The Anonymous Widower

Would A Mutant Many-Parent Child Help To Solve London’s London’s Transport Problems?

London needs to increase the capacity of its public transport system, as the City continues to get larger and larger.

Current Major Projects

There are only three major rail projects ongoing in London at the present time.

The Bank Station Upgrade

The Bank Station Upgrade appears to be progressing well, albeit perhaps a bit later due to the pandemic.

It is a complex project and from what I have heard and observed, it has been well designed and planned.

The Barking Riverside Extension

As with the Bank Station Upgrade the Barking Riverside Extension, appears to be going reasonably well.

But compared to that project, it is a relatively simple project.

Crossrail

Crossrail is in trouble, after what many believe was a very good tunnelling phase of the project.

But then tunnels under London usually seem to go well. I can remember the Victoria Line tunnelling and many other under London since the 1960s and all of these tunnels seem to have been dug without trouble. As I write, there don’t seem to be any tunneling problems with the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Crossrail now has been reduced to a series of station builds and rebuilds, some of which are as large as the Bank Station Upgrade, with other ongoing projects like the testing of trains and systems.

So why are some of these stations running late in their delivery?

If you walk along the route of Crossrail in the City of London and through Clerkenwell and the West End, it is one massive building side as developers raise massive clusters of new developments around and above the Crossrail stations.

The picture shows Farrington station’s Eastern entrance, with a new development on top.

This one wasn’t a big one, but it went up in record time.

These buildings are often funded by Sovereign Wealth Funds, who want their buildings finished ASAP and as they have bottomless pockets, they are prepared to pay more to get the builders and tradesmen they need.

And where did they get them from? Other projects, including Crossrail.

This problem happened in Aberdeen at the height of the oil boom in the last century.

I also think that Brexit worsened the problem, as workers from mainland EU moved to large projects closer to home, like Stuttgart station and Berlin airport, that were very much in trouble and could have been offering premium salaries as well!

The solution would have been to phase developments so that the limited pool of workers was not exhausted.

But that probably wouldn’t have suited the politicians for all sorts of reasons.

  • An uncompleted building doesn’t bring in money and jobs.
  • Early completion must improve chances of letting the building.
  • Delaying the building would probably have meant fewer holidays for politicians in exotic locations.

Hopefully, a comprehensive enquiry into the lateness of Crossrail will provide answers.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is to my mind a London local project. But only in a secondary way!

  • Rebuilding Euston station will improve Underground connections and interchange at Euston and Euston Square stations.
  • It is claimed by High Speed Two, that the rebuilt Euston station will create 16000 jobs and 2200 homes.
  • High Speed Two will enable massive development at Old Oak Common, with tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
  • Old Oak Common station will be a very important rail hub in North-West London.

With seventeen trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Old Oak Common will High Speed Two attract local traffic?

  • I suspect High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly and between Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street will also attract local traffic.
  • I’ve used TGVs between Nice and Antibes.
  • Tourists might visit, just like they did and still do at the Olympic Park.
  • Many Londoners will join High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Some wag will suggest putting it on the Tube Map. But is it such a stupid idea?

Where Does London Need More Rail Services?

Having lived in London on and off for over seventy years, I feel the worst areas for rail links are probably.

  • North West London
  • South East London
  • South Central London between Wimbledon and Croydon.
  • South West London

Note.

  1. Over the years, there is no doubt that East and North London have improved considerably, with the development of the East London, North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  2. Thameslink has been improved in North London and now it is being supported with improvements to the Northern City Line. Both routes now have new Siemens trains.
  3. Crossrail will produce major improvements in West, East and South East London.
  4. Building of a new Penge Interchange station, which I wrote about in Penge Interchange could improve routes to and from South East London.
  5. Hopefully the work in recent years at Waterloo will improve suburban services out of Waterloo. In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I showed that four tph could be run to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations.

It looks like North West and South Central London are missing out.

How Can Services Be Improved In North West London?

There are radial routes from the centre of London to the suburbs.

Starting from the North and going to the West, there are the following lines.

When I used to live at Cockfosters as a child,  to visit my many cousins in North West London, there was no alternative but to use a bus and take well over an hour each way.

There are now some circular rail routes in London but nothing in the North West of the capital.

The Dudding Hill Line And The West London Orbital Railway

But there is the little-used freight route called Dudding Hill Line.

  • It runs between Cricklewood on the Midland Main Line and Acton Central on the North London Line.
  • It is four miles of double-track railway.

This YouTube video shows a cab ride from Acton to Cricklewood.

Plans exist to turn it into the West London Orbital Railway, which will run two services.

  • West Hampstead and Hounslow via Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton, Lionel Road, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth
  • Hendon and Kew Bridge via Brent Cross West, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton

Note.

  1. The proposed frequency of both services is four tph.
  2. There would be some stations to be built, but the track exists.
  3. The route is technically feasible.
  4. The route would connect West London to High Speed Two.
  5. There would be little disruption whilst it was built.
  6. The services could be run by dual-voltage battery-electric trains charged on the electrification at both ends of the route.
  7. The scheme represents a high value for money, with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 2.2.

On the other hand, the scheme has two serious problems, as far as the current London Mayor is concerned.

  • Transport for London has no money, partly because of London’s Fare Freeze.
  • The project is not in South London.

This important and value-for-money project will not be built, whilst Sadiq Khan is still Mayor of London.

Harlesden Interchange

I believe that if we get the interchanges right on the West London Orbital Railway correct we can do things like.

  • Increase the benefit cost ratio.
  • Link the route to South London to make the Mayor a bit happier about the North London Scheme.

This Google Map shows Harlesden station.

Note.

  1. The Bakerloo Line/Watford DC Line running North-West/South-East through Harlesden station.
  2. The West Coast Main Line in the Southern section of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line running North-South across the map.

Platforms will be built on the Dudding Hill Line to connect that would probably be new or extended platforms in the current Harlesden station to enable interchange between the West London Orbital and the Watford DC Lines.

I also think there is a possibility that platforms could be added to the slow tracks of the West Coast Main Line, so that suburban services into London Euston can also connect to the West London Orbital Line.

It would also enable a connection between Southern’s Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes service and the West London Orbital Railway.

Looking at this from various angles, I think that an architect good at designing three-dimensional structures could develop a quality Harlesden Interchange station.

Neasden Interchange

Like Harlesden, Neasden is another possibility for a comprehensive interchange.

This Google Map shows Neasden station.

Note.

  1. There are a lot of lines going through Neasden station.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line goes across the South-East corner of the map.
  3. There is plenty of space in the area.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines in the area.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is indicated by the former Dudding Hill station.
  2. The red tracks are Metropolitan Line tracks.
  3. The silver tracks are Jubilee Line tracks.
  4. The Southerly pair of lines through Neasden and Dollis Hill stations are Chiltern’s lines into Marylebone.
  5. The Chiltern tracks divide to the West of Neasden station, with the Aylesbury line following the other tracks and the Chiltern Main Line diverging to the West.
  6. London’s largest Underground Depot at Neasden, lies to the North-West in an area of London noted for few merits with the North Circular Road passing through.

I wonder, if the station and the depot offers a unique opportunity to offer large scale additions to London’s housing stock over the top of a rebuilt station and depot.

This Google Map shows the wider area.

Note.

  1. Much of the depot appears to be open-air stabling for trains.
  2. The North Circular Road passes North-South between the depot and Neasden station.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line cuts across the South-East corner of the map.
  4. This corner of the map is labelled as Dudden Hill.
  5. According to Wikipedia, Dudding Hill is considered a more genteel spelling of Dudden Hill and could be as old as 1544.

It looks as if it would be relatively easy to develop over the top of the depot to create housing, industrial or commercial properties.

But why stop there and cover both the North Circular Road and the six tracks through Neasden station?

Neasden station could be rebuilt into a station with platforms on the following lines.

  • Metropolitan Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Chiltern Lines
  • Dudding Hill Lines

Note.

  1. I estimate that Chiltern has a train about every six minutes, so some could stop.
  2. There might be space for a bay platform for Chiltern.

Neasden could be a major housing and transport hub.

  • There could be large amounts of parking.
  • Road access would be good.
  • It would have good rail connections.
  • It could have a bus interchange.
  • London needs housing.

It might even be an alternative to Chiltern’s plan for a West Hampstead Interchange.

The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Borough of Brent need to be bold!

Improvements To Chiltern’s Routes

Chiltern Railways have some plans that could improve services in North West London.

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

Wikipedia says this about using the Acton-Northolt Line to access new platforms at Old Oak Common station.

Upgrading the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) to new platforms at Old Oak Common. This upgrade will also extend to London Paddington to increase capacity on the Chiltern Main Line as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone.

This scheme has merit.

  • The platforms would be connected to the Chiltern Main Line along the route of a partly-disused railway.
  • The route could be double-tracked.
  • There must be space for at least two new platforms.
  • The new platforms could easily handle four tph.
  • There may be a case for some new stations.

The scheme could add valuable extra capacity for Chiltern.

A Chiltern Metro

Wikipedia says this about a  proposed metro service between Marylebone and West Ruislip stations.

  • The Metro would have a frequency of four tph.
  • It would call at Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park and South Ruislip.
  • The service would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip.
  • There would need to be passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and  Wembley Stadium.

Given that the Chiltern Metro was first proposed over a decade ago, perhaps the concept could be increased in scope.

  • Housing and other developments along the route may suggest that a station further out like High Wycombe might be a better terminal.
  • ERTMS in-cab digital signalling is likely to be installed at some time, which would decrease headways between trains and allow more services.
  • Electrification is likely in some form before 2040 and this will improve train performance.
  • If Neasden station were to be rebuilt, as a comprehensive transport and residential development, I believe that this Metro service should also call at Neasden, as it would complement the West London Orbital Railway.

I believe that a review of the Chiltern Metro may mean, that an improved version is worth building.

Improvements To The Milton Keynes And Clapham Junction Service

I feel that this service could be key in improving services between North London and South London via the West London Line and High Speed Two’s station at Old Oak Common.

Currently, this service is as follows.

  • It runs between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction stations.
  • It has a frequency of one tph.
  • It calls at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton and Imperial Wharf stations.
  • The service used to extend to South Croydon via Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and East Croydon.
  • It uses Class 377 trains.
  • It shares parts of the route with the London Overground.

I also think it has various issues and questions with respect to the future.

  • The Class 377 trains are only 100 mph units, whereas the outer suburban trains on the West Coast Main Line are 110 mph Class 350 trains, which will soon be replaced by 110 mph Class 730 trains. Do the slower trains call timetabling problems?
  • Is one tph enough?
  • The route doesn’t serve High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.
  • Is the service run by the right operator?
  • What is the ideal Southern terminal?

These are my thoughts on the various issues.

The Service As A North-South Link

A friend, who lives in South London has told me, that if you go to an event at Wembley stadium the route is busy.

On the other hand, I’ve used it at midday on a Tuesday and found the trains empty.

But developed properly it could connect the following.

  • Milton Keynes Central
  • Bletchley for the East West Rail Link
  • Watford for the West Coast Main Line to the North
  • Wembley Central for Wembley Stadium and other entertainments
  • Willesden Junction for the North London Line
  • Hythe Road for High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • Shepherd’s Bush for the shopping.
  • Clapham Junction for most of the South London and the South of England

It would be a very useful cross-London route to complement Thameslink and the East London Line.

The Frequency

The current Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction has a frequency of one tph.

This may be enough for some parts of the route, as other services also provide services.

But many would argue, that perhaps South of Watford Junction, the service needs to be increased to connect the area to Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction.

I feel that High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway give so much connectivity, that between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction needs a frequency of at least eight tph.

As the North London Line and the Watford DC Line are working at a frequency of four tph, this could indicate that a four tph direct service Watford Junction and Clapham Junction be ideal. Perhaps, it could continue North to Milton Keynes with a frequency of two tph.

The Trains

I am absolutely certain, that the full service needs to be operated by dual voltage trains, that are capable of running at 110 mph.

The Class 350/1 trains of West Midlands Trains would probably be ideal for the full service.

  • They are dual voltage trains.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have a long distance interior.

They are being replaced with new Class 730 trains, so would be available.

If some services were running only as far North as Watford Junction, these could be either Class 378 or Class 710 trains of the London Overground.

The Connection To The West London Line And High Speed Two

This map from Wikipedia by Cnbrb shows the latest iteration of the lines at Old Oak Common station.

Note.

  1. The green route is taken by the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction trains.
  2. The bright blue is High Speed Two.
  3. The purple is Crossrail.
  4. The orange is the Overground
  5. Hythe Road station is proposed for the West London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.
  6. Hythe Road station will have a bay platform to turn trains from the South.
  7. Old Oak Common Lane station is proposed for the North London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.

But where is the connection between the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service and Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two?

  • Access from the South is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • Extra services from the South can be run to and from the bay platform at Hythe Road station.
  • Access from the East is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • How do passengers go between say Wembley Central and Heathrow?

In addition for access from the West is the Overground can be used to Old Oak Common Lane station.

But as things stand at the moment the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service bypasses Hythe Road station and the only ways to go from Milton Keynes to Old Oak Common station for either High Speed Two, Crossrail or the Great Western is to do one of the following.

  • Change to the Watford DC Line at Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone or Wembley Central and then change to the Overground at Willesden Junction for either Old Oak Common Lane or Hythe Road station.
  • Continue South to Shepherd’s Bush station, cross over to the other platform and then come back to Hythe Road station.
  • Go via Euston station. OK for High Speed Two, but not for Crossrail or the Great Western.

They cannot be serious!

I hope that there is a cunning plan to enable the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service to connect.

Whilst on the subject of connections at Old Oak Common, where is the promised connection of Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line?

Were all these connections just kicked into the long grass and quietly forgotten, as they were deemed too difficult and/or expensive?

I think serious questions need to be asked about the design of Crossrail and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Why weren’t Crossrail and High Speed Two designed to connect directly to the London Overground at Willesden Junction station perhaps by the use of a North South people mover serving the following lines?

  • Bakerloo, Watford DC, West Coast Main and West London Orbital Lines at a rebuilt Harlesden station.
  • London Overground at the high-level Willesden Junction station.
  • High Speed Two
  • Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • The new Chiltern platforms.
  • Central Line at East Acton station.

Note.

  1. Hythe Road and Old Oak Common stations would not be needed.
  2. The Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service would call additionally at the rebuilt Harlesden station.

The current design of Old Oak Common stinks like a horse designed by a committee!

The Northern Terminal

I suggested earlier that some trains use Watford Junction and others use Milton Keynes Central.

Both stations have the capacity and the connectivity.

The Southern Terminal

In the last ten years, South Croydon, East Croydon and Clapham Junction have been used as the Southern terminal.

Thameslink seems to have chosen its various terminals to satisfaction of the travelling public, so perhaps the same method or personnel should be used.

The Operator

The Gibb Report said that this service should be transferred to the London Overground and I wrote about this proposal in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

This is one suggestion, but I do wonder, if it should be transferred to West Midlands Trains and run in conjunction with their West Coast Main Line services.

  • The service needs 110 mph trains.
  • Timetabling and operation should be easier.
  • London Overground trains don’t have a long-distance interior.

On the other hand, trains running between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction would probably be better if they were London Overground trains.

Conclusion

I believe that by using the current network and some modern trains and signalling, the passenger services to the West of the capital can be substantially improved.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Reopening Milton Keynes And Market Harborough Via Northampton

This post was originally part of Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals.

That post takes its name from an article with a similar name in Rail Magazine.

But I now feel it would be better if it became a standalone post.

This route has not been proposed as a Beeching Reversal, but seems to have surfaced from the MP and the local rail group.

I was digging around the Internet looking for the words “Beeching Reversal, I found when this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Harborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station appears to be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?

Consider.

  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

At a first glance, this looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

An Alternative Route To Leicester

A London Euston and Leicester service via Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Market Harborough could be run either as a regular service or when there are engineering works on the Midland Main Line.

Bringing Workers To Milton Keynes, Northampton and Leicester

When I moved back to Suffolk forty years ago, trains between Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge and Norwich were irregular hourly services using single or two-car trains. The good job prospects available in Cambridge, now mean that Greater Anglia now run four-car Class 755 trains on these routes to an hourly timetable.

Milton Keynes, Northampton and Leicester all need similar connections to stimulate employment.

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?

Consider.

  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?

Conclusion

The reopening of Northampton and Market Harborough Line would appear to enable the following.

  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and/or London Euston and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and Leicester via Milton Keynes, Northampton and Market Harborough.
  • An increase to four tph between Northampton and Milton Keynes Central.
  • A valuable freight route between Southampton Docks and the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.

It would also provide a connection between the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link, if it hosted the following services.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and/or London Euston and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could also be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Parkway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.

The only possible problem I see with this project is connecting the route to Market Harborough station.

April 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could Trains From The North Connect To High Speed One At St. Pancras?

I was casually flying my virtual helicopter over the throat of St. Pancras International station, when I took a few pictures.

This Google Map shows the Northern ends of the platforms and the tracks leading in.

Note.

  1. Platforms 1-4 to the West with darker tracks handle the East Midlands Railway services.
  2. Platforms 5-10 in the centre with lighter tracks formed of three shorter islands handle the Eurostar services.
  3. Platforms 11-13 to the East with longer platforms handle the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

This Google Map shows the East Midlands Railway platforms.

Note.

  1. There are two island platforms; 1-2 and 3-4.
  2. The four platforms are served by two tracks, that connect to the fast lines of the Midland Main Line.
  3. The platforms will be able to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which will be 240 metres long.
  4. Will the two trains per hour (tph) using Class 360 trains between London and Corby always use the same platform at St. Prancras station?

This Google Map shows the Eurostar platforms.

Note.

There are three island platforms; 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10.

The two island platforms in the West are for East Midlands Railway services.

The two longer island platforms in the East are for Southeastern HighSpeed services.

The six platforms connect to two fast lines, that are shared with the Southeastern services.

This Google Map shows the lines proceeding to the North.

Note.

  1. There are four sets of tracks.
  2. The two light-coloured tracks on the left are for Thameslink or sidings.
  3. The next two dark-coloured tracks are the two tracks of the Midland Main Line.
  4. The next set of tracks are those connecting to the six Eurostar platforms.
  5. The two tracks on the right are those connecting to the Southeastern Highspeed platforms.
  6. There are crossovers between the Eurostar and Southeastern Highspeed tracks to allow efficient operation of the trains going to and from the twin tracks of High Speed One.

This Google Map shows where the Midland Main Line and High Speed One divide.

Note.

The two dark-coloured tracks of the Midland Main Line running North.

There appear to be four  tracks running North East towards High Speed One.

Between the two sets of tracks two further tracks lead to the North.

The track closest to the Midland Main Line joins to the slow lines of the Midland Main Line.

The other one connects to the North London Line.

This Google Map shows the connecting lines to the High Speed One tunnel.

Note the tunnel portal is in the North-East corner of the map.

  1. It looks to me that the following connections are possible.
  2. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  3. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and North London Line to the West.
  4. High Speed One and North London Line to the West.

These connections are in addition to those connections needed to run scheduled services.

They would enable trains to take the following routes.

  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line

I suspect most of the times, that these routes are used it is for engineering purposes or behaps dragging a failed train out of St. Pancras.

But the track layout would seem to allow the following.

Direct electric freight and passenger services between High Speed One and Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

Direct electric passenger services between High Speed One and Sheffield and Leeds, with a reverse at St. Pancras, after the Midland Main Line were to be fully electrified.

Was this by design for Eurostar or was it just what Network Rail ended up with?

A Modern Regional Eurostar Service

These are my thoughts on a modern Regional Eurostar service.

Rolling Stock

High Speed Two is coming and this year, the company will order some of the rolling stock.

There will be fifty-four trains

The trains will be Classic-Compatible for running on the West Coast Main Line.

They will be 200 metres long and be able to run in pairs.

They will be able to operate at 225 mph.

The operating speed of High Speed One is 186 mph.

I can see no reason why trains of this type, couldn’t run between St. Pancras and many destinations in Europe.

North Of England And The Continent

Could this be the service pattern?

  • One train could start in the North West and another in the North East.
  • Both trains would proceed to St. Pancras picking up passengers en route.
  • At St. Pancras the two trains would join together.
  • The driver could then position themselves in the front cab and take High Speed One, through the Channel Tunnel.

The train could even split at Calais to serve two different Continental destinations.

Going North, the spitting and joining would be reversed.

What Infrastructure Would Be Needed?

I suspect the following will be needed.

  • The West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line would need in-cab digital ERTMS signalling.
  • Full electrification of the Midland Main Line would probably be necessary, as I don’t think the tunnel allows diesel trains to pass through.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed.

It would not be an expensive scheme.

What Timings Would Be Possible?

Using current timings you get the following times.

  • Leeds and Paris – Five hours
  • Leeds and Brussels – Four hours forty minutes
  • Manchester and Paris – Five hours
  • Manchester and Brussels – For hours forty minutes
  • Newcastle and Paris – Six hours
  • Newcastle and Brussels – Five hours thirty minutes

Note, that the times are best estimates and include a long stop of several minutes at St. Pancras.

Could Sleeper Service Be Run?

I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It looks like it may be possible to run regional services to Europe, where pairs of train split and join at St. Pancras.

 

 

 

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April 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Work Has Started At Brent Cross West Station

I was alerted to the fact that work had started at Brent Cross West station by this article on Rail Advent.

The article didn’t say much, except that work had started, track had been moved to allow construction of the £40 million station and the station should open next year.

So I went and had a look.

I took these pictures from a Thameslink train going North through the station site.

I was sitting on the right-hand side of the train and looking to the East.

I then changed trains at Mill Hill Broadway station and took a few more pictures going South.

Again, I was sitting on the right-hand side of the train, but this time looking West.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The map was probably created a few months ago.
  2. There is still a shed from the Cricklewood TMD still standing, which I didn’t see.
  3. The Brent Cross Flyover can be clearly seen in the images and the map.

Work underway includes.

  • Creation of the new track layout.
  • Building of two wide platforms either side of the tracks i was on.
  • The width of the platforms may indicate island platforms.
  • Building a temporary footbridge, so workers can cross the tracks.
  • There appear to be a support installed for the station footbridge.

One impression, I got today, is that it is a large site and this may enable the building of a relatively simple station.

 

April 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On Faster Trains On Thameslink

The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink only have an operating speed of 100 mph.

I do wonder, if that is a fast enough operating speed for all Thameslink routes.

Sharing The Midland Main Line With 125 mph Trains

A couple of years ago, I travelled back into St. Pancras with a group of East Midlands drivers in a Class 222 train.

They told me several things about the route including that the bridge at the South of Leicester station would be difficult to electrify, as it was low and the track couldn’t be lowered as one of Leicester’s main sewers was under the tracks at the bridge. Perhaps, this is one place, where discontinuous electrification could be used on the Midland Main Line.

They also told me, that sometimes the Thameslink trains were a nuisance, as because of their 100 mph operating speed, the 125 mph Class 222 trains had to slow to 100 mph.

Upgrading Of The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The electrification of the Midland Main Line South of Bedford is being updated, so that it is suitable for 125 mph running.

An Analysis Of Services On The Midland Main Line South Of Bedford

The current Class 222 trains are capable of 125 mph and will be replaced by Class 810 trains capable of the same speed on both diesel and electricity.

Currently, a Class 222 train is capable of doing the following on a typical non-stop run between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • Covering the 30 miles between St. Albans and Bedford in 17 minutes at an average speed of 106 mph.
  • Covering the 50.3 miles between Bedford and Leicester in 30 minutes at an average speed of 100.6 mph.
  • Maintaining 125 mph for long stretches of the route, once the trains is North of London commuter traffic at St. Albans

I can estimate the timings on the 79.2 miles between Leicester and St. Albans, by assuming the train runs at a constant speed.

  • 100 mph – 47.5 minutes
  • 110 mph – 43.2 minutes
  • 125 mph – 38 minutes
  • 140 mph – 34 minutes

Note.

  1. I have done the calculation for 140 mph, as that is the maximum operating speed of the Class 810 train with full in-cab digital signalling.
  2. Trains have been running at 125 mph for a couple of decades on the Midland Main Line.
  3. To get a St. Pancras and Leicester time add another 14 minutes, which is the current time between St. Pancras and St. Albans of a Class 222 train.
  4. Some Off Peak trains are timed at 62-63 minutes between St. Pancras and Leicester.
  5. A time of under an hour between St. Pancras and Leicester might be possible and the Marketing Department would like it.
  6. As Thameslink trains between Bedford and St. Albans stop regularly, they are on the slow lines of the four-track railway, to the North of St. Albans.
  7. South of St. Albans, Thameslink trains often run on the fast lines.

I can expect that East Midlands Railway will want to be running their new Class 810 trains as far as far South as they can at 125 mph, to speed up their services. When the signalling allows it, they’ll want to run at 140 mph.

So they won’t want to see Thameslink’s slow trains on the fast lines.

  • But if you look at the Thameslink trains that do run on the fast lines between St. Albans and St. Pancras, they appear to be the four trains per hour (tph) that run to and from Bedford.
  • Of these trains, two tph terminate at Brighton and two tph terminate at Gatwick Airport.
  • The average speed of a Class 222 train between St. Albans and St. Pancras assuming 14 minutes for the 19.7 miles is 84.4 mph.

So it looks to me that a 100 mph Thameslink train could be able to get away without slowing the East Midland Railway expresses.

But then that is not surprising, as for many years, the Class 222 trains worked happily with 100 mph Class 319 trains.

Is There Scope For Extra And Faster Services Into St. Pancras?

I have only done a simple calculation, but I do wonder if there is scope for the following.

  • Increasing the frequency of trains for both Thameslink and East Midlands Railway.
  • Saving a few minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

Consider.

  • The new Class 810 electric trains will probably have better acceleration and deceleration than the current Class 222 diesel trains, when working using electric power.
  • East Midlands Railway is introducing Class 360 trains that were built as 100 mph trains by Siemens, who are now upgrading them to 110 mph trains.
  • Can Siemens do the same for the Class 700 trains and create a sub-fleet capable of 110 mph running?
  • All trains will be running under full in-cab digital signalling with a large degree of automatic train control.

I feel that if the Class 700 trains had the extra speed, they would make the planning of services South of St. Albans easier and allow the Class 810 trains to both run faster and provide more services.

Sharing The East Coast Main Line With 125 mph Trains

The following Thameslink services run up the East Coast Main Line past Stevenage.

  • Cambridge And Brighton – Two tph – Stops at Royston, Ashwell and Morden (1 tph), Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill
  • Cambridge and Kings Cross – Two tph – Stops at Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph – Stops at Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade, Arlesey, Hitchin, Stevenage, Finsbury Park, London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield, Faygate (limited) and Littlehaven

Note.

  1. Services are generally run by Class 700 trains, although lately the Kings Cross service seems to use Class 387 trains, which have a maximum speed of 110 mph and a more comfortable interior with tables.
  2. It is intended that the Cambridge and Kings Cross service will be extended to Maidstone East by 2021.

In addition there are two Cambridge Express and Fen Line services.

  • Kings Cross and Ely – One tph – Stops at Cambridge and Cambridge North.
  • Kings Cross and King’s Lynn – One tph – Stops at Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington

Note.

  1. These services are generally run by Class 387 trains.
  2. Cambridge and King’s Cross is timetabled at around fifty minutes.

Adding all of this together means that slower services on the East Coast Main Line are comprised of the following in both directions.

  • Three tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 100 mph – Class 700 trains

These seven trains will have to be fitted in with the 125 mph trains running services on the East Coast Main Line, for LNER, Grand Central, Hull Trains and East Coast Trains.

There are also the following problems.

  • All trains must navigate the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station.
  • The King’s Cross and Cambridge service stops in Welwyn North station.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, which could increase the speed of the expresses through the double-track section.

Could the introduction of the Class 387 trains on the Cambridge and King’s Cross service have been made, as it easier to fit in all the services if this one is run by a 110 mph train?

However, the full in-cab digital signalling with a degree of automatic train control could be the solution to this bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Trains could be controlled automatically and with great precision between perhaps Hatfield and Stevenage.
  • Some expresses might be slowed to create gaps for the Cambridge and Peterborough services.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is also getting full in-cab digital signalling, so will some services be sent that way?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about a proposal to improve services on the Fen Line. This was my first three paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that on an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine.

The article is based on this document on the Fen Line Users Aoociation web site, which is entitled Joint Response To Draft East Coast Main Line Route Study.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

My scheduling experience tells me that a better solution will be found, if all resources are similar.

Hence the proposal to run 125 mph trains between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn and probably Ely as well, could be a very good and logical idea.

If the Class 700 trains were increased in speed to 110 mph, the trains through the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line would be.

  • One tph – 110 mph – Class 387 trains
  • Four tph – 110 mph – Class 700 trains
  • Two tph – 125 mph – New trains

Note.

  1. This would probably be an easier mix of trains to digest with the high speed services, through the double-track section.
  2. I like the idea of extending the Ely service to Norwich to give Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham an improved service to London, Cambridge and Norwich.

The new trains would probably be a version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.

  • It would need to be capable of 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line.
  • If the Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, this section would be on battery power.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

But as with on the Midland Main Line, it looks like for efficient operation, the operating speed of the Class 700 trains on the route needs to be increased to at least 110 mph.

Could Faster Class 700 trains Improve Services To Brighton?

These are the Thameslink services that serve Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, that I believe could be run more efficiently with trains capable of at running at speeds of at least 110 mph.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Bedford and Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • Cambridge and Maidstone East – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have assumed that the Cambridge and King’s Cross service has been extended to Maidstone East as planned.
  2. Eight tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  3. Four tph serve Brighton.

The Gatwick Express services have a frequency of two tph between London Victoria and Brighton calling at Gatwick Airport is already run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

It would appear that if the Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough were run by uprated 110 mph Class 700 trains, then this would mean that more 110 mph trains would be running to Gatwick and Brighton and this must surely improve the service to the South Coast.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, as the Cambridge and Maidstone East services will be run by eight-car trains and all the other services by twelve-car trains.

Conclusion

There would appear to be advantages in uprating some or possibly all of the Class 700 trains, so that they can run at 110 mph, as it will increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Batteries In East Midland Railway’s Class 810 Trains

Since Hitachi announced the Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, I suspect things have moved on.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The train has a range of 90 km/56 miles on battery power.
  2. Speed is given at between 144 kph/90 mph and 162 kph/100 mph
  3. The performance using electrification is not given, but it is probably the same as similar trains, such as Class 801 or Class 385 trains.
  4. Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

It is also not stated how many of the three diesel engines in a Class 800 or Class 802 trains will be replaced by batteries.

I suspect if the batteries can be easily changed for diesel engines, operators will be able to swap diesel engines and battery packs according to the routes.

Batteries In Class 803 Trains

I first wrote about the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains in Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, which I posted in March 2019.

This sentence from Wikipedia, describes a big difference between Class 803 and Class 801 trains.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

Nothing is said about how the battery is charged. It will probably be charged from the overhead power, when it is working.

The Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Hitachi announced the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train in this press release in December 2020.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The train is battery-powered in stations and whilst accelerating away.
  2. It says that only one engine will be replaced by batteries.
  3. Fuel and carbon savings of 20 % are claimed.

Nothing has been said in anything, I’ve read about these trains, as to whether there is regenerative braking to batteries. I would be very surprised if fuel and carbon savings of 20 % could be attained without regenerative braking to batteries.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I discussed the question in the title.

This is a shortened version of what I said in that post.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

If you search for brake in the document, you find this paragraph.

In addition to the GU, other components installed under the floor of drive cars include the traction converter, fuel tank, fire protection system, and brake system.

Note that GU stands for generator unit.

The document provides this schematic of the traction system.

Note that BC which is described as battery charger.

Is that for a future traction battery or a smaller one used for hotel power as in the Class 803 train?

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, it strikes me that it wouldn’t be the most difficult problem to add a traction battery to the system.

From what Hitachi have indicated in videos, it appears that they are aiming for the battery packs to be a direct replacement for the generator unit.

Generator Unit Arrangement In Class 810 Trains

When I wrote Rock Rail Wins Again!, which was about the ordering of these trains, the reason for four engines wasn’t known.

It now appears, that the extra power is needed to get the same 125 mph performance on diesel.

The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is as follows.

DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF

Note.

  1. The three generator units are in the three middle cars.
  2. The three middle cars are motored.
  3. The two driver cars are trailer cars.

How are Hitachi going to put four generator units into the three middle cars?

  • I wonder if, the engines can be paired, with some auxiliaries like fuel-tanks and radiators shared between the generators.
  • A well-designed pair might take up less space than two singles.
  • A pair could go in the centre car and singles either side.

It will be interesting to see what the arrangement is, when it is disclosed.

Is there the possibility, that some of the mathematics for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train has indicated that a combination of generator units and battery packs can give the required 125 mph performance?

  • Battery packs could need less space than diesel generators.
  • Regenerative braking could be used to charge the batteries.
  • How far would the train be able to travel without electrification?
  • Trains would not run the diesel engines in the station.
  • Could the fuel and carbon savings of 20 %, that are promised for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, be realised?

There may be a train buried in the mathematics, that with some discontinuous electrification could handle the East Midlands Railway Intercity services, that generates only a small amount of carbon!

Would A Mix Of Diesel Generators And Battery Packs Enable 125 mph Running?

Consider.

  • The trial Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train intended for the London Paddington and Penzance route, will probably have two diesel generators and a battery pack according to what Hitachi have said in their infographic for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East of Plymouth some of the stretches of the route are challenging, which resulted in the development and ordering of Class 802 trains, that are more powerful, than the Class 800 trains used on easier routes.
  • An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with two diesel generators and a battery pack, needs to be as powerful as a Class 802 train with three diesel generators.
  • So effectively does that mean that in the right installation with top class controlling software, that in fast running, a battery pack can be considered equivalent to a diesel generator?

I don’t know, but if it’s possible, it does bring other advantages.

  • Fuel and carbon savings of 20 %
  • No diesel running in stations or whilst accelerating away.
  • Better passenger environment.

Configurations of 3-plus-1 and 2-plus 2 might be possible.

 

 

December 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?

This page on the High Speed Two web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg.

These are the opening three paragraphs.

Earlier this year the government made clear in its response to the Oakervee Review its commitment to Phase 2b of HS2, ensuring we boost capacity, improve connectivity between our regions and share prosperity.

As part of this, the government plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of the year, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will look at how to deliver HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and other rail programmes better and more effectively.

In the meantime, the government has asked HS2 Ltd to pause work on the Eastern Leg. We recognise that this causes uncertainty and our Eastern Leg community engagement teams remain in place to support you.

The page then says that the work on the Western Leg should proceed, with the aim of a Western Leg Bill in early 2022.

In Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line, I showed that the current and future upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, required by the East Coast Main Line, Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two, will greatly reduce the times on services from London Kings Cross to Doncaster, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

I said this on timings on the East Coast Main Line.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be around an hour.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds could be around one hour and thirty minutes, using the current Doncaster and Leeds time, as against the one hour and twenty-one minutes for High Speed Two.
  • London Kings Cross and York could be around one hour and twenty-three minutes, using the current Doncaster and York time, as against the one hour and twenty-four minutes for High Speed Two.
  • Timings between York and Newcastle would be the same fifty-two minutes as High Speed Two, as the track will be the limitation for both services.
  • High Speed Two’s timing for York and Newcastle is given as fifty-two minutes, with York and Darlington as twenty-five minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Darlington could be around one hour and forty-nine minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle could be around two hours and sixteen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh would be under three-and-a-half hours, as against the proposed three hours and forty-eight minutes for High Speed Two.

LNER’s Azuma cavalry will hold the fort for as long as is needed.

I’ll now look at how various stations, will be affected if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, until a couple of decades in the future.

Leeds

Current Long Distance Services At Leeds Station

Leeds station has the following long distance services in trains per hour (tph)

  • CrossCountry – 1
  • LNER – 2
  • TransPennine Express – 5

It is a bit thin compared to say Birmingham or Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail And Leeds

Northern Powerhouse Rail has plans for Leeds with these services to other Northern cities.

  • Hull – two tph in 38 minutes
  • Manchester – six tph in 25 minutes
  • Newcastle – four tph in 58 minutes
  • Sheffield – four tph in 28 minutes.

From what they have written, the following could also be possible.

  • Bradford – six tph in a few minutes
  • Liverpool – four or more tph in 51 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – four or more tph in 35 minutes

It is an ambitious plan.

High Speed Two And Leeds

High Speed Two is planning to run the following trains to Leeds in every hour.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre train
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train

Timings will be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 49 minutes.
  • London Euston and Leeds – One hour and 21 minutes.

There will be about 1000 seats per hour between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds and 2500 seats per hour Between London Euston and Leeds.

High Speed Two And Leeds Via Manchester

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This map shows Transport for the North’s ideas for connections in the West linking Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport, Warrington and Wigan.

A black line goes East from Manchester to link it to Leeds via Huddersfield and Bradford.

  • This is proposed as a route shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • High Speed Two are promising that London Euston and Manchester will be timed at one hour and eleven minutes.
  • London Euston and Manchester will have a frequency of three tph and will all be 400 metre High Speed Two Full Size trains, with about a thousand seats.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of a twenty-five minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds.

I would also build the Manchester and Leeds route with the following characteristics.

  • As a full-size tunnel capable of taking High Speed Two Full Size trains and the largest freight trains.
  • Intermediate and underground stations at Huddersfield and Bradford.
  • It could be built as a base tunnel, like the similarly-sized Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland.
  • The Swiss tunnel has a maximum operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.

If it can be built for a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time-scale, it could be a way of doing the following.

  • Creating a straight 150 mph plus route across the Pennines, with a capacity of 18 tph.
  • Running high-capacity fast trains between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Running freight trains between the two sides of the Pennines.
  • Creating a high frequency route between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield and Bradford and Leeds.

The passenger service between Liverpool and Hull could be the world’s first high speed metro.

If the London Euston and Manchester trains, were to be extended to Leeds, London Euston and Leeds would take one hour and thirty-six minutes, which would only be fifteen minutes slower, than is promised for the route going via the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

London Kings Cross And Leeds

When the in-cab digital signalling is complete between London Kings Cross and Leeds, I am fairly confident that with a few other improvements and more zoom from the Azumas, that a London Kings Cross and Leeds time of one hour and fifty minutes will be possible.

But will two nine-car or pairs of five-car trains per hour (tph), be enough capacity? Especially, as pairs of five-car trains will split and join to serve a wider catchment area, which will harvest more passengers.

LNER will in a couple of years have an extra path every hour into Kings Cross.

I would feel that best use of this path would be to run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle.

  • Leeds and Newcastle could be the only intermediate stops.
  • Leeds would be the ideal place to change to Northern Powerhouse Rail for anywhere in the North of England.
  • My estimates, say it could run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in around three-and-a-half hours.
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Leeds and Newcastle and Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It would increase capacity, between the four major destinations on the route; London Kings Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It could start running, once the digital signalling and current improvements to the East Coast Main Line are complete.

London St. Pancras And Leeds

I discussed, Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plan for Sheffield and Leeds in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds.

This could see the following new infrastructure.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station of the route shared by the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.
  • Electrification through Sheffield and on to Leeds, via the Wakefield Line
  • New stations for High Speed trains at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

I could see East Midlands Railway taking advantage of this route, with their new Class 810 trains and running a regular Leeds and St. Pancras service.

  • It would call at Wakefield Westgate, Barnsley Dearne Valley, Rotherham and Meadowhall. between Leeds and Sheffield stations.
  • It would take twenty-eight minutes between Leeds and Sheffield, if it met Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.
  • Perhaps one of the two tph between London St. Pancras and Sheffield could be extended to Leeds.

As the current time between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, is a few minutes under two hours, I can see a time of comfortably under two-and-a-half hours between London St. Pancras and Leeds.

A Summary Of Journey Times Between London And Leeds

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Leeds.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester – One hour and thirty-six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and thirty minutes.
  • Midland Main Line – via Derby and Sheffield – Two hours and twenty minutes.

The direct High Speed Two route is the fastest., but others could be viable alternatives for some passengers.

Bradford

Consider.

  • Under current plans Bradford won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Bradford Forster Square and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.
  • The layout of the city and its two stations doesn’t give good connectivity.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could probably be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

But if Northern Powerhouse Rail goes for a tunnel between Manchester and Leeds with Bradford as an underground station, it could be served by High Speed Two services going between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester.

I would estimate that if London Euston and Leeds via Manchester took around one hour and thirty-six minutes, London Euston and Bradford could take around an hour-and-a-half.

Darlington

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Darlington.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and forty-nine minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and forty-nine minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Darlington.

Edinburgh

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Edinburgh.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Western Leg – Three hours and Forty minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Three hours and forty-eight minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Three hours and thirty minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Harrogate

Consider.

  • Under current plans Harrogate won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Harrogate and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Huddersfield

  • If Huddersfield is served by underground platforms beneath the current Huddersfield station, a lot of what I said for Bradford would apply to Huddersfield.
  • The timings would probably be around an-hour-and-a-half from London Euston.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Hull

Hull is an interesting destination.

  • Reaching Hull from the current High Speed Two network will need a change at Leeds or another station.
  • Using Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives on timings, London Euston and Hull via Manchester on High Speed Two, would be a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.
  • I strongly feel, that London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby could be reduced to below two hours.

Hull would also make a superb Eastern terminal station for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and a High Speed Two service from London via Manchester and Leeds.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Middlesbrough

Reaching Middlesbrough from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and twenty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Middlesbrough.

Newcastle

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Newcastle.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – Two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and thirty-four minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Two hours and sixteen minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Nottingham

I will compare average speeds on the Midland Main Line between London St. Pancras and Nottingham and on the East Coast Main Line, between London Kings Cross and Leeds.

Currently.

  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham services, over the 126 mile route, take one hour and fifty minutes. which is an average speed of 69 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds services, over the 186 mile route, take two hours and thirteen minutes, which is an average speed of 94 mph.

Note.

  1. The two routes are of similar character and are fairly straight with large sections of 125 mph running and quadruple tracks.
  2. The East Coast Main Line to Leeds  is fully electrified, whereas the Midland Main Line is only partially electrified.
  3. Both routes have a small number of stops.
  4. In a few years time, services on both routes will be run by different members of the Hitachi AT-300 train family.

I don’t feel it would be unreasonable to assume that a London St. Pancras and Nottingham service could be run at an average speed of 94 mph, if the Midland Main Line were upgraded to the same standard as the East Coast Main Line.

This could mean a time of around one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham, or a saving of twenty-nine minutes.

Is that possible?

  • The new Class 810 trains, will have four engines instead of the normal three for a five-car AT-300 train. Will they be able to be closer to the 125 mph line-speed on diesel power, where it is available on the Midland Main Line.
  • The trains will be able to use electrification between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • There have been hints, that more electrification may be installed on the Midland Main Line.
  • Hitachi have announced a battery electric version of the AT-300 train called a Regional Battery Train, where one or more of the diesel engines are replaced by battery packs.
  • The new trains will be ready to accept in-cab ERTMS digital signalling, so they could be able to run at up to 140 mph, if the track were to be upgraded.

I certainly feel, that substantial time savings could be possible between London St. Pancras and Nottingham.

Eighty-one minutes would be very convenient, as it would comfortably allow a three hour round trip, which would mean just six trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

Eighty-one minutes would not be the fifty-two minute service promised by High Speed Two!

But!

  • The new trains are planned to be introduced from 2023.
  • Who knows, when High Speed Two will arrive at the East Midlands Hub station?
  • They won’t need any new substantial infrastructure to replace the current trains.

I also suspect the new trains will have more seats, but, the capacity of the Class 810 train, has not been published.

Nottingham could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Grantham, which I estimate would take about one hour and twenty minutes.

Sheffield

A lot of what I said for Nottingham can be applied to Sheffield.

  • Currently, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services, over the 165 mile route, take two hours, which is an average speed of 82.5 mph.
  • High Speed Two is promising a journey time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • An average speed of 90 mph, would mean a journey time of one hour and fifty minutes.
  • This would allow a four hour round trip, which would mean just eight trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

It would be very convenient for the operator.

It looks like if pairs of trains were to be run on both the Nottingham and Sheffield routes, that twenty-eight trains would be needed to run both services.

This fits well with a fleet size of thirty-three trains.

The only caveat, is that to get the required journey times, it might be necessary to rebuild and electrify the tracks, between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.

  • These tracks will be shared with the future Sheffield Branch of High Speed Two.
  • It would only be 15.5 miles of double-track to rebuild and electrify.
  • It could be rebuilt to allow 140 mph running. Several minutes could be saved!

The electrification could allow Hitachi’s Regional Battery trains to be able to run the Sheffield service.

These trains would certainly be a way of avoiding the tricky electrification of the Derby and Clay Cross section of the route, which goes through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Sheffield could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Doncaster, which I estimate would take about one hour and thirty minutes.

Skipton

Consider.

  • Under current plans Skipton won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Skipton and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Sunderland

Reaching Sunderland from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and thirty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Sunderland.

York

I can summarise my estimates, between London and York.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-four minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – One hour and forty-two minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and twenty-four minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to York.

I believe strongly, that York would be about as fast from London, by either of the direct routes, but both would serve different intermediate destinations.

Conclusion

My first conclusion is a surprising one, but the promised timings from High Speed Two and the current timings in the timetable make it clear.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

These improvements fall into this category.

  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, will make East Coast Main Line services to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle competitive with High Speed Two services.
  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, may also mean that London Kings Cross and Edinburgh will be faster than the High Speed Two service between London Euston and Edinburgh.
  • Electrifying the route shared between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, will speed up London St. Pancras and Sheffield services and make them more competitive with High Speed Two.

I suspect there may be similar mutual improvements on the Western leg of High Speed Two.

Other smaller conclusions from my analysis of the improvements include.

  • These improvements will create some extra capacity on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, by removing bottlenecks and improving line speeds.
  • Electrification, even if it is only partial or discontinuous, will improve services on the Midland Main Line.
  • Some places like Harrogate, Middlesbrough and Skipton will never be served directly by High Speed Two, but are easily served by East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is very much part of the North-South capacity for England.
  • In-cab ERTMS signalling will play a large part in increasing capacity and line speeds.

Perhaps in our planning of High Speed Two, we should plan all the routes in the North and Midlands in a much more holistic way.

If we look at the capacity between London and the North, I feel that with the addition of Phase 1 of High Speed Two to Birmingham in 2029-2033 and hopefully Phase 2a soon afterwards, that Phase 2b will not be needed for reasons of speed and capacity until years later.

So, I would pause most construction of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two until Phase 1 and Phase 2a are complete.

I would make exceptions for the following.

  • Improvements to the shared section of the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, between York and Newcastle.
  • Building a high speed connection between Leeds and York for the use of Northern Powerhouse Rail and the East Coast Main Line.
  • Rebuilding and electrification of the shared section of the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two, between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Improve and electrify the route between Sheffield and Leeds.

But I would continue with the design, as I feel that East of Leeds is very much sub-optimal at the present time.

The route of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two would be safeguarded.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Sheffield and Leeds Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

I think it is a good plan.

Project Management Recommendations

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for the route.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Manchester and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 42.6 miles
  • The current service takes 49 to 57 minutes and has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 52.2 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 40 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 63.9 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 63.9 mph, indicates to me that a 100 mph train will be able to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Current Trains On The Hope Valley Line

In July this year, I went along the Hope Valley Line between Manchester Piccadilly and Dore and Totley stations, which I wrote about in Along The Hope Valley Line – 13th July 2020.

My train was a pair of refurbished Class 150 trains.

These trains can handled the current timetable but they have an operating speed of only 75 mph.

Looking at Real Time Trains for last week, it now appears that Northern are using new three-car Class 195 trains.

These are much better.

  • They are 100 mph trains with much better acceleration.
  • The train was still running the timetable for the slower trains.

With thirteen stops, I suspect that these new trains could be under fifty minutes between Manchester and Sheffield.

Will The Hope Valley Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • Currently, the Hope Valley Line is electrified between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove stations.
  • In the future, the line is likely to be electrified between Sheffield and Dore & Totley stations, in conjunction with rebuilding the Midland Main Line, to the North of Clay Cross North junction for High Speed Two.
  • After the electrification at the Eastern end, just over thirty miles will be without electrification.
  • The Hope Valley Line has an operating speed of 90 mph.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

As these are a 100 mph train with a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power, these trains could work Manchester and Sheffield in the required time of forty minutes. provided they could be charged at the Sheffield end of the route.

TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains, so it would appear that TransPennine’s services on this route could go zero-carbon.

In addition Northern, who are the other passenger operator on the route are working with CAF on battery electric trains, as I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans,

I don’t believe there are pressing reasons to electrify the Hope Valley Line to allow passenger trains to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.

Will Operating Speed On The Hope Valley Line Be Increased?

Under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Network Rail, in partnership with South Yorkshire ITA, will redouble the track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, at an estimated cost of £15 million. This costing is based on four additional vehicles in traffic to deliver the option, however, this will depend on vehicle allocation through the DfT rolling stock plan. This work will be programmed, subject to funding, in conjunction with signalling renewals in the Dore/Totley Tunnel area.

Other proposals include a 3,600 feet (1,100 m) loop in the Bamford area, in order to fit in an all-day (07:00–19:00) hourly Manchester–Sheffield via New Mills Central stopping service, by extending an existing Manchester–New Mills Central service. Planning permission for this was granted in February 2018, but delays mean that this will now not be completed until 2023.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It would also probably be a good idea, to increase the operating speed of the line to 100 mph where possible.

Effect On Passenger Services

100 mph trains on a track with an operating speed of 100 mph, could show some impressive timings.

On the Great Eastern Main Line, which is a very busy 100 mph double-track railway, 100 mph trains, achieve a 77 mph average for 90 minutes over the 115 miles, between London Liverpool Street and Norwich with a single stop.

A one-stop Manchester and Sheffield service at this speed would take just 33.2 minutes.

The stopping trains would be more of a challenge to get under forty minutes, but at least if they were battery electric trains, they’d have the better acceleration and deceleration of the electric trains.

  • Fifty minutes would be a realistic time.
  • Ten minutes turnround time at each end, would be ideal for charging the batteries and give an efficient two hour round trip.

Efficient timetabling could create a very comprehensive service for the Hope Valley Line.

Freight Trains On The Hope Valley Line

Under Freight in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line, this is said.

Over a million tons of cement a year is taken away by rail from Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

That is a very large number of freight trains, all of which are currently hauled by diesel locomotives.

  • Looking at Real Time Trains, there are nearly always two freight trains in every hour of the day.
  • If you look at the routes, they go to a myriad number of destinations.
  • Following the routes between Dore Junction and the quarries to the South of the Hope Valley Line, there are several tunnels.
  • There are numerous quarries in a cluster, all served by their own rail lines.

Electrifying the delivery of the cement and limestone from the quarries would be a large and very expensive operation.

This Google Map shows Earle’s Sidings at Hope.

Perhaps a half-way house solution would be to use diesel to haul trains between the quarries and Earle’s sidings, where the locomotive is changed for an electric one?

  • But that would then mean that all routes from between the Peak District quarries and their destinations would need to be fully-electrified.
  • It should be noted that that the problem of zero-carbon trains, also exists at port and rail freight interchanges, where safe operation with 25 KVAC overhead wires everywhere can be a nightmare.
  • Rail freight companies are unlikely to change their old diesel locomotives for new expensive electric locomotives, until all possible routes are fully electrified.
  • It is also a big problem, all over the world.

Perhaps, what is needed is a self-powered zero-carbon locomotive with sufficient power to haul the heaviest trains?

I believe such a locomotive is possible and in The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I explored the feasibility of such a locomotive, which was based on a Stadler Class 68 locomotive.

The zero-carbon locomotive, that is eventually developed, may be very different to my proposal, but the commercial opportunities for such a locomotive are so large, that I’m sure the world’s best locomotive designers are working on developing powerful locomotives for all applications.

Conclusion

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s ambition for Manchester and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line is simply stated as four tph in forty minutes. But this may be something like.

  • Three fast tph in forty minutes.
  • One stopping tph in perhaps fifty minutes.
  • One freight tph in each direction to and from the quarries that lie to the South of the line.

I didn’t realise how close that the line is to that objective, once the following is done.

  • Introduce 100 mph passenger trains on the route.
  • Improve the track as has been planned for some years.

Note that all the passenger trains, that now run the route; Class 185, 195 and 802 trains, are all 100 mph trains, although they are diesel-powered.

With a length of just under 43 miles, the route is also ideal for battery electric trains to work the passenger services, be the trains be from Hitachi, CAF or another manufacturer, after High Speed Two electrifies the Midland Main Line to the North of Clay Cross North Junction, in preparation for high speed services between London and Sheffield.

I would recommend, that one of High Speed Two’s first Northern projects, should be to upgrade the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield station to the standard that will be required for High Speed Two.

I would also recommend, that the Government sponsor the development of a hydrogen electric locomotive with this specification.

  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC electrification
  • 110 mph operating speed on electrification.
  • Ability to use hydrogen.
  • 100 mph operating speed on hydrogen.
  • 200 mile range on hydrogen.

A locomotive with this specification would go a long way to decarbonise rail freight in the UK and would have a big worldwide market.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into three.

  • Perform the upgrades at Dore Junction and add the loop in the Bamford area, as detailed in Wikipedia, which will increase the capacity of the Hope Valley Line.
  • Electrify the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield, as will be needed for High Speed Two. This electrification will allow battery electric trains to run between Manchester and Sheffield and between Sheffield and London.
  • Procurement of the trains. CAF and Hitachi are currently finalising suitable designs for this type of operation.

It would also be helpful, if the freight trains could be hauled by zero-carbon hydrogen electric locomotives, to create a much-improved zero-carbon route between Manchester and Sheffield.

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments