The Anonymous Widower

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Halton Curve

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

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

The article says this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

This is my definition of the disease.

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

It is usually solved by adding more capacity.

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

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 | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

The Worst Value Project You Can Find?

Not my words but part of a quote from Dr. Richard Wellings of the Institute of Economic Affairs from 2013 about the Borders Railway, from this article on Rail News entitled Borders Railway Passenger Figures Ahead Of Target.

To be fair to Dr. Wellings, this is the original report with the full quote on the BBC, which is entitled Borders railway decision ‘insane’, says Institute of Economic Affairs. This is said.

Dr Richard Wellings of the IEA told BBC Scotland: “Even looking at the official figures, this is just about the worst value project you can find.

“The whole project’s insane. The average strategic road scheme has a benefit cost ratio of around five, which is ten times higher than the Borders railway, so this is a gross misallocation of resources, particularly when there are still huge problems on the road network in Scotland.”

These are the latest figures of usage from Transport Scotland and Scotrail published in the Rail News article.

  • Tweedbank: forecast 18,978 — actual 183,918
  • Galashiels: forecast 20,567 — actual 104,593
  • Stow: forecast 5,129 — actual 24,365
  • Gorebridge: forecast 79,014 — actual 39,400
  • Newtongrange: forecast 46,449 — actual 50,480
  • Eskbank: forecast 114,568 — actual 65,672
  • Shawfair: forecast 54,298 — actual 9,398
  • Brunstane/Newcraighall: forecast 865 — actual 11,344
  • Edinburgh: forecast 228,156 — actual 205,203

This adds up to totals of forecast: 568,023 — actual 694,373.

Actual has exceeded the forecast by 22%, which  certainly seem to be a bad case of London Overground Syndrome, that benign disease, where more passengers use a new railway than forecast.

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A South London Metro

Some of my recent posts including.

Are leading me to the conclusion that it would be possible to create a South London Metro, that worked under similar principles to the East London Line.

The East London Line

If anybody doesn’t believe that the East London Line is one of the best creations on the world’s railways in recent years, then they should go and read something else now.

Consider.

  • There is a core section between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations, where sixteen trains per hour (tph) shuttle passengers under the river in modern trains.
  • In Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I indicated that TfL are planning to increase this frequency to 20 tph.
  • At the Northern end four dedicated platforms at two different termini; Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington give passengers choices of onward routes.
  • At the Southern end, there are four separate termini; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Three of the southern termini have excellent onward connections and if the Tramlink is sorted at West Croydon, then that would be improved.
  • The line has excellent connections to the Victoria and Jubilee Lines of the Underground and other rail lines.

It has been a marvellous success.

The North London Line

The North London Line is not as radical in its design as the East London Line, as it effectively just a a simple line across North London, that carries up to eight trains per hour and a lot of freight.

It has been successful, but not as successful as the East London Line.

The Future Of The Overground In North And East London

The success of removing, third-rate trains on the North and East London Lines is now being repeated on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where two-car diesel trains are being replaced with four-car electric ones.

But this is only the start, as other plans are being put together in North London.

But to use the well-known phase – “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

South London In The Slow Lane

South London is very second-rate compared to the North with respect to railways.

My mother always told me to never go South of the River, as I’d get lost.

Look at the historic radial routes out of East, North and West London termini like Euston, Fenchurch Street, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington and St. Pancras and the lines have a simple structure that the average child of ten could understand. The Underground also follows a simple structure.

But if you look at trains South of the River, there is not even any logic as to which terminus you use to get your train, with the exception perhaps of Waterloo. Only South London’s crazy rules would mean that going to East Kent would be from the most western Southern terminus at Victoria.

It is mainly down to the fact that much of the rail network South of the River were developed by companies, whose idea of co-operation was stopping the other companies from expanding.

My mother was so very right!

There are problems galore of inadequate infrastructure.

  • Some stations are in desperate need of more platforms.
  • Lines often cross each other in flat junctions, which severely limit capacity.
  • Many of the lines have heavy peak-hour use from commuters and infrequent services in the off-peak.
  • Any electrification is non-standard third-rail.
  • The main lines don’t have enough capacity.
  • Commuters are also often very vocal opponents of even the smallest change.

Even new lines like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link at Ebbsfleet International and Crossrail at Abbey Wood are only partly integrated into the existing network and don’t share a station.

The engineers are doing their best with innovative schemes like the Bermondsey Dive-Under, but the railways in South London need a whole new philosophy to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

North London may have a long list of projects in the pipeline, but after the upgrading of Thameslink and the Northern Line Extension to Battersea, South London’s future plan is very thin.

In some ways Crossrail 2 sums up the South. North London will be affected by this line’s construction, but all of the protests are from Chelsea, which can probably be ignored, and South London.

The Centre For London Proposals

In the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, there was an article entitled Turning South London Orange, which is a radical set of proposals from an organisation called the Centre for London, with the aim of improving rail services in South London.

This is a summary of their proposals, as they affect the lines across South London from Victoria to Peckham Rye, Herne Hill and Surrey Quays.

  • A tunnel should be built from Battersea to South of Herne Hill under Brixton to remove fast services from Victoria to Kent from the area.
  • The four-track South London Line should be reconfigured so that London Overground services use the Northern rather than the Southern pair of tracks.
  • A new station is built at Battersea linking the Northern Line Extension to the South London Line.

One of the consequences of this, is that it would be possible to create three modern step-free stations at Wandsworth Road, Clapham High Street and Brixton, with the latter two connected to the Northern and Victoria Lines of the Underground using escalators and/or lifts.

A South London Metro

So what would a South London Metro look like?

I will assume the following.

  • The fast line tunnel under Brixton is built.
  • The South London Line is reconfigured to put the London Overground service on the Northern pair of tracks.
  • A new interchange station is built at Battersea.

In the next few sections, I will look at the various parts of the South London Metro.

The Brixton Tunnel

Although not actually part of the South London Metro, the Brixton Tunnel must be built before the Metro can be created, as it removes all the fast Chatham Main Line services between Victoria and Kent, from the lines across South London.

Trains will use a tunnel between Battersea and South of Herne Hill.

So what Southeastern Mainline services, that serve Victoria could use the tunnel?

  • 1 tph to Ramsgate via Chatham with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Dover via Chatham with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Dover via Chatham with a first stop at Orpington and a second at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Canterbury West via Maidstone East with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Ashford International via Maidstone East with a first stop at Bromley South.

There are another nine trains per day running in the peak.

The question has to be asked, if extra services can be provided through a fast tunnel, as the current number of trains might even be within the capacity of a single-track tunnel.

But I suspect that for redundancy and safety reasons that the five-kilometre tunnel would probably be built as double track or a twin-bore tunnel.

At present non-stop services take sixteen minutes between Victoria and Bromley South stations, which is a distance of 20.4 kilometres, which gives a start-to-stop average speed of about 75 kph. At that speed the trains would take around four minutes to pass through the  tunnel. So even if the Class 375 trains, that generally work the line went through at full speed of 160 kph, not much would be saved on the journey.

But given the transit time through the tunnel of four minutes or less and the generally low number of trains through the tunnel, I suspect that a single-track tunnel is under serious consideration.

But I would future-proof the line by providing a double-track tunnel.

As Bombardier have said, that the Class 375 trains could be retro-fitted with on-board energy storage, I suspect too that the tunnel could even be left without electrification, as an electrically-dead tunnel must be safer in the unlikely event of a train needing to be evacuated. Evacuation will probably be through the side doors of the trains onto a walkway, as is proposed for Crossrail.

I think that the developments in infrastructure creation and the powering of trains in the last few years could enable a very radical and affordable approach to building this tunnel.

I think there’s a chance we’ll see this five kilometre tunnel bored as a single bore, with either one or two tracks, but no electrification.

Remember that the Severn Tunnel, which is the longest main line rail tunnel in the UK and was built by the Victorians, is seven kilometres long.

London’s latest tunnel which is the Lee Tunnel for sewage  is just under seven kilometres long, seven metres in diameter and at a depth of over seventy-five metres under East London. It is probably big enough for a third-rail electrified double-track railway. According to Wikipedia, the Lee Tunnel cost an estimated £635 million.

As we’re moving towards a Golden Age of Tunnelling, I think we’ll be seeing more tunnels proposed.

The Core Section

I would define the core section of the South London Metro as between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye stations, so it would also include the following intermediate stations.

  • Clapham High Street
  • Brixton
  • Denmark Hill

If fast services from Victoria to Kent are in a tunnel under Brixton and Herne Hill, the Centre for London Report says that it would be possible for London Overground services to use the Northern pair of tracks rather than the Southern ones. Freight, empty stock movements and other non-stopping services would continue to use the Southern tracks.

At present there are just four tph  each way on the Overground along the current line, but as the East London Line core is currently handling sixteen tph, I would think it possible, subject to some reorganisation of the tracks at the two ends of the core section, that all Metro and Overground services could share the Northern tracks and platforms.

Similar sharing has been done successfully between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction on the Overground, since the East London Line was extended to West Croydon in 2010. On that existing route, the fast trains have their own separate tracks out of the way, just as under the Centre for London proposals, fast trains between Victoria and Kent will be separated in a tunnel under Brixton.

As to the ultimate capacity of the core section, who knows? Figures of 24 tph have been quoted as possible for the East London Line, but twenty through the core will do well for several years.

I suspect that as the only trains on the Northern pair of tracks through South London will be slow Overground/Metro trains, that any routing problems could be solved by simple flat junctions, of which there are many already.

So how would this affect the stations on the core section?

  • Wandsworth Road would have two new Northern platforms. As the lines split for Victoria and Clapham Junction just after the station, would each pair of lines and platforms  be for appropriate destinations?
  • Clapham High Street would have two new Northern platforms for Metro/Overground services. As the Northern platforms are closer to Clapham North station, it might be sensible to create an escalator connection between the two stations and not generally use the Southern platforms.
  • East Brixton is a station, that has been discussed for rebuilding.
  • Brixton would have reopened Northern platforms for Metro/Overground services. Services via Herne Hill would still use the current platforms and as no trains on the high-level lines over the station would stop, providing step-free access between the Victoria Line and Metro/Overground services would be much easier.
  • Many believe that Loughborough Junction station should be connected to the Overground. If Metro/Overground services are moved to the Northern tracks as they go over Loughborough Junction station, I believe that step-free connection between new Metro/Overground platforms and Loughborough Junction is now possible.
  • Denmark Hill station would need some reorganisation, but it is already step-free.
  • Peckham Rye station would need some reorganisation and it is on the list of being made step-free.

The list of projects to create a core section of the South London Metro would include.

  • Build the Brixton Tunnel
  • Add the extra platforms and station infrastructure at Wandsworth Road station.
  • Add the extra platforms and station infrastructure at Clapham High Street station.
  • Create an escalator/lift connection between Clapham High Street and the Northern Line at Clapham North station.
  • Reopen the Northern platforms at Brixton station.
  • Create an escalator/lift connection between the low-level platforms at Brixton with the Victoria Line.
  • Add two high-level platforms at Loughborough Junction station on the Metro/Overground lines.
  • Make Loughbrough Junction station fully step-free.
  • Make various changes to the tracks, so that all required routes are possible.

There would obviously be other small projects, but I can’t see anything major except for the building of the Brixton Tunnel, that would be needed to create a sixteen train-per-hour route from Victoria across South London.

All projects and that includes the Brixton Tunnel could be carried out without large disruption of the existing train services, which in my view is a tribute to the Centre for London proposals.

I think that without any further major infrastructure after the Brixton Tunnel has been built, and some other smaller projects that are already being planned, the core section of the South London Metro could be a run of step-free stations interchanging with the Northern and Victoria Lines, Thameslink and other services out of Victoria and London Bridge.

Reversal Stations

I also wonder if any of the core stations could be created with an island platform, so that passengers can reverse direction without going up and down stairs. This can already be done at Queens Road Peckham station if say you are on a Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction train and want to go to South Bermondsey or London Bridge.

Never underestimate passengers’ ability to duck and dive!

Connectivity just encourages passengers to take more outrageous, faster and convenient routes.

The Western Termini

At present there are two western termini for the services along the South London Line; Victoria and Clapham Junction and Victoria.

There is probably not enough platforms, if it is desired to run sixteen tph or more through the core, as is done on the East London Line.

Clapham Junction As A Western Terminus

At present 4 tph run to Clapham Junction and as I wrote in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, this will be increased to 6 tph in 2019.

I suspect that despite the rather unusual platform arrangements at Clapham Junction, which I call The Clapham Kiss, that 6 tph can be handled at the station.

So I think it will be very much Carry On Clapham!

Victoria As A Western Terminus

At present, the following services serve Victoria along the South London Line.

  • 4 tph to Orpington, which turn off at Brixton.
  • 2 tph to Dartford via Bexleyheath, which turn off at Peckham Rye.

Combined with the 6 tph from Clapham Junction, between Wandsworth Road and Brixton, there are 12 tph.

Given that Victoria is crowded and needs more platforms, would it be possible to handle the South London Metro from a dedicated platform or pair of platforms in Victoria?

Assigned platforms at Dalston Junction certainly helps passengers, as you know where your train to the various destinations will call.

  • Through Platform 1 for Highbury and Islington
  • Bay Platform 2 for New Cross
  • Bay Platform 3 for Clapham Junction
  • Through Platform 4 for Crystal Palace and West Croydon

This is certainly what is happening today as I write.

I think it would be a great advantage if you went to a particular platform or pair of platforms to pick up the South London Metro.

This mini sub-station concept is used at.

  • Cheshunt for the Lea Valley Lines
  • Clapham Junction for the East London Line.
  • Crystal Palace for the East London Line.
  • Liverpool Street for the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Richmond for the North London Line.
  • Stratford for the North London Line.

Usually, you just look for the orange!

Battersea As A Western Terminus

Given that Victoria is crowded and probably needs more platforms, an alternative terminus is probably needed.

Just as when Dalston Junction was rebuilt for the East London Line, two bay platforms were incorporated, could the same thing be done at the new Battersea station?

Certainly, the system works well at Dalston Junction, so why wouldn’t a similar arrangement work at Batttersea?

  • Passengers needing to get to Victoria on a train terminating at Battersea would just walk across the platform and wait a couple of minutes for the train to Victoria.
  • Passengers from Victoria on a train going to a wrong destination would only have to go to Wandsworth Road to get a train to any destination, including those served from Clapham Junction.

It is a system, where to do any journey you either do it direct, or with a single same-platform change.

Old Oak Common As A Western Terminus

Because of the capacity problems and the unusual layout at Clapham Junction station, it might also be possible to use somewhere on the West London Line as a Western terminus.

Old Oak Common station with its connections to the West Coast Main Line, HS2, Crossrail and the North London Line would be an obvious choice.

The Eastern Termini

At present services from Victoria and Clapham Junction, go although the South London Line to the following destinations.

  • Dalston Junction – 4 tph from Clapham Junction – 6 tph from 2019
  • Dartford – 2 tph from Victoria via Bexleyheath
  • Orpington – 4 tph from Victoria

Even with Dartford services raised to 4 tph, that is probably still below the capacity of the core section of the line.

Dalston Junction As An Eastern Terminus

I would assume that the current Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction service will continue.

Currently there are 4 tph, but this will go to 6 tph in 2019 as I wrote about in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line.

As  TfL’s predictions in the document I found for 2016 and 2017 have already happened, I would think the 6 tph is likely, if the new Class 710 trains are delivered to boost the fleet.

With the increase in service frequency, London Overground Syndrome means that the passengers using the service will increase.

Dartford As An Eastern Terminus

At present, 2 tph go between Victoria and Dartford via Bexleyheath.

But is Dartford, the best terminal in the area for the South London Metro?

Consider.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see 4 tph service along a South London Metro to a Dartford station, where Crossrail calls to give a direct link to HS2 at Ebbsfleet International.

London Bridge As An Eastern Terminus

As London Bridge station used to be linked along the South London Line to Victoria, this important station must be added.

Especially, as there were a lot of passengers, who objected to losing the direct service along the South London Line between London Bridge and Victoria.

On the East London Line, there is a short 4 tph service between Dalston Junction and New Cross which is used as a short direct service through the core, perhaps to boost train frequencies there.

So could a  service with a similar frequency  be run on the South London Line between Victoria and London Bridge? It could call at.

  • South Bermondsey
  • Queen’s Road Peckham
  • Peckham Rye
  • Denmark Hill
  • Loughborough Junction
  • Brixton
  • Clapham High Street
  • Wandsworth Road
  • Battersea

It would have step-free connections to the Northern and Victoria Lines and Thameslink, if the appropriate stations were upgraded.

Orpington As An Eastern Terminus

I think that Orpington has the greatest potential as a terminal.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the route from Kent House station via Beckenham Junction and Bromley South to Orpington.

From Kent House Via BromleySouth To Orpington

From Kent House Via BromleySouth To Orpington

It has very good connectivity.

Because of all this connectivity, Bromley and Orpington might be able to provide enough passengers for more than four trains per hour going to Victoria and/or Battersea.

Remember there will still be the five fast trains per hour through the Brixton Tunnel  in addition to the stopping ones of the Metro.

Bellingham As An Eastern Terminus

When the Overground took over the line, there was some discussion about a service between Victoria and Bellingham.

So could Bellingham station be a terminus?

This Google Map shows the area around Bellingham station.

Bellingham Station

Bellingham Station

There doesn’t seem to be much of importance in the area, except the leisure centre.

In addition.

  • The station doesn’t seem to have a suitable bay platform, but there may be space to build one.
  • The station would provide a link to Thameslink.
  • It only handles a couple of trains an hour most of the day, so perhaps the terminating of trains was to be slipped in the large gaps.

Perhaps it was all to stimulate development in the area.

An HS1 to HS2 Link

If Old Oak Common is chosen as a Western Terminus with a 4 tph service down the West London Line and the core route of the South London Metro, what would be a suitable terminal in the East?

Given what I said about Dartford as an Eastern terminus, surely a four tph service across South London linking HS1 and HS2 must enter into the route planners’ thinking.

As Crossrail does the business linking HS1 and HS2 for North and Central London, a South London Metro could be configured to do a similar job for a whole swath of South and West London.

A Brockley Interchange

The Centre for London report proposes a new pair of platforms on the South London Line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations, providing interchange with the existing Brockley station.

I gave my views on Brockley station in A Report On The Bakerloo Line Extension, which I now repeat in an edited form.

This Google Map shows Brockley  station.

Brockley Station

The Bexleyheath Line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations crosses the East London Line and Brockley station at a high level.

I wrote A Four-Poster Station about connecting these two lines.

It would appear that Transport for London have advanced this project from one word in their 2050 Infrastructure Plan to a proposal.

If the South London Metro included the services to Dartford via Bexleyheath, then this interchange at Brockley station might make some passengers journeys a lot easier.

A Penge Interchange

The Centre for London report proposes an interchange between Penge East station on the Chatham Main Line with Penge West station on the East London Line.

This Google Map shows the lines and the two Penge stations.

Penge Stations

Penge Stations

The report suggests that it would be possible to reduce the walking distance between the two stations from 650 to 400 metres and there might be potential to move Penge West station to the North of the High Street.

As the walking appears substantially to be flat, I wonder if a section of travelator would be possible!

I recently walked from East to West station and took these pictures.

One of the station staff said that they need step-ladders to access the Crystal Palace line, that runs over the top.

The walk incidentally took me fifteen minutes, so if it decreases from 650 to 400 metres, by moving the station North of the High Street that should reduce the time to under ten minutes.

Will a travelator be added.

As with the extra platforms at Brockley station, this interchange has the potential to ease some passengers journeys.

My Proposed Schedule

I will give my view of the trains on a South London Metro.

  • 6 tph between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction.
  • 4 tph between Dartford and Old Oak Common.
  • 4 tph between Victoria/Battersea and London Bridge
  • 6 tph between Victoria/Battersea and Orpington

This gives a total of 20 tph, which would be the same as the East London Line will be in 2019.

The Rolling Stock

Due to platform restrictions on the East London Line, I would envisage that the trains between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction will probably still be the same five-car Class 378 trains.

The trains on the other destinations can probably be anything suitable and would include Class 375, Class 377 or even some new Class 710 trains.

But as there is no platform restrictions to the other destinations, the trains could probably be any desired formation between four and twelve cars.

Any new platforms would of course be built to accept twelve-car trains.

Getting To Heathrow

At the present time, getting to Heathrow can be a bit of a problem from some places in South London.

But after Crossrail and Old Oak Common station are opened, it would just be a matter of getting one of a 4 tph South London Metro train to Old Oak Common and changing for Crossrail.

It may of course be easier to use one of the other possible routes to Crossrail.

  • Take the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road from Battersea or Clapham North.
  • Take Thameslink to Tottenham Court Road.
  • Go via Whitechapel.

We’ll all develop our favourite routes.

Getting To Gatwick

At the present time, Thameslink haven’t published their full route yet, but anybody on the South London Metro should be able to do one of the following.

  • Go to Clapham Junction and get a direct train.
  • Go to Victoria and get Gatwick Express.
  • Go to London Bridge and get Thameslink.

Unfortunately, it looks like I might lose my option of going to New Cross Gate and getting a direct train.

Conclusion

A South London Metro running 16 tph or more between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye stations, with multiple termini at either end, must be a feasible and affordable possibility, if the following is done.

  • The Brixton Tunnel is built to give fast Victoria to Kent services a by-pass.
  • The Overground/Metro services are moved to the Northern pair of tracks on the South London Line.
  • Various station and track improvements are carried out.

It looks to me, that this project could transform South London and improve the lot of people like me, who live on the East London Line.

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now Yorkshire Gets An Outbreak Of London Overground Syndrome

The April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kirkstall Forge Opening In Mid-April, which talks about the three stations in Leeds; Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor, which are currently being built.

This is said about Apperley Bridge station.

Meanwhile, the report to the Committee stated that passenger use of Appleby Bridge station has increased more quickly than expected.

So there is another outbreak of London Overground Syndrome, where traffic on a new piece of railway is higher than was predicted.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome

The Scottish Borders would appear to be suffering from that new benign disease;London Overground syndrome!

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.

The latest pressure would seem to be to take over more of London’s suburban routes.

Londoners can’t seem to get enough of the life-improving orange.

Rail Plans For The Scottish Borders

This article on the BBC is entitled Borders Railway: Future Goals For New Routes Drawn Up.

Reading the article, it would appear that the following are proposed or are possibilities for the Borders Railway to mitigate the effect of London Overground syndrome.

  • Building on the current success.
  • Extending the railway to Hawick.
  • Add some dynamic passing loops to increase service resilience.
  • Add some more parking.
  • Improve the wi-fi.
  • More capacity and especially for tourism-related reasons.
  • More steam trains.
  • A possible branch to Peebles.

It would appear to be all well-thought out ideas, some of which will happen.

  • More car parking at Tweedbank and Stow
  • Longer trains with space for bicycles.
  • Perhaps a longer passing loop. to enable increased and faster services.
  • A turnback facility at Tweedbank to aid the running of stem trains.
  • Better wi-fi.

But most of these projects are easily costed and the benefits can be calculated. So they are ones that accountants like and can fund or turn down.

Onward To Hawick

The Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, says this about a proposed extension to Hawick and Carlisle.

The Campaign for Borders Rail has called for the continuation of the line to Melrose and Hawick, and eventually to Carlisle. According to the group, Hawick suffered more than any other town in the Borders from the closure of the Waverley Route, and only the return of the railway could halt the area’s economic decline. At the time of the closure of the Waverley Route, Hawick was a 70-minute journey from Edinburgh. At Melrose, the southbound station platform and building exist alongside the Melrose Bypass. Network Rail has confirmed that there is nothing to prevent the extension of the line beyond Tweedbank, although commentators have remarked that the Bypass could pose problems. A major realignment of the road would be required, as well as the reinstatement of embankments and bridges.

I have traced the route of the Waverley Route beyond Tweedbank station on Google Maps and you can see a lot of the original route to Hawick, which only seems to have one viaduct at Ale Water.

Note that there appear to be a succession of viaducts to the South of Hawick, so perhaps Hawick would be a town to take a breather. I’ve also traced this section on Google Maps and if it was ever rebuilt, it would certainly be some railway.

I think that they could spend a lot of money going all the way to Carlisle, but an affordable extension to Hawick via the Borders Hospital and Melrose might be so successful as to get the politicians to allow the engineers to go all the way to Carlisle station, which as I reported in If Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street Were The First Two Courses, Is Carlisle The Third?, is being rebuilt to give all friendly visitors a warm welcome.

Power To The Peebles?

I’ve borrowed the corny sub-heading from a section in the BBC report, that prompted me to write this post.

The report says this.

It also recognises the success of the Borders Railway as encouraging hopes of reopening other lines.

It said some might not be suitable for redevelopment but cited the former route between Edinburgh and Peebles as one worth considering.

I think the route to Peebles is the Peebles Railway, which leaves the Borders Railway, just South of Eskbank station, goes South Westerly to Peebles and then Easterly to rejoin the Border Railway North of Galashiels station.

This sudden appearance of a plan for a Peebles Branch of the Border Railway has got my suspicions that a group of engineers have resorted to the methods of Brunel and Stephenson to solve the problem of increasing the double track  on the Borders Railway.

I suspect the engineering fag packets and used envelops were produced together with a bottle of Scotland’s finest malt whisky and everybody went to the garden of a suitable hostelry, that overlooked the line and got thinking.

They looked at some of the single track sections like Newbattle Viaduct and thought that rebuilding railways in Syria might be easier.

Then they looked at the route of the Peebles Railway and felt if it was rebuilt, it would kill three birds with one stone.

  • Peebles and a few other places would be connected to the rail network.
  • The Borders Railway would get a much needed passing loop.
  • Various tunnels and viaducts on the Borders Railway would not need to be double-tracked.

The Peebles Branch could be single or double-tracked according to the terrain and the costs.

A Second Borders Railway

It would also appear that because of the success of the Borders Railway, that there are suggestions to add new stations on the East Coast Main Line at Reston and East Linton. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for East Linton station.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

So it would appear there is a high chance it will happen.

This Google Map shows the location of East Linton between Dunbar and Edinburgh.

East Linton and Dunbar

East Linton and Dunbar

East Linton is indicated by the red arrow and Dunbar is on the coast to the East.

Dunbar station is on the East Coast Main Line, with services to Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed.

This Google Map shows the proposed location of Reston station, which is between Dunbar and Berwick-on-Tweed.

Reston And Berwick-on-Tweed

Reston And Berwick-on-Tweed

Reston is indicated by the red arrow. The river at the bottom is the Tweed, with Berwick on the coast and the border.

This scheme looks to be a very sensible use of an existing main line. It also follows a pattern of adding Parkway stations to main lines and the recent opening of the new Cranbrook station on the West of England Main Line.

There would appear to be a few other closed stations on the line.

As they are not mentioned with respect to East Linton and Reston stations, I would assume that there is not a great deal of pressure for reopening.

If we look at the possible opening of services to East Linton and Reston stations in 2018, when Abellio Scotrail have trains available, this will only be a year before First TransPennine extend their Newcastle services to Edinburgh.

So could this hourly service stop at other places between Newcastle and Edinburgh, other than the proposed Morpeth?

The Berwickshire Railway

When I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for Reston station, I noticed that the Berwickshire Railway linked the station to St. Boswell’s station on the Waverley Route, which could be part of the extension of the Borders Railway to Hawick.

I suspect someone has looked at this line to create a  route to Galashiels from the South East via Reston, St. Boswell’s, Melrose and Tweedbank.

But this report of the Storm of 1948 probably told them to forget the idea.

 

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conclusions On Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit

Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit seems to have opened without a hitch and from what I saw, the reactions of the passengers seemed to be very positive, as they travelled around with smiles on their faces.

These were some of many comments I heard from fellow passengers.

  1. I can get to the hospital easier, by parking at the Park-and-Ride by using the tram.
  2. My grandchildren love the tram.
  3. I’ll use it instead of driving in a lot of the time.
  4. A student didn’t realise the tram went to the University until I told him and he was pleased.

These comments lead me to the conclusion that I doubt, they’ll be scratching around for passengers.

I do have some reservations on the system, which is otherwise well-designed.

Contactless Ticketing With Ban/Credit Cards

One of the many Customer Service Representatives at Nottingham station, told me that she had already been asked by a traveller from London, if contactless ticketing with a band or credit card was allowed.

Hopefully, as their Mango card is a touch-in and out system, they will be able to incorporate this later.

In my view contactless ticketing with a bank or credit card is something that any transport system should allow as it is so visitor-friendly.

Maps And Information

Maps at tram stops do exist, but they are only small and should be bigger, with perhaps showing walking routes to local attractions. For instance, the stop at Meadows Embankment should show visitors how to walk through the gardens and along the river to the major sports grounds.

There is also a need for a display at the Nottingham station tram stop, showing departures and arrivals in the main station below.

London Overground Syndrome

But my biggest conclusion is that now the NET is a real system, rather than a line to just the north of the city, is that it will suffer from London Overground syndrome.

The London Overground was designed and opened in 2009, with just enough three-car Class 378 trains, with platforms to fit these trains.

These have now been augmented with additional trains in 2011 and progressively lengthened to five carriages, which has necessitated lengthening the platforms.

NET doesn’t have the platform lengthening problem, but I do feel they will have to beg, borrow or steal some extra trams. At least the track and signalling seems to be able to cope with two different tram types, so if say more trams came from a new supplier, there would probably not be a problem. After all, Edinburgh, Sheffield and the Midland Metro are the only tram systems in the UK with one type of tram. Soon Sheffield will have two.

Just before I left, I talked with one of NET’s Customer Service Representatives. Except that he was a Senior Manager checking things out and getting feedback. Good for him!

Tram-Trains

I suggested to him that after what I’d seen in Germany an especially at Nottingham’s twin city of Karlruhe, that the city is crying out for tram-trains.

His demeanour had Watch This Space written all over it!

So do I think that we’ll see tram-trains in Nottingham?

Wikipedia says this in the section on further routes for the system.

A document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Obviously tram-trains will have to prove their worth in Sheffield first.

Gedling, Bingham and Ilkeston, all are on or close to railway lines radiating from Nottingham, although Bingham on the line to Grantham, is the only one with a station.

A couple of points about tram-trains and Nottingham.

If tram-trains had been proven and certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, they would have could been used to create a continuous tram-train route between Nottingham to Worksop.

Tram-trains release platform space at central stations, as they go straight through the station and on to the destinations where people really want to go. Nottingham station is very crowded with split platforms and other techniques being used to get the number of trains through the station.

Tram-Trains To The East Of Nottingham

Look at this Google Map of Central Nottingham.

Central Nottingham

Central Nottingham

The main station is indicated by the red arrow and note how the railway lines to the East pass to the North of the racecourse in a green corridor from the city centre.

To the edge of this map, the lines split into two with the northernmost one going to Carlton station in the Borough of Gedling and then on the Nottingham to Lincoln Line to Newark and Lincoln, whilst the southernmost one goes to Bingham station on the Nottingham to Grantham Line to Grantham.

Both lines have a generally hourly service, which given the population density is probably not enough, especially in the more densely populated areas closer to Nottingham.

So running tram-trains from Nottingham to a convenient intermediate station would be a means of upping the frequency closer to Nottingham, if you could find a way of getting the tram-trains onto the tram network to finish their journeys.

Tram-Trains To The West Of Nottingham

Ilkeston is to the west and a new Ilkeston station is being built at the town. It will be the first station out of Nottingham on a line that goes through the western suburbs of the city, which also passes through some sizeable communities.

Tram-Trains On The Robin Hood Line

I said earlier that if tram-trains had been certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, that tram-trains would have most likely been used between Nottingham and Mansfield and Worksop.

Nottinghamshire County Council is looking to extend the Robin Hood Line to Shirebrook, Warsop and Edwinstowe on an old freight route.

If this extension is done properly, I can’t see tram-trains not being involved. Especially, as an extension like this, would probably be cheaper to build if it was built to tram standards rather than heavy rail.

What difference would it make to passengers from say Mansfield or Worksop, if instead of having a direct train service into Nottingham station, they had a tram-train service going direct to Nottingham city centre and the Nottingham station tram stop.

  1. New Class 399 tram-trains would probably be used on the route and these would be faster and offer more capacity than the current trains used.
  2. There are numerous stops on the route and electric trains save a minute or so at each stop because of their better acceleration.
  3. The current frequency is generally two trains per hour to/from Mansfield and one to/from Worksop. Three or four trains per hour should be possible.
  4. Train times from Mansfield to Nottingham station would probably be about the same, even though the tram section from Nottingham station to Bulwell takes twenty four minutes, as opposed to ten.
  5. There would be no reason, why trains still couldn’t use the direct route into Nottingham station.
  6. A present, many passengers going to Nottingham city centre probably now change at Hucknall or Bulwell onto the tram. With tram-tains, they would do the journey without a change.
  7. With perhaps extra steps and escalators between Nottingham station and Nottingham station tram stop, interchange between Robin Hood Line and other services might be easier.

Obviously, whether this project goes ahed, would be determined by the traffic patterns and needs of travellers.

A subsidiary factor would be the amount of freight on the line. Electric tram-trains would not interfere with freight any more than the current diesel units, but if the line was electrified to main line standards, more efficient electric locomotives could be used.

Getting Tram-Trains On The NET At Nottingham Station

I think connecting tram-trains to the northern branches of the NET might be difficult, but as Nottingham is a station on a spacious site, connection to the lines going south might be easier. But what do I know?

I only know Nottingham as a visitor and don’t know the demographics and routes of travellers, but it strikes me that it would be possible to use tram-trains running between the southern branches of the NET and the lines to Newark, Lincoln, Grantham and Ilkeston, creating stops or stations at important centres on the routes.

As the rail routes already exist, outside of the Nottingham station area, there would be little disruptive construction needed, other than creating the stations and stops.

In designing the connection at Nottingham station, remember that trams and tram-trains running as trams are much more manoeuvrable than  trains and can go round very tight corners, so can reach places trains cannot reach.

As Nottingham station has been through a big remodelling in recent years, I would suspect that the work was future-proofed for any tram-train connection. As tram-train proposals for Nottingham were talked about in this report on the Nottingham Post website in 2009, one has to assume that the connection is at least on an engineering fag-packet in Network Rail’s bottom drawer.

Some external factors and projects will complicate or simplify any development of tram-train routes around Nottingham,

When and if, the Midland Main Line is electrified, will have the biggest effect, as it will bring a number of electrified routes into the city. Some of these may be suitable for tram-train operation alongside main line services.

To the east of the city, there is the need to sort out the flat junction at Newark,  where the Nottingham to Lincoln Line crosses the East Coast Main Line. It strikes me that if this line was an electric route from Nottingham to the East Coast Main Line, this might open up other possibilities.

 

 

 

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment