The Anonymous Widower

Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover

The title of this post is the same as an article in the March 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

These are some points from the article.

Passengers Numbers Are Recovering

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Wittingham says the recovery has been strongest on the Anglo-Scottish and Liverpool corridors, while Manchester have begun to bounce back. Slowest to recover is the London to West Midlands market; ‘there’s several operators here and we were the main carrier of business passengers, and that sector has been recovering more slowly than leisure’ says Mr. Whittingham.

Phil Whittingham is MD of Avanti West Coast.

Train Numbers Are Recovering

Avanti are building up train numbers from Euston after the pandemic.

Frequencies are as follows in trains per hour (tph)

  • Pre-Covid – 9
  • During the pandemic – 4
  • From December 2021 – 7
  • Omicron – 4
  • From February 2022 – 6
  • From May 2022 – 6+

Avanti have reacted to demand.

Three Classes Of Travel

This is a paragraph.

Avanti’s business has historically been driven by leisure travel – before Covid this accounted for broadly 60 % of passengers, with most of the rest travelling for business plus a smaller number of commuters. ‘The demand is there, and we think by next year we’ll be on the way to full recovery’ says Mr. Whittingham. ‘Leisure has been strong, especially at weekends, but the missing bit is the corporate market.’

Avanti have been running a marketing campaign and it appears to have been successful.

This paragraph describes Avanti’s new Standard Premium class.

Last year, Avanti West Coast launched a new class of travel – Standard Premium. This was first introduced in May on an upgrade-only basis before going fully live in September with the option to book online in advance. The new class sits between Standard and First, giving passengers larger seats and greater space but without some of the extras that come with First Class Travel such as complimentary refreshments and lounge access.

These are Mr. Whittingham’s comments on the three classes.

The current split of passengers is 84% Standard, 12 % First and 4 % Standard Premium, but given the latter has been in place for less than a year there is clearly scope for growth. ‘Our research shows people have been upgrading to Standard Premium rather than downgrading from First’.

I have yet to try Standard Premium, but I will next time I use Avanti.

Refreshments

Avanti have decided to serve different refreshments in Standard Premium and First classes.

  • In Standard Premium, they are now offering At Seat Orders.
  • In First, they have updated the menu.

Both seem to have been well-received.

I like this statement from Mr. Whittingham.

We’ve tried to make it a more personalised service with a less rigid structure, so we give customers what they want, when they want it, rather than when we want to give it to them.

A Consistent Offer

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Whittingham says Avanti has not yet confirmed whether t will offer three classes of travel on the new Hitachi trains it has ordered, but says the aim is to provide a more consistent offer. Assisting this will be changes in the ongoing Pendolino refurbishment, where 11-car sets are having Coach G converted from First to Standard accommodation, meaning all Pendolinos, whether nine-car or 11-car, will have three coaches for First and Standard Premium passengers.

My instinct says that the four trains will be something like.

  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Nine-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – six Standard cars
  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Eleven-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – eight Standard cars
  • Class 805 train – Hitachi – Five-car – one First/Standard Premium car – four Standard cars
  • Class 807 train – Hitachi – Seven-car – two First/Standard Premium car – five Standard cars

Note.

  1. The Class 805 and Class 807 Hitachi trains are very much plug-and-play and can be lengthened or shortened as required.
  2. A regular passenger between London and Liverpool, who regularly upgrades from Standard to Standard Premium in a Class 390 train could be a bit miffed if he couldn’t, because the service was being run by a Class 807 train.
  3. Hitachi would probably be very happy to add extra cars to the Class 805 and Class 807 trains.

As the Class 390 Pendolino trains are being refurbished, I do wonder if they will be receiving some fittings from the Hitachi trains to make sure the trains are consistent to both on-board staff and passengers.

Pendolino Investment

The Pendolino refurbishment is comprehensive.

  • It is one of the largest such programmes ever undertaken in the UK.
  • Leasing company; Angel Trains are funding the work.
  • Alstom are doing the work at Widnes.
  • There appears to be a smooth plan to refurbish all trains.
  • Coach G will be converted from First to Standard accommodation in eleven-car trains.
  • Mr. Whittingham says that all trains will come out looking like a new train.

The eleven-car trains are being converted first, as the conversion of Coach G gives a capacity benefit of around thirty seats.

The awful seats in Standard Class will be replaced with Lumo-style seats and laptop-friendly fold-down tables.

These seats will be a big improvement!

New Trains Coming

This paragraph introduces the new trains.

The second major fleet investment from Avanti is the £350 million for new trains from Hitachi, financed by Rock Rail. These comprise 13×5-car Class 805 bi-modes, ordered for destinations off the electrified route including North Wales and Shrewsbury and 10×7-car Class 807 electrics. Deployment plans for the latter are still being worked through but are likely to include services to Birmingham and Liverpool, and potentially to Blackpool.

What is not said in this paragraph, is that all trains have a redesigned front end, which I suspect is more aerodynamic.

The all-electric Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries, so have they been put on a diet, to improve the acceleration?

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to these conclusions.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster and if they cut out a couple of stops could probably break two hours.

I also calculated that a two tph service between London and Liverpool in two hours would need nine trains.

Timetable Changes

This paragraph introduces the article’s section on timetable changes.

The project in turn feeds into a major timetable change planned by Avanti and other West Coast main line operators. This will be the first significant change to West Coast main line schedules since 2008; ‘the world has changed, and we need to think about how we best serve our markets’ says Mr Whittingham.

This paragraph sums up the major changes.

Of note are the planned changes to the pattern of London to West Midlands services; the pre-Covid 20-minute interval would be amended to offer faster journey times and greater connectivity. Also featuring in the new timetable aspirations would be additional Trent Valley calls in some Liverpool and Manchester services; Mr Whittingham cites as one benefit of this the potential for improved journey times between the North West and the East Midlands via a change of train at Nuneaton. The Hitachi trains, with their better acceleration, will be particularly useful on services with more frequent stops.

The next three sections will look at some timetable changes in a bit more detail.

London And West Midlands Services

Replacement of twenty diesel Class 221 trains with thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains will mean a major reorganisation of services to the West Midlands.

  • Some current diesel services will now be electric.
  • All services between Birmingham New Street and Euston will now be electric.
  • No services will run on diesel under live electrification.
  • Avanti have promised to serve Walsall.
  • There will be extra services to Shrewsbury and other places.

The electric services will also speed up some services to the West Midlands.

North West And East Midlands Services

I will look at train times for services between the North West (Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly) and the East Midlands (Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln), where passengers change at Nuneaton.

These are the current fastest possible times according to the National Rail journey planner.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 with changes at Crewe and Nuneaton,
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 with change at Sheffield
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 with no changes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 with no changes
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 with changes at Sheffield and Doncaster
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 with change at Sheffield

Note that times are in hours:minutes.

These are all current times for the various legs if the route is via Nuneaton.

  • Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and Nuneaton – 1:18
  • Avanti West Coast – Manchester Piccadilly and Nuneaton – 1:13
  • CrossCountry – Nuneaton and Leicester – 0:27
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:48 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:20 – Time from St. Pancras and Nottingham service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Lincoln -1:42 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Nottingham and Lincoln -0:52 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.

Note that the two Avanti West Coast times have been estimated by taking the time from Real Time Trains and adding three minutes for the acceleration or deceleration at Nuneaton.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:47
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:42
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:32
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:31
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 3:26

Note that I am assuming changes at Nuneaton and Leicester are cross-platform or same platform changes that take two minutes.

But there is another level of improvement possible.

Suppose that East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service were to be extended to Nuneaton and run by a train with this specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • Battery-electric power.
  • 100 mph operating speed on battery power.
  • Range of 56 miles on battery
  • Ability to use the Midland Main Line electrification, when it is erected.

Charging stations would be needed at Nuneaton and Lincoln.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton with the one change at Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:40
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:05
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:00
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 2:57
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:52

Note.

I am assuming that the timings for the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs are as for the current trains.

I am assuming the change at Nuneaton is a cross-platform or same platform change that takes two minutes.

Trains run on battery where tracks are not electrified.

I can build a table of current times, times via Nuneaton and savings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 – 1:45 – 0:39
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 – 1:40 – 0.31
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 – 2:05 – 0:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 – 2:00 – 0.09 slower
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 – 2:57 – 0.45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 – 2:52 – 0:14 slower

It does appear that by using the 125 mph speed of the West Coast Main Line has a positive effect on some times from the North West to the East Midlands.

But times could be reduced further.

  • Installing full digital signalling, that would enable 140 mph running between Crewe and Nuneaton, could save ten minutes.
  • Improving the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs could allow faster running.

The more I look at changing at Nuneaton, I feel it is a good idea.

  • It improves the connections between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough and the North West.
  • It improves the connections between Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport and the North West, if the change at Nuneaton is to CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street service.
  • It improves the connections between Coventry and Leamington Spa and the North West.

Avanti have come up with a cunning plan, worthy of Baldrick at his best.

A Second Hourly Service Between London And Liverpool

A paragraph talks about the second hourly service between London and Liverpool.

Avanti still has ambitions to introduce a second hourly service between Euston and Liverpool, but when this will come in will depend on demand recovery.

Consider.

  • If would be desirable if some or all trains running on the route could achieve a timing of two hours between London and Liverpool.
  • It is felt that the second service should stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, where the platforms are too short for eleven-car Class 390 trains.
  • Avanti have stated they would like more stops in the Trent Valley, especially at Nuneaton, where they would connect to services to the East Midlands.
  • Nuneaton is almost exactly halfway between London and Liverpool.
  • Running two tph with Class 807 trains would need nine trains and Avanti have only ordered ten in total.

I believe that a practical timetable like this could work.

  • Class 390 train – one tph – Non-stop or perhaps a single stop in the Midlands – Under two hours
  • Class 705 train – one tph – Stopping at Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway – Current time or better

An hourly service between London and Liverpool in under two hours would surely be a passenger magnet.

February 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Station Proposed For National Arboretum

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

It has been revealed that a new station is being proposed at Alrewas between Lichfield Trent Valley high level and Wichnor Junction, which is on the line linking Tamworth and Burton-on-Trent. The original station serving the village of Alrewas was closed in 1965, although the line remained open.

A new Alrewas station would serve the National Memorial Arboretum, which is visited by more than 300,000 people a year and stages 250 events, including services of remembrance. It includes a Railway Industry Memorial, which was unveiled in May 2012, and also a memorial commemorating the thousands of prisoners of war who were forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway in the Second World War.

I first wrote about this proposed station in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

Two totally unrelated events had happened.

  • I heard the exchange during Prime Minister’s Questions and Michael Fabricant was passionate about creating the rail service on the freight-only line to give passenger train access to the National Memorial Arboretum and Alrewas.
  • Burton were playing Manchester City in the League Cup, so the Police thought it would be a good idea to shut the M6. Nothing moved for hours and many Burton supporters missed the match.

Note.

  1. Quite frankly, it is a disgrace, that the National Memorial Arboretum, has been designed for most visitors to come by car.
  2. The M6 incident was caused by illegal immigrants stuffed into the back of a truck, but surely the Police reaction to shut the motorway for so long was over the top?
  3. I have been to Burton by train a couple of times and it is one of those places, you wouldn’t go to by train, unless it was absolutely essential.

It would appear that after a quick glance, Michael Fabricant’s proposal could be one of those ideas, that would benefit a lot of travellers.

These are a few thoughts on the new service.

Services To And From Burton-on-Trent Station

I said this about services to and from Burton-on-Trent in Everybody Could Do Better For Rail In South Staffordshire.

If you look at the train services from the town, you can go to faraway places like Glasgow and Plymouth, but services to practical local places like Lichfield, Stoke and Derby are rare. There used to be a service to London, but that was discontinued in 2008.

A regular service between Burton and Lichfield, running at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) could connect at Lichfield to the following services.

  • Hourly services on the West Coast Main Line
  • Half-hourly services across Birmingham on the Cross-City Line.

If a decent service via Lichfield had existed, how many fans on that League Cup night, would have used the trains to get to Manchester?

Not many probably, as there would not have been a late train home, as is particularly common in The Midlands. Try getting back to London from Derby, Nottingham or Sheffield, after 21:30 for example!

I am certain, that with a station at Alrewas and a well-designed train service between Burton-on-Trent and Birmingham stations via Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield would be a positive addition to the transport system of the area.

Electrification Between Litchfield Tent Valley And Burton-on-Trent Stations

This map from Open Railway Map shows the track between Litchfield Tent Valley and Burton-on-Trent stations.

Note.

  1. Burton-on-Trent station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Lichfield Trent Valley station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield Trent Valley stations are probably less than fifteen miles apart.
  4. The orange line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Tamworth.
  5. The yellow line is the Burton-upon-Trent and Birmingham line via Lichfield.

The National Memorial Arboretum is just South of the junction between the orange and yellow lines.

This second map from Open Railway Map shows this junction to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The National Memorial Arboretum can be seen between the two tracks.
  2. The village of Alrewas and the site of the proposed Alrewas station are to the West of the arboretum.
  3. Central Rivers depot, where CrossCountry trains are serviced, is in the North-East corner of the map.
  4. I have found a twelve car formation of Class 220 trains running between Birmingham New Street station and Central Rivers depot.

There is electrification at Lichfield Trent Valley station as this picture shows.

This electrification could be extended as far as required.

I would extend the electrification all the way to Burton-on-Trent.

  • This would mean that the Class 730 trains used on the Cross-City Line could terminate at Burton-on-Trent station, rather than Lichfield Trent Valley station, after extra stops at Alrewas for the National Memorial Arboretum and possibly another new station at Barton-under-Needwood.
  • Excursion trains for the National Memorial Arboretum could be electric-hauled.
  • It would also mean that electric trains could reach Central Rivers depot under their own power.
  • It would probably require less than fifteen miles of double-track electrification.
  • I suspect that the West Coast Main Line electrification could provide enough power for the branch electrification to Burton-upon-Trent.

I doubt that this would be considered a major electrification scheme.

Electric Services Between Birmingham New Street And Leicester Stations Via Burton-on-Trent

Consider.

  • Leicester and Burton-on-Trent stations are under thirty miles apart on the Ivanhoe Line.
  • The Ivanhoe Line is an existing freight line, that could be opened to passenger trains.
  • Leicester is to be electrified in the Midland Main Line electrification.

A battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Leicester stations via Burton-on-Trent, Alrewas and Lichfield Trent Valley stations.

It should also be noted that East Midlands Railway run a service between Lincoln and Leicester.

  • Nottingham and Leicester will probably electrified with the rest of the Midland Main Line.
  • Only thirty-four miles of the route between Leicester and Lincoln is not electrified.

If it were felt to be needed, a battery-electric service could be run between Birmingham New Street and Lincoln stations.

Heritage Rail Excursions To The National Memorial Arboretum

Type “Coach Trips To The National Memorial Arboretum” and you get a good selection of trips from all over the UK.

I believe that the National Memorial Arboretum, would make the ideal destination for steam- or diesel-hauled heritage rail excursions with all the trimmings.

  • They could even be hauled by a Class 90 electric locomotive, dating from the late 1980s, if the route between Alrewas and Lichfield were to be electrified.
  • Rakes of comfortable Mark III coaches could be used.
  • A long platform at Alrewas station would be needed, so that the maximum size of heritage train could be handled.
  • For steam locomotives, there may need to be a runround loop.

Track improvements at Lichfield Trent Valley station, may allow direct services from London.

This page on the West Midlands Rail Executive web site is entitled Steam Engine Rolls Into Moor Street Station To Launch New Vintage Trains Partnership.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Historic steam engines are set to play a greater role in the region’s rail network following the signing of a ground-breaking new partnership.

The West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) has teamed up with Tyseley-based Vintage Trains in a bid to establish the Shakespeare Line as Britain’s premier mainline heritage railway.

Perhaps, it would be possible to run a heritage train like a short-formation InterCity 125 between Stratford-om-Avon and the National Memorial Arboretum.

Conclusion

Opening up of the Lichfield Trent Valley and Burton route to passenger trains opens up a lot of possibilities.

 

 

 

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is A High Capacity Freight Route Being Created On The Midland Main Line?

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a section, which is entitled Mixed Fortunes For Freight In IRP, where IRP is short for Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands.

In the section, this is said about freight on the Midland Main Line.

Whilst HS2 does relieve the MML, electrification of the route north from Kettering via Derby to Sheffield is of relatively limited use to freight, which is generally routed via Corby and Toton to Chesterfield and Rotherham. That said, assuming electrification of the passenger route includes the slow lines from Leicester to Trent and through Chesterfield, it does provide a base on which freight electrification can be built.

This would involve wiring Corby to Syston Junction (north of Leicester), Trent Junction to Clay Cross (south of Chesterfield) and Tapton Junction (north of Chesterfield) to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster.

As with the ECML, this ‘freight’ electrification would provide a diversionary route and thus greater resilience for East Midlands Railway services.

In addition, gauge clearance throughout from Corby as part of this package would also be highly beneficial in creating a direct route from the ‘Golden Triangle of Logistics’ in the East Midlands to the North East and Scotland for consumer goods supply chains, boosting modal shift to rail and decarbonisation.

It does seem to be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick at his best.

So is it feasible?

Which Routes Do Freight Trains Use Now?

Christmas in a pandemic, is not a particularly good time to look at the routes freight trains take.

But by looking at Real Time Trains, I can say this.

  • Many trains take the route via Corby and Syston Junction, rather than the direct route via Market Harborough and Leicester.
  • Leicester is quite busy with freight as trains between Felixstowe and places on the West Coast Main Line, go through the station.
  • Very few freight trains seem to take the route via Derby and the Derwent Valley Mills.
  • Most freight trains between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield seem to take the Erewash Valley Line via Toton and Ilkeston.

I don’t think the pattern will change much, if I look at the trains around the end of January.

What Do I Mean By European-Size Freight Trains?

The Wikipedia entry for loading gauge says this about about the route through the Channel Tunnel and up the Midland Main Line.

UIC GC: Channel Tunnel and Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London; with proposals to enable GB+ northwards from London via an upgraded Midland Main Line.

Note.

  1. . GC is 3.15 metres wide by 4.65 metres high.
  2. GB+ is 3.15 metres wide by 4.32 metres high.
  3. GB+ is intended to be a pan-European standard, that allows piggy-back services.
  4. British gauging is so complicated, it isn’t specified in standard units. It must be a nightmare for rolling stock designers.

I’ll take an easy way out and assume that by European-Size Freight Trains, I mean that the route must be cleared for GB+ gauge.

Could Kettering and Syston Junction Via Corby Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the current clearance is as follows.

  • Kettering and Oakham – W7
  • Oakham and Syston Junction – W8

Note.

  1. Oakham and Peterborough is also W8
  2. The main problem seems to be that between Corby and Oakham, there are five tunnels; Corby, Glaston, Manton, Seaton and Wing.
  3. There are also a few overbridges and several level crossings, but they don’t look too challenging.
  4. Between Corby and Oakham, there is the magnificent Welland viaduct, which has eighty-two arches and is Grade II Listed.
  5. Ideally, freight operators would like to run European gauge piggy-back services, with road trailers travelling on flat wagons, as they do in CargoBeamer services.

It would be a tough call to satisfy my last point, but if it can be done it would allow all Midland Main Line freight trains to take the Corby diversion and this would remove the problems of running European gauge trains through Leicester station.

This Google Map shows a section of the Welland viaduct.

It could be key, as it is fully double-track.

But could it support two heavy freight trains at the same time?

But it would be some sight to see, long European-sized freight trains running over the viaduct.

Could The Midland Main Line Between Syston And Trent Junctions Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

The route is cleared to W7 or W8 between the two junctions and on inspection with my virtual helicopter, I suspect it wouldn’t be that challenging to upgrade.

It would also be sensible to clear the Castle Donnington Line for European-size freight trains, so that they could reach the East Midlands Gateway freight terminal.

This Google Map shows the location of the East Midlands Gateway.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Parkway station is marked by the red arrow in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Castle Donnington circuit is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. The long East-West runway of East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.
  4. East Midlands Gateway is to the North of the airport.

This second Google Map shows East Midlands Gateway in more detail.

Note.

  1. In the North-East corner is Maritime Transport’s rail freight terminal.
  2. The M1 runs North-South at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park with two Amazon sheds is in the middle.
  4. The runway at East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North And Midlands has already announced that High Speed Two will join the Midland Main Line to the South of East Midlands Parkway station to serve Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • This new line will have to go past the airport, either to the North of the Logistics Park or South of the Airport.
  • Could there be a station here, both for passengers and the workers at a very busy freight airport and Logistics Park?
  • Currently, trains between the rail terminal and London, London Gateway and the Port of Felixstowe have to reverse North of the rail terminal to access the terminal.
  • All the rail links between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway would need to be built to accept European-size freight trains, to ensure maximum flexibility.

It strikes me, that there are a lot of extra features that could be added to the rail network between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway.

Could The Erewash Valley Line Via Ilkeston Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

Consider.

  • According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the Erewash Valley Line is cleared to W8.
  • According to Wikipedia, it is the second busiest freight route in the East Midlands.
  • Network Rail have spent £250 million on the line in recent years to improve junctions and improve signalling.
  • The route doesn’t have a large number of passenger services.

These pictures show Ilkeston station on the Erewash Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The recently rebuilt bridge and the separate avoiding line.
  2. The Class 158 train under the bridge is 3.81 metres high.

As the European gauge; GB+ is 4.32 metres high, I would feel that Ilkeston station can handle European-size freight trains.

I have flown my virtual helicopter all the way over the Erewash Valley Line from Toton to Clay Cross North junction.

  • It looks as if most of the not many bridges are either recent or could be updated to handle the large European-sized freight trains.
  • It should also be noted that in many places there is a third track or space for them.
  • There are three stations and the Alfreton tunnel.

After this quick look, I feel that the Erewash Valley Line will be able to handle European-size freight trains.

Could Tapton Junction to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

This route has very few bridges and I doubt updating wouldn’t cause too many problems.

CargoBeamer

Would it be possible for one of CargoBeamer’s piggy-back trains carrying trailers to run between the Channel Tunnel and the rail terminal at East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park or perhaps another terminal further up the Midland Main Line?

If they could use the Gospel Oak and Barking Line to access the Midland Main Line, I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It appears that it should be possible to allow European-size freight trains to run between the North of England and the Channel Tunnel.

 

 

January 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Transformer Deliveries Mark Major Milestone For Braybrooke Substation Project And The Midland Main Line Upgrade

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from National Grid.

The press release says this.

Since early 2021 National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has been building a new electricity substation near Braybrooke, on the outskirts of Market Harborough in Leicestershire.

The new substation, once complete, will form a vital part of electrical infrastructure to support Network Rail’s electrification of the Midland Main Line.

Following months of hard work, the project has reached a major milestone, as the engineering team have taken delivery of two new transformers.

The transformers arrived during November and were delivered via an access road off Kettering Road built to ensure construction traffic avoids the areas of Market Harborough and Braybrooke. Weighing an impressive 100 tonnes, they will now be installed at the substation over the coming months.

This Google Map shows the access road.

Note.

The main A6 road running across the top of the map.

Kettering road leads off it into Market Harborough.

The Midland Main Line running across the bottom of the map.

The access track runs between the two.

This enlargement of the South East corner of the map shows the 400 kV overhead transmission line.

Note that the shadows give away two 400 kV pylons.

Will the sub-station be built in the smaller rectangular field?

How Many Sub-Stations Will Be Needed For The Midland Main Line Electrification?

I seem to remember that the Great Western Main Line to Cardiff was electrified with just three sub-stations, London, Cardiff and one in the middle and the London one is shared with Crossrail.

So I suspect that the feed of electricity may only need one further substation at the Northern end.

Conclusion

It does seem that National Grid have planned this well.

I suspect, bringing in the transformers didn’t cause too much disruption and the route gives good access to the overhead line.

January 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Midland Main Line Electrification – 4th Jan 2022

I took these pictures from the train today, as I went to Leicester.

Note.

  1. We overtook the Class 360 train to Corby, just before it left the main line at Kettering North junction.
  2. Once past Kettering North junction, the Midland Main Line is only two tracks as far as Leicester station.
  3. A lot of the gantries on the two slow lines seem tall.
  4. At least twenty gantries had been installed North of the junction.

Some of the new gantries looked to be lighter than those South of the junction, but then they are only supporting electrification for two tracks, rather than four.

This Google Map shows the junction.

In this section, my train overtook the train to Corby.

  • The track going North-West goes to Leicester.
  • The track going North-East goes to Corby.
  • The track going South goes to Kettering.
  • It looks like to the West of the Midland Main Line is a large electricity sub-station.

In the tenth of my pictures you can see the three vertical poles opposite the sub-station, which can be picked out in the map.

 

January 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 27 Comments