The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Wymondham-Dereham Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

It has looked to me, that for some years, that those in Norfolk’s rail industry and Local Government, have been co-operating with rail problems and developments in the county.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, various activities are revealed.

  • Regular steam and diesel services between Wymondham and Dereham stations.
  • Occasional sightseeing services North of Dereham station.
  • Mid-Norfolk Railway facilitates commercial freight trains.
  • Dereham yard has been used as a servicing depot by Direct Rail Services for over ten years.
  • Network Rail store track plant at Dereham.
  • There are facilities to transfer damaged rail vehicles to road vehicles at Dereham.
  • The Army uses the line to transport vehicles by train.
  • Storage of trains for Greater Anglia, who have a chronic lack of space.
  • The line appears to be used for specialist crew and driver training.
  • In Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing, I wrote about how the railway company used new Dutch technology to demonstrate how to rebuild a level crossing.

It seems, that if you have a different rail-related need in Norfolk, that the Mid-Norfolk Railway will at least listen to your needs.

The company and volunteers have the ambition to restore the railway as far as Fakenham, which will make it one of the longest heritage railways in England.

I am not surprised that reopening services between Wymondham and Dereham stations, is on the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

Dereham

Dereham is a market town of 18,600 residents.

This Google Map shows the Dereham station complex.

It is the headquarters of the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Wymondham

Wymondham is a developing market town of 14,400 residents, that has a station on the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich via Ely and Thetford.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway also has a connection to the Breckland Line and access to Wymondham station at Wymondham South junction.

This Google Map shows the town of Wymondham.

Note.

  1. The Breckland Line going SW-NE across the map.
  2. Wymondham station in the middle of the map.
  3. Wymondham Abbey station, which is on the Mid-Norfolk Railway in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. Wymondham South junction, where the branch divides to the South-West of Wymondham station.

The A11 Wymondham Bypass encloses a lot of land, which seems to be being developed into housing.

Breckland Line Train Services

Current train services on the Breckland Line include.

  • Greater Anglia – One train per hour (tph) – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough

Note.

  1. Both train franchises are Abellio.
  2. Both train franchises use modern diesel or bi-mode trains.

As there is significant development of housing and industry, all along the A11 and the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich, many believe that there is a large opportunity for the growth of passenger train services.

All being well in a few years, Norwich will get a third service in a one tp2h service along the East West Railway to Oxford.

But towns like Wymondham probably will need better and more connections to Cambridge and Norwich, before that, as although the roads are good, the emissions won’t be!

The Trowse Swing Bridge

The single-track Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on any service between Norwich and the South.

It does manage to carry up to nine to ten tph, but it appears that for efficient operation of extra services South from Norwich, that the bridge will have to be replaced or by-passed.

This Google Map shows Trowse Bridge.

When the Great Eastern Main Line was being electrified to Norwich station, a temporary station was built in this area, whilst electrification was added to the bridge.

A Station At Trowse

A similar strategy could be used, whilst the bridge is replaced, but I suspect, that a bolder plan might be possible.

  • There is a lot of development going on in Norwich.
  • It is expected that rail traffic South from Norwich to Cambridge and London will grow significantly in the next few years.
  • Removing the requirement for the bridge to open, would require difficult Parliamentary legislation.

This Google Map shows the wider City Centre.

Note.

  1. The River Wensum curving through the City.
  2. The large Norwich station in the middle of the map.
  3. Norwich City Centre to the West of the station.
  4. Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground to the South of the station.
  5. The blue-roofed Norwich Crown Point Depot towards the East of the map.
  6. Trowse bridge crossing the river to the South of Crown Point Depot.

It should also be noted, that to solve some of the chronic overcrowding in Crown Point Depot, Greater Anglia have developed some new sidings South of the Trowse bridge, on the Western side of the Great Eastern Main Line, around the area of the former Trowse station.

Consider.

  • If you look at the rail lines South of the Trowse bridge, the Breckland Line crosses under the Great Eastern Main Line and then joins the main line from the East.
  • Norwich could borrow an idea from other cities like Bristol and run a water bus on the River Wensum.
  • The South Bank of the river looks ripe for development.

I wonder if it would be possible to reopen Trowse station as a modern riverside station.

  • There would be two electrified through platforms.
  • The Southern ends of the through platforms would connect to the Great Eastern Main Line and the Breckland Line, as they do now.
  • The Northern ends of the through platforms would combine and cross the Trowse Bridge, as they do now.
  • On the Eastern side of the station, there would be up to two electrified bay platforms, which could connect to any route to the South.
  • At least one platform would be able to take a full-length Class 745 train.
  • There would be a river bus station, with connections to the main Norwich station, Carrow Road and Norwich City Centre.
  • The station would be fully step-free.

As the infamous bridge is only thirty-three years old, surely it can be refurbished and modernised, so that the major problem of reliability is eliminated.

This new station would give train operators advantages and options.

  • The station would be very handy for office and residential developments along the river.
  • The rail line into Norwich could probably be kept open during the construction, as the bridge is only being refurbished.
  • Some travellers to and from Norwich might prefer to use Trowse, rather than Norwich station and use the water bus.
  • Extra services to Norwich might terminate in the bay platforms at Trowse and would not need capacity on the bridge.
  • I suspect that a four or five tph frequency would operate between Norwich and Trowse station.
  • In times of disruption, the bay platforms can be used to turn trains South of the bridge.

I’m sure there is an innovative solution in there somewhere.

What is Norwich City Council intending to do along the South bank of the river?

Future Train Services Between Norwich And The South

Greater Anglia have bought a lot of new trains and I doubt, that they’ll be leaving them in sidings, if they have a job for them to do.

I can certainly see four tph Turn-Up-And-Go services running on the following routes around Norwich.

  • Norwich and Cambridge
  • Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Yarmouth

Being able to turn some Cambridge and Ipswich trains South of Trowse bridge, may be the better solution, than replacing, rather than refurbishing the bridge.

Norwich And Dereham

  • Norwich and Dereham stations are just over twenty miles apart and I suspect that Class 755 trains can do the trip in about twenty-five minutes.
  • This may open up the possibility of an hour’s round trip between Trowse and Dereham stations.

If the hour trip is possible, this could open up a two tph service, run by just two trains.

A Possible Timetable

I could see something like this being a possible timetable.

  • East West Rail – One tph – Norwich and Oxford via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Stansted Airport via Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Cambridge
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Trowse and Dereham
  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Norwich and Liverpool via Ely and Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia – Two tph – Norwich and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and London Liverpool Street via Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia – One tph – Trowse and Ipswich

Trowse bridge would be handling five tph in both directions, with six tph terminating in Trowse station.

Obviously, there are a lot of permutations and combinations, that will be determined by customer forecasts and figures.

Conclusion

I’ve thought the route between Norwich and Dereham stations will be a commuter, shopping and leisure rail route for some time.

As I indicate, I think some work will need to be done at the Trowse bridge, but a two tph service should be possible.

 

 

 

August 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mid Norfolk Railway Completes Work On ‘First For UK’ Railway Level Crossing

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Mid Norfolk Railway has finished work on the refurbishment of the level crossing on Yaxham Road at Dereham.

The work is a first for the Mid Norfolk Railway as the technology has never been used at such a busy crossing on the entire rail system.

The new level crossing has been completed using a system that has been developed by Edilon Sedra, a Dutch railway infrastructure company.

By all accounts it appears to be a job well done,

It also appears Network Rail and Transport for London are very interested in what has been done.

Could this be, because it looks like the work has a fifty year maintenance-free lifespan?

This Google Map shows the site.

Note the single track railway running North-South under the flyover.

As you can see from some of the pictures in the article, the actual level crossing is under the flyover. Not the easiest place to work!

Conclusion

This appears to be another successful co-operation between a heritage railway, Network Rail and local interests.

Following on from the co-operation between the Mid-Norfolk Railway and Greater Anglia over train storage, that I wrote about in Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, could the rebuilding of the level crossing be part of a larger scheme to allow Greater Anglia to use Mid-Norfolk rails to run a commuter service to Dereham?

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Can Greater Anglia Run Four-Car Class 755 Trains On Most Services?

Greater Anglia will eventually have the following fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car
  • 24 x four-car

Note that only four-car trains are in service.

How Many Trains Are Needed For Each Route?

A rough calculation gives theses trains for various routes.

  • Colchester and Peterborough – four trains
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – four stains
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – one train
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – three trains
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft – two trains
  • Norwich and Sheringham – two trains
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – four trains
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town – two trains

This makes a total of only twenty-two trains. And Greater Anglia have a fleet of twenty-four!

I have seen it written that the Sudbury and Colchester Town service will be run using three-car trains.

Trains North Of Ipswich And Cambridge

Sp it looks like all trains North of Ipswich and Cambridge can be four-car trains, as there are enough trains.

It also gives  operational advantages for services to Norwich.

  • I took a train from Cambridge to Norwich and noticed, that after unloading passengers at Norwich, it picked up a load more for Cromer and Sheringham and reversed out of the station.
  • Norwich services to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft weave a pattern between the City and the coast all day.
  • A spare can be based at Norwich Thorpe Depot, in case a train fails.
  • I assume that one Class 755 train can act as a Thunderbird or rescue locomotive for a stalled train.

Ipswich station could see a major sort-out.

  • Only three services to and from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, will terminate and go North at the station.
  • Will eventually all these services turnback in the bay platform 1?
  • Through services going South from Norwich and Lowestoft would use Platfoirm 2
  • The new Peterborough and Colchester service will use Platform 2, when going South.
  • All Northbound through services would use Platform 3.
  • Terminating services from London will use Platform 4.

It looks like Greater Anglia’s proposed timetable simplifies operation at Ipswich and means no new building there.

I suggested that the three services from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft all terminate in Platform 1.

  • Platform 1 can handle a four-car Class 755 train.
  • Three trains per hour (tph) could easily be accommodated in one platform.
  • There is space around the platform to improve the passenger experience.

There may be the possibility to use the trains more efficiently.

  • Ipswich and Lowestoft currently takes 91 minutes
  • Ipswich and Cambridge currently takes 81 minutes

The Class 755 trains will shave a few minutes off these times, but they will still result in a long wait at terminals.

Combining the two services with a reverse at Ipswich might be advantageous.

  • Greater Anglia could need less trains for the service.
  • Passengers would have extra route choices.

There are some interesting possibilities.

Where Will The Three-Car Trains Be Used?

I believe and I have tried to show the possibilities, that Greater Anglia will use four-car trains efficiently on all their core routes, with the exception of Sudbury and Colchester Town, where three-car trains will be used.

So where will the other three-car trains be used?

New Services

Greater Anglia, Network Rail and politicians have talked about the following new services.

  • A direct service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth via Reedham.
  • Reinstatement of the March and Wisbech service.
  • Partial reopening of the Aldeburgh Branch if Sizewell C is built.

In recent years Greater Anglia, Network Rail and others have used the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is a heritage railway for various purposes.

  • Storing rail maintenance equipment.
  • Moving light tanks for the Army by train.
  • Training emergency services.
  • Rail enthusiasts tours, including one in an HST,
  • Storing trains for Greater Anglia. This was a £3.25million. deal.

I feel that because of the train storage deal, Greater Anglia will explore the possibility of a local Norwich service to Dereham, which is a town of just under 19,000 people with no National Rail connection..

  • It could be a joint venture between Greater Anglia and the Mid Norfolk Railway.
  • Norwich and Dereham would take under thirty minutes.
  • Services could use the Mid-Norkfolk Railway’s stations at Wymondham Abbey, Kimberley Park, Thuxton, Yaxham and Dereham as appropriate.
  • Felixstowe, a similar sized town to Dereham attracts 200,000 passengers per year.

The service could be a nice little earner for both companies.

Capacity Increases

With new trains on all Greater Anglia’s services, I suspect that Greater Anglia believe they will see a substantial increase in passengers.

  • There will be a large increase in train capacity.
  • Services should be faster.
  • Services will be more frequent.

But some services will need more capacity.

So will we see pairs of three-car trains working on some services, where a four-car train is not big enough?

Sub-Leasing To Other Companies

It does seem that either Greater Anglia is going to have a large expansion of services or they have acquired too many trains.

Unless of course, they hope to make some of the Class 755 trains available to other companies.

 

Conclusion

In answer to the title of this post, the answer is yes!

But Greater Anglia must have expansion plans using their three-car Class 755 trains.

 

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 17 Comments

Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Eastern Daily Press.

Greater Anglia has a storage problem for all the new trains being delivered from Stadler in Switzerland.

So the train operating company has done a deal with the Mid Norfolk Railway to store the trains in the depths of deepest Norfolk.

Wikipedia gives more details in a section, entitled Storage Of Main Line Stock.

Working with Abellio Greater Anglia, the Mid-Norfolk Railway have developed a rolling stock storage facility close to their Kimberley Park station. The £3 million sidings have been funded by Abellio Greater Anglia to allow them to store their Class 745 and 755 fleets until they are ready to be in service.

It has also been reported that the site, will be used to store the replaced trains, whilst they await new operators or the scrapyard.

This picture clipped from the Eastern Daily Press article, shows the trains.

Reading the Wikipedia entry for the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is obviously a well-maintained standard gauge heritage railway, it gets used for various rail-related training and other purposes, so as the multi-million pound deal shows, I’m pretty certain there is a lot of co-operation between all parties in Norfolk, including Greater Anglia, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and the Emergency Services.

Will The Class 755 Trains Return With Passengers?

The following should be noted.

  • Rail tours and charters use the branch and visit Dereham, several times a year.
  • An InterCity 125 has even used the line.
  • Dereham is a town of 19,000 people.
  • Norfolk is a county, that welcomes lots of tourists.
  • Wymondham station will soon have a direct hourly service to and from Stansted Airport.

Given the co-operation between Greater Anglia and the Mid-Norfolk Railway over the train storage, where a long term conveniently-located facility is of benefit to both parties, will we see occasional visits of Class 755 trains to Dereham?

There must be long-term possibilities.

  • Weekend steam trains between Dereham and Norwich, similar to the Shakespeare Express, that runs between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford stations.
  • A limited commuter service between Dereham and Norwich.

The Mid-Norfolk Railway’s long term ambition to extend their route past Dereham to reopened stations at County School and Fakenham, would surely increase the viability of these services.

 

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments