The Anonymous Widower

Scottish Town Regains Its Station After 56 Years

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Trains are calling at Kintore in Aberdeenshire today for the first time since December 1964.

Some points about the new Kintore station.

  • It is a two platform station on the newly double-tracked Aberdeen and Inverness Line.
  • The station has a footbridge with lifts.
  • The station is 13.4 miles or 19 minutes from Aberdeen.
  • The station is 94.8 miles or two hours and twenty-three minutes from Inverness.
  • All the services I can find yesterday, seem to have been run by Class 158 trains.
  • There is a 168 space car park, with 24 charging points.

The station cost £15 million.

London Overground Syndrome

I have a feeling that Aberdeen and Inverness Line could be a prime candidate for suffering from London Overground Syndrome.

I suspect though, that ScotRail will quickly eradicate it, by putting on more trains.

 

October 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Considering Options For More New Trains

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

This is a paragraph.

Senior Northern sources told RAIL on June 28 that the operator believes the new trains will entice more people onto its services, and that within two years – once all 101 new trains are in service – there could be overcrowding.

This sounds to me, like another case of London Overground Syndrome.

At least, Northern have identified it early and taken the only action that works – Acquire more trains.

The High Speed Train Problem

Several of Northern’s routes use 100 mph trains on the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines.

  • Blackpool and York
  • Chester and Leeds
  • Hull and York
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool and Blackpool via Wigan
  • Manchester and Crewe
  • Manchester and Stoke
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere

Will Northern acquire some 110 mph or even 125 mph trains to ease the creation of timetables amongst so many high speed trains using the main lines?

Greater Anglia’s New Train Order

Greater Anglia have ordered thirty-eight Class 755 trains, which have a total of 138 cars.

These will replace twenty-six assorted trains, which have a total of 55 cars.

This is an increase of 46% in the number of trains and  150% in the number of cars.

Greater Anglia didn’t increase the fleet so that could sit in sidings, so I think we can expect some new services and higher frequencies.

Conclusion

Northern’s actions are in line with other operators.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Shape Of Things To Come On The Gospel Oark To Barking Line

Since modernisation in 2010, the service on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line has been run using six two-car diesel Class 172 trains.

Today was the first weekday, when one of the diesel trains had been replaced by a four-car electric Class 378 train.

I was able to ride on a Class 378 train between Harringay Green Lanes and Gospel Oak stations. I then doubled back and travelled all the way East to Barking station.

These are a few observations.

Electric Trains

Riding the electric Class 378 trains is a very different experience to riding the diesel Class 172 trains.

  • There is a lot less noise and vibration.
  • You sit longitudinally in London Undergound fashion, as opposed to transversely.
  • There was more capacity in the four cars of the electric train, as opposed to the two-car diesel trains.

I also got the impression that the Class 378 trains accelerated faster and cruised at a higher speed, than the Class 172 trains. I will check this out.

Train Capacity

I said in the previous section, that physical capacity is doubled from two to four cars.

  • I actually went from Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak twice in the morning Peak; once in a Class 172 and once in a Class 378.
  • The former was jam-packed and the second was very comfortable, with only a few stansdees.
  • The Class 172 train has 120 seats in a 47 metre train, which works out as 2.6 seats per metre.
  • The Class 378 train has 136 seats in a 80 metre train, which works out at 1.7 seats per metre.

The lower seat density and the wide central isle, probably explains, why the electric train was more comfortable.

Note that in a few months, the Class 378 trains will be replaced with Class 710 trains, which will likely have a similar passenger capacity to the Class 378 trains.

So the capacity and passenger ambience of the Class 378 trains can probably be read across to the internally-similar Class 710 trains.

Platform Length Issues

I did my usual trick of riding in the last car and looking at where the end of the train came on the platform.

The line has been built, so that all platforms fit the standard British Rail four-car length of eighty metres, which applies to both four-car Class 378 and Class 710 trains.

The Possibilities Of Five-Car Trains

London Overground run five-car trains through four-car stations at Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water on the East London Line, by allowing the last car to overhang the platform.

They get away with it without any trouble because.

  • The Class 378 trains have selective door opening and a walk-through interior, with large lobbies.
  • The announcements on the train are high-quality and advise passengers in the last car to move forward at short platforms.
  • East Enders quickly learn how to get in and out of the train with little fuss

So could five-car trains be run the Gospel Oak to Barking Line?

  • Barking station has a long platform.
  • Some stations like Woodgrange Park, Wanstead Park, Leytonstone High Road, Leyton Midland Road and Upper Holloway originally had longer platforms and these could probably be extended.
  • Other stations like Gospel Oak, South Tottenham and Blackhorse Road are probably at maximum length and would use selective door opening.

I suspect that if the demand needed the extra capacity, that the new trains could be lengthened from four to five cars, which would give a twenty-five percent increase in capacity.

Typical Passengers

I have a feeling that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line doesn’t have well-defined typical passengers, like a lot of routes do.

Using the train in the Peak, you notice that many passengers just hopped a couple of stops on the line.

One guy was going from Harringay Green Lanes to Shoreditch High Street, with changes at Gospel Oak and Canonbury.

This journey is probably a reflection on the badly-designed bus routes in the area it serves.

Gospel Oak To Barking Line Connectivity

The line is well-connected to the Underground, especially if you are up for a ten-minute walk.

  • District and Hammersmith & City Lines at Barking
  • Crossrail at Wanstead Park
  • Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road
  • Piccadilly Line at Harringay Green Lanes
  • Northern Line at Upper Holloway
  • North London Line at Gospel Oak

There are also good connections to North-South buses at several stations.

Will Electric Trains Attract More Passengers?

I suspect London Overground will be looking at the passenger statistics on the route with considerable interest, during the period, when some trains are two-car diesels and the others are four-car electrics.

This may well give the answer to my question.

I have a feeling that the reduced crowding on the route will mean that more passengers are attracted.

The new Class 710 trains will have wi-fi and USB charging points, so I wonder how many passengers this will attract.

But as I said earlier, a twenty-five percent increase in capacity may be possible by adding another car to the trains.

Conclusion

I have a very strong feeling that the upgrade to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the new electric trains, will change North-East London for the better.

As the London Overground lines to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town are also getting new trains, I would suspect that the effects will be bigger and more widespread than anybody has predicted.

  • Trains will get crowded.
  • New stations will be added to the network.
  • Existing stations will be upgraded with step-free access

We could even see a serious outbreak of London Overground Syndrome.

Future Additions

These are projects that will or could happen along the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

At present only the first two will happen.

 

 

 

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Overground Syndrome

As I keep referring to this, I had better define it.

This benign 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, despite various eradication programs.

It keeps appearing across the UK and I suspect it happens in other countries too!

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | | 20 Comments

The Capacity Of London Overground’s New Class 710 Trains

The first of London Overground’s new Class 710 trains has just been delivered and will enter service by November.

This article on the International Railway Journal is entitledTfL Unveils Class 710 EMUs For London Overground.

This is a short extract.

The new EMUs will double the capacity of the current class 172 DMUs to almost 700 passengers per train and feature walk-through carriages for greater capacity and improved accessibility, with more wheelchair spaces.

It strikes me, that seven hundred seems a lot of passengers, so how does this compare with other trains?

Class 172 Trains

The Class 172 trains currently working the Gospel Oak to Barking Line are only two cars and have a capacity of 120 seats.

They will be replaced with Class 710/2 trains with longitudinal seating.

Class 315 Trains

The Class 315 trains currently working the Lea Valley Lines, have 318 seats according to Wikipedia.

They will be replaced with Class 710/1 trains with a mix of transverse longitudinal seating.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains currently working the North and East London Lines, have similar longitudinal seating as the new Class 710/2 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and can really cram passengers inside.

London Underground S7 And S8 Trains

The S7/S8 Stock trains of the London Underground are London’s biggest people carriers.

  • S7 – 7 cars – 117.45 metres long – 865 passengers – 7.36 passengers per metre
  • S8 – 8 cars – 133.68 metres long – 1003 passengers – 7.50 passengers per metre

As the Class 710 trains have been designed on similar principles, I suspect we’ll be seeing similar passenger densities of around 7-8 passengers per metre.

This would give a capacity of around six hundred passengers, if the trains are the same eighty metre length as the current Class 315 trains.

Conclusion

It appears that seven hundred is the only published figure and if it is, these new Class 710 trains are going to substantially increase public transport capacity across North London.

They are certainly future-proofed for an outbreak of London Overground Syndrome, where passenger numbers greatly exceed forecasts.

As some of the trains are being delivered as five-car units, there is always the option of adding an extra car. Especially, as the platforms on the line, seem to have been built for five or even six car trains.

London Overground have not made the platform length miscalculations of the North and East London Lines.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Financial Trouble At TfL: Can It Stay Afloat?

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

This is the first paragraph.

London’s public transport provider, TfL, is under increasing pressure. Not only has its government operating grant been slashed but a funding freeze is also expected to cost £640m across the course of the current mayoralty. Can TfL create the commercial income needed to keep it afloat or are there serious causes for concern?

The government is cutting subsidy to TfL, but Sadiq Khan knew that when he stood for Mayor.

So what did he do? He offered a fare freeze until 2020.

It looks like more fantasy Socialist accounting to me, to ensure victory in an election.

The article also says this about the future.

Nevertheless, TfL’s hopes for the future are pinned on the completion of its upcoming Elizabeth Line project, scheduled for the end of the year. The £14.8bn project, which will create a brand new line running underground across London, is expected to be a big revenue raiser. TfL predicts that ridership will increase from the current 46 million passengers on TfL Rail, to nearly 270 million by 2022-2023.

If these predictions are wrong, TfL will be in trouble.

For myself, I suspect that Crossrail will suffer with its own version of London Overground Syndrome, with passenger numbers much higher than predicted. In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I talked about an outbreak in the Scottish Borders, after the opening of the Borders Railway, and said this.

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, despite various eradication programs.

But for the Mayor to rely on that, is clutching at straws.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Along The North Kent Line

The North Kent Line has seen some changes in the last few years and could see some more in the next few.

Starting from the terminal in London Bridge, which itself is going through a massive upgrade, these improvements have been done or will happen.

Woolwich Arsenal

Woolwich Arsenal station has from 2009 provided a direct link to the Docklands Light Railway, giving a direct connection to London City Airport and Bank.

In 2019, Woolwich station on Crossrail will open, which will be two hundred metres away from Woolwich Arsenal station. This will probably not have a direct effect on Woolwich Arsenal station, but two stations will certainly stimulate development in the area.

I doubt many will use this station to interchange between the North Kent Line and Crossrail, as it looks like the connection at Abbey Wood station could be easier.

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station is being rebuilt and in December 2018, Crossrail will start services at the station to Paddington via Canary Wharf and the central tunnel.

Wikipedia says this about Crossrail services at Abbey Wood station.

Abbey Wood is the terminus of one of two eastern branches of Crossrail and will offer cross-platform interchange between terminating Crossrail services (at 12 trains per hour on new line) and existing Southeastern services (along existing tracks)

Plans are always being talked about to link Abbey Wood station to the North Bank of the Thames at either Gallions Reach or Barking Riverside.

I doubt it will happen in the next ten years.

Dartford

Dartford station has from the beginning of this year been one of London’s contactless ticketing stations, as is reported in Oyster and Contactless Bank Cards, under the station’s Wikipedia entry.

Don’t be surprised if this creeps outwards from London.

Greenhithe

Greenhithe station was rebuilt in 2008 and is the station for Bluewater.

Because of the Shopping Centre, Greenhithe will probably be a station that could benefit from contactless ticketing.

Northfleet

Northfleet station is the closest to Ebbsfleet International and we could see an improved link between the two stations.

As Northfleet could have upwards of four trains per hour (tph) stopping in both directions, a frequent shuttle bus, could be an affordable option.

Smaller Stations

There are several smaller stations between London Bridge and Gravesend.

I’m obviously not sure, but on a quick look all of them seem ready to accept the long trains, that will be used by both Thameslink and Crossrail.

Gravesend

Gravesend station was remodelled in 2013 and now has two long through platforms and a bay platform.

Crossrail to Gravesend

Under Future in the Wikipedia for Gravesend station, this is said.

In December 2008, the local authority for Gravesend (Gravesham Council), was formally requested by Crossrail and the Department for Transport, to sanction the revised Crossrail Safeguarding. This safeguarding provides for a potential service extension, from the current south of Thames terminus at Abbey Wood, to continue via the North Kent Line to Gravesend station. The Crossrail route extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend and Hoo Junction, remains on statute. With current services from Gravesend to London Bridge, Waterloo East and London Charing Cross being supplemented by highspeed trains from the end of 2009 to St Pancras, the potential in having Crossrail services from central London, London Heathrow, Maidenhead and/or Reading, terminating at Gravesend, would not only raise the station to hub status but greatly contribute towards the town’s regeneration.

At present, Gravesend station has the following services.

Typical off-peak services are:

  • 2 tph Highspeed services in each direction between London St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet intewrnation and Faversham and the East.
  • 2 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gillingham.
  • 4 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gravesend.

From 2019, Thameslink are saying that they will be running two tph between Rainham and Luton via Dartford and Greenwich.

This will mean that eight tph in each direction will go between Gravesend and Dartford, with another two tph going between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

Because of the  new Thameslink service, the train frequency between Gravesend and Gillingham will increase from the current four tph to six tph.

I think that although Gravesend will be the nominated terninal for Crossrail, the trains will actually reverse direction at Hoo Junction, so there will no need to use any platform space at Gravesend to prepare the train for its return journey.

At present, Wikipedia is saying this will be the Morning Peak service from Abbey Wood station.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 6 tph to Paddington
  • 2 tph to West Drayton

With this Off Peak service.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 4 tph to Paddington

What the current North Kent Line can handle would probably determine how many Croosrail trains went to Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

But Crossrail won’t be short of seats to really provide a superb service to and from the Medway Towns.

I have a feeling that once Crossrail is running successfully, the traffic will define, if, when and how any extension to Gravesend is built.

But the creation of the extension to Gravesend and Hoo Junction will not be a massive undertaking.

  • The depot and other facilities at Hoo Junction will have to be built.
  • Could the depot at Hoo Junction be without electrification? If the Class 345 trains have sufficient onboard energy storage, which I believe could be the case and I wrote about in Bombardier’s Plug-and-Play Train, then this is a serious possibility, which would save money and time in building the depot.
  • All platforms are probably long enough for the Class 345 trains.
  • The Crossrail train specification says that trains must have the potential to be converted for third rail operation. The similar Class 710 trains will have this capability.
  • Judging by my observations in Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations, I feel that Abbey Wood station is probably capable of handling the same number of trains going further down the line.
  • The signalling would have to be adjusted for the new service pattern.

But there would be no tunnelling and no major electrification on the North Kent Line.

Perhaps, the only major expenses would be.

  • Building the depot/reversing sidings and facilities at Hoo Junction.
  • Any extra trains needed.
  • The cost of any rail link into Ebbsfleet International station.

So I doubt, we’ll be talking large numbers of billions.

Class 395 Trains

The Class 395 trains are normally six-car trains, but they can work in pairs as twelve-cars.

This probably means that any station, where the Highspeed service calls can handle a twelve-car train.

Strood

Strood station was updated in 2009 for the Highspeed service. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Rochester

Rochester station was rebuilt in 2016. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Chatham

Chatham station accepts twelve-car trains. Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Gillingham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Gillingham station is an interchange with two long platforms and a bay platform.

Five tph including two Highspeed services pass through the station and two tph go to and from London Charing Cross.

From 2019, there will be another two Thameslink tph between Luton and Rainham stopping at the station.

All this adds up to comprehensive service which stretches out to several London termini and the Kent Coast.

London Bridge, Abbey Wood and Gravesend all have at least four tph from Gillingham.

Rainham

Ready for Crossrail/Thameslink.

Rainham station has been updated in the last couple of years. An Update section in the Wikipedia entry, says this.

As part of the rebuild of Rochester Station, a new Up Bay Platform has been added.
Trains are now able to use this new platform as the East Kent Resignalling Project has been completed. At present, only a couple of trains use it in the evening rush hour.

The East Kent Resignalling Project is described on this page of the Southeastern web site.

These improvements are noted.

  • New £26 million station at Rochester
  • 250 new signals to replace old signalling equipment
  • Disabled access at Strood station
  • New bay platform at Rainham
  • Safer level crossings fitted with obstacle detection technology at Aylesford, Yalding, Beltring, Wateringbury, East Farleigh, Cuxton and Snodland
  • Centralisation of signalling control to Gillingham and the decommissioning of several signal boxes.

It would appear that a updated railway and a short series of good stations through the Medway Towns has been created, that can handle the increased frequencies.

Thameslink To Rainham

Modern Railways in August 2016, said that Thameslink would be running a two tph service between Luton and Rainham via Greenwich and Dartford.

The new bay platform at Rainham would be ideal for this service.

Onward From Rainham

There doesn’t seem to be many changes to what services are run now.

Conclusions

Everything seems to fit together rather well.

  • Twelve-car platforms seem universal or at least where needed.
  • The signalling is up to scratch.
  • The new bay platform at Rainham makes the new two tph Thameslink service to Luton deliverable.
  • To extend Crossrail to Gravesend probably just needs the new depot at Hoo Junction.
  • Dartford to Rainham gets at least a four tph service with six car or longer trains.

The only area, where nothing has been published, is how to incorporate Ebbsfleet International station into the network.

I think it could suffer from 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.

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

After The Northern Hub, Is Network Rail Planning A Midland Rail Hub?

The study on Network Rail’s web site is entitled West Midlands and Chilterns Route Study, proposes a concept of a Midland Rail Hub.

By adding the following infrastructure.

  • Bordesley Chords and new platforms at Moor Street
  • More tracks through Water Orton
  • Kings Norton upgrade
  • Snow Hill Platform 4
  • Begin rollout of Digital Railway

Network Rail feel, it will bring the following benefits.

  • Up to 10 extra trains every hour
  • More freight trains
  • New journey opportunities between East and West Midlands
  • Unlocking new jobs
  • Maximising benefits of HS2.

It doesn’t appear to be as radical as the Northern Hub.

These are my notes and thoughts on the various proposals.

Bordesley Chords

This Google Map shows the Bordesley area of Birmingham.

Bordesley Chords

Bordesley Chords

In the top-right or north-eastern corner of the map is Birmingham City Football Ground.

In the middle of the map is Bordesley Circus, which is a roundabout, that is one of the most dangerous for pedestrians in the country. When I was last there, it was being improved and I wrote  My Least Favourite Roundabout Gets Pedestrian Lights. I hope they’re working on Tuesday, 13th December, when I’ll be going to see Ipswich play.

Bordesley station, which is one of the worst stations in the UK, lies to the South-West of this roundabout and is on the Chiltern Main Line into Birmingham Moor Street station, although services don’t stop.

Running almost North-South across the map is the Camp Hill Line, which incidentally passes behind the stands at the football ground.

Where it crosses the Chiltern Main Line, there is a chord allowing limited connection between North and East.

I would assume that as the report says Bordesley Chords, that there will be some extra connectivity between these two lines.

Under the future of the Camp Hill Line on Wikipedia, this is said.

The reinstatement of local rail services to the former Camp Hill Line has been a long term aspiration of the City, and during 2007, Birmingham City Council announced that they were looking into the possibility of reopening the line between Kings Norton and Birmingham Moor Street via the construction of a railway viaduct from Sparkbrook to Bordesley, where trains would be taken into the “old” Birmingham Moor Street station. In October 2007, a 1500-name petition was handed in to the council asking for the line to be re-opened. In 2013 the proposal was shelved indefinitely.

As Kings Norton is to the South, this would need a West to South connection at Bordesley.

These pictures show the area from a Chiltern Train going into Moor Street.

Salubrious it is not! There is certainly a lot of space on the North side, but there might be less on the South. This Google Map shows the area between the station and where the two lines cross.

Bordesley Station And Chords

Bordesley Station And Chords

Note the double-track chord between the Camp Hill Line to the North and the Chiltern Main Line to the East. This chord gives services from the Chiltern Main Line to access Birmingham New Street station. If you take a train from Oxford to Birmingham New Street, it will take this chord, if it doesn’t go via Coventry.

From what I have seen in Manchester and some parts of London, the area could surely be put to a better purpose, perhaps driven by a rebuilt Bordesley station, with regular services to Moor Street, Kings Noton and Solihull. The area does have the added factor of water in the shape of one of Birmingham’s numerous canals.

Hopefully, the first piece of development in a very run-down area, the sorting of a decent walking route between Bordesley station and Birmingham City Football Ground has been completed.

New Platforms At Birmingham Moor Street Station

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Birmingham Moor Street Station

Birmingham Moor Street Station

The most northerly pair of platforms in the station are numbered 1 and 2 and are for the through lines to Birmingham Snow Hill station.

Over the last few years, work has opened the next pair of bay platforms 3 and 4. On my last trip to Birmingham in June, I arrived in Platform 4.

A Chiltern Main Line Train In Platform 4 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

A Chiltern Main Line Train In Platform 4 At Birmingham Moor Street Station

Platform 5 on the other side of Platform 4 may have been reinstated, but there doesn’t seem to be any trains using it, as yet!

The map shows that there would appear to be space to open Platforms 3, 4 and 5, but could a clever architect squeeze in a Platform 6?

These pictures show the space for a possible Platform 5 and 6.

There would certainly appear to be space to shoe-horn two tracks and a new Platform 6 between the current Platform 5 and the retaining wall.

As the pictures show, Platform 5 is a platform that is long enough for any train currently envisaged that might call at Moor Street station.

Looking at the map of the station, it might even be possible to make Platform 6 even longer, if this were thought to be needed.

More Tracks Through Water Orton

This Google Map shows Water Orton station and the lines through it.

Lines Through Water Orton Station

Lines Through Water Orton Station

If you look up services from Water Orton and Coleshill Parkway stations, they are certainly of the turn-up-and-wait-forever variety.

Water Orton has one train every two hours to Birmingham, but at least Coleshill Parkway has a train every half-hour.

Perhaps more lines through Water Orton will enable more trains through the area.

Looking at the rail map of Birmingham, it would be possible to go from Water Orton via the Camp Hill Line to Kings Norton and if the North to West chord was built at Bordesley to Moor Street.

It would certainly be the view of many, including myself, that a Parkway station needs a train or tram every fifteen minutes.

Kings Norton Upgrade

If the Camp Hill Line is reopened to passenger trains, then Kings North station will be the terminus.

This Google Map shows the station.

Kings Norton Station

Kings Norton Station

It is a large station with an unused island platform in the middle.

These pictures show Kings Norton station.

There is certainly work to be done.

But the station also has a lot of potential and space that can be utilised. It might even be possible to fit in a bay platform to turn trains back to Moor Street and New Street.

Birmingham Snow Hill Platform 4

Wikipedia says this about platforms at Birmingham Snow Hill station,

The present Snow Hill station has three platforms for National Rail trains. When it was originally reopened in 1987 it had four, but one was later converted in 1999 for use as a terminus by Midland Metro trams. The original tram terminus closed in November 2015, in order for the extension of the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre to be connected. This includes a dedicated embankment for trams alongside the station, and will also include a new through stop serving Snow Hill. This will eventually allow the fourth platform to be returned to main-line use.

As the Midland Metro now has its own new platform outside the station, the fourth platform can soon be converted back to heavy rail use.

These pictures show the current state of the closed tram platform.

I don’t think that converting it back to heavy rail will be the most difficult of jobs.

Birmingham Station Connectivity

Although, not on the Network Rail infrastructure list, I feel that to gain the full benefits of HS2, then the line must be properly connected to Moor Street and New Street stations.

I can easily walk between Moor Street and New Street stations, but I do feel that Birmingham’s solution of using the Midland Metro as a link and to the Curzon Street HS2 station, is not the way to do it.

It needs some form of people mover. Perhaps a travelator would be better.

City Centre Ticketing

In Liverpool, a ticket to Liverpool stations, allows you to use the Underground to any of the other stations in the City Centre.

In London, many visitors by rail, add a Travelcard to their rail ticket.

Perhaps, in Birmingham, a ticket to Birmingham stations, should include the Midland Metro in the City Centre? Or a simple add-on for the Metro between Jewellery Quarter and Five Ways could be added for a few pounds.

At present, you have to buy a separate ticket. How visitor-friendly is that? At least a short journey is only a pound

If Birmingham is to make the most out of the opportunity of HS2, then they must use easy and understandable ticketing.

Chiltern’s Superb Trains

My trip down to Birmingham was in a Class 168 train, which although was a good experience for a diesel multiple unit, was spoilt as one engine went AWOL and we were late in to Moor Street.

But going home to London, I rode in what I think are one of the best long distance trains anywhere in Europe; Chiltern’s rakes of Mark 3 coaches pulled and pushed by a modern Class 68 locomotive.

  • Nearly every seat gets a table and a window aligned to it.
  • The seats are spcious and comfortable.
  • The ride is the superb one, you always get from a Mark 3 coach.
  • Trolley-service of drinks and a buffet on most services.
  • Free wi-fi.
  • London to Birmingham return for £19.20 with a Railcard.
  • I’ve never travelled on Chiltern’s Mark 3 coaches and been unable to read my paper flat in front of me on the table.

The experience may be slower than Virgin’s, but give me Standard Class on Chiltern against First on Virgin every time between London and Birmingham.

The only problem, is that Marylebone station, isn’t as accessible as Euston from where I live. However, when Crossrail opens, times will be within a few minutes.

I can’t help feeling that Transpennine’s decision to use Class 68 locomotives and rakes of new CAF Mark 5 coaches across the Pennines, was influenced by the success of Chiltern’s flagship service and its superb rolling stock.

I’m looking forward to riding the CAF coaches in a few years, to see how they stand up to an almost forty year old British Rail coach.

I wonder how many Spanish engineers have ridden Chiltern’s trains?

I also feel that the Class 68 locomotive is an asset to a passenger service, in that so many diesel locomotives look dirty and smelly, but Class 68s seemed to have been designed to keep clean and also look how a locomotive should; powerful, purposeful and sleek.

For those, who don’t like that the trains are still diesel-hauled, there is even a Spanish solution for that, if the lines ever get electrified, in the shape of the new Class 88 electro-diesel locomotive, which is a sister of the Class 68 locomotive.

And of course, if Chiltern need some more trains and can’t find the Mark 3 coaches, they can always buy some new coaches from CAF.

 

Conclusions

It’s a very sensible plan and it will open up all sorts of possibilities for Birmingham.

The chords at Bordesley and the extra tracks through Water Orton would seem to open up a new route for trains across the city from Moor Street band Kings Norton to Water Orton and Nuneaton.

  • New subsurban services could link Nuneaton and Kings Norton to Moor Street.
  • Cross-country services might use Moor Street with a reverse, rather than New Street.
  • Extra services from Moor Street to Nuneaton might take pressure off the heavily-loaded New Street to Birmingham route.
  • How would the new station at Kenilworth station fit in?

But there are railways all over this area and I’m sure that the Bordesley and Water Orton improvements, will not be the last.

Already there is talk of reopening, the Sutton Park Line and the Stonebridge Railway.

I asked about Kenilworth station. I don’t know, but after Bordesley and Water vOrton are upgraded, there would be the possibility of a Warwickshire Circle, starting and finishing at Moor Street.

  • Moor Street
  • Solihull
  • Warwick Parkway
  • Warwick
  • Leamington Spa with a reverse.
  • Kenilworth
  • Coventry
  • Coventry Arena
  • Bedworth
  • Bermuda Park
  • Nuneaton
  • Coleshill Parkway
  • Water Orton
  • Moor Street

It would be a route, where several stations could be reopened or built from scratch. Leamington Spar incidentally already has a bay platform for the reverse.

I also think, that one of the biggest beneficiaries of all this will be Chiltern Railways.

Consider.

  • Their two Birmingham termini of Show Hill and Moor Street are getting extra capacity.
  • Moor Street will become a big terminal with two through and four bay platforms, all of which will be able to handle the longest Chiltern trains.
  • Birmingham New Street station lacks capacity.
  • The Birmingham New Street to Coventry route is seriously crowded.
  • In Will Chiltern Railways Get A Second London Terminal At Old Oak Common?, I talked about Network Rail’s ideas to link the Chiltern route to the new station.
  • Banbury station has been upgraded for more traffic.
  • Chiltern will be running to Oxford station by the end of this year.
  • Chiltern have plans in hand to run to Milton Keynes station.

We’ll certainly see extra services from London to Birmingham and possibly beyond, but will we see a triangular route going between London – Oxford – Birmingham – London?

It will depend on whether the passengers want it, but from Chiltern’s point of view, it might mean that their platforms in London, Oxford and Birmingham, and their trains, saw higher utilisation.

I suspect too, that the Oxford -Birmingham leg has more paths available and that Chiltern’s capacity problems are mainly at the London end of the Chiltern Main Line, especially now, that Banbury has been remodelled.

Chiltern Railways are an ambitious company and if they get a second terminal in London at Old Oak Common, they will certainly use it profitably.

I think that the Network Rail report shows that a few simple improvements, when thought through and executed with care can produce improvements not suspected in the original plans.

But all rail planning has to discount the London Overground Syndrome, where new stations, routes and trains, attract more passengers than originally expected.

 

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on After The Northern Hub, Is Network Rail Planning A Midland Rail Hub?

Pessimistic Rail Passenger Forecasts

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Campaigners Hit Out At “Pessimistic” Forecasts.

The campaigners are complaining about the passenger forecasts for reopening the Levenmouth rail Link from north Thornton Junction to Methil.

Rail passenger forecasts are notoriously bad. So much so, that I call it London Overground Syndrome, in honour of the local East London and North London Lines, where they started with three-car trains and are now five years later, running trains of five-cars.

Outbreaks have occurred around Leeds, on the Nottingham Express Tramway and the Borders Railway.

Any competent mathematician could come up with a valid way to adjust the forecasts.

The trouble is, this might mean the new line gets opened, which means more money from Government and more work for Network Rail.

 

June 27, 2016 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment