The Anonymous Widower

A Trip To Corby

I took these pictures on a trip to Corby this morning.

These are my thoughts.

Trains To And From Corby

I got a Class 222 train to Corby and an eight-car Class 360 train back.

Brent Cross West Station

There was a lot of constructruction activity at the new Brent Cross West station.

Luton Airport Parkway Station

The extensions to Luton Airport Parkway station look to be comprehensive, with several escalators.

The Luton DART connection to Luton Airport appears to be under test, so should open in 2022.

But will there be any air passengers to use it?

I last used it in 2008, when I went to see England play in Belarus.

Electrification North Of Bedford

The electrification North of Bedford station is obviously complete on the slow lines, but on the fast lines, as the pictures show, the gantries are all erected, but there are still wires to be installed.

But as the Class 810 trains won’t be in service until 2023, there’s still a bit of time.

The gantries certainly look sturdy, as this picture shows.

They’re certainly built for 125 mph, but as the Class 810 trains will be capable of 140 mph with full digital in-cab signalling, I would hope that the electrification has been installed to that standard. Or at least to a standard, that can be easily upgraded!

Corby Station

Corby station has been finished to a single-platform station, which is able to accept a twelve-car Class 360 train.

This should be adequate for the current half-hourly service, as a single platform can handle a least four trains per hour (tph) and several around the country regularly do.

Both tracks through the station are electrified and I suspect with a second platform bridge, both could be used by electric trains to create a two-platform station.

But there would appear to be no need at the moment.

Even, if it were to be decided to extend one tph to Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations, this could probably be accommodated on the single-platform.

Network Rail seem to have already installed a crossover South of Corby station, so that trains can use the single platform.

Serving Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I discussed this extension in detail in Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham.

In the related post, I said this.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

    • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
    • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

When my Class 222 train arrived in Corby at 1154, it waited a couple of minutes then took off to the North.

I then took the next train to London, which was an eight-car Class 360 train which formed the 1211 service back to St. Pancras.

Meanwhile the Class 222 train, that I’d arrived on did a reverse in the Corby North Run Around Loop finally arriving back in Corby at 1345. The train had taken one hour and forty-nine minutes to return to Corby.

It might be just coincidence, but are East Midlands Railway doing timing tests to see if services can be extended to Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

It should be noted that service times North of Corby are as follows.

  • Corby and Oakham – 19 mins – 14.3 miles
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray – 31 mins – 25.7 miles
  • Melton Mowbray and Leicester – 17 mins – 12.8 miles (estimate) – CrossCountry service

My logic goes like this.

  • It looks to me that it would not be unreasonable that a Class 222 train could run between Corby and Leicester in forty-eight minutes.
  • Double that and you get one hour and thirty eight minutes, for a journey from Corby to Leicester and back.
  • Subtract that time from the one hour and forty-nine minutes that my train took to reverse and there is eleven minutes for a turnback at Leicester station.
  • Eleven minutes would certainly be long enough to tidy a train and for the crew to change ends.

I also believe that the 35.8 miles would be possible for a Class 810 train fitted with one or more battery power-packs instead of a similar number of the four diesel engines.

So are East Midlands Railway doing tests to find the most efficient way to serve Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

On The Corby Branch

I travelled North on a Class 222 diesel train and South on an electric Class 360 train.

On the Corby branch, I was monitoring the train speed on an app on my phone and both trains travelled at around 90 mph for most of the way.

There were sections at up to 100 mph and the track was generally smooth.

I was left with the impression, that trains might be able to go faster on the branch.

Average speeds for the 2.5 miles of the branch were as follows according to these timings from realtimetrains.

  • Class 222 train – Arriving – 5.25 mins – 28.6 mph
  • Class 222 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph
  • Class 360 train – Arriving – 7.5 mins – 20 mph
  • Class 360 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph

It doesn’t appear that there are much difference in the timings, although it might be said, that the electric approach is more cautious.

The Class 360 Trains

The Class 360 trains have not been refurbished yet although as my pictures show, some have been given a new livery.

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I said this about the train refurbishment.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

    • Increased capacity
    • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
    • More reliable service
    • Improved comfort
    • Passenger information system
    • Free on-board Wi-Fi
    • At-seat power sockets
    • USB points
    • Air conditioning
    • Tables at all seats
    • Increased luggage space
    • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

It certainly hasn’t happened in full.

I did ask a steward, when the new interiors will be installed and he said they were running late because of the pandemic.

Performance Of The Class 360 Trains

I used my app to follow the speed of the Class 360 train, that brought me back to London.

  • The train hit a maximum speed of about 105 mph.
  • The train arrived in London a minute late.

I feel that as the drivers get used to their new charges, they will match the timetable.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that in a couple of years, these trains will fulfil Abellio’s promises.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luton DART Fly Through

This video does what it says in the title.

It certainly looks like the DART will greatly improve the experience of getting to Luton Airport.

The Future Of Luton Airport

For many people, including myself, getting to Luton Airport currently, is not the easiest.

I haven’t used Luton Airport since I went to see England play in Belarus in 2008.

In those days, I drove to the Airport from Suffolk, but these days, as I don’t drive, I’d use the train.

Luton Airport By Train And DART

With the claimed four minute journey of the DART shuttle, times of around thirty minutes between St. Pancras and Luton Airport will be possible.

Current trains from London include.

  • One fast train per hour (tph), run by East Midlands Railway, that connects St. Pancras and Nottingham stations.
  • Four stopping tph, run by Thameslink, that connect Gatwick Airport, St. Pancras and Bedford.

I can see the following improvements in the next few years.

  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains, which will run on electricity between St. Pancras and Kettering, may be able to provide a more frequent fast service.
  • There has been statements from Luton Airport, that they’d like to see four fast tph.
  • Four fast tph could be possible with the new trains, which will have fast acceleration and deceleration, thus ensuring a quicker stop.
  • The station also has separate fast and slow lines, so could probably handle four fast tph and four slow tph with only the most minor of improvements.
  • Luton Airport Parkway station being updated to handle more passengers.

I can see these rail improvements both attracting more passengers to Luton Airport and encouraging more of them to use the train.

A Second Passenger Terminal At Luton Airport

In 2019, with one runway and one terminal, Luton Airport handled eighteen million passengers.

By comparison, in 2019, with one runway and two terminals, Gatwick Airport handled over forty million passengers.

Wikipedia says this about a second terminal at Luton Airport.

In February 2019, London Luton Airport Limited announced plans to expand the airport by building a second terminal. The expansion would increase airport capacity to handle 32 million passengers per year 2039. The enlarged airport would continue to operate using the existing single runway.

With unlimited passengers wanting to fly and comparing these ambitions to the current figures for Gatwick, I don’t believe they are unreasonable.

But in times of Covid-19 and global warming, the expansion plans may not happen as envisaged.

This Google Map shows Luton Airport

Note.

  1. Luton Airport Parkway station in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The current terminal is on the North side of the crunway.

There is probably space for a second terminal, either to the North-East or South of the runway. Extension of the DART is probably already designed for.

Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft

Consider.

  • Luton Airport is mainly short-haul.
  • Short-haul flights are more likely to go zero-carbon, using hydrogen.
  • Will hydrogen-powered aircraft need more space on the apron? I think they could!
  • Heathrow is crowded, with lots of large aircraft.

With more space, Luton, Gatwick and/or Stansted could position themselves as the airports to get your zero-carbon flights to the sun.

February 24, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Construction Of The Luton Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) Has Started

The Luton DART will connect Luton Airport to Luton Airport Parkway station.

This map from the London Luton Airport web site shows the route.

 

It is comprehensive with three planned stations.

  • Luton Airport Parkway station.
  • Central Terminal
  • as it is planned to build a stop at the Mid-Stay car park, at a later date.

Note how the DART runs along the Airport side of the Midland Main Line before crossing over into the Airport on the Gateway Bridge, which is shown as an inset on the map.

These pictures show the construction of the DART underway at Luton Airport Parkway station.

It certainly looks substantial.

According to Wikipedia, it will open in 2021.

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

East Midlands Railway Announces Three Brands

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

This is a quote about their electric trains to Corby, which will run under the brand name of EMR Electrics.

EMR said that once various developments had been completed, passengers would be able to reach the terminal at Luton Airport in ‘a little under half an hour’ from central London.

Currently, the fastest services going to between St. Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway stations take twenty-four minutes using 125 mph Class 222 trains with Luton Airport Parkway as the first stop.

Thameslink using 100 mph Class 700 trains take 30 minutes and more!

I question, whether the 100 mph Class 360 trains, running with Luton Airport Parkway as the first stop, can do the trip in the 24-26 minutes to get to the terminal in under half an hour, even with Luton Airport’s  DART shuttle train working!

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I looked at Class 360 trains running the service between St. Pancras and Corby stations.

I came to this conclusion.

In my view there is a lot of upgrade work to be done to the Class 360 trains to make them suitable for working on the services between St. Pancras and Corby.

  • They need a new upgraded interior.
  • The trains need upgrading to at least 110 mph.
  • A possible upgrading with digital signalling.

I can’t help feeling that the Class 360 trains would make a good stop-gap, but in the long-term it might be better to have a small fleet of electric trains.

Electric AT-300 trains must be one of the favourites, although Class 745 trains, similar to those that Abellio will run between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, would do nicely.

So will East Midlands Railway have updated and faster Class 360 trains or will they be bringing in 125 mph trains to hit the required schedule to Luton Airport Parkway?

Conclusion

Luton Airport will have a real Airport Express!

But will the Class 360 trains, be able to deliver it? I have my doubts!

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work Starts On £225m Luton Airport Automated People-Mover

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

This is said about the contractors.

A VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier joint venture is the project’s civil works contractor and Doppelmayr Cable Car UK is supplying the APM system.

Note that Doppelmayr Cable Car  built the Emirates Air-Line and the AirRail Link at Birmingham Airport.

This video shows the proposed system at Luton Airport.

It appears to be very similar to the Birmingham system.

This Google Map shows the position of the terminal at Luton Airport Parkway station.

The terminal is in Bartlett Square, which is indicated by the red arrow in the top right corner.

My initial thought, is that it could be a long walk for some.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Luton Trains Its Eye On Sub 30-Minute Express

This was the headline on a small piece in The Times on Monday.

Luton Airport want the following from the new East Midlands Franchise.

  • A dedicated fast train.
  • Four trains an hour (tph) to and from St. Pancras.
  • A journey time of less than thirty minutes.

The airport says it won’t need any new infrastructure, but they are planning a fast link from Luton Airport Parkway station, which I wrote about in Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail.

This is an extract from the article..

The move would add up to £110million of extra fare revenue to the government over ten years and take almost 1 million cars off the road, a study by North Star, the consultancy found.

At present there are two separate services to Luton Airport.

  • Thameslink, which leaves from the low-level Thameslink platform takes 45 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of six tph.
  • East Midlands Trains, which leave from the high-level platforms take around 30 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of 1-2 tph.

Note these points about the current service.

  • The lack of a dedicated platform for the fast trains to the airport, must confuse occassional passengers.
  • The time of sub-thirty minutes is certainly possible on East Midlands Trains.
  • There is not enough platforms in the high-level station for a dedicated platform for an express Luton Airport service.

The problems are made worse by A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station at St. Pancras.

The new franchise will probably be buying new electric trains for the Midland Main Line services. These could be key to providing an express airport service to Luton Airport.

Abellio has stated that their new Flirts and Aventras for Greater Anglia, will have a very fast stop and restart time, thus enabling services like Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty.

So we then have the possibility of similar trains on the Midland Main Line  to Corby, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield stopping at Luton Airport Parkway, without adding a large delay to the service. This would give Luton Airport, the following express services.

  • At least four tph to and from St. Pancras in under thirty ,minutes.
  • At least two tph to and from Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • At least three tph to and from Leicester.

The only complaints would come from East Midlands Airport.

As there will be at least eight tph on Thameslink, this should be enough trains for everyone.

 

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail

This article in The Guardian is entitled Luton airport to replace bus transfers with £200m light rail link.

Passengers will take the light rail link between Luton Airport and Luton Airport Parkway station, where they will use Thameslink and Midland Main Line trains to travel North and South.

This Google Map shows the area, where the rail link will run.

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

The Midland main Line and the station are close to the end of the runway.

A few months ago, an article in Railway Technology was entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for new direct rail service.

What isn’t shown from the map, but is very much obvious if you’ve piloted an aircraft out of Luton Airport, is that the end of the runway is on top of a hill and the railway is at the bottom.

I said this in Will Bombardier Develop The Ultimate Airport Train? about running trains into a Luton Airport station.

I think that railway engineers can create an elegant junction here, where trains can easily go in both directions between London and the Airport. Designing a line connecting the North and the Airport could be more difficult, but even so given the terrain and that some of the junction will be inside the airport boundary, a solution must be possible.

One thing that could help, is that if Class 387/2 IPEMUs were to be used on all Luton Airport services, then the branch would not need to be electrified.

If it was decided to run it in a tunnel under the car parks, then surely a tunnel without overhead wiring would be a smaller, simpler and more affordable proposition.

As the Railway Technology article was only published in July 2015, after promising results from the IPEMU train, could it be that this rail link is not possible with conventionally-powered electric trains?

But I now think that there are other problems with a direct rail link into the airport, even with the help of IPEMU and other recently-developed technology.

  • In other documents, it is stated that Luton Airport wants four trains an hour to the capital and it has to be asked if there are enough paths available to the South.
  • It probably is more difficult than I thought to run trains to and from the North to the airport.

I also wonder, if after Luton Airport Parkway station has been rebuilt for the light rail link, that this might open up other possibilities for development in this part of Luton.

I also found the original press release about the link. This is said.

The light rail link is part of a broader rail connectivity improvement plan, which aims to introduce a 20 minute express rail service with four fast trains per hour between LLA and central London as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail franchise. LLA is also currently working with Transport for London to add the airport to the Oyster network which will help ensure smooth connections for passengers travelling by rail.

Everything will hopefully become clearer, when the full plans for the link are published.

In a few months time, when Luton and Gatwick have contactless ticketing, who will be next in the queue; Heathrow or Stansted?

Transport for London have certainly started the game of contactless cards, by playing two powerful aces.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stansted and Southend accept contactless ticketing before the end of 2016, leaving Heathrow as the odd one out!

 

 

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment