The Anonymous Widower

What Is Possible On The East Coast Main Line?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive, there is an amazing story.

This picture shows one of these locomotives at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. They have a design speed of 140 mph.
  2. They have a power output of 4.8 MW.
  3. They were built around 1990 by British Rail at Crewe.

They were designed to run services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh as fast as possible, as the motive power of the InterCity 225 trains.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

Note.

  1. For the British locomotive speed record, locomotive was actually pushing the train and going backwards, as the driving van trailer (DVT) was leading.
  2. How many speed records of any sort, where the direction isn’t part of the record, have been set going backwards?
  3. I feel that this record could stand for many years, as it is not very likely anybody will build another 140 mph locomotive in the foreseeable future. Unless a maverick idea for a high speed freight locomotive is proposed.

I have a few general thoughts on the record run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh in three-and-a-half hours.

  • I would assume that as in normal operation of these trains, the Class 91 locomotive was leading on the run to the North.
  • For various reasons, they would surely have had at least two of British Rail’s most experienced drivers in the cab.
  • At that time, 125 mph InterCity 125 trains had been the workhorse of East Coast Main Line for well over ten years, so British Rail wouldn’t have been short of experienced high speed drivers.
  • It was a Thursday, so they must have been running amongst normal traffic.
  • On Monday, a typical run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh is timetabled to take four hours and twenty minutes.
  • High Speed Two are predicting a time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between Euston and Edinburgh via High Speed Two and  the West Coast Main Line.

The more you look at it, a sub-three-and-and-a-half hour time, by 1980s-technology on a less-than-perfect railway was truly remarkable.

So how did they do it?

Superb Timetabling

In Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!, I talk about how Network Rail and Greater Anglia created a fast service between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

I suspect that British Rail put their best timetablers on the project, so that the test train could speed through unhindered.

Just as they did for Norwich-in-Ninety and probably will be doing to the East Coast Main Line to increase services and decrease journey times.

A Good As ERTMS Signalling

Obviously in 1991, there was no modern digital in-cab signalling and I don’t know the standard of communication between the drivers and the signallers.

On the tricky sections like Digswell Viaduct, through Hitchin and the Newark Crossing were other trains stopped well clear of any difficult area, as modern digital signalling can anticipate and take action?

I would expect the test train got a signalling service as good as any modern train, even if parts of it like driver to signaller communication may have been a bit experimental.

There may even have been a back-up driver in the cab with the latest mobile phone.

It must have been about 1991, when I did a pre-arranged airways join in my Cessna 340 on the ground at Ipswich Airport before take-off on a direct flight to Rome. Air Traffic Control had suggested it to avoid an intermediate stop at say Southend.

The technology was arriving and did it help the drivers on that memorable run North ensure a safe and fast passage of the train?

It would be interesting to know, what other equipment was being tested by this test train.

A Possible Plan

I suspect that the plan in 1991 was to use a plan not unlike one that would be used by Lewis Hamilton, or in those days Stirling Moss to win a race.

Drive a steady race not taking any chances and where the track allows speed up.

So did British Rail drive a steady 125 mph sticking to the standard timetable between Kings Cross and Edinburgh?

Then as the Wikipedia extract indicated, at several times during the journey did they increase the speed of the train to 140 mph.

And the rest as they say was an historic time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds. Call it three-and-a-half-hours.

This represented a start-to-stop average speed of 112.5 mph over the 393 miles of the East Coast Main Line.

Can The Current Trains Achieve Three-And-A-Half-Hours Be Possible Today?

Consider.

  • The best four hours and twenty minutes timings of the Class 801 trains, represents an average speed of 90.7 mph.
  • The Class 801 trains and the InterCity 225 trains have similar performance.
  • There have been improvements to the route like the Hitchin Flyover.
  • Full ERTMS in-cab signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • I believe ERTMS and ETC could solve the Newark Crossing problem! See Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?
  • I am a trained Control Engineer and I believe if ERTMS and ETC can solve the Newark Crossing problem, I suspect they can solve the Digswell Viaduct problem.
  • The Werrington Dive Under is being built.
  • The approaches to Kings Cross are being remodelled.

I can’t quite say easy-peasy. but I’m fairly certain the Kings Cross and Edinburgh record is under serious threat.

  • A massive power supply upgrade to the North of Doncaster is continuing. See this page on the Network Rail web site.
  • ERTMS and ETC probably needs to be installed all the way between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • There may be a need to minimise the number of slower passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Northumberland Line and the Leamside Line may be needed to take some trains from the East Coast Main Line.

Recent Developments Concerning the Hitachi Trains

There have been several developments  since the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 trains were ordered.

  • Serious engineers and commentators like Roger Ford of Modern Railways have criticised the lugging of heavy diesel engines around the country.
  • Network Rail have upgraded the power supply South of Doncaster and have recently started to upgrade it between Doncaster and Edinburgh. Will this extensive upgrade cut the need to use the diesel power-packs?
  • Hitachi and their operators must have collected extensive in-service statistics about the detailed performance of the trains and the use of the diesel power-packs.
  • Hitachi have signed an agreement with Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland to produce battery-packs for the trains and two new versions of the trains have been announced; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five five-car Class 803 trains, each of which will have a small battery for emergency use and no diesel power-packs.
  • Avanti West Coast have ordered ten seven-car Class 807 trains, each of which have no battery or diesel power-packs.

And these are just the ones we know about.

The Class 807 Trains And Liverpool

I find Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains the most interesting development.

  • They have been partly financed by Rock Rail, who seem to organise train finance, so that the train operator, the train manufacturer all get the best value, by finding good technical solutions.
  • I believe that these trains have been designed so they can run between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations in under two hours.
  • Does the absence of battery or diesel power-packs save weight and improve performance?
  • Euston and Liverpool Lime Street in two hours would be an average of only 96.8 mph.
  • If the Class 807 trains could achieve the same start-stop average of 112.5 mph achieved by the InterCity 225 test run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh, that would mean a Euston and Liverpool Lime Street time of one hour and forty-three minutes.
  • Does Thunderbird provision on the West Coast Main Line for the Class 390 trains mean that the Class 807 trains don’t need emergency power?
  • Have diesel power-packs been rarely used in emergency by the Hitachi trains?

I believe the mathematics show that excellent sub-two hour times between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are possible by Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.

The Class 803 Trains And Edinburgh

East Coast Trains ordered their Class 803 trains in March 2019,  nine months before Avanti West Coast ordered their Class 807 trains.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I outlined brief details of the trains and the proposed service.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

I also thought it would be a successful service

As I know Edinburgh, Liverpool and London well, I believe there are similarities between the Euston-Liverpool Lime Street and Kings Cross-Edinburgh routes.

  • Both routes are between two cities known all over the world.
  • Both routes are fully-electrified.
  • Both routes have the potential to attract passengers from other transport modes.

The two services could even be run at similar speeds.

  • Euston-Liverpool Lime Street in two hours will be at 96.8 mph
  • Kings Cross-Edinburgh in four hours will be at 98.3 mph.

Does this explain the similar lightweight trains?

Could Lightweight Trains Help LNER?

There is one important factor, I haven’t talked about in detail in this post. Batteries and diesel power-packs on the Hitachi trains.

I have only mentioned them in the following circumstances.

  • When trains are not fitted with battery and/or diesel power-packs.
  • When battery developments are being undertaken.

Let’s consider the LNER fleet.

  • LNER has thirteen nine-car Class 800 trains, each of which has five diesel power-packs
  • LNER has ten five-car Class 800 trains, each of which has three diesel power-packs
  • LNER has thirty nine-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack
  • LNER has twelve five-car Class 801 trains, each of which has one diesel power-pack

There are sixty-five trains, 497 coaches and 137 diesel power-packs.

And look at their destinations.

  • Aberdeen – No Electrification from Edinburgh
  • Alnmouth – Fully Electrified
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed – Fully Electrified
  • Bradford Forster Square – Fully Electrified
  • Darlington – Fully Electrified
  • Doncaster – Fully Electrified
  • Durham – Fully Electrified
  • Edinburgh – Fully Electrified
  • Glasgow – Fully Electrified
  • Grantham – Fully Electrified
  • Harrogate – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination
  • Huddersfield – No Electrification from Leeds – Possible Battery Destination – Probable Electrification
  • Hull – No Electrification from Temple Hirst Junction – Possible Battery Destination
  • Inverness – No Electrification from Stirling
  • Leeds – Fully Electrified
  • Lincoln – No Electrification from Newark North Gate – Possible Battery Destination
  • Middlesbrough – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Newcastle – Fully Electrified
  • Newark North Gate – Fully Electrified
  • Northallerton – Fully Electrified
  • Peterborough – Fully Electrified
  • Skipton – Fully Electrified
  • Retford – Fully Electrified
  • Stevenage – Fully Electrified
  • Stirling – Fully Electrified
  • Sunderland – No Electrification from Northallerton – Possible Battery Destination
  • Wakefield Westgate – Fully Electrified
  • York – Fully Electrified

The destinations can be summarised as followed.

  • Not Electrified – 2
  • Possible Battery Destination – 6
  • Fully Electrified – 20

This gives a total of 28.

Could the trains be matched better to the destinations?

  • Some routes like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Stirling could possibly be beneficially handled by lightweight trains without any diesel or battery power-packs.
  • Only Aberdeen and Inverness can’t be reached by all-electric or battery-electric trains.
  • In LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, I proposed a hydrogen-electric flagship train, that would use hydrogen North of the existing electrification.

There certainly appear to be possibilities.

Example Journey Times To Edinburgh

This table shows the various time for particular start-stop average speeds between Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

  • 80 mph – 4:54
  • 85 mph – 4:37
  • 90 mph – 4:12
  • 98.2 mph – 4:00
  • 100 mph – 3:56
  • 110 mph – 3:34
  • 120 mph – 3:16
  • 125 mph – 3:08

Note.

  • Times are given in h:mm.
  • A few mph increase in average speed reduces journey time by a considerable amount.

The figures certainly show the value of high speed trains and of removing bottlenecks, as average speed is so important.

Decarbonisation Of LNER

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes was based on an article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title. These are the first two paragraphs of the article.

LNER has launched the procurement of at least 10 new trains to supplement its Azuma fleet on East Coast main line services.

In a Prior Information Notice published on 27 October, the operator states it is seeking trains capable of operating under 25kW overhead power with ‘significant self-power capability’ for operation away from overhead wires. ‘On-board Energy Storage for traction will be specified as a mandatory requirement to reduce, and wherever practical eliminate, diesel usage where it would otherwise be necessary, although LNER anticipates some degree of diesel traction may be required to meet some self-power requirements. Suppliers tendering are asked to detail their experience of designing and manufacturing a fleet of multi-mode trains with a range of traction options including battery-electric, diesel-electric, hydrogen-electric, battery-diesel, dual fuel and tri-mode.

From this, LNER would appear to be serious about decarbonisation and from the destination list I published earlier, most services South of the Scottish Central Belt can be decarbonised by replacing diesel-power packs with battery power-packs.

That last bit, sounds like a call for innovation to provide a solution to the difficult routes to Aberdeen and Inverness. It also looks as if it has been carefully worded not to rule anybody out.

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%.

It announces the Hitachi Intercity Tri-mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Hitachi press release is dated the 15th of December 2020, which is after the publication of the magazine, it strikes me that LNER and Hitachi had been talking.

At no point have Hitachi stated what the range of the train is on battery power.

To serve the North of Scotland these gaps must be bridged.

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh Haymarket – 130 miles
  • Inverness and Stirling – 146 miles

It should also be noted that distances in Scotland are such, that if these gaps could be bridged by battery technology, then probably all of the North of Scotland’s railways could be decarbonised. As Hitachi are the major supplier of Scotland’s local and regional electric trains, was the original Prior Information Notice, written to make sure Hitachi responded?

LNER run nine-car Class 800 trains on the two long routes to Aberdeen and Inverness.

  • These trains have five diesel power-packs under coaches 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • As five-car Class 800 trains have diesel power-packs under coaches 2, 3 and 4, does this mean that Hitachi can fit diesel power-packs under all cars except for the driver cars?
  • As the diesel and battery power-packs appear to be interchangeable, does this mean that Hitachi could theoretically build some very unusual trains?
  • Hitachi’s trains can be up to twelve-cars in normal mode and twenty-four cars in rescue mode.
  • LNER would probably prefer an all Azuma fleet, even if a few trains were a bit longer.

Imagine a ten-car train with two driver and eight intermediate cars, with all of the intermediate cars having maximum-size battery-packs.

Supposing, one or two of the battery power-packs were to be replaced with a diesel power-pack.

There are a lot of possibilities and I suspect LNER, Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation are working on a train capable of running to and from the North of Scotland.

Conclusion

I started by asking what is possible on The East Coast Main Line?

As the time of three-and-a-half hours was achieved by a short-formation InterCity 225 train in 1991 before Covids, Hitchin, Kings Cross Remodelling, Power Upgrades, Werrington and lots of other work, I believe that some journeys between Kings Cross and Edinburgh could be around this time within perhaps five years.

To some, that might seem an extraordinary claim, but when you consider that the InterCity 225 train in 1991 did it with only a few sections of 140 mph running, I very much think it is a certainly at some point.

As to the ultimate time, earlier I showed that an average of 120 mph between  King’s Cross and Edinburgh gives a time of 3:16 minutes.

Surely, an increase of fourteen minutes in thirty years is possible?

 

 

 

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?

This is an updated version of what, I originally published the following in Will The East Coast Main Line Give High Speed Two A Run For Its Money To The North East Of England?

The Newark Crossing is the railway equivalent of a light-controlled pedestrian crossing in the middle of a motorway.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line (ECML) running roughly North-South
  2. The A 46 road crossing the line.
  3. The Nottingham-Lincoln Line running parallel to the road.
  4. A chord allowing trains to go between the Nottingham-Lincoln Line and Newark North Gate station, which is to the South.
  5. The River Trent.

Complicated it certainly is!

I wrote about the problems in The Newark Crossing and felt something radical needed to be done.

Looking at the numbers of trains at the Newark Crossing.

  • The number of trains crossing the ECML is typically about three trains per hour (tph) and they block the ECML for about two minutes.
  • But then there could be a fast train around every four minutes on the ECML, with eight tph in both directions.

Would a Control Engineer’s solution, where all trains are computer controlled through the junction, be possible?

ERTMS,  which is digital in-cab signalling is being installed on the ECML and will allow the following.

  • Trains to be able to run at up to 140 mph.
  • Trains to be precisely controlled from a central signalling system called ETCS.

ERTMS and ETCS are already working successfully on Thameslink.

Suppose all trains going through the Junction on both the ECML  or the Nottingham-Lincoln Line, were running using ERTMS and ETCS.

  • Currently, there are three tph crossing from East to West and three tph crossing from West to East. Which means that the junction is blocked six times per hour for say two minutes.
  • Suppose the signalling could control the crossing trains, so that an East to West and a West to East train crossed at the same time.
  • To cater for contingencies like late and diverted trains, you might allow the trains to cross at up to for tph.

Instead of six tph, the frequency across the junction would be no more than four tph.

A similar paired crossing procedure can be applied to trains on the ECML.

The outcome is that you are scheduling a smaller number of double events, which must be easier.

I suspect there are other tricks they can do to increase capacity.

There’s also the problem of what happens if a crossing train fails, as it goes over the East Coast Main Line. But that must be a problem now!

Whatever happens here will be a well-thought through solution and it will add to the capacity of the East Coast Main Line and increase the line-speed from the current 100 mph.

 

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Will The East Coast Main Line Give High Speed Two A Run For Its Money To The North East Of England?

I have looked up High Speed Two timings on their Journey Time Calculator and compared them with current LNER timetables.

  • London-Leeds – Current – 136 minutes – HS2 – 81 minutes
  • London-York – Current – 111 minutes – HS2 – 84 minutes
  • London – Darlington – Current – 141 minutes – HS2 – 112 minutes
  • York- Darlington – Current – 27 minutes – HS2 – 26 minutes
  • London – Durham – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 138 minutes
  • York – Durham – Current – 45 minutes – HS2 – 44 minutes
  • London – Newcastle – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 137 minutes
  • York – Newcastle – Current – 55 minutes – HS2 – 51 minutes
  • London – Edinburgh – Current – 259 minutes – HS2 – 220 minutes
  • Newcastle – Edinburgh – Current – 83 minutes – HS2 – 83 minutes
  • York – Edinburgh – Current – 138 minutes – HS2 – 134 minutes

Note.

  1. I have assumed that Newcastle and Edinburgh takes 83 minutes, which is the current timing.
  2. The time savings possible to the North of Leeds are only a few minutes.
  3. As an example, the straight route between York and Darlington is 34 miles, which means an average speed of only 75 mph.

Serious work needs to be done North of York to improve timings.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

Various improvements to the East Coast Main Line are in process of building designed or built.

Extra Tracks

These example of more tracks are from the Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line.

  • Four tracks are being restored between Huntington and Woodwalton.
  • Freight loops between York and Darlington.

There are probably other places, which will see extra tracks in the next few years.

Power Supply And Electrification

Wikipedia identified places where the power supply and the electrification could be better.

This sentence indicates the comprehensive nature of the planned work.

Power supply upgrades (PSU) between Wood Green and Bawtry (Phase 1 – completed in September 2017) and Bawtry to Edinburgh (Phase 2), including some overhead lines (OLE) support improvements, rewiring of the contact and catenary wires, and headspan to portal conversions (HS2P) which were installed at Conington in January 2018.

The Hertford Loop Line is also due to have some power supply upgrades.

Station Improvements

Darlington, Kings Cross, Stevenage and York will have track improvements, which will improve the capacity of the tracks through the stations.

Werrington Dive Under

The Werrington Dive Under will be a big improvement. This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. This will mean that trains for the GN/GE line no longer need to cross the fast lines on the level, nor use the Up Fast line between Peterborough station and the junction. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed. In turn, this will remove 21 minutes from the fastest King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley service, and 13 minutes from the fastest King’s Cross to Leeds service. It will also see an increase of 1,050 ‘intercity’ seats per hour on express trains through Peterborough.

The upgrade will add two more train paths to the route and knock 21 and 13 minutes off the faster Edinburgh and Leeds services respectively.

The Newark Flat Crossing

This is the railway equivalent of a light-controlled pedestrian crossing in the middle of a motorway.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line running roughly North-South
  2. The A 46 road crossing the line.
  3. The Nottingham-Lincoln Line running parallel to the railway.
  4. A chord allowing trains to go between the Nottingham-Lincoln Line and Newark North Gate station, which is to the South.
  5. The River Trent.

Complicated it certainly is!

I wrote about the problems in The Newark Crossing and felt something radical needed to be done.

Looking at the numbers of trains at the Newark Crossing.

  • The number of trains crossing the East Coast Main Line, is typically about three to five trains per hour (tph) and they block the East Coast Main Line for about two minutes.
  • But then there could be a fast train around every four minutes on the East Coast Main Line, with eight tph in both directions.

The numbers of trains and their speeds would probably cut out a Control Engineer’s solution, where all trains are computer controlled through the junction.

Although, it might be possible to reduce the number of conflicting trains on the East Coast Main Line dramatically, by arranging a Northbound and a Southbound express passed each other at the flat junction.

There’s also the problem of what happens if a crossing train fails, as it goes over the East Coast Main Line. But that must be a problem now!

Whatever happens here will be a well-thought through solution and it will add to the capacity of the East Coast Main Line and increase the line-speed from the current 100 mph.

Level Crossings

Wikipedia says this about level crossings.

Level crossing closures between King’s Cross and Doncaster: As of July 2015 this will no longer be conducted as a single closure of 73 level crossings but will be conducted on a case-by case basis (for example, Abbots Ripton Level Crossing will close as part of the HW4T scheme).

It is my personal view that all should be removed.

ERTMS Signalling

Wikipedia says this about the installation of ERTMS digital in-cab signalling.

The line between London King’s Cross and Bawtry, on the approach to Doncaster, will be signalled with Level 2 ERTMS. The target date for operational ERTMS services is December 2018 with completion in 2020.

Note that, ERTMS is needed for 140 mph running.

140 mpg Running

Wkipedia says this about 140 mph running.

Increasing maximum speeds on the fast lines between Woolmer Green and Dalton-on-Tees up to 140 mph (225 km/h) in conjunction with the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme, level crossing closures, ERTMS fitments, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU – est. to cost £1.3 billion (2014). This project is referred to as “L2E4” or London to Edinburgh (in) 4 Hours. L2E4 examined the operation of the IEP at 140 mph on the ECML and the sections of track which can be upgraded to permit this, together with the engineering and operational costs.

A rough calculation indicates that up to eleven minutes could be saved by this upgrade, between London and Darlington.

Prospective Timings On The East Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • The package of new trains level crossing closures, ERTMS, OLE rewiring and the OLE PSU, which is collectively known as L2E4 should deliver Edinburgh in four hours.
  • Nineteen minutes need to be saved on current times.
  • I believe that if the train takes four hours or less, travellers will switch from the airlines.
  • High Speed Two are aiming for a time of 220 minutes, but is this by the West or East Coast routes?
  • As their proposed Glasgow service has a similar time, I assume it is by the West Coast route.
  • Wikipedia states that an Open Access Operator was thinking of running Class 390 trains or Pendelinos between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in 223 minutes.

If the managers of LNER are the least bit ambitious, I can see them wanting to run a service between London and Edinburgh, in a time that is several minutes under four hours.

It should always be remembered that the East Coast Main Line was built for speed, as these true stories illustrate.

  • Mallard set the world speed record for steam locomotives in 1938 of 126 mph, on the line.
  • The record time between London and Edinburgh was set in 1991 by an InterCity 225 train at a minute under three-and-a-half hours.

I even have my own special memory of the line, which I wrote about in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses. Behind a Deltic or Class 55 locomotive, I went from Darlington to London in two hours and fifteen minutes, which is faster than today’s fastest trains. Not bad for a 1960s design, but the train was a coach short and had a clear run. And was probably extremely-well driven.

Is the East Coast Main Line and especially the section South of Darlington, a route, where a knowledgeable driver can coax the maximum out of a high speed train?

Possible savings over the next few years include.

Werrington Junction

When this is completed, it could knock twenty-one minutes off the timings to Edinburgh.

Newark Crossing

How much time could be saved here?

There must be some time savings if the line speed can be increased from 100 mph.

140 mph Running

The various improvements in L2E4 are intended to enable services to run between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.

  • Does L2E4 include any possible time savings from the Werrington Dive Under?
  • Does L2E4 include any possible time savings from improvements at Newark?
  • What is the completion date for L2E4?
  • Most of the time savings for L2E4 will be South of Darlington as the track is straighter.

As I said earlier a rough calculation indicates that L2E4 will save about eleven minutes to the South of Darlington.

Conclusion

There must be over thirty minutes of savings to be accumulated on the East Coast Main Line. Much of it because of the Werrington and Newark improvements will be South of Darlington.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see timings like these.

  • London-Leeds – Current – 136 minutes – HS2 – 81 minutes – Possible ECML – 120 minutes
  • London-York – Current – 111 minutes – HS2 – 84 minutes – Possible ECML – 90 minutes
  • London – Darlington – Current – 141 minutes – HS2 – 112 minutes – Possible ECML – 115 minutes
  • London – Durham – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 138 minutes – Possible ECML – 130 minutes
  • London – Newcastle – Current – 170 minutes – HS2 – 137 minutes – Possible ECML – 130 minutes
  • London – Edinburgh – Current – 259 minutes – HS2 – 220 minutes – Possible ECML – 210 minutes

It looks to me, that the East Coast Main Line could be fulfilling the aspirations of British Rail’s engineers of the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Improving Services To Lincoln

Lincoln is one of those places, where, companies have promised better train services for years and they’ve never appeared.

The Wikipedia entry for Lincoln station under Future Services reads like a catalogue of broken promises and very little progress.

I think that it is time to think out of the box to provide a better service for the City.

Sorting Out Newark

Newark is an important interchange to get good services to and from Lincoln.

Because of the notorious Newark Flat Crossing, the railways around the town need improving.

Currently there are two fast trains to and between Lincoln and London a day in both directions, an hourly service to Newark and various other random services.

To make matters worse, the change at Newark Northgate station is often fifteen minutes or so.

These pictures were taken as I changed trains at the station for Lincoln on a fine day.

Is an hourly single coach Class 153 train between Lincoln and Newark Northgate an adequate service?

There are other services to Newark Castle station, but the two stations are separated by the notorious flat junction at Newark, which slows services on the East Coast Main Line.

I think in a well-thought out solution, the following will be achieved.

  • Trains on the Nottingham to Lincoln  Line will pass Newark without inconveniencing trains on the East Coast Main Line, possibly by means of a flyover or a dive-under.
  • These trains would ideally call at both Newark stations.
  • Hopefully lifts and stairs will make the changebetween the two lines step-free.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very unconventional solution to the problem.

Newark Northgate station could be closed and a flyover could take the Nottingham to Lincoln Line over the East Coast Main Line to the North of the town, where a new out-of-town station could be built, which had platforms on all lines and they were connected by lifts. I have called this arrangement A Four-Poster Station in the past.

The new station could also be a transport hub, with lots of car parking.

I changed twice at Newark Northgate today and in both instances I waited nearly fifteen minutes.

So why not just build a simple single-track flyover or dive-under and provide a comfortable electric shuttle bus between Northgate and Castle stations, that meets all trains and does the journey in less time, than the current wait?

Remember that Castle station is closer to the town centre.

It would be a cheaper flyover and the money saved might purchase some bigger new trains.

The service from Nottingham could even be run by tram-trains or like in Zwickau by diesel multiple units, which left the Nottingham to Lincoln Line at Castle station and then went walkabout in Newark.

The only certainty about the sorting of Newark, is that there are innumerable ways to do it and some could be unusual.

I doubt though, that we’ll see much improvement at Newark until after 2020.

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

In Project Managers Having Fun In The East, I talked about hoe the Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line (GNGE) has been upgraded to be a valuable diversion route for freight trains travelling up and down the East Coast Main Line.

£230million has been spent to create a high-quality railway from Werrington Junction just North of Peterborough to Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

Given the increasing traffic on the East Coast Main Line and the long wait for any relief in the shape of HS2 to Leeds, the North East and Scotland, I think we will see further development of the GNGE.

  • I reported in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington, how plans are ongoing to improve the Southern connection of the line to the East Coast Main Line.
  • The latest details on Werrington Junction are here on the Network Rail web site and talk about a 2020 completion.
  • Could a new Lincoln Avoiding Line be built, so that freight trains avoid going through Lincoln Central station and the level crossings?
  • The GNGE has lots of closed stations and some have been reopened in the last few years. Could more be reopened?

All these developments lead me to the conclusion, that there will be improved passenger services on the Peterborough to Doncaster route via Lincoln.

As the GNGE is now a high-class modern route, the single coach Class 153 train will be replaced by something like a two-car Class 158 train or Class 170 train.

The speeds of the three trains are.

  • Class 153 – 120 kph
  • Class 158 – 140 kph
  • Class 170 – 160 mph

As Inter-City 125s are released by the arrival of new Class 800 trains, could we even see shortened versions running between Kings Cross and Yorkshire via Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster? These magnificent trains certainly perform well on secondary routes, as anybody, who has ridden in the cab between Edinburgh and Inversion can testify.

I wonder what times a well-driven Class 170 train could achieve. Currently Peterborough to Lincoln takes eighty minutes and Lincoln to Doncaster takes two hours.

I estimate that a Class 170 train could do the journey between Lincoln and Peterborough in about an hour, which is about the fastest time that can be achieved changing at Newark.

An estimate for the time between Lincoln and Doncaster could be about ninety minutes.

All of this speed improvement could probably be obtained without any major infrastructure improvements, but updating Werrington Junction and creating a new Lincoln Avoiding Line would improve things further.

Faster connections to Doncaster and Peterborough would bring various benefits.

  • At Doncaster, it would give access to the East Coast Main Line services to the North East and Scotland.
  • From 2018, at Doncaster, it would give access to the the improved TransPennine services to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
  • At Peterborough, it would give access to services to London, East Anglia and the South Midlands.
  • From 2018, at Peterborough, there will be a connection to Thameslink, to take passengers all over London and the South East.

Surely these connections will benefit Lincoln most, but a fast service to Peterborough would also do something to improve connectivity at places like Sleaford and Spalding.

I suspect that when the new East Midlands Franchise is announced next year or when suitable trains are procured, we will see significant speed, frequency and comfort improvements on this route.

Reinstating The Complete Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

With the next East Anglian Franchise, it is rumoured that there will be a marked improvement in train services in the region with new and refurbished trains everywhere, running many more services.

One possibility, is that the Bramley Line to Wisbech will be served by passenger trains, as a network of local services are improved and created around Cambridge with expansion and development needs and its soon-to-be-two stations.

I think that the possibility exists that the line between March and Sleaford might be reinstated to give freight trains to and from Felixstowe, direct access to the GNGE to get to Doncaster, avoiding Peterborough and the East Coast Main Line South of Yorkshire.

If you look at Google Maps, then the old rail line is clearly visible for most of the way between March and Sleaford. However, Whitemoor Prison has been build over the route.

If this Southern part of the GNGE were to be reinstated, could we see passenger services between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I think we would, as the engine of growth that is Cambridge, would then be directly connected by train to all the cities and larger towns of East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

I should say, that just as London dominates the South East, I believe that Cambridge with all its skills, ambition and success will dominate the East of England.

Lincoln to Cambridge could be about ninety minutes using a fully developed GNGE, as opposed to two hours now.

Conclusions

I have come to the following occlusions.

  • The record of train companies in getting more direct services to Lincoln says a lot and I’d be very surprised if Lincoln sees more direct services to London.
  • Newark is a basket case and sorting it will be difficult and probably expensive
  • The best bet for improved services is to put faster trains on the upgraded Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, which could mean Peterborough in an hour and Doncaster in ninety minutes from Lincoln.
  • The trains for this should be available in 2018.

In the long term, I can see benefits in connecting March and Sleaford.

Ironically, the GNGE was built to bring coal to East Anglia from Yorkshire and it could be used to bring freight between Felixstowe and the North, in an efficient ,manner.

The Victorians seem to have got the route of the GNGE correct.

Just as they did the Varsity Line and the Borders Railway.

 

 

August 4, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Flat Crossing At Newark

I took these pictures as we crossed over the Nottingham to Lincoln Line on the flat crossing North of Newark North Gate station.

A few months ago, I took pictures from the other line

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | | Leave a comment

The Newark Crossing

To improve services between Lincoln and Nottingham, the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for the East Midlands recommends doing something about the notorious flat junction at Newark, which is best described as a cross roads, where a B-road crosses a motorway. This is said.

Of the remainder, the RUS recommends that the provision of a flyover at Newark is further developed in CP4 to refine the infrastructure costs and potential benefits. It is recognised that the development of the East Coast Main Line Intercity Express Programme service requirements beyond those proposed for LDHS services from May 2011, combined with freight growth beyond 18 freight trains per day on the east – west corridor, may drive the requirement for the flyover in CP5.

I shall now look at this Victorian railway relic.

This Google Map shows the location of the crossing.

Newark Crossing

Newark Crossing

Newark Northgate station is on the East Coast Main Line, which runs  top to bottom right on the map, whereas Newark Castle station is on the Nottingham to Lincoln line, which runs top to bottom left. To make matters worse the two lines cross by the River Trent and the A46, with the A1 a short distance to the East. These pictures were taken in quick succession from a train going from Lincoln to Nottingham.

The Civil Servant who signed that the road off, should have the knighthood taken away, that he obviously got for making a decision, which should have included sorting the railway, by building a flyover to take both the railway and the A46.

If this crossing were to be sorted, it would deliver benefits all up the East Coast Main Line and on the routes that use it from Nottingham to Lincolnshire.

I can’t find anything on the Internet, but hopefully some Network Rail engineers have the envelopes and fag packets on the table.

In my view there are two possible solutions to the problem of the Newark Crossing. But whatever solution is chosen, these criteria must apply.

  • The new crossing must be able to handle probably twenty long freight trains and upwards of a couple of dozen passenger trains pass every day, that need to cross the East Coast Main Line.
  • It must be built without any long closures of the East Coast Main Line.

The first approach is the obvious one, where a flyover or an avoiding line on a different route, is built to allow trains on the Nottingham to Lincoln Line to cross the East Coast Main Line. But if it is so obvious and as I suspect that the place where it would be built has been surveyed and examined in great detail, then Network Rail must have a plan that has a reliable cost and time-scale assigned to it.

As the benefits of eliminating the Newark Crossing must be very well defined, it would therefore appear that the cost of building the flyover is way out of line, as otherwise this important project would be published somewhere on Network Rail’s web site.

This snippet from the RUS suggests the problem.

The gradient of the flyover will need to be able to accommodate the freight trains travelling east – west along this corridor. A key geographical constraint is the proximity to the River Trent and the A1 trunk road which adds to the overall construction cost for the flyover.

As freight trains and especially those going from East to West, will only get longer and heavier, there will have to be a large margin for increasing weight and length built in to any design for the crossing, which not only crosses the East Coast Main Line, but the River Trent. The river probably kills off any chance of a dive-under.

The other approach is that Network Rail are working on a radical plan, that perhaps uses some of the many Nottingham rail lines to completely by-pass the Newark Crossing. Trains could cross the East Coast Main Line on either the  Allington Chord, North of Grantham or where the High Marnham Test Track crosses South of Tuxford.

 

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 7 Comments