The Anonymous Widower

A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned

Edition 889 of Rail Magazine has an article which is entitled London Gateway-Liverpool Street Freight Trial Planned.

Rail Operations Group are planning to run a freight shuttle between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station.

Trains will be Class 769 bi-mode trains.

  • The trains will be fitted with roller doors, roller cages and strengthened floors.
  • Three aervices will leave Thames Gateway at 0029, 1208 and 1856.
  • They will return from Liverpool Street at 0242, 1421 and 2100.
  • Services will use Platforms 9 and 10 in Liverpool Street station.

It seems a very detailed plan.

A few of my thoughts.

Journey Time

I would estimate that a time of about 45 minutes to an hour would be possible.

Use Of Platforms 9 and 10

These two platforms are generally used for the London and Norwich expresses via Colchester and Ipswich, but it appears that only one service is timed to arrive in times when the station is really busy.

Platform 10 is near to the old Cab Road and so there is good vehicle access from the back of the station.

Final Delivery

The article says that trucks would be used for the final deliveries, with battery vehicles planned for the future.

Would There Be Sufficient Capacity For Trucks In The Cab Road?

A Class 769 train has four twenty metre long cars, so capacity will be equivalent of four small-to-medium supermarket delivery articulated trucks.

You wouldn’t get artics into the Cab Road, but would you get enough small trucks in to pick up a complete train-load?

  • At night or in the evening, this would surely be possible!
  • However, in the afternoon, it would surely be too busy, for more than a couple of delivery vans.

I’m sure Karl Watts has a well-laid plan.

What Is The Role Of UPS In This Freight Service?

In the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, this is said.

Development of the Logistics Park has followed the initial stages of development of the port. UPS is developing a 32,000 square metre package sorting facility on the site – one of the American firm’s largest ever infrastructure investments outside of the USA. Since March 2017,

UPS wouldn’t build a facility the size of thirty two football pitches and then send out a series of trucks to their biggest market in the City of London , only for the packets to get stuck in the  traffic.

I suspect that packets will be sorted into small easily-managed loads for delivery by electric vans, cargo bicycles or Shank’s Pony, from Liverpool Street station.

And Could Lidl Be In On The Act?

The Wikipedia entry for London Gateway also says this.

German grocery retailer Lidl has been operating out of the DP World London Gateway Logistics Centre, the first warehouse to be developed on the site.

This article in the Guardian is entitled Lidl In The Middle: Chain To Open First Store In Central London. This is said.

Lidl is to launch its first store in central London as it opens 40 new shops across the capital in the next five years.

Could Lidl be thinking of using such the proposed service to supply Central London stores?

  • Last mile delivery could be by electric vehicles.
  • Catching the 0029 train from London Gateway could be ideal.
  • Goods could be on the shelves by early in the morning.

I think that this could offer interesting possibilities.

Supermarket deliveries were also one of the cargoes proposed in the LaMiLo project that I talked about in The LaMiLo Project.

Why Use Bi-Mode Trains?

Consider.

  • Virtually all of the route is electrified, except for the last mile or so into the London Gateway.
  • It would be possible to electrify those last few miles and use electric trains.
  • Electric trains like unmodified Class 319 trains could be used for the service.

But cranes, containers and 25 KVAC overhead wires are a possible disaster waiting to happen, as a crane driver once told me!

When Will The Service Start?

The article says that the service could start in April or May.

Could There Be Other Services?

This is the last paragraph of the article.

Watts mentioned that other routes were a possibility for the business, suggesting that routes from the West Midlands to the Scottish Central Belt and the West Midlands to the West Country have been investigated. No dates have yet been given for any such trials.

I would also think, that there could be opportunities for moving high-value or perishable cargoes into major city centre stations in the middle of the night.

Suitable stations could be.

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • Manchester Piccadilly

I am not being anti-Geordie, but Newcsastle might be a difficult station to unload cargoes from trains onto trucks!

Conclusion

If seems to me that Rail Operations Group are being innovative with trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charting An Electric Freight Future

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an informative article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, which was written by Julian Worth, who has many years experience of the rail freight industry.

This is a very comprehensive article looking at the future of motive power for freight trains.

These are points from the article, with some added comments of my own.

2040 And A Diesel-Free Rail System

Government ministers have said that by 2040, the UK will have a diesel-free railway, which will reduce emissions and especially particulates.

This page on the Government web site is entitled Let’s Raise Our Ambitions For A Cleaner, Greener Railway, which gives the text of a speech by the Rail Minister; Jo Johnson.

This is part of what he said.

And that’s why I am today announcing a new ambition.

I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040.

If that seems like an ambitious goal – it should be and I make no apology for that.

After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?

Rail may be less carbon intensive than road transport.

That’s why modal shift’s so important.

As an engineer. I feel it is a challenge that is acceptable.

The Diesel Locomotives Are Getting Old!

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotives, don’t meet the latest emission standards, but in addition, by the late 2020s, they will be getting to thirty years old.

Other locomotives like Class 59 locomotives will be even older.

Replacement locomotives will be needed, as maintenance costs will be getting too high.

The Last-Mile Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotives with a last-mile capability away from electrification like the Class 88 locomotive could be favoured.

  • They could be used for terminal work and short-distance movements.
  • They would have a 25 KVAC capability.
  • They could possibly have a 750 VDC capability, to work on the third-rail network.
  • They would meet all the emission standards, when running on diesel.

Julian Worth suggests that the last-mile capability could be provided by a battery.

Although, this would be environmentally-friendly and better in urban areas, I think that any onboard power, should be able to take a train into and out of the Port of Felixstowe, London Gateway and the other major ports.

I met a manager of the Port of Felixstowe a few years ago and they don’t like 25 KVAC wires in a dock, as containers do occasionally get dropped.

Most lines into ports and inland terminals, don’t appear to be too challenging and I’m sure that an uprated Class 88 locomotive could be built, that would handle entry and exit to all the ports and terminals in the UK.

Do We Need A Freight Electrification Strategy?

Julian Worth suggests we need one for the next couple of decades.

He makes some good points.

  • Electric traction current is cheaper than diesel fuel.
  • Availability of modern electric locomotives should be better than a diesel.
  • Diesels may be restricted in urban areas. It could be a vote winner in Mayoral elections in the large Metropolitan areas.

He finishes this with this statement.

Crucially, switching to electric locos from around 2030 would not entail premature replacement of the current fleet and would represent necessary asset renewal in modern equivalent form.

Just imagine the outcry from the Green Movement, if these ageing diesels were to be replaced with modern diesel locomotives..

Undoubtedly, we need a well-thought out freight strategy.

GB Railfreight

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled GB Railfreight In ‘Locomotive Acquisition’ Talks.

So at least one freight company is looking for new motive power. GB Railfreight has a fleet of seventy-eight Class 66 locomotives with other locomotives in the ageing category. Some of their work like hauling the Caledonian Sleeper needs well-presented reliable locomotives, so perhaps they need to update their image.

It will be interesting to see what type and class of locomotive they buy.

Rail Freight Has Changed

Coal to power stations used to be the dominant freight on UK railways.

But n0t any more! Thank goodness!

The major freight on UK railways is intermodal or trains of containers from port to inland terminal and vice versa.

There is also a large growth in construction materials, miuch of it going from quarries in the West Country and the Peak District to the South East of England. To send this any other way than by train, would surely be madness.

There also seems to be an increasing number of trains carrying new vehicles to and from the Continent. More will surely start to use the Channel Tunnel.

Julian Worth says this, after summarising the freight flows.

This suggests modest extensions of electrification might permit much of the construction and intermodal businesses, together with most automotive traffic, to be electrically hauled throughout.

He then goes on to say that the big gap is Felixstowe to Peterborough, Nuneaton and Birmingham.

The Port of Felixstowe

I partly grew up in the town and never thought the port would grow to the size, it is today.

I also remember in the 1980s, when only the odd intermodal train was to be seen on the Felixstowe Branch Line.

  • Now, a dozen trains in each direction on every day take the route between Felixstowe and the Midlands.
  • The Felixstowe Branch Line is being upgraded to raise the number of trains from the port from 33 to 48.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through North London are close to capacity.
  • The direct route via Peterborough is a lot shorter than the London route.

Julian Worth states, that the number of trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands could rise to as high as fifty every day.

Routes That Should Be Electrified For Freight

Julian Worth suggests that the following routes should be electrified.

Route 1 – London Gateway to Thames Haven Junction

If you electrify Felixstowe to the Midlands, this will remove some diesel freight trains from London.

It would be stupid to replace them with diesel freight trains from London Gateway. So it would be fairly logical to electrify the connecting route to London Gateway.

This Google Map shows London Gateway and the rail connection to the electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway.

Note.

  1. The electrified London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, runs North-South at the extreme left of the map.
  2. The connecting spur curves East on what appears to be a new chord before accessing sidings on the North side of London Gateway.
  3. There would appear to be a lot of space to expand the port.
  4. The rail spur to the port is double track.
  5. It looks like their are sat least five sidings for handling freight trains.
  6. The sidings are double-ended, so last-mile capable electric locomotives could run round trains, without the need for electrification.

It would have appeared to have been designed for electrification.

Full details on London Gateway’s plans for rail access are given here in the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, under Rail Terminal.

This is a quick summary.

In other places Wikipedia says the port is highly-automated.

I am led to the conclusion, that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will see a high number of electric freight trains in the future.

I’m not surprised that Julian Worth says the spur currently handles sixteen trains per day and is set to grow significantly.

I certainly wouldn’t buy a house on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Route 2 – Nuneaton To Birmingham Lawley Street

If Felixstowe to Nuneaton is electrified, then this extends the electrification to the massive Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, which is in central Birmingham.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note.

  1. Lawley Street Freightliner Terminal, is on the short spur at the top of the diagram.
  2. iThis electrification would also complete a fully-electrified route between Birmingham New Street station and Sansted Airport, so CrossCountry could use electric trains on that route, instead of the current Class 170 train, which is often overcrowded.
  3. Would the electrification open up opportunities for more electrified local services in Birmingham?

Julian Worth says that this twenty miles carries thirty-two trains per day.

Would electrifying this route also have environmental benefits in terms of pollution?

Route 3 – Basingstoke To Southcote Junction and Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction

This route, which connects the Port of Southampton with the West Coast Main Line, would require forty-two miles of electrification.

Consider.

  • It would create a fully-electrified route from Southampton to the West Coast Main Line.
  • Julian Worth says it carries forty-eight trains per day.
  • I also think, he is assuming that the Great Western Electrification extends to Oxford, which surely it will do in the next few years.
  • Dual voltage locomotives would be needed.
  • It would require electrification of part of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway is to be built as a privatised railway and I’m sure if the sums were right, they would electrify the route from Oxford to Denbigh Hall Junction.

If the Western end of the East West Railway were to be electrified, this must increase the options and operating speed for passenger trains on the route.

Route 4 – Merehead/Whatley to Newbury

Consider.

  • Merehead and Whatley are both Quarries of the Mendip Hills.
  • The line is double-track and seventy-two miles long.
  • Julian Worth says that this route carries twenty-eight stone trains per day.
  • Many trains are double-size.
  • In a four hour period, using Real Time Trains I found,three stone trains that weighed 4,800 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 45 mph and four stone trains that weighed 2,000 tonnes and had a maximum speed of 60 mph, using the route from the Mendips to London.

With all that heavy traffic, it strikes me that their are only two ways to power these trains on the route.

  • Very powerful diesel locomotives, possibly working in pairs.
  • Very powerful 25 KVAC electric locomotives, which would need electrification, able to supply lots of amps.

Mendip Rail currently run these services using Class 59 locomotives, which have the following characteristics.

  • Built in North America between 1985 and 1995.
  • They were the first privately-owned locomotives on the UK main line.
  • They have the ability to creep to shift heavy loads on gradients.
  • They have a maximim speed of 60-75 mph.
  • They are towered by a 2.5 MW diesel engine.

This extract from Wikipedia illustrates their power.

On 26 May 1991 Kenneth J Painter (59005) (with assistance from Yeoman Endeavour) set the European haulage record, with a stone train weighing 11,982 tonnes and 5,415 feet (1,650 m) long. However the so-called ‘mega train’ experiment was not very successful, as a coupling in the centre of the train broke.

It would appear, there was nothing wrong with the locomotives.

By the late 2020s, these locomotives will be over forty years old and although they could probably soldier on for another ten or even twenty years, the cost of maintenance will increase and reliability could decrease. You don’t want a 4,800 tonne stone train blocking the Reading to Taumton Line.

I suspect too, that it is unlikely that this important stone traffic will decrease. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Mendip Rail.

Mendip Rail’s class 59s work services between various destinations which have changed over time according to demand and specific contracts. They have worked regularly over southern railway tracks, for example to the former Foster Yeoman terminals at Eastleigh and Botley, as well as delivery aggregates for construction work on the Thames Barrier, Second Severn Crossing, Channel Tunnel and most recently Heathrow Terminal 5, which required 3 million tonnes of stone.

Mendip Rail hauls about 4.5 million tonnes of stone from Torr Works each year, and about 2.5 million tonnes from Whatley Quarry.

I suspect that these stone flows will continue and there will come a time in the not-to-distant future, where new locomotives will be required.

  • The Class 59 locomotives were built for these stone trains and have a maximum tractive effort of 507 kN at just 7 mph.
  • A large electric Class 92 locomotive has a maximum tractive effort of only 400 kN.

But I suspect that engineers can design an electric locomotive, that can handle these trains either by themselves or working in a pair.

So there will be a choice between a very powerful diesel locomotive or a very powerful electric one.

  • Will those that live by the railway and environmentalists accept new diesel locomotives?
  • Electric locomotives would require the line to be electrified.
  • Electrification would allow Great Western Railway to run their Class 800 trains more efficiently using the wires.
  • Would those who live by the railway, accept the electrification of the line?

It’s a difficult choice.

Route 5 – Felixstowe to Ipswich. Haughley Junction to Peterborough and Helpston to Nuneaton

Consider

  • This would be a big project, as it would require 146 miles of new electrification.
  • But the return could be worthwhile, as currently the route handles twenty trains per day and once the Felixstowe Branch Line has more double track, this figure could rise to fifty-six trains per day.
  • At Ipswich, Peterborough and Nuneaton, the route connects to fully-electrified lines.

My project management knowledge tends to electrifying this line from East to West as almost three separate projects.

  1. Felixstowe to Ipswich
  2. Haughley Junction to Peterborough
  3. Helpston to Nuneaton

It could even be five, if Helpston to Nuneaton was split into two at either Leicester or the Midland Main Line.

I have three general questions.

  • When the gauge clearance was undertaken a few years ago, were bridges raised to accommodate wires as well?
  • Will the natives object to fifty trains per day?
  • Will the line be  resignalled to handle the greater number of trains?

Once the full route is electrified, the number of trains to and from Felixstowe , that used the Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London would drop. Obviously, some trains like those between Felixstowe and Wales and the West Country would still need to use the London routes.

But overall, this would allow a mixture of the following.

  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the North London Line
  • Higher passenger train frequencies on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • More freight trains to and from London Gateway could use the cross-London routes.

The last point would mean, that electric locomotives would need to have access to London Gateway.

I will detail my thoughts on Felixstowe to the Midlands electrification in the next three sub-sections.

Route 5A – Felixstowe to Ipswich

Electrifying between Felixstowe and Ipswich shouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track, except for part of the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Doubling of the Felixstowe Branch Line around Trimley and the removal of some level crossings should start this year.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Ipswich.

I have two extra questions.

  • Will the partial doubling of the Felixstowe Branch, prepare the line for electrification?
  • Has a scheme been designed to take electrification to the port?

But there will be benefits.

  • Some freight trains that use the Great Eastern Main Line and the electrified routes through London, could be hauled all the way. by electric locomotives.
  • If Felixstowe station was to be electrified, Greater Anglia could run five-car Class 720 electric trains instead of Class 755 bi-mode trains on the branch, if required.
  • Class 755 bi-mode trains on the Ipswich to Lowestoft service, would be able to use the electrification between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.
  • Noise and vibration could be reduced.

It is just over a dozen miles of elwctrification, so isn’t the largest of projects.

Route 5B – Haughley Junction to Peterborough

Like the first section between Felixstowe and Ipswich, this section is also not very challenging.

  • The route is fairly flat.
  • The route is double track.
  • The line was cleared for the largest containers a few years ago.
  • Ely is being remodelled to remove a bottleneck.
  • Ely to Soham improvements seem to have been dropped, but will surely happen.
  • Haughley Junction needs to be remodelled.
  • Network Rail are already removing level crossings.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at Haughley and Peterborough.

I have an extra question.

  • Will the route between Cambridge and Chippenham Junction be electrified?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The East Coast Main Line as far as Scotland.
  • Greater Anglia could run their service between Colchester and Peterborough with a Class 720 electric train.
  • Greater Anglia’s service between Ipswich and Cambridge would do more running under wires.

The electrification might even enable some useful electrified diversion routes.

Route 5C -Helpston to Nuneaton

I don’t know this section of the route, as well as I know the two other sections.

  • The route is double track.
  • There is a busy level crossing in the middle of Oakham.
  • There should be an adequate 25 KVAC power supply at both ends of the route.

It would appear that the route goes through Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.

As the electrification of the Midland Main Line has been postponed, how will this section of the route be handled?

But there will be benefits.

  • Electric freight between Felixstowe And The Midlands
  • Fewer freight trains would need to go via London
  • Some passenger services, like Birmingham-Stansted Airport, could be run using electric trains.

Completing all three sections will open up new possibilities for both freight and passenger services.

Route 6 – Hare Park Junction to Leeds Stourton

This is a freight route , which can be followed this way.

Electrification of this eighteen mile route, would allow freight trains with electric traction to reach the Stourton terminal.

The electrification could also be extended to Leeds station, so that passenger services on the Hallam Line, run by bi-mode trains would have an electrified route into Leeds.

Route 7 – Mountsorrel to Syston Junction and Manton Junction to Corby

Mountsorrel Quarry is one of the biggest granite quarries in Europe. It is not on the railway anymore, but is connected to the Midland Main Line at

Barton upon Soar, by a mineral conveyor.

These two short lengths of electrification connect Mountsorrel to the electrified portion of the Midland Main Line to London and by using the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route, there is access to the East and West Coast Main Lines.

Julian Worth says that thirty trains per day use the route.

Looking on Real Time Trains, they are not the mega-trains of the Mendips, but they seem to go all over England.

Route 8 – Whitacre Junction to Birch Coppice

Birch Coppice is a freight terminal and it is connected to the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line at Whitacre Junction, by a six mile rail link.

As in Julian Worth’s plan, the Birmingham Lawley Street to Nuneaton Line will have been electrified, it will be an logical section of wires to install.

Summarising The Routes

Summarising the routes, you get the following, once all the proposals are added to the UK’s electrified network.

  • There is a major East-West route from Felixstowe to Birmingham, that connects to the two major North-South routes; East and West Coast Main Lines and East Anglia’s Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The Reading to Taunton Line now provides an  route to the South-West for electric trains.
  • The massive quarries in the Mendips and at Mountsorrel are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The ports of Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton are connected to the main electrified network.
  • The inland depots of Birch Coppice, Birmingham Lawley Street and Leeds Stourton  are connected to the main electrified network.

Others may well be added.

For instance, an electrified connection to Liverpool2  along the Canada Dock Branch, which runs in places through densely-packing housing and has been looked at for a passenger service by Merseyrail.

Installing The Electrification

Traditionally, electrification schemes have been done using money directly from the Treasury.

To say, performance in recent years has been mixed would be an understatement!

With my experience of project management, I have my theories about the poor performance, but as I have no serious data to back them up, I will not put most of them in this post.

I will say however, that my observations of the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have led me to the conclusion, that there are not enough competent engineers, surveyors and technicians to install the current low-level of new electrification.

However, recent statements and documents from Chris Grayling about how the Southern rail access to Heathrow is to be financed, might suggest a model for electrification.

This Press Release on the Department of Transport web site, starts with these two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

The idea is that a private consortium would do the following.

  • Design, build and finance a new line, station or other piece of railway infrastructure.
  • Maintain it for a number of years.
  • Charge train operators a charge for using the infrastructure, in much the same way as Network Rail charge every train for track access.

If the sums add up, I suspect it is model that will work for electrification.

I will take the Felixstowe Branch Line, that I know well as an example.

The benefits of electrification on this line could be as follows.

  • Freight trains from the Port of Felixstowe using electrified lines from Ipswich, could be able to use electric haulage, which might be more affordable.
  • Greater Anglia could run Ipswich to Felixstowe services using trains running solely on electricity.
  • There would be less pollution and possibly less noise and vibration.
  • Electrification might allow faster operating speeds on the branch, which in turn would allow more freight and passenger trains.
  • The hourly passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe might be able to be doubled in frequency.

Currently, after the dualling at Trimley has been finished, the branch is planned to handle an hourly passenger train and around fifty freight trains per day.

It strikes me that if the contracts and charges have the right balance, that a deal could be struck with a competent consortium.

It would have the following parts.

  • The consortium would design, finance and install the electrification.
  • Installing the electrification would be done, without disturbing the passenger and freight traffic.
  • The consortium would maintain the electrification for an agreed number of years.
  • Electrification access charges would be modelled on track access charges and agreed with a regulator, such as the Office of Road and Rail.
  • Failure to provide a working electrified railway, would incur penalty charges to operators.

I feel the model could work.

  • The consortium would use best practice from around the world.
  • The consortium might encourage innovative design and working.
  • The  consortium would make sure it had the best engineers, technicians and equipment to keep the electrification in tip-top condition, as that is the best way to maximise return on capital, against a fixed income.
  • The Office of Road and Rail would ensure safety, quality and reliability.

I also feel, that one of the ways to get the electrification installed in a professional manner and then operational at an agreed date, is to get the project management right.

Too much of what I’ve seen on electrification in the UK, reminds me of the phrase – It’ll be alright on the night!

A consortium, which has to raise and justify the money it needs, can’t rely on this mantra and must be sure that if a scheme is going to cost £100 million, then.

  • The initial budget must be correct.
  • The electrification can be installed for that sum.
  • Sufficient contingency is included.

Get the first project, seriously wrong and they won’t get another of the many electrification projects in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will We Get Less Diesel Locomotives On The Overground?

I have been reading Network Rail’s Anglia Route Study.

One thing they say will be done is this.

Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking  Line and the Thameshaven freight branch.

So if they electrify toThameshaven or London Gateway, as its owners call it, will they also electrify from the Great Eastern Main Line to Felixstowe?

But whatever happens an electrified GOBlin and the ability to take electric locomotives into London Gateway, will surely cut the number of smelly and smoky diesel locomotives passing through the residential areas of North London.

Electrification of the Felixstowe branch would get rid of a few more.

The question has to be asked if we have enough electric freight locomotives.

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

I took this picture as my train to Stanford-le-hope passed the rail line into London Gateway.

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

The Rail Line Into London Gateway

It shows the double-tracked rail line into the port.

I would assume it will be electrified, when the main routes through London, like the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, are also fitted with overhead wires, so that freight trains can use efficient electric haulage.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A New Job For A Beautician

This report from the Thurrock Gazette tells how London Gateway is making a big effort to recruit more women. Here’s an extract, which explains the title of this post.

One of these is former beautician Nicki Allabush from Stanford-le-Hope, who has been a terminal operative for 18 months.

“I absolutely love the challenge that this job offers,” she said. “I thought, if men can do it, women can too.”

Note that the paper didn’t bother mention Ms. Allabush’s age, something that many papers find essential information.

Let’s hope this campaign is as successful as the one by the London Underground to recruit more female train drivers, by placing an advert in Cosmopolitan.

August 5, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Musings On Freight And The New Thames Tunnel On The Goblin Extension

It may seem strange that freight has such a large affect on the Gospel Oak and Barking Line, which is essentially a passenger railway across North London.

But at the Barking end of the line there could be very good connections to London Gateway and the other end has good connections to the main routes to the north. So a container unloaded at the port, which is destined for say the large distribution centre at Daventry, could go on a train up the Goblin to the West Coast Main Line. Other large distribution centres are planned or being constructed, like the one at Radlett, so we will see more trains from the London Gateway taking this route as the port gets larger.

In a few years time, the line will be carrying a lot of freight trains, many of which will be hauled through at night. At least the line is being electrified, so the noisy thuds of the dreadful Class 66 locomotives will hopefully be replaced by smooth electric power.

If a new Thames Tunnel is built between Barking and Thamesmead, this will be a game changer, if it is a tunnel that is capable of taking the biggest freight trains. It should probably be built to the loading gauge of the Channel Tunnel, so allowing any train capable of using the Channel Tunnel to be able to use the new link.

London Gateway is one of the few ports capable of handling the new breed of ultra large container ships. Obviously, this will generate more freight train traffic for the UK out of London Gateway, but will some of these containers be destined for Europe? At present there is a route to get them onto HS1 for the Channel Tunnel, but a new Thames Tunnel might give opportunities for these trains to go along the North Bank of the Thames and then through the tunnel to pick up the North Kent Line for HS1. The advantage is that it avoids sending trains through the crowded North London rail system. Obviously freight going from Europe to London Gateway for onward shipping, could be routed in the reverse direction.

Increasingly, over the last few years there has been a significant stirring of the practice of sending freight trains through the Channel Tunnel. Car components and perishable fruit, are just two of the cargoes seeing an increase.

We will see a large increase in future with exports such as complete cars going both ways on special trains. Although, it’s a common site in Europe, large trains of new vehicles are rarely seen here.

All of these flows will probably be best routed through the new Thames Tunnel and over the upgraded Goblin.

We shouldn’t forget that the main reason for a rail tunnel between Barking Riverside to Thamesmead is to vitalise the housing developments in the east of London, as I outlined in A Divided City.

But could the Goblin Extension be used for extra passenger trains given that it would link HS2 at Old Oak Common to HS1 at Ebbsfleet via the North Kent Line.

During the day there probably aren’t enough paths for an intensive service from the North via HS2 to link with HS1. And anyway, is the demand there for direct trains between say Paris and Manchester or Cologne and Leeds?

But it would allow overnight sleeper services, which might be a better proposition.

On the other hand to run a regular service from Old Oak Common to Ebbsfleet might be worthwhile, especially if it stopped regularly in between, at say Abbey Wood, Barking, Walthamstow and West Hampstead.

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is This The Most Dangerous Level Crossing In The Country?

Level crossings are generally a danger on railways. In East Anglia and Essex, there are a number that should have been removed years ago.

Buit surely the one described in this article from the Thurrock Gazette, must surely be the most dangerous of them all. What makes this one even more dangerous is that there is no alternative route, and sometimes emergency vehicles get stuck, waiting for a train.

When the London Gateway Port, is fully open, there will be regular mile-long freight trains passing this crossing.

I found out about this crossing on the BBC London News tonight. When I saw the report, I was surprised that no-one in authority had ordered Network Rail to do something about it.

I thought the level crossing in Lincoln was a disgrace, but this one is much more dangerous.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Are Transport Links To London Gateway Good Enough?

This article from the Echo asks if road links to the new London Gateway port are good enough. Here’s the first two paragraphs.

One of the first businessmen to import goods through the DP World superport says he had to use the new rail line because the roads are not good enough.

David Mawer, director of Hillebrand Group, which imported the first container of wine through the superport, said it was a good job London Gateway has added a second rail line to take cargo to London

I don’t live in the area around the port, but the figure quoted of 8,000 lorries a day going in and out of port, when it’s fully operational, seems to me, a recipe for gridlock in South Essex and East London.

Although, David Mawer, seems to be pleased with the rail line to the port, it strikes me that there isn’t enough capacity on the crowded routes through North London. The Gospel Oak to Barking line is being electrified, but will this be enough to allow the lines to cope.

At present I doubt it, but then only time will tell!

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Felixstowe v. London Gateway

With London Gateway receiving its first ship in November, the war of words between the port and its rivals is hotting up.

There’s a report here from the Daily Telegraph, which says that Felixstowe will be a cheaper port to use.  But it was produced by the port’s owners, so we should probably add a shovel of sea salt.

As a man of Suffolk, who has seen Felixstowe rise from a small dock to the giant port it is today, London Gateway should probably look at the lessons of history, where Suffolk has a proud record of taking on invaders. Boadicea’s descendents will give London Gateway a very strong and probably dirty fight.

london Gateway makes a lot about having the land for a large logistics park by the port, but then you’ve still got to get the containers to the market and can London’s roads, the M25 and the railways cope with getting the boxes away? The Gospel Oak to Barking line may be being electrified, but will the residents of North London put up with container trains at all hours? Felixstowe is at the end of the line and electrifying the line to Peterborough and beyond, with a certain amount of double-tracking would help that port cut costs further.

We live in interesting times!

August 12, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Good News For Thurrock

C occasionally used to make appearances in the County Court at Grays, which is part of Thurrock. She used to say it wasn’t the best part of Essex and I’ve heard people say there is only one near-World Class buildimg in the town, and that is the disused State cinema.

But today, it has been announced that the station at Stanford-le-Hope is getting a big makeover, courtesy of London Gateway.  It’s all here in the Thurrock Gazette.

May 2, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment