains will be used on the Liverpool and Hoylake service, there would be no need to change trains at Bidston if the Liverpool and Wrexham trains were just a battery-electric version of the same train.
  • The Wrexham trains would drive round the Liverpool Loop tunnel as hundreds of trains do every day.
  • The trains would be charged on the existing third-rail electrification at the Liverpool end.
  • I’m fairly certain that a frequency of two tph would be possible on the route, if the Liverpool Loop tunnel signalling could cope,
  • Trains would need to be charged at the Wexham end of the route and I’m sure Stadler have a solution.

It would be an efficient and cost effective way to decarbonise a tricky but useful branch line.

Conclusion

Stadler are playing their full orchestra of ideas on Merseyrail.

When completed, it will be one of the best metros of any urban areas up to a million people in the world.

This metro could do for Liverpool, what the Beatles did for the city in the 1960s.

July 15, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Eight New Freeports Set To Open In The UK

Today, in his 2021 Budget, Rishi Sunak announced eight new freeports.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Freeports: What Are They And Where Will They Be?, gives a brief guide to the freeports.

This links link to the nearest I can find to an official web site for each of the freeports.

The Government has said that the freeports will start their operations late this year.

March 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments