The Anonymous Widower

Rochdale Still Doesn’t Have A Direct Link To Manchester Airport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Richdale Online.

I recently went to Rochdale to see Ipswich play and what surprised me about the town, was how far it was from my hotel close to Manchester Victoria station.

I went on a tram and it took over an hour and it was also very crowded.

I then walked about a mile to the football ground.  Luckily a friendly Rochdale supporter showed me the way.

But is Rochdale’s link to Manchester Airport, any worse than say Walthamstow’s link to Heathrow or Gatwick.

  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by train – 1:05
  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by tram – 2:02
  • Rochdale Station to Manchester Airport by train – 0,:55
  • Rochdale to Manchester Airport by taxi- 0:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground and Heathrow Express – 1:05
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground – 1:27
  • Walthamstow to Heathrow Airport by taxi – 1:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Gatwick Airport by train – 1:22

Note.

  1. All journeys, except the taxis, need at least one change.
  2. My lawyer son lives in Walthamstow and always flies from Heathrow.
  3. He gets there by Underground, with one cross-platform change at Finsbury Park.
  4. Crossrail won’t help the man on the Walthamstow Underground.
  5. In Manchester the taxi is quicker, but it isn’t in London.

These are my thoughts.

Mancunians Are More Impatient

Not my view, but the view of a Northern station guy, who has worked on Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly and busy stations on the London Overground.

He thought that they were sometimes in such a hurry to get on a train, that the train is delayed.

He also said, if you ask Londoners to stand behind the yellow line, they do. Mancunians don’t!

Access To Northern And TransPennine Trains Is Bad

Consider.

  • There is often a step up into the train in Manchester.
  • Manchester Metrolink is generally step-free into the tram.
  • Parts of London Underground/Overground are step-free.
  • The new TransPennine trains have pathetic and slow end-door access.

The two train companies have bought fleets of trains that are not fit for purpose.

The Manchester Airport Rail Link Is At Full Capacity

Manchester Airport station, does not have the best rail line from the City Centre.

Wikipedia says this.

Any future additional services to the Airport are in doubt without further infrastructure works; unresolved issues surround the lack of new ‘through’ platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which have been shelved by the government and the Styal Line to Manchester Airport operating at full capacity with little resilience to absorb delays.

The Rochdale Online article blames the stations in Manchester, but the Styal Line is equally to blame.

The Long Term Solution Is High Speed Two

In the 2030s, High Speed Two will solve the problem by using a tunnel between Manchester Airport and the City Centre.

It will also do the following.

  • Provide direct access between Manchester Airport and the Midlands, the South and London.
  • Provide direct access to Liverpool and Warrington in the West.
  • Provide direct access to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, in the East.
  • All services will probably be at least five trains per hour (tph).

But High Speed Two won’t provide a direct link to Richdale.

Passengers between Rochdale and Manchester Airport will still have to change in the City Centre.

Unless of course, some TransPennine services to Manchester Airport are discontinued, as they can be done by High Speed Two.

This would free up paths to add extra services to Manchester Airport.

An Interim Solution

Not only Rochdale, but other towns and cities across the North like Bradford moan about lack of a direct service to and from Manchester Airport.

So what would I do?

Ban Freight Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This may not be possible, but it should be a long term objective.

It will cost money, but it would release capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Ban Trains Without Level Access At Stations In The Castlefield Corridor

I know that Northern and TransPennine have just bought a load of new trains, but they make matters worse in the stations through the Castlefield Corridor.

All Trains To The Airport Must Be Eight Cars

This makes sense as it increases the capacity, but use the same number of paths.

  • Eight-car Class 379 trains – Stansted Express – 160 metres and 418 passengers
  • Five-car Class 802 trains – TransPennine Express – 130 metres and 342 passengers
  • Eight-car Class 331 trains – Northern – 190 metres and 568 passengers

It does appear that the new trains are also setting new standards for train length.

ERTMS Signalling Should Be Installed Between Manchester Victoria And Manchester Airport

ERTMS signalling would give more flexibility on the route.

Create A Manchester Airport Express

This has been suggested and would have the following characteristics.

  • Running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Eight cars
  • Airport-style interiors
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Four tph
  • Running twenty-four hours a day.
  • It would have step-free access to the Metrolink at Manchester Victoria, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly.

Ideally it would use dedicated platforms at Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria. The platform at Victoria would hopefully have cross-platform interchange with services going through the station from East to West.

Reduce TransPennine Services To The Airport

TransPennine Express runs the following hourly services to the Airport

  • Cleethorpes via a reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Edinburgh or Glasgow via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Middlesborough via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Newcastle via the Castlefield Corridor

Why not cut-back either the Newcastle or Middlesborough service to Manchester Victoria and make sure it has good cross-platform access to the Manchester Airport Express?

These services are regularly cut-back anyway due to the congestion.

Demolish Manchester Oxford Road Station And Build A Station That’s Fit For Purpose

Manchester Oxford Road is one of ultimate design crimes on the UK Rail network.

  • The new or refurbished station would be step-free.
  • Platforms would be able to accept two hundred metre long trains.
  • A well-designed bay platform would be provided to turn trains from the North efficiently.
  • Up to four tph could probably be turned back.

Network Rail do station and track layout design generally very well and I’m sure that a redesigned Oxford Road station could improve capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Improve Deansgate And Manchester Piccadilly Stations

If longer trains are to be run through the Castlefield Corridor, then the platforms at these two stations will need lengthening and passenger access will need to be improved.

Is There A Place For Tram-Trains?

Manchester are keen on using tram-trains to improve the Metrolink network.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the layout of the Metrolink in the City Centre.

Note.

  1. Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Victoria all have step-free connections to the trains to and from Manchester Airport.
  2. The new Trafford Line will branch off at Pomona.

I think it is likely, that any new lines run by tram-trains will pass through at least one of the connecting stations.

This will increase the list of places that will have good access with a single change to and from Manchester Airport.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a high-capacity link between Manchester and the Airport.

But it does appear that the current timetable leaves little or no room to expand the service.

That is why, I believe a simpler but higher capacity service, based on a Manchester Airport Express could be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TransPennine Express’s New Liverpool Lime Street And Glasgow Central Service

Transpennine Express are introducing a new service between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central stations at the December 2019 timetable change.

So I examined the service for the the 21st January, 2020.

  • There are three Northbound trains at 08:12, 12:12 and 16:12.
  • There are three Southbound trains at 07:45, 11:44 and 16:29
  • Journey times vary between three hours and 17 minutes and three hours and 47 minutes.
  • Trains appear to always stop at Wigan North Western, Preston, Penrith North Lakes and Carlisle.
  • Selective services call at other stations including Lancaster and St. Helens Central.

As passengers can always travel the route with a change at Preston, it is a useful start. It should also be born in mind that there are currently, two trains per hour (tph) between Glasgow Central and Preston stations, so the route with a change at Preston can be quicker than waiting for a direct train.

If you look at the Transpennine service between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central stations, it appears that there are gaps in the hourly service at 08:00, 12:00 and 16:00.

These gaps have now been filled with Liverpool services.

Current and Future Trains Between Liverpool or Manchester and Glssgow or Edinburgh

The current service is run by nine Class 350 trains, which includes the following.

  • One tph between Between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, with three services missing.
  • One train every two hours between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh.

The service from the December 2019 change will at some point be run by twelve Class 397 trains.

It will add three trains per day between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which will give an hourly TranPennine service between Glasgow Central and Preston.

I estimate that the new service will require two more trains, which is incorporated in the larger fleet size.

Timings Between Preston And Glasgow

If you look at the limitings between Preston and Glasgow, you find the following.

  • Virgin’s Class 390 trains take between two hours 21 minutes and two hours 34 minutes.
  • The new Liverpool service is timetabled to take two hours 53 minutes.

As the current Class 350 trains are only 110 mph trains, this is the explanation.

But the new Class 397 trains are 125 mph trains and can probably match the times set by Virgin.

So expect to see some timing reductions on TransPennine’s routes on the West Coast Main Line.

Will Services Between Liverpool And Manchester and Glasgow Split And Join At Preston?

TransPennine Express are meeting their franchise obligations, by providing three trains per day between Liverpool ad Glasgow, but could they do better by splitting and joining services at Preston.

  • Going North, a service from Manchester Airport and one from Liverpool would join at Preston, before proceeding to Glasgow as a ten-car train.
  • Coming South, a pair of trains from Glasgow, would split at Preston, with one train going to Liverpool and the other to Manchester Airport.

Obviously, the trains would need to be able to split and join in a minute or so, but it would open up the possibility of an hourly service from both Liverpool and Manchester to Glasgow.

Liverpool And Manchester To Edinburgh

After the December 2019 timetable change, TransPennine’s Liverpool and Newcastle service will be extend to Edinburgh, giving Liverpool a direct service to \Edinburgh and Manchester, a second service to Edinburgh.

Timings by the various routes will be.

  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester, Leeds and York – Four hours 28 minutes – Hourly
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh via Preston and Carstairs – Three hours 10 minutes – Two hourly
  • Manchester Victoria  and Edinburgh via Leeds and York – Three hours 52 minutes – Hourly

These times compare well with the four hours drive predicted on the Internet.

Conclusion

Connections between Northern England and the Central Belt of Scotland will improve greatly after the December 2019 timetable change.

New trains on these routes will also mean faster services, where they run on the East and |West Coast Main Lines.

More trains will also increase frequency.

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Still Going For A Quart In A Pint Pot

The title of this post is the same as that of an artticle in the November 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article describes the problems of running trains through the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.

It is a comprehensive article, that gets to the heart of the problem of the route.

It comes to the conclusion, that there is a need for either more infrastructure or less trains, than the current fifteen trains per hour (tph).

Under more infrastructure, the author lists these projects.

  1. Grade separated junctions at Castlefield and other junctions.
  2. A centre turnback at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  3. A West-facing bay platform at Manchester Victoria
  4. Four through platforms at Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  5. Improvement at Manchester Airport station.

These points should be noted.

  • Options One and Four will be expensive and will probably cause massive disruption during construction for both rail and road traffic.
  • The author suspects Option Four would cost almost a billion pounds and would need the grade-separated junctions to get best value.

I shall deal with options Two, Three and Five later.

Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

Current passenger trains through the Castlefield Corridor are as follows.

  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich
  • Northern – One tph – Hazel Grove and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • Northern – Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Northern – One tph – Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Trains for Wales – One tph – Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

This gives the following totals.

  • Eleven tph – Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two tph – Deansgate and Manchester Oxford Road

Add in a couple of freight trains and that gives 15 tph, which according to the author is the design limit.

These are frequencies from Manchester Airport.

  • There are seven tph between Manchester Airport and Oxford Road via Piccadilly.
  • There are three tph between Manchester Airport and Preston via Piccadilly and Oxford Road.
  • There are two tph between Manchester Airport and Leeds via Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria.

The author of the article also points out that Bradford is pushing for a direct service to Manchester Airport.

Frequency is important, but so is train length.

  • Transpennine Express services will generally be five cars in the future.
  • East Midlands Railway, Northern and Trains for Wales services will be between two and four cars.

Nothing too taxing to handle here, although Northern might decide to double trains of eight cars at times.

Comparison Of The Castlefield Corridor And The East London Line

Consider these facts about the Castlefield Corridor

  • Four Southern routings; Crewe, Hazel Grove, Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Five Northern routings; Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Trafford Park and Wigan North Western
  • Fifteen tph of which fifteen tph are passenger trains.
  • Three stations designed by Topsy, two of which are step-free.
  • Not step-free between train and plstform.
  • Three interchange stations.
  • Conventional signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Four train companies, with at least four types of passenger train.
  • Bad timekeeping.
  • Low customer satisfaction.

For comparison, consider these facts about the East London Line between Shoreditch High Street and Surrey Quays stations.

  • Four Southern routings; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Two Northern routings; Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington
  • Sixteen tph of which all are passenger trains. Soon to be raised to twenty tph.
  • Seven stations designed by various architects, two of which are step-free, with Whitechapel to soon make this three step-free.
  • Some stations are step-free between train and platform.
  • Two interchange stations.
  • More bespoke signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • One train company and one type of passenger train.
  • Good timekeeping.
  • High customer satisfaction.

The route complexity and frequencies are fairly similar, so what are the big differences?

  • Is the East London Line’s signalling better?
  • The East london Line doesn’t have freight trains.
  • Does one type of train with wide doors and walk-through interiors, work wonders?
  • Does London’s step-free between train and platform make a difference?

I think the following actions should be looked at for the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Modern digital signalling.
  • All Northern services to be run using Class 195 or Class 331 trains, which look the same to passengers, despite one being electric and the other diesel.
  • TransPennine Express will be running three different type of train all with single doors, through the Castlefield Corridor. Ways of reducing the number of types must be found.

What idiot decided to buy three incompatible fleets? Surely, an order for a larger number of Hitachi trains would have been better?

My Behaviour In Manchester

I know Manchester’s trams and trains, but I haven’t a clue about the City’s buses, which seem to be reserved for the locals.

I regularly find myself using stations in the Castlefield Corridor and I have developed certain rules.

  • Never use Oxford Road, unless you’re lost and end up there by chance. It must be the worst designed modern station in Europe.
  • Never use the route unless you’ve already bought the ticket some time before.
  • Use Deansgate if possible, as it has a good connection to Manchester Metrolink.
  • Give myself plenty of time to catch a train from platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly.
  • Make sure I know what platform my train is using at Piccadilly.

I also tend to avoid catching any train from platform 13 or 14 at Piccadilly.

Passenger Problems On Platforms 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly

One of the reasons, I avoid these platforms, is that they are always crowded and at weekends, there seems to be a lot of occasional travellers, often with heavy cases and babies in buggies.

I remember having a chat with a station guy there in a quiet time and it turned out that he’d also worked on platforms on the London Underground.

One point he made was that Londoners get back from the platform edge, when told, but Mancunians are slower to act.

He said trains were often delayed because of passengers struggling to get on.

Could Other Actions Be Taken To Ease The Overcrowding?

These are various ideas suggested in the article or some of my own.

Run Less Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This would ease the problem, but it would make it more difficult for passengers to travel where they wanted and needed.

Build A Centre Turnback At Manchester Oxford Road

Consider

  • It would mean that trains turning back at Oxford Road, wouldn’t have to cross tracks, entering or leaving the turnback.
  • It could probably turn up to four tph.
  • It might also help in service recovery.

The author obviously likes this idea and I suspect it is possible, because he mentions it more than once.

Completely Rebuild Manchester Oxford Road Station

Manchester Oxford Road is certainly not fit for purpose.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000.[36] In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.

In my view, the station needs the following.

  • Step-free access.
  • Longer platforms.
  • Higher capacity platforms.
  • Much better signage and maps.
  • The turnback described earlier.

No wonder I avoid it like the plague.

A completely rebuilt station with excellent step-free access might encourage more passengers to use the station, rather than the overcrowded Piccadilly.

Improve Deansgate Station

Deansgate station is not bad, but it could be improved to encourage more passengers.

Over the next few years, as the Metroilink expands, It could become a better interchange.

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform Must Be Achieved

This picture shows access to a new Class 195 train at Manchester Airport.

With new trains, there is no excuse for not having level access, where someone in a wheelchair can just wheel themselves across.

Level access should reduce loading delays, as it eases loading of buggies, wheelchairs and wheeled cases.

If Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and some parts of the London Overground can arrange it, then surely Manchester can?

Nova Problem

The author also talks about possible problems with TransPennine’s new Nova trrains, which have single end doors, which could prove inadequate in busy times.

Build A West-Facing Bay Platform At Manchester Victoria Station

The author suggests this could be used to run a frequent shuttle service between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport via Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

It might mean that TransPennine services stopped short in Manchester and passengers would change for the Airport.

But it would solve the problems of the capacity in the Castlefield Corridor and platform availability at Manchester Airport

Could Passengers Be Nudged Towards The Metrolink?

I have watched the sheer number of passengers delay trains at Manchester Piccadilly, several times.

Would it ease delays if passengers used the Metrolink to Manchester Airport?

Perhaps, the journey by Metrolink could be made more affordable?

Conclusion

It’s a mess and as the author says in his title, quarts don’t fit into pint pots.

At least though, if High Speed Two is built to link up with Northern Powerhouse Rail and together they run London, Birmingham or Liverpool to Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester City Centre, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds, this would solve the problem of the Castlefield Corridor by bypassing it for long-distance trains.

 

 

 

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Will Boris Do About The Proposed Third Runway At Heathrow?

I have tackled this before in October 2016 in a post called Changing Sides.

This was how I started that post.

There is an interesting article in The Sunday Times today, entitled Boris Retreats In Fight Against Third Runway.

Boris is apparently saying he won’t oppose a third runway at Heathrow, so if anything he’s being consistent in changing horses, just as he did with Michael Gove.

But perhaps more surprisingly, Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, who own BA, is quoted as calling Heathrow a fantasy project, which has been gold-plated and inflated by the owners to maximise their returns, at the expense of the airlines.

The paper also says that Gatwick will build a new runway anyway.

Remember, it was written before Theresa May’s government decided to allow Heathrow’s Third Runway.

Since the decision to allow Heathrow to build a Third Runway was made nearly three years ago in October 2016, there have been a lot of changes.

Notably, Boris has gone from Foreign Secretary and an MP in a Heathrow Expansion-opposing constituency to Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister he is supposed to look at the bigger picture.

Unless he’s totally stupid he must have noted the following.

Brexit Has Changed From A Simple Quick Exit Into A Slow And Very Tortuous Process

I would expect an opinion poll would show that the UK population thinks that sorting out Brexit is a much more important problem, than the decision on a new runway in the South East of England.

So will Boris put Heathrow’s Third Runway on the back burner, given the following factors

Gatwick Will Build A Second Runway Anyway

In the Wikipedia entry for Gatwick Airport, there is a section entitled Expansion Proposals, where this is the first paragraph.

Gatwick has been included in a number of reviews of airport capacity in southeastern England. Expansion options have included a third terminal and a second runway, although a 40-year agreement not to build a second runway was made in 1979 with West Sussex County Council. Expanded operations would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today, with a new terminal between two wide-spaced runways. This would complement or replace the South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic.

My project management knowledge tells me, that Gatwick could add a second runway and upgrade the terminals in a shorter time, than Heathrow can build a third runway.

But more importantly, Gatwick Airport could build the extra runway and terminal without disruption to airport passengers, aircraft and road traffic on the nearby M23.

Boris’s only problem with Gatwick expansion, is the amount of post he’ll get from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

Disruption Must Be Avoided

Recent timetabling and construction fiascoes on Thameslink and Northern Rail should have sent a message to politicians, that large infrastructure projects must be created without disrupting train or air passengers and road traffic.

Can Heathrow Be Built Without Disrupting Traffic On The M25?

It is interesting to look back at the basic facts at the construction of Heathrow Terminal 5.

  • A public enquiry into the project lasted 525 days.
  • The terminal sits on a 260 hectare site.
  • Construction started in 2002.
  • The terminal opened in 2008.
  • Construction finisged in 2011.
  • The terminal cost £4.2billion.

The construction of Terminal 5, also needed the M25 to be widened and linked to the terminal.

This Google Map shows Heathrow Terminal 5 and its relationship to Heathrow’s current two runways and the M25.

I remember the construction of Terminal 5 well, if only because, I was stuck in or moving slowly along that section of the M25 so many times.

As this immense construction project, is probably in living memory of much of the population of West London, how will they react to the thought of all the disruption, that building the third runway will cause.

Would Uxbridge, throw Boris out, if he approved the building of a third runway at Heathrow?

Heathrow Is A Pollution Blackspot

Various factors mean, that the surroundings of Heathrow are a pollution blackspot, mainly caused by the large number of diesel vehicles on the M4 and M25 motorways and others bringing passengers and goods to the airport.

I believe that any Planning Permission for the third runway, will require Heathrow to do something about the pollution. This could be easier than anybody thinks, as more of us will be using electric vehicles by the time the runway opens.

Heathrow are already proposing their ULEZ or Ulta Low Emission Zone.

Heathrow Rail Access Will Improve

Crossrail will eventually serve Heathrow in a year or so and this will improve rail access to the Airport significantly.

Other rail links are also in prospect.

The first two would be privately financed.

This better rail access may reduce the traffic and pollution around the airport, but it will make it easier, for passengers to use the airport and traffic will grow.

High Speed Rail

Increasingly, Heathrow and the other London airports, will come under competition from High Speed Rail.

Eurostar has upwards of seventy percent of the London-Paris and London-Brussels passenger markets.

I have travelled a few times from London to Amsterdam on Eurostar and feel that four hours is my limit for comfortable train travel.

I estimate the following journeys would be possible on Eurostar.

  • London and Cologne via Brussels in four hours
  • London and Bordeaux via Paris in four and a half hours.
  • London and Frankfurt in Five hours.

Another competitor to air services out of London will be London and Edinburgh services on the East Coast Main Line, which are being updated with new faster trains and journey times under four hours.

Air Cargo And Heathrow

I looked up air cargo in Wikipedia and these points are there.

  • Fifty-percent of all air frieght is belly-cargo on airlines.
  • An industry expert estimates that 15-20 tonnes of air cargo is worth 30-40 economy passenger seats, when both are on passenger planes.
  • In 2017, the IATA observed a 9% rise in freight tonne kilometres
  •  Boeing is doubling its 767F production since 2016 to three per month in 2020.

Heathrow dominates the air cargo traffic into and out of the UK and last year it handled 1,788,815 tonnes of cargo, which was a 5.3% increase in tonnage on 2017.

However, it does appear that the second largest cargo airport in the UK; East Midlands, handled about the same amount of freight as Heathrow in April 2018.

There is also the East Midlands Gateway close to that airport, which will be a massive logistics park., with a rail connection.

Perhaps the pressures of the congested Heathrow, with some nudging from the Government could remove the cargo aircraft from the airport to more suitable airports like East Midlands and Doncaster Sheffield.

Manchester Airport Is The Most Important Airport North Of London

Manchester Airport is the busiest Airport after Heathrow and Gatwick and over the next few years it will catch up to a certain extent.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this about Manchester Airport’s rail connectivity if High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are combined across the Pennines.

If High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are developed as laid out in the Transport for the North report, the following cities will be connected to Manchester Airport.

  • Birmingham – High Speed Two
  • Blackpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Bradford – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Carlisle – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Edinburgh – Northern Powerhouse Rail/East Coast Main Line
  • Glasgow – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Hull – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Leeds – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • London – High Speed Two
  • Newcastle -High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Preston – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Sheffield – Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Sunderland –  Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • York – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail

Manchester Airport will probably become the most important station in the North with High Speed connections to a large part of England and Scotland.

Heathrow and Gatwick will find they have a very big and well-connected Northern competitor.

Extinction Rebellion And Other Environmental Protesters

Most of the environmental protesters like Extinction Rebellion seem to have focused their attention on Heathrow, where airports are concerned.

They will fight tooth and nail to stop Heathrow’s third runway.

Will Heathrow Get The Planning Permission They Need?

I think that this is the sort of planning decision, that will end up with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Theresa Villiers.

Her Wikipedia entry says this.

Villiers favours construction of a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and Manchester, arguing that flyers could use capacity at airports such as Birmingham International and Manchester International Airport.

She is also quoted as being against a third runway at Heathrow, when she was a member of Davisd Cameron’s cabinet.

Grant Schapps, who is the current Secretary of State for Transport, could be more supportive to Heathrow’s application.

The Mood Of The UK About The Environment

The view of the average UK voter on the environment has changed markedly in the last few years, driven by documentaries, events and politics from around the world.

Boris’s father; Stanley Johnson has written books on the environment and received the Greenpeace Award for Outstanding Services to the Environment, so this could fit with his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, when he was Mayor of London.

Do Heathrow Airport Have A Plan B?

In Heathrow Plans Runway Over M25 In 30-Year Expansion, I outlined how I thought the runway would be built.

The Times says this about the construction program.

Only the runway would be built by the opening date of early 2026.

Other facilities such as new terminals, car parks, hotels and transit systems would open from 2030, with an expansion of Terminal 5 the priority

This means that the extra runway capacity can be used initially to better accommodate the same number of flights.

Perhaps Plan B would mean changing the order of construction, leaving a space for the third runway and getting Planning Permission to build it in perhaps starting in 2028.

Conclusion

This is a tough one to call and I know what I would do. I would just let it fester until the decision was forced by another factor.

But Boris is the Prime Minister and will have to make a decision!

 

 

 

 

D

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

Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

It looks to me that there will be increasing links and merging between High Speed Two (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Proposals and possibilities include.

  • NPR will have a Western terminal at a new station in Liverpool City Centre.
  • HS2 trains would access Liverpool and Manchester via a junction between HS2 and NPR at High Legh.
  • There will be six trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport.
  • The route between Manchester and Manchester Airport is planned to be in tunnel.
  • There will be six tph between Manchester and Leeds.

In addition, Boris has made positive noises about a high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being of a high priority.

So will the planners go for the logical solution of a High Speed tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds?

  • There could be a theoretical capacity of perhaps 15 tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.
  • Speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible.
  • Stations could be at Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly/Piccadilly Gardens, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • West of Manchester Airport, the route appears easier and the tunnel would emerge close to the airport.
  • East of Leeds the tunnel would join up with existing routes to Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle and York.

I believe such a tunnel could be built without disrupting existing rail services and passengers. Remember building Crossrail’s tunnels was an almost invisible process.

It would result in two rail systems across Northern England.

  • Upgraded Classic Rail Routes
  • The Big Bore

My thoughts on the two systems follow.

Upgraded Classic Rail Routes

This could include improvements such as these,

  • Extra passing loops.
  • Selective electrification
  • Improved stations
  • Comprehensive in-cab digital signalling
  • More paths for passenger and freight trains.

Which could be applied to routes, such as these.

In addition, there could be the reopening of some closed or freight routes to passenger trains.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

It is a comprehensive upgrade that includes.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line.

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements, I talked about planned improvements to the Hope Valley Line, which should begin in the next couple of years.

These improvements are given in detail under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line.

The Hope Valley Improvements will cost in the region of tens of millions of pounds and Wikipedeia sums up the benefits like this.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It seems like good value to me!

So could we see other Multi-million and billion pound projects created to improve the classic routes across the Pennines?

Projects would be fully planned and the costs and benefits would then be assessed and calculated.

Then it would be up to the Project Managers to devise the optimal structure and order in which to carry out all the projects.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following techniques used.

  • Discontinuous electrification to avoid bridge reconstruction.
  • Intelligent, hybrid diesel/electric/battery trains from Bombardier, Hitachi or Stadler, capable of 125 mph running and changing mode at speed.
  • Modular digital signalling
  • Factory built stations and step-free bridges.
  • Removal of all level crossings.
  • All stations updated for step-free access between train and platform.

The objectives would be as follows.

  • More paths, where needed.
  • Faster line speed.
  • Less running on diesel.
  • Fast station stops.

Hopefully, the upgrading could be done without too much disruption.

Remember though, that disruption to existing users during a project, is most likely down to bad project management.

The Big Bore

The Central Core tunnel of Crossrail between Royal Oak and East London, was virtually a separate project before Crossrail’s stations and much of other infrastructure was built.

I believe that digging the tunnel first gave a big advantage, in that it could be constructed as an independent project, provided that the logistics of delivering the components and removing the junk was done efficiently.

But it did mean that travellers wouldn’t see any benefits until the project was almost complete.

HS2 and NPR are different in that they also envisage upgrading these routes.

  • The Huddersfield Line
  • The Chat Moss Line
  • The Calder Valley Line
  • The Hope Valley Line
  • The Dearne Valley Line
  • The Selby Line
  • The Midland Main Line North Of Clay Cross

Only the Huddersfield Line is directly affected by the Big Bore.

Effectively, the Big Bore will provide a by-pass route for passenger trains between Leeds and West of Manchester Airport, to take the fast trains of HS2 and NPR underneath the congested classic lines.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North I said this about a tunnel between Leeds and Manchester.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

It would be a very big project and probably one of the longest rail tunnels in the world.

Comparison With The Gotthard Base Tunnel

But surely, if a small and rich nation like Switzerland can build the Gotthard Base Tunnel, then we have the resources to build the Big Bore between Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Consider these facts about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

  • It is two single track bores.
  • Each bore has a track length of around 57 kilometres or 35 miles.
  • The tunnel may be deep, but it is direct and level.
  • The maximum speed is 250 kph or 160 mph.
  • The operational speed for passenger trains is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • The operational speed for freight is 100 kph or 62 mph.
  • It can take the largest freight trains.

To make numbers even more impressive it is joined to the shorter Ceneri Base Tunnel, to provide an even longer route.

Manchester Airport And Leeds Direct

Now consider Manchester Airport and Leeds.

  • The current rail distance is 56 miles.
  • There are stops at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.
  • Journey time is eighty minutes.

But the direct distance is only 68 kilometres or forty-three miles.

Surely if the Swiss can blast and dig two 57 km. single-track rail tunnels, we can go eleven kilometres further with all the recent experience of tunnelling around the world.

The lengths of the various legs would be as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 14 km.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 35 km.
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 17 km.
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km

Trains running on the various legs at 200 kph, which is the cruising speed of a 1970s-built InterCity 125, could take the following times for the various legs.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 4.2 minutes
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 10.5 minutes
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 5.1 minutes
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km – 3.9 minutes

Leeds and Manchester Airport would be under thirty minutes apart.

Looking at NPR between Liverpool and Hull, times could be as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 20 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

Or a Coast-to-Coast time of under ninety minutes.

Train Frequencies

HS2 is being designed to handle fifteen tph, although slower intensive railways in the UK can handle up to twenty-four tph.

At the current time or certainly in a few years time, the theoretical maximum frequency through the Big Bore should be between these two figures. I will assume at least fifteen tph in this post.

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report talks about the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport – Six tph.
  • Manchester and Leeds – Six tph
  • Leeds and Hull – Two tph

This is all so lacking in ambition. It is like building a new high capacity road and only allowing those with status to use the road.

If Leeds and Manchester Airport can handle fifteen tph, why not use some of it to create an Express Metro under the Pennines?

To me, if the Big Bore is built, nothing short of twelve tph or a train every five minutes is acceptable, at Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds stations.

The extension to Hull could be reduced to perhaps six tph, but with the upgrading of the Hull and Leeds Line to perhaps 140 mph, I’d be bold and create a true TransPennine Express;

Hull and Liverpool every five minutes would be the ultimate Marketing Man’s dream.

The Underground Stations

Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all be through stations deep underground.

  • They would be connected to the surface by lifts and escalators.
  • Some entrances to the stations would connect to existing stations and others might emerge in City squares like Manchester’s P:iccadilly Gardens.
  • Most stations would be just two platforms, as all trains would pass through on either side of a large underground concourse.;
  • All stations would have platform edge doors.
  • Passengers would be able to reverse direction by just walking across the concourse.

Stations would build on the lessons learned from Crossrail. But then NPR is closer to Crossrail than a Classic High Speed Line.

The Terminal Stations

The two main terminal stations for NPR and trains running through the Big Bore would be the proposed High Speed station at Liverpool and the existing Hull station.

But one other terminal station is being created; Edinburgh.

I have been going to Edinburgh station to and from England for perhaps thirty years and the capacity of the station has constantly increased.

Recent developments are extended Platforms 5 and 6, that can take the longest LNER trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that with the application of digital signalling, that there is capacity for at least eight tph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

There would certainly be capacity for at least two tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

In the East the other possibilities for terminals are Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

  • I would discount Newcastle, as it lacks capacity and its location would make it difficult to add more.
  • Doncaster has good connectivity and space, but do Leeds and Hull offer similar connectivity?

So that leaves Hull, Edinburgh and York, as the only Eastern terminals.

In the West, there is probably a need to connect to the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Glasgow Central is probably the obvious terminal, but it would need an extra connection at the junction of HS2, NPR and WCML at High Legh.

If necessary Preston could be used, as it has space and lots of connectivity.

Integration Of HS2 and NPR

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report is proposing this and it looks that the following HS2 services could be possible between Euston and Manchester.

  • Two tph – Euston and Hull via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds
  • Two tph – Euston and Edinburgh via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

Note.

  1. Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all have four tph to and from London, by the Western arm of HS2’s Y.
  2. If in addition there were two tph between Liverpool and Hull and Liverpool and Edinburgh, this would mean four tph from the Big Bore of NPR to both Hull and Edinburgh.
  3. None of these core services need to terminate in the Big Bore.

I very much feel that integrating HS2 and NPR is the way to go.

Could We See A High Speed Northern Metro?

If we assume that the Big Bore could handle the HS2 frequency of at least fifteen tph, then it would be possible to create a service across the Pennines with the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Hull – 4 tph
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 2 tph

This would result in the following frequencies

  • Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston – 4 tph
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph
  • Manchester – 12 tph
  • Huddersfield – 12 tph
  • Bradford – 12 tph
  • Leeds – 12 tph
  • Hull – 8 tph
  • York – 4 tph
  • Newcastle – 4 tph
  • Edinburgh – 4 tph

What would these frequencies do for train travel in the North of England?

Freight

The Gotthard Base Tunnel has been designed so that both freight and passenger trains can use the route.

There is a need for extra freight capacity across the country and I wonder if freight trains could use the Big Bore.

I estimate that the Big Bore would be 68 kilometres if bored straight and level between West of Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Lets assume it is seventy kilometres or 43.5 miles.

So times, through the tunnel at various average speeds would be.

  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 110 mph – 23.7 minutes
  • 100 mph – 26.1 minutes
  • 90 mph – 29 minutes
  • 80 mph – 32.6 minutes
  • 62 mph (Gotthard Base Tunnel speed for freight) – 42 minutes.

Could it be mandated that freight trains can use the tunnel, if they could maintain a particular speed?

Consider.

  • A 125 mph train with stops at Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would probably take thirty minutes to transit the tunnel.
  • A freight train running at 90 mph would take more or less the same time.
  • Fifteen tph would mean a train every four minutes.
  • Automatic control of all trains in the tunnel would be a possibility. It appears to work on the much more complicated Thameslink.

I think with the following conditions, one or even two freight trains per hour, in addition to the passenger trains, can pass through the Big Bore in each direction.

  • The locomotives have the performance of at least the Class 93 locomotive, which is currently being built.
  • Freight trains can be hauled through at a minimum speed, which could be between 90 and 110 mph.
  • The passenger trains and train and platform staff work together to produce very short station dwell times.
  • All passenger trains are identical.
  • Station platforms are designed so that passengers can leave and enter the trains rapidly.

It will be a Big Bore with a capacity to match!

What About Sheffield?

I haven’t forgotten Sheffield, but I think it could be linked across the Penines by another route.

Under the upgrades for Northen Powerhouse Rail, it is proposed that services between Sheffield and Leeds become 4 ton in 25 minutes along the Dearne Valley Line.

Does Boris Know More Than He Lets On?

The headline on the front cover of Issue 885 of Rail Magazine is Boris Backs New Pennine Railway.

There is also a sub-heading of PM commits to Leeds-Machester line.

Boris didn’t apply any substance to the speech, except to say that it will be funded.

I believe that my naive analysis in this post shows that something is possible and I just wonder, if Boris has been briefed about a much better plan?

August 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Japanese Car Rental Firms Discover New Trend Of Renting Vehicles For A Nap Or Quiet Lunch

The title of this post is the same as that of this story on The World News.

It was flagged up first on BBC Breakfast.

But is it any difference to my behaviour?

I generally get up, do all my daily chores and have a bath.

Then, I’ll go out about nine and take an Overground train or a bus to somewhere quiet for breakfast.

I will sometimes go as far as Richmond for breakfast in Leon.

And if the weather is hot like is it is now, I might even just sit on an air-conditioned train and read my paper or watch the news on my phone, stopping where I fancy for a coffee or a drink.

All I need to ensure, is that at some point, I stop off at a Marks and Spencer to get the food I need for supper.

Courtesy of my Freedom Pass, all this travel costs me a big fat zilch.

I call it Freedoming.

Today, though I’m roaming a bit further; Manchester. Hopefully, I’ll get a ride in one of the new Class 195 trains to Manchester Airport.

 

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Plans Revealed For £10bn High-Speed Railway To Connect Britain’s Busiest Airports, HS1 and HS2

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Developers are submitting plans for a new high-speed line to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) in response to a call for market-led proposals.

Named ‘HS4Air’, the proposed £10 billion railway will connect HS1 at Ashford to HS2 North West of London with stops at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and a spur connection to the Great Western main line.

This map from Expedition Engineering shows the route.

To minimise environmental disruption, the following should be noted.

  • There is a North-South tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • HS4Air follows the M25 to the South-West of London.
  • Several miles of the route between Heathrow and Gatwick is in tunnel to the West of Horsham.
  • There is a West-East tunnel under Gatwick Airport.
  • The Ashford to Tonbridge Line would become part of HS4Air.

There will also be stations at Ashford, Tonbridge, Gatwick and Heathrow.

This further diagram from Expedition Engineering shows the various possible routes.

Note the following about HS4Air.

  • Four major airports; Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester, will be connected to the Channel Tunnel.
  • Wikipedia suggests, that the line could be extended to a reopened Manston Airport.
  • A Paris to Manchester passenger service via Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham, is proposed.
  • High-speed connecting services from Cardiff, Oxford and Manchester to Ashford are proposed.
  • HS2’s major interchanges of Birmingham International and Crewe, are served.
  • Freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel will be enabled.

It looks a good basis to connect the rest of the UK to the services through the Channel Tunnel.

The article also gives some sample journey times.

  • Ashford-Gatwick: 25 minutes
  • Manchester-Heathrow: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Heathrow-Gatwick: 15 minutes;
  • Cardiff-Heathrow: 1 hour 40 mins
  • Birmingham-Paris: 3 hours
  • Manchester-Paris: 3 hours 40 minutes (My Estimate)

Intriguingly, the Manchester-Paris time, is the same as Eurostar’s current time between London and Amsterdam.

Conclusion

The plan seems to be well-thought out and it gives a good increase in connectivity from Wales, the West Country and the Midlands and North of England to Heathrow, Gatwick and the Channel Tunnel.

But I can see a few problems.

  • Will the residents of the North Downs accept a high-speed railway through their area?
  • If freight routes from Liverpool and Southampton to the Channel Tunnel are established, will residents object to masses of noisy freight trains?
  • Will there be pressure for more tunnels?

On the other hand Expedition Engineering are saying that needed extensions to the UK’s electricity grid can be laid underground along the same route.

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Mid-Cheshire Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a section about the Mid-Cheshire Line.

The section opens with this paragraph.

Trains on the Mid-Cheshire Line, from Chester to Manchester via Stockport and Altrincham, provide interchange with Manchester Metrolink at Altrincham, but the average speed from Chester to Altrincham is 30 mph, which again is uncompetitive with car journey times.

Despite this and only an hourly service, Knutford station has in a footfall in excess of 500,000.

There are other problems.

  • The train timetable is not commuter-friendly to Chester.
  • Connections to and from London are bad at Chester.
  • Sunday services are two-hourly.

But Network Rail are on the case and are lengthening platforms, so frequencies can be increased.

Manchester Airport Western Link

The Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line talks about a western link to Manchjester Airport, which would start from near Mobberley.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach To Northwich must have possibilities.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Sheffield

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the one rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Sheffield.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 38 minutes with a change at Sheffield. The two legs appear to take 33 and 52 minutes respectively with a thirteen minute wait at Sheffield station, which is a well-equipped station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and it’s still one train an hour and the journey takes two minutes over two hours.

Incidentally, the fastest trains to Manchester and Manchester Airport via Sheffield seem to be the same trains.

Improving the times on this route will not be easy.

  • Stops are minimal at only Chesterfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • The service uses the 90 mph Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
  • The only electrification is between Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Electrification from Sheffield to Stockport on the Hope Valley Line will be difficult because of the terrain and the countryside lobby.
  • Electrification from Derby to Sheffield will be difficult, as the line goes through a World Heritage Site.

The closure of the electrified Woodhead Line to passenger traffic in 1970, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks to be a crass decision of the highest order. I assume that, the great friend of the railways; Harold Wilson was in charge!

Conclusions

Going between Derby and Manchester by rail is a practical proposition, but it is a route, which would be difficult to improve.

 

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Stoke

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the best rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Stoke.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 44 minutes with a change at Stoke. The two legs appear to take 51 and 42 minutes respectively with an eleven minute wait at Stoke station, which is a well-equipped Virgin station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and there is an extra change of train and a journey which is at least half-an-hour longer.

You can actually do Derby to Manchester Airport in a couple of minutes over two hours, if you go via Sheffield.

But it does seem a bit crazy, as Manchester Airport is actually eight miles closer to Derby if you drive.

Stoke is well connected to Manchester with up to four trains per hour to Manchester Piccadilly, some of which take just forty minutes. Manchester Airport takes just over the hour with a change at Crewe or Manchester Piccadilly.

The Crewe to Derby Line links Derby and Stoke via Uttoxeter.

This description of the route comes from this section in Wikipedia.

The route is double track for all of its length except for a three-mile section between Alsager and Crewe, which was singled by British Rail. Whilst the majority of the route is not electrified, the section between Stoke Junction and Crewe is as this is a part of the West Coast Main Line.

This means that it should be possible to run electric trains between Manchester Airport and Stoke. As there would be no chnge at Crewe using best times on Stoke-Crewe and Crewe-Manchester Airport giives a time of about fifty minutes.

The route between Stoke and Derby is not electrified and the operating speed of the line is given as 70 mph.

Surely, as it connects Derby and Nottingham to Stoke and the electrified West Coast Main Line, it should have a faster operating speed. In an ideal world, Derby to Stoke must be a prime candidate for electrification. Some of London Overground’s redundant 100 mph Class 317 trains could probably do Derby to Stoke in perhaps thirty-five minutes.

So with electrification all the way, a time of about one hour twenty -five minutes between Derby and Stoke would be possible in a train, that once graced the Stansted Express. So it’s even got luggage racks.

But Derby to Stoke won’t be electrified for years, so could the current service get passengers to Stoke?

There is a section called Services in the Wikipedia entry for the Crewe-Stoke Line. This is said.

The line sees a basic hourly service in each direction with trains calling at all stations on the route however Peartree which is served by 2 Derby bound trains and 3 Crewe bound trains per weekday.

The majority of services on the route since December 2008 have been provided by Class 153 “Super Sprinter” Diesel Multiple Units however Class 158 “Express Sprinter” and Class 156 “Super Sprinter” units are occasionally used. Overcrowding remains a major issue on the route, particularly in the morning and evening peak and a weekends. Passengers are occasionally left behind.

That is a truly pitiful service, as the main rail route from Derby to Manchester is run by a single-coach Class 153 train at times.

It’s amazing anybody trusts the line enough to use it.

As with the Derwent Valley Line, which I wrote about in Exploring The Derwent Valley Line, the problem is probably down to a shortage of suitable trains.

The line needs a suitable bi-mode train.

  • At least four-cars.
  • Airport interior with  luggage racks.
  • Possibly a First Class compartment.
  • Ability to do the forty miles between Stoke and Nottingham on diesel.

A Flex version of a Class 317 train would do nicely and could probably do Nottingham to Manchester Airport in two hours. This would mean.

  • Four trains could provide an hourly service.
  • Eight trains would provide a two trains per hour service.

Would you believe that London Overground will release the eight Class 317/7 trains with the Airport interior next year, when they are replaced by new Class 710 trains?

Conclusion

The more I do little exercises like this, the more I believe that Porterbrook’s Flex concept is not only high-class engineering, but it is a idea, that has arrived at exactly the right time.

The only problem with converting Class 317 trains, is they are owned by Angel Trains! I’m sure that that is not an insurmountable problem!

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment