The Anonymous Widower

The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is this description of the Mid-Cornwall Metro.

This would see an hourly service shuttling between the north and south coasts of the county and linking the main population centres at Newquay, St Austell, Truro and Falmouth. This would become the main service on the Newquay branch, and it would take over one of the twice-hourly services on the Falmouth branch, with the other service being a Truro to Falmouth shuttle as now.

Facilitating the Metro idea will be the latest phase of the modernisation of signalling in Cornwall, which will see the upgrade of a level crossing near Truro. Other infrastructure work required is a new passing loop on the Newquay branch at Tregoss Moor and restoration of a second platform face at the terminus at Newquay.

A business case was due to be submitted to the Department for Transport before Christmas 2021.

These are a few thoughts.

The Current Timings

If you look at the distances and timings of the various sections they are as follows.

  • Newquay and Par – Five stops – 20.8 miles – 49-52 minutes
  • Par and Truro – One stop – 19 miles – 22 minutes
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – Four stops – 11.8 miles – 24 minutes

Note.

  1. It appears that the Newquay to Par service is three minutes quicker than the other way.
  2. There will be a reverse at Par, which could take three minutes.
  3. The Par and Truro times were either GWR Castles or Class 802 trains.

The total time is 98-101 minutes and the total distance is 51.6 miles

Possible Timing

Consider.

  • For the ease of timetabling and operation, it is probably best that a round trip between the two Newquay and Falmouth Docks takes an exact number of hours.
  • The operating speed between Par and Truro is 75 mph and it is only 50 mph elsewhere.
  • Turnround time at Newquay is five minutes.
  • Turnround time at Falmouth Docks is 4-6 minutes

For these reasons, I doubt that much improvement could be made on the fastest time of 98 minutes. Certainly, a round trip of three hours would appear impossible.

But a round trip time of four hours would be very sensible.

However, there would be a turnround time of between 19-22 minutes at each end of the route.

This time might seem overly long, but it would be ideal for charging a battery-electric train.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

As the round trip will be four hours and an hourly service is needed, there will be a need for four trains to run the service, with the addition of probably two extra trains to allow for one in maintenance and one covering for any breakdowns.

Could The Mid-Cornwall Metro Use Battery-Electric Trains?

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

Note

  1. The range of ninety kilometres is fifty-six miles and a longer distance than Newquay and Falmouth Docks.
  2. The operating speed of 90-100 mph is ideal.
  3. The time needed for a full charge at either end is within the timetable, I calculated earlier.

Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for working the Mid-Cornwall Metro with a full charge at both ends of the route.

I have used my virtual helicopter to explore the Cornish Main Line between Par and Truro.

If it was decided to electrify the Cornish Main Line between Truro and Par, this could be an alternative way to charge the trains.

  • The Mid-Cornish Metro trains should be able to do a return trip to Newquay and Falmouth Docks from the main line without charging at the two terminal stations.
  • The electrification would be able to charge battery-electric Class 802 trains between Plymouth and Penzance.

But the extra infrastructure works to raise nine road bridges and several footbridges might blow the budget.

Where Would The Trains Be Serviced?

Great Western Railway has depots at both Penzance and Plymouth and with perhaps a charger at Truro and/or Par stations, the trains should be able to get to either depot at the end of the day.

Trains To Newquay

Wikipedia says this about the services to Newquay station.

The service is irregular with typically one train around every two hours.

As well as the local service, the station handles a number of long-distance trains in the summer. These services include Great Western Railway trains from London Paddington and CrossCountry trains from the North of England and the Scottish Lowlands, which do not stop at intermediate stations between Par and Newquay. On Sundays, there are some local trains and a small number of intercity services. As well as the weekend through trains, in peak summer months there is also a Monday-Friday through Great Western Railway intercity service to and from London, but local trains continue on these days too. Traditionally, there was no Sunday service in the winter, even in the ‘golden age’ between both of the 20th century’s world wars, but the line has a service of three trains each way on Sundays from 11 December 2011.

The Mid-Cornwall Metro will at least come with an hourly service.

But this will mean, that to run other services to the station with the hourly Metro will mean that a second platform will be needed.

I discuss the improvements needed in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

This is a quirky video, which describes an architect’s plans for the station.

It is the sort of simple solution, that I like.

Conclusion

I believe that a small fleet of Hitachi Regional Battery Trains could create an iconic Metro for Cornwall, that would appeal to both visitors and tourists alike.

 

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beeching Reversal – New Station For Langport And Somerton Area

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

This Google Map shows the Langport and Somerton area.

Note.

  1. This map is probably best clicked to see in a large size.
  2. Langport is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Somerton is in the North-East corner of the map.
  4. The Reading-Taunton Line goes through both villages, although both stations are now closed.
  5. Somerton station was in a cutting in the middle of the village.

The station’s location is shown in this second Google Map.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Somerton station, this seems to be the plan.

A May 2018 transport strategy suggested that a station should be opened to serve the Somerton and Langport area.

Judging from the map, there should be space for a two-platform station.

Services Though Somerton Station

Currently, there are three Great Western Railway (GWR) services on this route.

  • London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids via Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton and Tiverton Parkway.
  • London Paddington and Plymouth via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot and Totnes.
  • London Paddington and Penzance via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne and St Erth.

All services have a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)

The frequency of trains between Reading and Taunton on the 24th July was around each hour as follows.

  • 7 – 4/1
  • 8 – 4/1
  • 9 – 5/2
  • 10 4/0
  • 11 6/2
  • 12 5/2
  • 13 – 5/1
  • 14 – 5/2
  • 15 – 4/1
  • 16 – 3/0
  • 17 – 7/2
  • 18 – 3/0
  • 19 – 3/0
  • 20 – 3/0
  • 21 – 3/1
  • 22 – 0/0
  • 23 – 0/0
  • 24 – 1/1

Note.

  1. The first figure is the total number of trains per hour (tph).
  2. The second figure is the total number of freight tph.

There is under two tph in both directions and under one freight tph.

As the Reading-Taunton Line is a 110 mph route, my scheduling experience, says that with 125 mph Class 800 trains running all the passenger services, there should be some space for a few more services on the route.

So could this mean a fourth service between London Paddington and the South West?

Are we seeing the emergence of a stopping service, between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids?

Hitachi’s Proposed Class 800 Trains With Batteries

Hitachi’s proposed train is described in this infographic.

Note the phrase – Allows Discontinuous Electrification; at the top of the infographic.

Suppose the train ran these legs.

  • Newbury – Westbury – 42 miles
  • Westbury – Taunton – 48 miles
  • Taunton – Exeter St. Davids – 30 miles
  • Exeter St. Davids – Plymouth – 52 miles

All would be under the 55 mile limit for battery range.

Conclusion

It looks like GWR are building up to increase services between London Paddington and Exeter St Davids.

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Increased Service Provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway

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

This Google Map shows the relationship of the two Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway stations.

The two stations are clearly visible.

The aim of this Beeching Reversal project would appear to set up a more regular service between Bodmin Parkway station on the Cornish Main Line and Bodmin General station in the town.

This video shows some of the current trains run by the Bodmin and Wenford railway, between the two stations.

This article on Cornwall Live is entitled Plan To Link Heritage Railway At Bodmin To Mainline Train Services, gives a few scant details.

  • There will be a second platform at Bodmin General station.
  • This will allow extra services.

Looking at the space around Bodmin Parkway station, it should be possible to have a very comprehensive track layout, that connects the Bodmin branch to the main line.

It also appears that the platform is fully-funded from Great Western Railway (GWR) and Cornwall County Council.

Could A Shuttle Be Run Using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro Concept?

Using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro between the two stations is surely a possibility, with charging at either station.

What Do GWR Want In Return For Their Funding?

I think that GWR could have a couple of uses for a platform at Bodmin General station.

Reorganising The Services Between London Paddington and the South-West

Currently, there are three services on this route.

  • London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids via Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway.
  • London Paddington and Plymouth via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes.
  • London Paddington and Penzance via Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, St Erth.

All services have a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)

Perhaps by reorganising the train paths, GWR could run another 1 tp2h service between London Paddington and Bodmin or Newquay station after the Transformation Of The Newquay Line.

Joining And Splitting Between London Paddington And The South-West

GWR’s Hitachi Class 80x trains have the ability to run in pairs, that are split and joined at convenient places en route.

This YouTube video, shows them doing it in Plymouth station.

As a means of evening out passenger loadings on pairs of trains running to the South-West, the two large stations of Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth would surely be possibilities for the manoeuvre.

I also think that Bodmin Parkway station could be used to split and join two trains from Cornwall.

  • One train would come from Penzance and the West.
  • The other could come from either Newquay or Bodmin General stations.
  • In the future the second train, might come from a new Wadebridge station.

Bodmin Parkway station might need some small modifications, but it should be remembered that the closely-related Class 395 trains, do the deed and quickly disappear at Ashford International station.

Creating A Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

There are also plans in the Beeching Reversal projects for the Reinstatement of the Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway

For trains to travel between Bodmin Parkway and Wadebridge stations, trains will need to reverse in the new platform at Bodmin General station.

Local Services From Exeter And Plymouth

From what I have read on the Internet, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway is an important tourist attraction and is one of several around Bodmin including the beaches and the Camel Trail.

So perhaps, a connection between Bodmin and Exeter and/or Plymouth in a vintage InterCity 125 could be a nice little earner for GWR and an appropriate way to arrive at the steam railway.

Steam Local Services From Exeter And Plymouth

Why not?

The new platform at Bodmin General station could probably take a locomotive and four coaches and all the facilities to handle steam engines are in the vicinity of the station.

Could The New Platform Be Used For High Speed Freight Shuttles?

Why not?

Rail Operations Group is looking at the possibility of running Class 769 trains as freight shuttles.

Bodmin could make an ideal Cornish terminal, as it’s the right side of county and has the main A38 close by.

Could The Platform Be Used To Charge Battery Electric Trains?

I feel that First Group are starting to embrace battery trains.

In Hitachi Trains For Avanti, I talked about how a fellow First Group company were reporting, that they might have battery trains.

If Great Western Railway were running extra trains into Cornwall, would a new platform at Bodmin General station, be an ideal place to charge a train?

Conclusion

A second platform at Bodmin General station could open up a lot of possibilities for train operating companies.

 

July 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line

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

 

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Newquay or Atlantic Coast Line.

When I first saw this map, my initial thought, was that the various loops and other sections of disused track could and/or might be added to the route.

Searching the Internet, I can’t find much information except from this article on Cornwall Live, which is entitled Cornish Railway lines Axed In Beeching Cuts Could Be Restored, where this is said.

Other projects focused on Cornwall bidding for the funding to develop business cases include one to transform the Newquay to Par railway line as well as a “Mid-Cornwall Metro” proposal.

Nothing more about the Atlantic Coast Line, is said in the article.

This Google Map shows where the Atlantic Coast Line joins the Cornish Main Line at Par.

Note.

  1. The Atlantic Coast Line goes off to the North West.
  2. Par station is shown towards the North-Western corner on the Cornish Main Line.
  3. The junction is designed, so that china clay trains can access the branch.

In the summer, Newquay station is also served by long-distance trains from London and Scotland.

This Google Map shows Newquay station in the heart of the town.

It could probably be called a Beach station, as the sea is just off the map.

Partly, because I lived in the town, from 1963 onwards, I can remember Felixstowe Beach station! Yarmouth Beach station has gone too, but how many others are left?

These are the only ones, I can think of with Beach in their name!

Perhaps, if Felixstowe ever gets the promised tram-train, that I wrote about in  Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?, one of the or more of the stops on the way to the Port of Felixstowe will be Felixstowe Beach.

Frequency Improvement

The current frequency on the Atlantic Coast Line is one train every two hours, which is not a family-friendly frequency, as if any child starts playing silly games, you have a two-hour wait for the next train.

I would suspect that an hourly service would create a large increase in ridership on the line.

As the journey takes fifty-one minutes between Par and Newquay, is the frequency defined by the need for one train to work the line, by shuttling from end-to-end?

So is one of the needs, some better track layouts, so that trains can pass and be parked at Par, whilst the crew has a refreshment break?

I also suspect, that if one of Network Rail’s track wizards got the layout spot on, which they seem to do, that this would make things easier for any china clay trains still passing through the area.

Could Newquay Be Used As An Extra Terminal?

I wonder how many people drive to Newquay, if they live in East Cornwall or Devon?

I have just looked at train times today from Plymouth to Newquay.

To be fair to Great Western Railway (GWR), I would only have a few minutes to wait at Par station, but there is only one train every two hours, due to the limitations on the Atlantic Coast Line.

With an improved higher-capacity track, GWR could call up the heavy brigade.

As full-length InterCity125s have served Newquay station for decades, four-car Castles like these, should manage the trip with ease.

Surely, once the Atlantic Coast Line can handle at least hourly trains, that would enable separate one train per two hour schedules.

  • Newquay and Par
  • Newquay and either Plymouth or Exeter.

This would improve service frequencies on both the Cornish Main Line and the Atlantic Coast Line and enable passengers to go between Exeter, Plymouth and Truro, and Newquay without changing trains.

Hopefully, the Cornish Main Line trains would serve appropriate refreshments at the correct times of the day.

Would Newquay Station Need A Second Platform?

Newquay station used to have more than one platform, but all the others were removed in British Rail’s ruthless quest to save money in the 1960s and 1970s.

I have never been to Newquay station, so I don’t know whether there is space to reinstate another platform.

However, I did find this video, which appears to be some very professional plans for Newquay station.

This video dates from 2008.

The video definitely says, that Newquay station needs an extra platform or two.

  • Two platforms would allow two trains to share the station.
  • A third platform would allow steam trains to visit.

The video also answers the age old question about why in many towns and cities, the railway station is often the best building, except for the church and the town or city hall.

Conclusion

It does appear to me, that giving the Atlantic Coast Line a modern track layout, will unlock a lot of possibilities that can be tried on the branch, to the benefit of all stakeholders.

 

 

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 9 Comments