The Anonymous Widower

How A Sketch On A Piece Of Paper Became An £85m Rail Bridge

The title of this post is the same as an article on inews, which describes the design process for the bridge over the Irwell in Manchester, which is the centrepiece of the Ordsall Chord.

It is a fascinating insight into the design of what could become Manchester’s new icon.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Does Northern See Wigan As A Class 769 Train Hub?

The Wikipedia entry for Northern, shows under their entry for eight Class 769 trains, that the routes they will cover include.

  • Liverpool to Wigan
  • Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton.

Wigan is a proud and friendly town and I wrote about it in Wigan On The Up.

The West Coast Main Line through Wigan North Western station is electrified and Northern run half-hourly electric services to Liverpool using Class 319 trains.

But the other station; Wigan Wallgate is not wired and is definitely Pacer territory.

Liverpool to Wigan

As Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western is fully electrified, I would be very surprised if Northern would run a bi-mode Class 769 train on this route, except as a stand-in for a failed Class 319 train.

Routes to places North of Wigan North Western, like Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston will be fully-electrified, so these routes can be served by the Class 319 trains.

Northern could be thinking of running a service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackburn/Burnley for which a Class 769 train would be ideal.

But I think more likely, is that they are thinking of using Class 769 trains on the Kirkby Branch Line, which currently links Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations.

Consider.

  • There is talk of running this branch as a shuttle.
  • Wigan Wallgate station already has a suitable bay platform for a shuttle.
  • The route is double-track except between Kirkby and Rainford stations.
  • Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate takes a convenient twenty-four minutes.
  • Merseyrail have a long term ambition to built a new Headbolt Lane station, as an interchange between their Northern Line and services to Wigan and Manchester.
  • Merseyrail want to serve Skelmersdale.

Could this route be the reason for the reported Battery EMUs For Merseyrail?

  1. The Class 769 trains are used between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate stations as a shuttle.
  2. Two trains would be able to provide a two trains per hour (tph) service, without any new infrastructure.
  3. Merseyrail ascertain that their new Stadler trains can travel between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and back on battery power.
  4. Merseyrail determine if a fast charging station is needed in the bay platform at Wigan Wallgate for their Stadler trains.

If the Class 769 trains show the passenger traffic is there and the Stadler trains can handle the route on batteries, could we see some or all of the Merseyrail Northern Line services extended to Wigan Wallgate?

Because the Stadler trains will be fast modern trains designed to execute stops quickly, I suspect that even on the single track section of line between Kirkby and Rainford stations, they could run at the frequency of four tph, that is currently run all day between Kirkby and Liverpool Central stations.

  • This would mean that the the current four tph to Kirkby would become four tph to Wigan Wallgate.
  • The service would be run by brand-new Stadler trains.
  • The track at Kirkby would have to be relaid to allow trains to run straight through.
  • The signalling would probably need updating.
  • Means to charge the trains at Wigan Wallgate might need to be provided.
  • A new single-platform station could be built at Headbolt Lane.
  • The four stations between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate would get four tph in both directions.

It would give The Train To Wigan Pier a whole new meaning.

Once they had done their good works in proving the route, the Class 769 trains would be posted elsewhere to do more missionary work.

Manchester to Wigan North Western via Bolton

This is the other route mentioned in Wikipedia.

Consider.

  • Bolton to Manchester will be electrified, by the end of the year.
  • The route passes through Ince, Hindley, Westhoughton and Lostock.

Class 769 trains travelling this route,  would open a second electrified route between Manchester and Preston via Wigan.

Manchester to Southport

Why was this route not mentioned?

  • Manchester to Southport is a route run mainly by Pacers to a frequency of two tph.
  • Some trains go via Bolton and some via Atherton.
  • The route via Bolton will be partly electrified by the end of the year.
  • The route via Atherton is not electrified.

I suspect that under current plans of just eight Class 769 trains, there aren’t enough to use them on this busy route.

Ideally, this route should be run with two tph going on each of the routes to Manchester from Wigan Wallgate.

The Future

Northern have ordered both diesel and electric Civity multiple units from CAF.

In Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order, I looked at how CAF had proposed battery-electric Civity trains for Auckland.

I’m sure CAF wouldn’t mind varying the order.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TransPennine Electrification And Piccadilly Upgrade Now Also In Doubt

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Technology Magazine.

A Digression About The Next Generation Of Trains

After digging through the various pages on Hitachi’s web site, I wrote Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?.

My conclusion was this.

I will be very surprised if Class 800/801/802 trains don’t have batteries.

Will the Class 385 trains for ScotRail have similar traction system?

But having thought about it more, I’m now convinced that by 2030, the average long distance train will have the following characteristics.

  • Ability to work from 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Ability if required to work from 750 VDC third rail.
  • Ability to raise and lower pantograph and switch beween modes at line speed.
  • Batteries to handle regenerative braking.
  • A generator unit to power the train.
  • A sophisticated control system to choose the appropriate power source and drive the train according to terrain, passenger load, weather and traffic.

The more I read about Hitachi’s Class 800, Class 801 and Class 802 trains, the more I’m convinced that the features I have listed, is their ultimate goal. I suspect too, that the suburban Class 385 train has the capability of meeting the same objectives.

I would be very surprised if Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Siemens, Stadler and others are not thinking along the same lines, as this document from Hitachi entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme has been freely available since 2014.

It contains this diagram of the traction system of a Class 800 train.

Note the generator unit and the battery charger.

I’ve ridden the new Class 345 trains for Crossrail, a few times and after a trip yesterday in the gold-standard train;a 1970s  British Rail Mark 3 coach, I can honestly say that the ride, noise and vibration in ombardier’s new train, is the best I’ve ridden.

So are Bombardier using a new traction system to achieve this smoothness? I suspect they are.

I also can’t find anything to say how a train will be removed from the tunnel under London, in the event of a complete power failure. No sane engineer would allow a rescue involving diesel or hydrogen in an emergency. However, batteries on the train with the capability of getting passengers to a safe disembarking point would be an obvious solution..

TransPennine Electrification

The major rail route across the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester is the Huddersfield Line.

The following stations are open on the route.

The stations marked with asterisks (*) have electrification or will do soon.

Note the following about the route.

  • Stalybridge to Leeds is under forty miles by road, so it could be even shorter by rail.
  • Huddersfield station is one of a select group of Grade I Listed railway stations..
  • Greater Manchester is developing a suburban electric network.
  • Greenfield is the last station in Greater Manchester towards Leeds.
  • Leeds is developing a suburban electric network.
  • Cottingley is the last station in Leeds towards Manchester.
  • Currently, trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds can take a diferent route to Stalybridge, that is electrified as far as Guide Bridge station.
  • I counted four tunnels, including Standedge tunnel, and over twenty bridges between Stalybridge and Huddersfield.
  • Electrification of this section, would probably mean closure for at least a year.
  • Between Huddersfield and Leeds the electrification would be a lot easier with about fifteen bridges and  Morley tunnel.

My philosophy for this route would be as follows.

  1. Electrification would not go anywhere near Huddersfield, as the heritage lobby and their lawyers would have a field day.
  2. Standedge and Morley tunnels are over 2,000 metres long, double track and Standedge is level. If they needed refurbishment in the future, perhaps they could be electrified with an overhead rail, so that bi-modes could have a couple of miles of electricity.
  3. Electrification might be extended at the Manchester and Leeds ends of the line, so that the two cities could improve their local suburban electric networks.
  4. An alternative would be that the Leeds and Manchester suburban electric networks were provided with a few Class 769 trains or even some brand new four-car bi-modes.
  5. Services between Leeds and Manchester would be run by fast bi-modes.

TransPennine Express are already planning to run Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Newcastle via Manchester and Leeds. It looks to me, that whoever plans their train policy, saw this electrification crisis coming.

The money saved on the electrification would be spent on improving track and stations.

Currently the fastest journeys between Manchester and Leeds take just under fifty minutes.

What time could a Class 802 train achieve if the following were done.

  • Manchester to Stalybridge is fully electrified.
  • Some extra electrification was installed at Leeds.
  • The track is improved.

My money would be on thirty-five minutes.

Manchester Piccadilly Upgrade

I hate using the isolated island Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

They are just too crowded and the steps and escalators down to the platform aren’t well-designed.

The Frequency Of Trains Through Platforms 13/14

The two platforms can be considered equivalent to these busy two-platform stations.

All of these stations handle more trains than Plstforms 13./14 at Manchester Piccadilly.

Provided the signalling can handle it, it should be possible to schedule more trains through these two platforms.

One piece of information I viewed seemed to show that some services terminate in these two platforms. Surely, that is a way to reduce capacity.

Ordsall Chord And Class 769 Train Implications

The Ordsall Chord should change the pattern of trains, when it opens later this year.

The main implication will be that cross-city services can be developed.

The new Class 769 trains will help too, in that current diesel and electric services can be run using one type of train across the city.

A simple example would be Buxton to Blackburn.

These services release platform space in Manchester Piccadilly and other stations, which can be used for new services.

Access To Platforms 13/14

I’ve felt for some time, that if the access to the platform was better designed that a lot of the problems could be reduced.

I sometimes wonder, if when people see that their train is leaving from Platform 13 or 14, that they go there immediately and instead of waiting upstairs in the lounge, they descend to the platform.

When the Ordsall Chord is opened, because of the pattern of services passengers will sometimes change at one of the string of stations on the line.

Perhaps Oxford Road or Deansgate should be designated the preferred interchange station and fixed up with wider platforms, various kiosks and a waiting room to encourage passengers to change away from Piccadilly.

This Google Map shows Oxford Road station.

Oxford Road certainly seems to have space for passengers to use it as an exchange, when crossing the city.

But does Oxford Road have a stop on the Metrolink?

This Google Map shows Deansgate station.

 

Deansgate doesn’t seem to have the space of Oxford Road. But it does have a good connection to the Metrolink.

The Forgotten Salford Stations

The other stations that could help are the two forgotten Salford stations; Salford Crescent and Salford Central.

This Google Map shows Salford Crescent station.

I believe that this station is going to get more platforms. Could it become a sort of triage station, where passengers from the North of Greater Manchester changed for.

  • Trains for Manchester Victoria station.
  • Trains for Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Metrolink to the city centre.

Surely, space could be found to run trams along Broad Street.

It would also look to be a station, where there is considerable scope to put housing or commercial developments above the station.

This Google Map shows Salford Central station.

With a bit of thinking Salford Central must have interchange possibilities.

But as with Salford Crescent, this station doesn’t have a Metrolink connection.

The Wikipedia entry for Salford Central has a section called Future Development. This is said.

A Network Rail report suggests building platforms on the line to Liverpool (via Newton-le-Willows), the lines of which run through the station but are not provided with platforms. This scheme has since been adopted by Transport for Greater Manchester and included in their Capital Works Programme for 2015–16 to 2020–21. This will see three additional platforms built, at a cost of £20.5 million and will allow Liverpool, Chester & Manchester Airport-bound trains (using the Ordsall Chord) to call here.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Conclusion About Manchester Piccadilly Upgrade

I am inevitably drawn to the following conclusions about the upgrade to Manchester Piccadilly.

The Ordsall Chord and the new electric services offered by the bi-mode trains will create a duckers-and-divers network across Manchester City Centre.

The following should be done.

  • Access to Platforms 13/14 at Manchester Piccadilly should be greatly improved.
  • Deansgate, Oxford Road, Salford Central and Salford Crescent should be improved with extra platforms, same- and cross-platform interchange.
  • The Metrolink should be extended to both Salford stations.
  • Greater Manchester should adopt a ticketing system based on bank cards to encourage use of the transport network.

Perhaps Mancunians need to be taught to duck-and-dive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

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 | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

F*** You, I’m Millwall

This is an extract from a piece on the responses to the London Bridge Attack in The Times.

Roy Larner, the football fan, who took on the attackers at Black and Blue, has told how he shouted, “F*** you, I’m Millwall” in response to their shouts of “Islam, Islam, Islam”. H received knife wounds to the head, chest and hands, but continued to fight, while other customers sought shelter.

“He kept slashing and hacking away at me,” he told The Sun. “They were stabbing and slashing at me as I waved my arms for 20 or 30 seconds.” More than 4,000 supporters have now signed a petition for Mr. Larner, 47, to be awarded the George Cross.

I do think, that there should be a few awards handing out after the two attacks in London and the one in Manchester.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

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 | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Name For The Ordsall Chord

I must admit that as a Londoner and someone, who doesn’t know Manchester well, Ordsall Chord doesn’t have a name that suggests Manchester, its history and the many good things about the City.

After the tragic event of last week, surely, the locally-built massive steel bridge across the Irwell, should be dedicated to those who died and were hurt and given a name to reflect on Manchester’s past and present.

I would suggest something simple like the Mancunian Chord.

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 5 Comments

Metro Development With Flex Trains

The June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways gave a few more details of the Class 319 Flex trains, that are being created for Northern.

  • The trains now have their own TOPS-number of 769, which must be a seal of approval.
  • Northern have ordered eight Class 319 Flex trains as part of or in addition to a fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.
  • These eight trains will be delivered by the end of May 2018.
  • A Class 319 Flex train can be produced every two weeks.

It is also likely, that by the end of this year, Network Rail will have completed the following.

  • The Ordsall Chord connecting Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations.
  • Electrification between Manchester and Preston.
  • Electrification from Preston to Blackpool North station.
  • Electrification from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge.

This will mean electric trains like the Class 319 train and bi-mode trains like the Class 319 Flex train, can go between Hazel Grove, Manchester Airport and Stockport to Blackpool North, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Wigan North Western.

The Class 319 Flex trains using their diesel power will also be able to extend the electric network to Blackburn, Blackpool South, Burnley Manchester Road, Clitheroe, Southport, Stalybridge, Wigan Wallgate and Windermere, without any additional electrification.

There will be benefits for passengers.

  • The Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be faster and journey times will be shorter.
  • Services run by elderly two-car trains will now be run by refurbished four-car trains.
  • Most journeys across Manchester will be continuous or with a single same-platform change at a convenient station.

How will various routes be affected?

Cross-Manchester Travel

Cross-City lines revolutionise city travel and the Ordsall Chord will do the same for Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of the Ordsall Chord and how it is connected to exotic places like  Bolton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Stockport and Warrington.

Mancunians will have to learn how to use the link, but they won’t take long to do that!

You may be lucky and your journey will be available from your local station.

But if it requires a change, you will probably take a train to the central core stations of Victoria, Deansgate, Oxford Road or Piccadilly and change for your ultimate destination.

  • For many changes, you will just get off one train, wait on the platform for a few minutes and then board another train.
  • Some stations will be better interchanges than others.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly may be crowded, but they are at least an island platform allowing a change of direction.
  • Platforms at Deansgate and Oxford Road may need widening.
  • Other stations like Salford Crescent and Salford Central will also get used as interchanges.

If there is one problem with the Ordsall Chord, it is the name.

Perhaps it should be called the Mancunian Chord?

Collateral Benefits Of The Ordsall Chord

The nearest railway line in concept to the Ordsall Chord is probably Thameslink in London.

  • As Thameslink has developed, it has not only provided a high-capacity North-South route across London, but it has also taken the pressure from main line stations like London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, by allowing travellers to change to their long distance trains further out.
  • Thmeslink has also been a major factor in improving services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Gatwick Airport is building on its position to be a major rail hub South of London.

Over the years Thameslink has developed and some think in a few years time, Thameslink will be at least, if not more important than Crossrail.

Two things will definitely happen, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

As with Thameslink in London, Northern and Southern routes into the Manchester, will be linked back-to-back, to free up platforms in terminal stations.

Frequencies and capacity on many routes will increase. Stations, that have had a two-car diesel train twice an hour since the days of steam ended, will find they get a four-car electric or bi-mode train at a doubled frequency.

But long-term the Ordsall Chord will have major effects.

  • Towns and areas like Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Chester, Hudderfield, Kirkby, Southport, Warrington and Wigan will have frequent train services to and from the whole of Manchester City Centre and will benefit accordingly.
  • Increased frequencies to Leeds and Liverpool will be easier to arrange.
  • Many travellers going to and from Birmingham, London and the South will change at Stockport rather than Piccadilly.
  • Few trains will reverse direction in Piccadilly.
  • Just as Gatwick Airport has been envigorated by Thameslink, Manchester Airport will become a major rail hub.
  • Will Preston develop into Manchester’s hub station for travellers going North or to Scotland.
  • Access to the tourist areas of North Lancashire, the Peak District and Yorkshire will be improved.

The Ordsall Chord will have such major effects on Manchester, that I could see HS2 plans being changed.

Buxton To Manchester And Clitheroe To Manchester

I will treat these routes together, as I believe they are a natural fit, where back-to-back operation will be beeficial.

  • Both routes are uphill away from Manchester.
  • Both routes need better and faster trains.
  • Both routes need more capacity.
  • Class 319 Flex trains could work both routes without any infrastructure work.

Could Buxton to Clitheroe, with perhaps a two-hourly extension to Hellifield for the Settle and Carlisle Railway create a very valuable tourism asset for the North-West?

In Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?, I looked at the possibilities about running  a direct back-to-back service across Manchester.

I said this.

In some ways the interesting one is the round trip from Buxton to Clitheroe, which allowing ten minutes for each turnround at Clitheroe and Buxton means that the round trip is under four hours.

This means that an hourly Buxton to Clitheroe service would need four trains and two trains per hour would need eight trains.

As the routes to Blackburn and Clitheroe in the North and Hazel Grove and Buxton in the South are very busy, four-car Class 319 Flex trains will be very welcome.

Windermere

Improving the service to Windermere station on the Windermere Branch is a complex problem.

I have been doing some analysis in Is Electrification Of The Windermere Branch Line Really Necessary?

I came to this conclusion.

I think that updating Oxenholme station with a fourth platform and using more powerful trains, would allow the frequency of trains on the Windermere Branch to be increased to one train every thirty minutes.

No electrification of the branchwould be needed.

We will know the answer, when Northern run a Class 319 Flex train in trials to Windermere.

I will not speculate on the timetable, but I’m sure Northern know about how the ideal timetable should look.

Manchester Airport to Huddersfield Via Stalybridge

Electrification to Stalybridge station is running late.

But no matter, as Class 319 Flex trains could fill in for their electric sisters.

Further Routes To The Core

Because they are bi-mode trains, the limitations of which routes can be served using Class 319 Flex trains, will be limited more by the availability of trains than anything else.

Signalling and operational procedures through the core will need to be improved, but a twin-track railway like that can take a frequency of sixteen to twenty tph over the Irwell.

After all, the East London Line has handled those frequencies in a tunnel built by Brunel’s father in the mid-1800s since 2010.

Adding New Routes

I don’t know the rail lines in Manchester at all, but so long as the track and need is there, Class 319 Fle trains can serve any route.

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, they are reporting on a plan to reopen six miles of disused railway between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

From the visualisation in the magazine, it looks a spectacular railway, that could provide a direct route between the West of the City and Althincham, Stockport and Manchester Airport.

Adding More Trains

I feel that Manchester will need more trains in a couple of years.

But just as Liverpool found no trouble with funding new custom-built trains for their network, when the time comes for Manchester to increase the fleet size, the city shouldn’t have a problem! Brexit permitting!

At least, if the Ordsall Chord routes are successful, they will define the specification of the new trains.

The simplest plan would see some new four-car electric units added to the fleet to release Class 319 trains for conversion to more Class 319 Flex trains.

Some of these trains could be specially designed airport trains for connecting Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Huddersfield, Liverpool and other places.

At some time in the future, all of the Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be replaced, but will they finally see the scrapyard or will they be sent to do missionary work in places like Aberdeen, Bristol, Derby, Exeter, Lincoln, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and other places.

Conclusion

The Class 319 Flex train may have been designed by Porterbrook and Northern to fill an enormous hole left by Network Rail’s non-performance on electrification, but like its famous predecessor, the InterCity 125 which filled the gap left by the non-performance of the Advanced Passenger Train, I feel it will set new standards in train travel. But this time on predominately urban rather than InterCity routes.

I also feel strongly, that te flexible methods being used in Manchester to develop the rail services could be used elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

The Major Lesson Of The Manchester Atrocity

There is a unbroken thread of the emergency services and ordinary people stepping up to the plate in major disasters in the UK.

It certainly wasn’t broken in the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena.

I have only been directly affected by one major disaster; The Great Storm. With a little less luck, it would have killed me, as a large chimney was blown through the house  and passed through where I would normally be working.

In the Great Storm, everybody pulled together, just as they did and are continuing to do in Manchester.

One irony, is that the more disasters happen, the better we get at handling them.

As an example on Monday night, Mancunians used similar tactics as had been employed by the people of Dortmund, to look after Monaco supporters trapped in the City because of an attack on the Dortmund team bus.

Perhaps, our inbuilt common sense and survival instinct that has sustained us through the millennia is one of our most powerful weapons against natural disasters, accidents and the evil deeds of losers.

I make no apology for using the word loser.

It will be interesting to see what the reactions of sensible people is in the next few years.

  • Will we see better cooperation between ordinary people of all faiths with the police and security services?
  • Will we see more resilient and safer  architecture? The Japanese and Californians have shown this to be very effective against eathquakes.
  • Will CCTV cameras proliferate and learn how to identify suspicious behaviour?
  • Will it get more difficult to buy dangerous chemicals? Including the acids which are becoming a disgusting weapon of choice of some criminals and wife-abusers.

You’re probably still more likely to die in an accident at home, work or in a road accident, than by the hand of a cowardly terrorist or criminal.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvement are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seems in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in speed.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment