The Anonymous Widower

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Derbyshire Live.

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.

Possibilities

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham

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

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

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

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

In Abellio’s Plans For London And Corby, I suggested that Class 379 trains could be used on the route and that the trains might be fitted with batteries.

  • Corby and Melton Mowbray are about twenty-fives apart.
  • Batteries and their fast-charging technology has come on at a fast pace since Abellio participated in the Class 379 BEMU Trial in 2015.

Are Abellio thinking about extending some Croby services using battery technology?

The technology is certainly capable, but is there a proven passenger need?

Turning Trains At Melton Mowbray stations

This Google Map shows Melton Mowbray station.

It looks to be a station on a large site with more than adequate car parking and I suspect building a bay platform with charging facilities would not be the most difficult of projects.

Conclusion

As current trains take about thirty minutes between Corby and Melton Mowbray, with a bay platform at the latter station, I think it would be possible to run hourly Class 379 trains with batteries to and from St. Pancras.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Future Of London To Oakham And Melton Mowbray Rail Services

The bids for the future East Midlands Franchise are expected in April 2018, with the new franchise starting in April 2019.

A Statement From The Department for Transport

In the consultation about the Future of the East Midlands Franchise, this is said in a paragraph entitled Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

A consequence of operating electric trains between London and
Corby could be the loss of direct services between London and
Oakham and Melton Mowbray as there are no plans to electrify
beyond Corby on this route.

Can the Department for Transport really believe that this is a viable idea?

Efficient Train Operation

As I understand it, one of the reasons for the Oakham and Melton Mowbray service to London at six in the morning from Derby, is so they can get their trains positioned for an efficient service to London.

A Useful Diversion Route

The route from London to Derby via Oakham and Melton Mowbray also gives a useful diversion route, if there is engineering works at Leicester. These will happen, at some time in the next few years, as plans to work on the station and possible electrification could happen.

Track Improvements Between London And Kettering And Corby

  • The London to Kettering section is being upgraded.
  • Double-track to Corby.
  • Four-track between London and Kettering.
  • As much 125 mph operating speed as possible.

There may also be other track improvements to come.

Bi-Mode Trains

The new franchise will be using 125 mph bi-mode trains, to decrease the times between London and the Midlands and Yorkshire, without the need for more electrification.

Class 800 trains must be in the pole position, but Bombardier wouldn’t want another company’s products to be speeding past their factory gate, so I suspect we can expect them to offer a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra. In Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?, I linked to  this article on Christian Wolmar’s web site which is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics, where this is said in the article.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

Note the statement that Bombardier could build an Aventra that could do 125 mph running on diesel.

Could Class 387 Or Class 379 Trains Run Between London And Corby?

Once the route between Corby and London is fully electrified could the route be run by high-end Electrostars like Class 387 or Class 379 trains?

In theory, the answer is yes, but there is one major problem!

The Class 387 trains are 110 mph trains, but the Class 379 trains are only 100 mph trains.

They are just too slow.

Currently, London to Corby takes seventy minutes with a 125 mph Class 222 train.

These trains run on diesel, but after the track improvements between Corby and London, that will allow more 125 mph running, I would expect that the new franchise holder will be able to run these trains on the route in under an hour.

The trains may even be able to do a London to Corby round trip in under two hours, which would mean that the route would need less trains for the current level of service.

In addition to being too slow for the Corby route, the Electrostars would cause timetabling problems between Kettering and London, where they would be sharing the 125 mph Midland Main Line with a succession to 125 mph trains going between London and the North.

A Possible Solution

In my view the solution is obvious.

The current 125 mph diesel fleet, must be replaced by a 125 mph bi-mode fleet.

This would give the following advantages.

  • Faster or at least no slower journey times between London and the North, without any electrification North of Kettering and Corby.
  • 125 mph electric running between London and Kettering/Corby.
  • Efficient 125 mph running between London and Bedford, where possible.
  • The ability to use the route from Corby to Derby via Oakham and Melton Mowbray for passenger services or diversions.
  • Surely, the maintenance of a unified fleet is more affordable.

But that is not everything, as modern trains have other advantages.

Take for instance, Hitachi’s Class 800 trains, which have the ability to split and join in less than a couple of minutes at a station.

Some Corby services start or finish at Derby and stop North of Corby at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.

One possibility could be that some services could start in London as two five-car trains, running as a ten-car train.

  • The combined train would run fast to Corby.
  • At Corby the trains would split.
  • The front train would continue to Derby with stops at Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.
  • The rear train would return to London.
  • Some trains would join up with a train from Derby before returning to London.

The London to Corby service would be two trains per hour, with an hourly train going on to Derby.

Looking at timings, I reckon that the round trip between Corby and Derby could be done in three hours, so it would fit neatly with a half-hourly service between London and Corby that took two hours for the round trip.

This is just speculation, but Class 395 trains have been doing the splitting and joining at Ashford for years.

Conclusion

If the new franchise holder goes for the conservative solution of Class 800 trains, I believe that it would be possible to run an hourly service from Derby to London with stops at Corby, Oakham, Melton Mowbray and East Midlands Parkway.

 

 

 

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January 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment