The Anonymous Widower

March Station – 4th August 2021

March station is to be rebuilt. So I went yesterday and took these pictures.

Note that the last two pictures show the triangular junction, that leads to Whitemoor Yard and Wisbech

From what I saw, when it is finished it will be a delightful station.

Does March Station Need More Services?

It appears to me, that at present the station gets around two trains per hour (tph)

These trains run through the station.

  • Greater Anglia – Ipswich and Peterborough – two-hourly – Will go hourly in the future
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Cambridge/Stansted Airport – hourly
  • East Midlands Railway – Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street – hourly, stops occasionally

The service certainly needs improvement.

I would do the following as soon as possible.

  • Introduce the promised hourly Greater Anglia service.
  • Arrange that all East Midland Railway services stopped at March station.
  • Introduce the Cambridge and Wisbech service, when the work at Ely is complete.

This would mean that March had the following local services.

  • Cambridge – 2 tph
  • Ely – 4 tph
  • Ipswich – 1 tph
  • Peterborough – 3 tph
  • Wisbech – 1 tph

Other services would be available with a change at Ely.

 

 

 

 

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Hope For Wisbech Line Revival

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A partnership with Network Rail will speed up plans to re-introduce passenger services to Wisbech, according to James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

These are my thoughts.

Current Plan And Status

The current plan is as follows.

  • The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority has been developing plans on its own.
  • It will now work with Network Rail.
  • The initial service will be between March and Wisbech.
  • Hopefully, a viable plan will emerge.

A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service is an objective, once capacity has been improved at Ely.

Long Term Objectives

These longer term objectives are indicated in the article.

  • A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service.
  • A two trains per hour (tph) service between Wisbech and Cambridge.

These objectives will probably need capacity to be improved at Ely.

I used to play real tennis with one of Cambridge’s foremost thinkers about the long-term future of the city and the surrounding area.

He believed that Peterborough would increasing become a satellite city to Cambridge to provide housing and manufacturing capacity.

Based on my discussions with him, I believe that there should be at least two tph connecting Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, March and Peterborough stations.

Services Through March Station

These services go through March station.

  • Greater Anglia – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Ipswich and Peterborough
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cambridge and Birmingham New Street
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street.

Note.

  1. All trains stop at Ely.
  2. The Greater Anglia service also stops at Manea and Whittlesea.
  3. Greater Anglia promised to increase the frequency of the Ipswich and Peterborough service to hourly, in the new franchise agreement.
  4. The East Midlands Railway service does not stop at March.

In addition there are often around a succession of freight trains going to and from Whitemoor Yard and the Port of Felixstowe.

Even without major improvements at Ely, I suspect, that there could be three or even gour tph between Ely and Peterborough that stop at March, with Manea and Whittlesea served by at least one tph.

This frequency would do the following..

Improve services between Cambridge and Peterborough, if you were prepared to change at Ely, as there could be up to four tph between Ely and the three Cambridge stations.

Make it possible for a simple shuttle train to run between March and Wisbech and have good connections with services at March to both Peterborough and Cambridge.

Track Layout At March

This Google Map shows the track layout at March.

Note.

  1. March station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Ely is to the East.
  3. Peterborough is to the West.
  4. Whitemoor marshalling Yard is to North.

This second Google Map shows the Northern part of the map to a larger scale.

Note.

Whitemoor yard is to the North of the map.

There is a single track railway running North East  from Whitemoor junction  South of Whitemoor yard to the North East corner of the map. This is the disused Bramley Line between March and Wisbech, which will be reopened.

Between March And Wisbech

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the remains of the track between Whitemoor junction and Wisbech.

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line, just to the North of March.

Note.

Whitemoor Yard is to the West side of the map.

The Bramley Line shows as a green scar running diagonally across the map to the North-East cornet.

The blue dot marks a bus stop on the B1101.

The next three images were taken from Google Streetview.

This one shows the Bramley Line crossing the B1101.

In this one, the Bramley Line is crossing Long Drove.

And here it’s crossing Redmoor Lane.

I wouldn’t have thought, that turning the Bramley Line into a railway that would be safe for one of Greater Anglia’s three-car Class 755 trains would be a challenging project.

Approaching Wisbech

This Google Map shows how the railway approaches Wisbech.

Note.

At the Northern end of the map, there are the square white roofs of the Purina dog food factory, which appears to have been built on the site of the former Wisbech East station.

At the Southern end of the map, the railway crosses the A47.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows the Purina factory.

I don’t think it will be very easy to site a station in this area, without a great deal of friendly co-operation of Nestle, who own Purina.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows where the Bramley Line crosses the A47.

This image looking to the North from the A47, was taken from Google Streetview.

It definitely says that the Railway woz here!

This Google Map shows the A47 and what lies to the South of the road.

Note.

  1. The two-way A47 road across the map.
  2. The development to the South of the A47.
  3. The green scar of the former railway to the West of the development.

Looking at the route of the former railway and the A47, I must come to the conclusion that using the former route to access Wisbech would be extremely difficult and would require an expensive crossing of the A47.

A New Station At Wisbech

I think there are two solutions to providing a station for Wisbech; a Park-and-Ride station, where the former railay crossed the A 47 or find another site.

As a bridge over the A47 would be expensive, I would feel that the Park-and-Ride station could be the best option.

It could have a single platform like Felixstowe, which is shown in this image.

The train is one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains which would probably be used for services to Wisbech.

  • Adequate car parking could be provided at the station.
  • Secure bicycle parking would be provided.
  • There could be an electric shuttle bus to the town centre and the the North Cambridgeshire Hospital.

The only simple alternative, would be if it were possible to dig or bore a short single-track tunnel under the A47, so that the station could be put on the town side of the A47, where a lot of the land seems to be used for parking cars that are ready for the scrapyard.

Digging it should be possible given some of the traditionally dug tunnels, that have recently been built in the UK.

Would The Bramley Line Be Single Or Double Track?

The Felixstowe Branch Line is about the same length as the Bramley Line and is effectively a single-track line with a long passing loop to support a one tph passenger service.

So to support the desired two tph between March and Wisbech, I suspect that a mainly single-track route with a passing place in the middle will be needed.

Would There Be Any Intermediate Stations?

There used to be a station at Coldham, which is about halfway. Te Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

A plan by the Bramley Line to restore the line between Wisbech and March may see trains return to Coldham in some form.

This Google Map shows the village.

Note.

The road going to the West is called Station Road.

The green scar of the former railway can be seen passing North-South to the West of the houses.

This view from Google Streetview shows the former railway looking North from Station Road.

Could a double-track section be squeezed in here?

The Wikipedia entry for the Bramley Line shows two other stations, that were planned for a proposed heritage railway; March Elm Road and Waldersea.

This Google Map shows the area between March and Wisbech.

Note.

  1. March is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Wisbech is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Waldersea is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. Coldham is South of the red arrow.

Although March Elm Road and Waldersea might be ideal for a heritage railway, I suspect that the old British Rail layout of just a station, where trains can pass at Coldham would be the best layout.

What Trains Would Be Used?

I have assumed that Greater Anglia will use their three-car Class 755 trains.

  • They are new comfortable trains.
  • They are designed to carry bicycles.
  • When the route is extended to Cambridge, they would be able to use the electrification South of Ely.

I also feel that Greater Anglia planned their fleet size to include enough trains for a Wisbech service.

Could Battery Electric Trains Be Used?

The Class 755 trains are designed as modular bi-mode trains with a PowerPack in the middle, which contains diesel engines.

Stadler are building Class 756  tri-mode versions of these trains for Transport for Wales, which will have batteries and two diesel engines in the PowerPack.

In Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains, I stated that a three-car Class 756 train would have a 480 kWh battery capacity and the four-car would have 600 kWh. These figures came from a Freedom of Information Request. Not by me, I should add!

Batteries of these sizes would I feel give the Class 755 trains a range of up to fifty miles.

The various distances in the area are.

  • March and Ely – 15 miles
  • March and Peterborough – 15 miles
  • March and Wisbech – 12 miles

I think that Stadler’s and Network Rail’s engineers can come up with a very affordable plan, that will enable tri-mode Class 755 trains to run the following routes.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech and return.
  • Ely and Peterborough

As part of the works to improve capacity at Ely, I suspect there will be some renewal and extension of the electrification in the complicated junction.

So would the electrification be extended a few miles towards March, to remove any need for charging at Wisbech station?

What would certainly ensure battery-electric services to Wisbech would be the electrification of Ely and Peterborough via March.

I feel this is an important electrification infill, that should be done sooner rather than later.

  • It would be needed if it were decided, that all freight trains to and from Felixstowe were to be electric-hauled.
  • It would enable direct electric passenger services between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would help enable battery-electric operation between Peterborough and Norwich.
  • It would allow trains from the North to use Liverpool Street as an alternative terminal during engineering works or other blockades.

It might even make it easier to widen or replace the Digswell Viaduct, as it would offer a fully-electrified diversion route via Cambridge, during the inevitable long closure of the route.

Improvements At March Station

March station will need to be improved, if it is going to be used as an interchange station.

It will probably need a bay platform to turn the Wisbech trains.

I also think that step-free access will be needed for passengers, who need to cross the tracks and can’t manage the stairs.

Conclusion

I very much feel that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail can create a very useful branch line to Wisbech.

There is not much infrastructure to be built and upgraded.

  • A new station will be built at Wisbech, which I feel is likely to be a Park-and-Ride on the A47.
  • A bay platform will probably need to be reopened at March station.
  • March station will need to be step-free.
  • There may be a station and a passing loop at Coldham.
  • Track and signalling will need to be replaced.

But the big project needed is the remodelling at Ely, which will have to be done to increase capacity, through the bottleneck.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains would appear to be ideal for the branch and could operate on battery power.

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 9 Comments