The Anonymous Widower

Direct Trains Between Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

In my wanderings around the UK, I very often come across this service and use it for short trips between two major towns or cities many miles from both Liverpool and Norwich.

The Current Service

Currently, the service is run by East Midlands Trains and is usually a two-car Class 158 train. Although, I have seen the service worked by a pair of these trains.

The route is very comprehensive with calls at Liverpool South Parkway, Widnes, Warrington Central, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Ilkeston, Nottingham, Grantham, Peterborough, Ely and Thetford.

The service always seems to be full and I suspect that in addition to offering useful routes like Manchester-Sheffield, Liverpool-Nottingham and Nottingham-East Anglia, it is often a convenient route for some long distance business and family travellers.

The major problem for a train operator is that it needs a lot of rolling stock to provide a service.

Liverpool to Norwich takes five and a half hours, so to provide the hourly service probably needs as many as a dozen trains.

This extract comes from the East Midlands Trains section in Wikipedia entry for the Class 158 train.

The hourly Norwich to Liverpool service has been criticised for overcrowding, especially between Liverpool and Nottingham. This resulted from the Department for Transport specifying two-coach units in the EMT franchise starting in November 2007. In the light of persistent and excessive overcrowding, with some passengers being left behind on occasions, the DfT eventually admitted that it had made a mistake. Various cascades of other units enabled more Class 158 stock to be released for this route, and from the December 2011 timetable change the busiest services have been lengthened to four-coach trains between Liverpool and Nottingham, with units splitting and joining at Nottingham as necessary, two-coach trains being regarded as adequate between Nottingham and Norwich. Further services on this route were strengthened from December 2012.

Running a pair of Class 158 trains on the route between Liverpool and Nottingham, does seem to ease problems there, but I’ve encountered bad over-crowding at the Eastern end too.

Improvements On The Route

Several improvements or changes of rolling stock have or are taking place in the next few years.

Increased Capacity At Liverpool Lime Street

This is detailed in the 2017-2018 Station Remodelling section of the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Two new platforms are being added.
  • Platforms are being lengthened.

In addition there are improvements on the approaches to the station.

Ordsall Chord And Related Improvements In Manchester

The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at both Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations, although it doesn’t use the new Ordsall Chord.

But I can’t believe that the Liverpool-Norwich service won’t be affected by all the works in Manchester.

Hope Valley Line Improvements

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Long-Awaited Hope Valley Line Plans Given The Green Light.

Improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield include.

  • A loop to allow passenger trains to overtake slow freight trains.
  • Removal of a foot crossing.
  • Improvements around Dore and Totley station.

This is said on this document on the Transport for the North web site, which announces the Hope Valley improvements.

The new passing loops will mean three fast trains can run per hour between Sheffield and Manchester, one every 20 minutes, freight and stopping trains every hour, and a fast Manchester-Nottingham and East of England service every hour.

If nothing else, the extra capacity between Manchester and Sheffield, will reduce reliance on the Liverpool-Norwich service.

Improvements To The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line is not being electrified between Nottingham and Sheffield, but other improvements have taken place over the last few years.

  • In particular, the Erewash Valley Line has been improved and a new station at Ilkeston has been added.
  • The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at stations on this by-pass.
  • The line has been resignalled.

Would a train with a 125 mph capability, as opposed to the 90 mph operating speed of the Class 158 train, allow a faster service?

East Coast Main Line Running

The 90 mph Class 158 trains must present pathing problems on the East Coast Main Line, whereas a 125 mph train could mix it easier with the high speed trains.

Greater Anglia’s Plans

Greater Anglia have ordered a fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • The trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • Greater Anglia have ordered fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car trains.

Greater Anglia will be replacing 27 diesel trains, that consists of  58 carriages, with 38 bi-mode trains, that consist of 138 carriages.

  • There are forty percent more trains.
  • There are a hundred and thirty-eight percent more carriages.
  • Average train length of the diesels is 2.1 carriages, wheres that of the bi-modes is 3.6.

There are two possible reasons for these large number of trains.

  • Abellio have decided to buy a few bi-modes for their other franchises.
  • There is going to be a massive expansion of train services in East Anglia.

Two of the new bi-mode services interact with the Liverpool-Norwich service.

  • Colchester to Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport  via Ely and Cambridge.

Both services are thought to be hourly.

Consider the Colchester to Peterborough service.

  • I estimate that trains will take around two hours.
  • The round trip could be under five hours, even with a generous turn-round at both ends and perhaps a wait at Ipswich.
  • The waits would allow connecting passengers to join the train.
  • A five hour round trip would need five Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Colchester to Peterborough service be considered as an extension of the Liverpool-Norwich service, that serves Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester?

I think it could if the trains were timed appropriately.

  • Passengers from Liverpool to Ipswich, would change at Peterborough or Ely to the Peterborough to Colchester train, which would arrive a few minutes after the Liverpool to Norwich train.
  • Passengers from Ipswich to Liverpool, would change at Ely or Peterborough to the Liverpool train, which would arrive a few minutes after Colchester to Peterborough train.

Hopefully, the change would not require a platform change.

Consider the Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

  • I estimate trains will take about one hour and fifty minutes.
  • The round trip would be four hours and would need four Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Norwich to Stansted Airport service be equally spaced with the Liverpool-Norwich service between Ely and Norwich  to give a clock-face two trains per hour (tph)?

These services call at Ely

  • CrossCountry -Birmingham to Stansted Airport
  • East Midlands Trains – Liverpool to Norwich
  • Greater Anglia – Peterborough to Colchester
  • Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport
  • Great Northern – Kings Lynn to Kings Cross

Totalling them up gives the following frequencies to various stations.

  • Bury St. Edmunds/Ipswich/Colchester – 1 tph
  • Cambridge North/Cambridge – 3 tph
  • Kings Lynn – 1 tph
  • Norwich – 2 tph
  • Peterborough – 3 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph

I suspect that the services will be arranged so there are convenient interchanges. No-one wants to spend an hour on a draughty Ely station waiting for the next train.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia  will use some of their extra trains to improve connectivity at Ely.

Speed Limits On The Route

Speed limits on the route are rather variable.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington is limited to 85 mph
  • The Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield is 90 mph
  • The proportion of the Midland Main Line, where 125 mph running is possible, is being increased.
  • Grantham to Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line allows 125 mph running.
  • The Peterborough to Ely Line is limited to 75 mph.
  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich is limited to 75- 90 mph.

I feel that increasing speed limits on some parts of the line would help the Liverpool to Norwich service.

But surely, a train with a 125 mph-capability would help with journey times and train timetabling between Sheffield and Peterborough.

But on the rest of the route, trains with this speed capability, wouldn’t be needed.

Rolling Stock Choices For Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

Various choices include.

Class 158 Trains

Everything could carry on as now using Class 158 trains

  • Two two-car trains working ass a pair would go from Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham.
  • The trains would divide at Nottingham.
  • One train would go on its way to Norwich, and the other would wait at Nottingham to join with the train returning from Norwich.

With all the new diesel multiple units arriving in the next few years, I think it is likely that more Class 158 trains could be made available to strengthen the service.

The trouble with the Class 158 trains, is that with only a 90 mph operating speed, they can’t take advantage of the sections of the route where 125 mph running is possible.

Class 170 Trains

These trains were built as successors to the Class 158 trains.

  • They are more modern.
  • They are 10 mph faster.
  • Most  are three cars.

But they are still not fast enough for the 125 mph sections of the route.

A Second Service Between Liverpool And Nottingham

Improvements on the Hope Valley Line and in Liverpool and Manchester, might make it possible to run a much-needed second service between Liverpool and Nottingham via Manchester, Stockport and Sheffield..

This extra service could use the same trains as the full service.

Currently, the direct service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham takes two hours thirty five minutes. In some ways, this is a problem, as if the timing was say two hours twenty minutes, a five hour round trip would be possible.

This would mean that the second service would need just five trains.

I doubt that Class 158 trains could meet this schedule, so more would be needed.

Class 800 Trains

Class 800 trains are 125 mph bi-mode trains, but are they fast enough on diesel to make real differences to the timetable by running fast on the Midland Main Line?

I think not!

So more trains would be needed to run the service.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Bi-Mode

A genuine 125-mph bi-mode, with that performance on both electricity and diesel, would be a totally different matter.

  • Timings between Liverpool and Nottingham would drop to perhaps two hours twenty, thus allowing a five hour round trip.
  • Timings between Liverpool and Norwich would drop to perhaps four hours fifty, thus allowing a ten hour round trip.

Even so a full service would require fifteen trains.

Bombardier have proposed a train of this type and I wrote about it in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

In my view, this small exercise shows why some routes in the UK need a 125 mph bi-mode.

If the train can’t do 125 mph, where it is possible on the Midland and East Coast Main Line, the time savings on the route won’t be possible and more trains will be needed to run the service.

One great advantage is that the trains working this route could be the same as those working the main routes of the East Midlands franchise to and from London.

Short Formation InterCity 125 Trains

The forty-year-old InterCity 125 trains have the power and the speed to match the 125 mph bi-mode trains.

Short formation with four or five passenger cars between the two Class 43 locomotives are being used by Scotrail and Great Western Railway, but to use them on Liverpool to Norwich would require another fifteen trains to be updated, which is probably not as cost effective as new 125 mph bi-modes.

Conclusion

If service between the Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich is to continue in its present form, it needs 125 mph bi-more trains.

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia, The Fen Line And Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently operates two trains per day between King’s Lynn and Liverpool Street stations, in the Morning Peak

  • 05:17 – 07:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.
  • 06:17 – 08:25 – 2 hr. 8 min.

This is matched by three trains a day between Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn, in the Evening Peak.

  • 17:07 – 19:08 – 2 hr. 1 min.
  • 18:-07 – 20:10 – 2 hr. 3 min.
  • 19:07 – 21:05 – 1 hr 58 min.

Note.

  1. The two Morning Peak trains stop at Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Whittesford Parkway, Audley End, Bishops Stortford and Tottenham Hale.
  2. The three Evening Peak trains call similarly, but miss out Cambridge North.
  3. Services are run by Class 317  or Class 379 trains.

All the passenger trains on the Fen Line including Great Northern’s Class 387 trains, are four x twenty metre cars, which can run as four, eight or twelve cars.

Maximum Length Of Trains On The Fen Line

This article in the Eastern Daily Press is entitled Plans For Longer Trains Between King’s Lynn And London Could Be Delayed.

Reading it, I get the following impressions.

  • The Fen Line can currently accept four-car trains.
  • Eight-car trains are needed.
  • Plans have been or are being developed to lengthen all platforms to accept eight car trains.
  • Network Rail are quoted as saying “The King’s Lynn eight car scheme is amongst the CP5 projects that have funding.”

Extending further might well be out of the question, on grounds of cost and inconvenience to passengers, whilst the work is carried out.

Greater Anglia’s Trains And The Fen Line

There is a problem for Greater Anglia, as both the Class 317 and Class 379 trains are being moved on.

Class 745 Trains

The thirty x four-car Class 379 trains, that work the express West Anglia Main Line services are being replaced with ten x twelve-car Stadler Class 745 trains.

These trains will be too long for the Fen Line.

Class 720 Trains

Five-car Class 720 trains would fit the Fen line and as they are 100 mph trains, like the Class 317 and Class 379 trains, they could handle the current service.

Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia currently have the equivalent of twenty-eight assorted diesel trains in different lengths, which they are replacing with thirty-eight Class 755 trains.

These are.

  • 100 mph trains.
  • Bi-mode trains with the ability to run on electric or diesel.
  • Compatible with the Class 745 trains.

Fourteen will be three-car trains and twenty-four will be four-car trains.

Greater Anglia, have already said they will run services to and from Liverpool Street from Lowestoft, so will they use the extra trains to run services to and from Liverpool Street to important East Anglian towns?

It is worth looking at the capacity of the various trains.

  • Class 379 train – four-car – 189 2nd/20 1st
  • Class 755 train – three-car  – 166 2nd
  • Class 755 train – four-car  – 224 2nd
  • Class 720 train – five-car – 430 2nd

Would a four-car Class 755 train have sufficient capacity for a service between  Kings Lynn and Liverpool Street?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, but a six or seven car train couple be created, by joining two trains together, if required.

So if the Class 755 trains can provide direct Liverpool Street services for Kings Lynn and Lowestoft, what other towns could get a direct service to London?

  • Bury St. Edmunds – Either via Newmarket and Cambridge or Stowmarket and Ipswich
  • Cromer/Sheringham via Norwich and Ipswich
  • Norwich – Via Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford, Ely and Cambridge
  • Peterborough – March and Cambridge
  • Yarmouth – Via Norwich and either Ipswich or Cambridge.

I can remember, when some of these towns had services to Liverpool Street.

Trains could also split and join at Cambridge and Ipswich to save paths on the main lines to London.

Could trains go up to London in the Morning Peak and return in the Evening Peak?

If there was sufficient demand, they could return in mid-morning and come back to Liverpool Street in mid-afternoon, in time for the Evening Peak.

If so, how many trains would be needed?

  • Bury St. Edmunds (35k) – 1
  • Cromer (7k)/Sheringham (7k) – 1
  • King’s Lynn (43k) – 3
  • Lowestoft (70k) – 1
  • Norwich via Cambridge – 2
  • Peterborough – 1
  • Yarmouth (47k)  – 1

The figures in brackets are the population

Considering, that my rough calculation, showed there were ten spare trains, these numbers seem feasible.

I have some questions.

  • How many Class 755 trains will be able to link together?
  • Will platforms needed to be extended at Liverpool Street
  • Could Lincoln be reached from London, via a reopened March to Spalding Line via Wisbech?
  • Could a Yarmouth and Lowestoft service to London be created by reopening the chord at Reedham?
  • Would it be a good idea to have a dozen First Class seats in the Class 755 trains doing the London commute.

I feel that Greater Anglia have ambitious plans.

Conclusion

From this rather crude analysis, it appears that Greater Anglia will be using the Class 755 trains as three and four car electric trains on the electrified lines to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich and then using their diesel power to create new direct routes to the capital.

I also suspect, trains will split and join at Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich to reduce the number of paths needed to and from London. After all one twelve-car  train is cheaper to run than three four-car trains!

Could Greater Anglia be bringing forward a timetable, where any town in East Anglia, with a population of over say 10,000, gets at least one fast train to London in the morning and back in the evening?

As the tracks, signals and stations are already there, away from the main lines, there may be little that needs doing.

If not, Greater Anglia have bought too many trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why GA Uses Locomotive-Hauled Trains And Why The Class 755 Trains Are Coming

The first part of the title of this post is the same as that of an article in Rail Magazine, which is well worth a read.

Some interesting points.

  •  Norwich-Sheringham had 200,000 passengers per year in 1996; it is 600,000 now.
  • Competition between Yarmouth and Norwich is the X1 bus with wi-fi and charging sockets and a fifteen minute frequency.
  • Level crossing accidents are a problem.
  • Locomotive-hauled stock is not a cheap option.
  • When Norwich City are at home, extra capacity is needed.

I suspect that Greater Anglia would like to not have to use locomotive haulage.

Class 755 Trains

The article certainly shows why they chose the fleet of Class 755 trains with 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car units.

  • A three-car or four-car train can be rostered accordingly.
  • The trains are bi-mode, being able to work electrified and non-electrified routes.
  • The trains are 100 mph trains and probably have a much shorter station dwell time, which must reduce some journey times.
  • The trains will probably have charging sockets, 4G and wi-fi.
  • There appear to be enough trains for increased frequencies on all services.
  • I suspect that, as the trains will probably carry a high-proportion of leisure passengers, there will be adequate space for buggies, bicycles, large cases and wheel-chairs.

I’ll look at the routes where Class 755 trains will be used.

Some general points apply.

  • Several proposed routes like Norwich to Stansted Airport are partially-electrified.
  • Most timetables away from the electrified lines are written for a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • Some routes need more capacity and more frequent services.

Norwich To Yarmouth

Currently, this is a one train per hour (tph) service, which takes 33-37 minutes with four or five stops. Two trains are probably needed to run the service, although Greater Anglia do combine it with the Lowestoft services.

Note the following.

  • Norwich to Yarmouth is not an easy drive in a car.
  • |The X1 buses have a frequency of four tph.
  • There are generous turnround times at Norwich and Yarmouth.
  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, according to this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled Atkins Awarded £29m Resignalling Contract In Anglia.

I would not be surprised to see the Norwich to Yarmouth service speeded up such that a Class 755 train could do a complete round trip in an hour.

  • This would mean the current hourly service would need just one train.
  • This would allow a four tph service to be run by just four trains.
  • The trains could alternate between the two possible routes to give all stations at least a two tph service to both Norwich and Yarmouth
  • Four tph would be a true Turn-Up-And-Go service.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need one train, but a much more customer-friendly four tph would need four trains.

How would a four tph service rejuvenate Yarmouth?

Norwich To Cromer And Sheringham

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes just under an hour with seven stops. This service needs two trains.

Note the following.

I am fairly certain that the extra performance of the Class 755 trains, will allow a two tph service between Norwich and Sheringham.

This two tph service would need four trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need four trains.

Norwich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes 35-47 minutes with either one or six stops.

The current service would need two trains.

Note the following.

  • The line is double-track.
  • As  with Norwich to Yarmouth, the current timings are such, that they can be achieved by a 75 mph Class 150 train.
  • All the Wherry Lines will be resignalled.

I suspect that two tph may be possible with Class 755 trains, by means of some innovative timetabling.

It might be possible that if a train went fast one way with just one stop and slow the other with six stops, that it could do a round trip to Norwich in an hour.

A two tph service run like this could need just two trains, with the fast trip in probably something under twenty-five minutes.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly two tph could also need two trains.

 

Lowestoft To Yarmouth

There must be lots of good reasons concerning commerce, tourism, leisure and families to connect the two biggest towns in the very East of England by rail. Great Yarmouth is slightly larger with a population of 70,000 to Lowestoft’s 60,000.

Because no connection exists, I’d always thought that to provide one was difficult, as it would perhaps envisage building a large bridge across the water in the area. But I have just read a section entitled Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station. This is said.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880.The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

Surely if Network Rail has suggested this link in this study on their web site, it must be fairly easy to reinstate, as they don’t want to start any more fiascos.

There are several possible reasons.

  1. Has the Todmorden Curve shown that these links generate traffic and revenue for Network Rail? Perhaps, they’ve even got the maps out and looked for similar curves to Todmorden.
  2. Does this link give an extra route between Norwich and Ipswich, that makes it easier for passengers to do certain journeys without changing trains?
  3. There is a significant number of journeys betwen Lowestoft and Yarmouth by rail and road.
  4. Does it make it easier for trains to serve Lowestoft and Yarmouth?
  5. Perhaps reorganising the rail lines and station at Reedham realises a sizable piece of land for development.
  6. Do Network Rail want to create a record for reopening the oldest closed railway line? 135 years has probably not been beaten.

This map shows the area of the proposed junction.

Reedham Station And JunctionNorwich is to the West, Yarmouth to the North East and Lowestoft is to the South.

Despite being removed in 1880, the line of the third side of the junction is still visible.

But there is opposition as this article in the Great Yarmouth Mercury details. Perhaps, the locals don’t want any more housing?

The article mentions a cost of a billion pounds, which would make it a no-no!  However the Todmorden scheme cost less than ten million pounds for a similarly-sized curve.

Currently, the fastest Lowestoft to Yarmouth journey takes about eighty minutes with a change at Norwich.

But these timings are also possible.

  • Reedham to Yarmouth – 16 minutes
  • Reedham to Lowestoft – 26 minutes

I suspect canny locals know that some trains connect well, so do the trip in under an hour.

It would appear though that if the Reedham chord was relaid, that Yarmouth to Lowestoft could be achieved in about fifty minutes.

I suspect that even if the Reedham Chord is not relaid, Greater Anglia may have plans to incorporate this service into the pattern of trains on the Wherry Lines.

They’ve certainly even got enough trains to run a shuttle using a three-car Class 755 train between Lowestoft and Yarmouth with a reverse at Reedham station.

An hourly service would need only one train.

Norwich To Stansted Airport

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Norwich to Cambridge on the Breckland Line.

Consider.

  • Norwich to Cambridge takes 70 minutes, which is probably timed for 75 mph trains.
  • Cambridge to Stansted Airport takes 30 minutes
  • Trowse bridge at Norwich, is a major bottleneck on all trains connecting Norwich to the South and it may be improved or replaced. I wrote about Trowse Bridge in Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

Would a  round trip be possible in three hours?

This would need three trains for an hourly service and six trains for a two tph service.

When this hourly service is combined with services from other operators, there will be two tph from Norwich to Stansted Airport.

So I suspect only one tph will be needed on this route.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need three trains.

Ipswich To Lowestoft

Currently, this is an hourly service, that takes a few minutes under an hour and a half with nine stops.

Looking at the timetable for the 11:17 from Ipswich, the various sections of the journey take.

  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – 86 minutes
  • Turnround at Lowestoft – 24 minutes
  • Lowestoft to  Ipswich – 89 minutes
  • Turnround at Ipswich – 41 minutes

Which gives a round trip time of four hours.

This is from the Wikipedia entry for the East Suffolk Line and describes the infrastructure.

The line is double-track from Ipswich to Woodbridge and from Saxmundham to Halesworth with the rest of the route being single track, apart from a short passing loop at Beccles. The line is not electrified, has a loading gauge of W10 between Ipswich and Westerfield and W6 for all other sections, and a line speed of between 40-55 mph.

Also note the following.

  • The current four hour round trip means that four trains are needed for the service.
  • Up and down trains pass at XX:25 at Beccles station and at XX:54-57 at Saxmundham station.
  • The turnround times at Ipswich and Lowestoft are long, so that the timetable works and the trains can pass at Beccles and Saxmundham.

Given some track improvements, removal of a couple of level crossings and some clever  timetabling, I suspect that the Class 755 trains could probably travel between Ipswich and Lowestoft in around an hour. Greater Anglian would like that for marketing reasons.

Turning these trains in thirty minutes would give a three hour round trip and reduce the number of trains required to three.

The real benefit comes if the line could be upgraded such that the Class 755 trains could do the round trip in two hours, which would reduce the number of trains required to two.

I suspect that there is extensive work being done to find a method to get a time of under an hour between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

When they’ve cracked that problem, they’ll probably move on to increasing the services on the line to two tph.

If they can crack both problems, two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft running in around an hour, would need just four trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need three trains, but a much more customer-friendly fwo tph would need four trains.

When the Lowestoft to London service is introduced, this will probably be a single morning train to London and an evening train back. This would need an additional train.

Ipswich To Felixstowe

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in an hour.

The track is being improved and I’m fairly sure that two tph are possible, which would need two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need a single train, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need two trains.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, the service is hourly and a single train does a round trip in three hours.

Note the following.

  • Three trains are needed to run the hourly service.
  • The current three-car trains can get very crowded.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • Haughley Junction is going to be improved.

I feel that the Ipswich to Cambridge time can be reduced to under an hour by the new trains.

This would have the following effects.

  • Reduce the number of trains required for an hourly service to two trains.
  • It might be possible to run a two tph service with four trains.

I suspect that two tph all the way from Cambridge to Ipswich may not be needed, as Greater Anglia’s proposed timetable includes two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds and the proposal was developed before Cambridge North station threw a new big and important station into the mix.

Consequently, we could see something very different at the Cambridge end of the route.

Perhaps an hourly service between Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds, needing perhaps two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need two trains, but a much more customer-friendly Western end would need perhaps two extra trains.

Improvements At Ipswich Station

Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Colchester Town To Sudbury

Greater Anglia have said that this new route will replace the current service on the Gainsborough Line.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester Town to Marks Tey – 14 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Sudbury – 20 minutes
  • Turnround at Sudbury – 5 minutes
  • Audbury to Marks Tey -19 minutes
  • Marks Tey to Colchester Town – 16 minutes.
  • Turnround at Colchester Town – 5 minutes

This gives a round trip of 79 minutes, with a Marks Tey to Marks Tey time of 44 minutes.

Note the following.

  • One train would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be reduced between an hour.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.
  • The Gainsborough Line has an operating speed of 50 mph.
  • A new platform will be needed at Colchester Town station.

I think is is highly likely that the Class 755 train will be able to do the round trip in under an hour.

If the time spent on the branch could be reduced to under thirty minutes, then two tph on the route are possible, which would need two trains.

To summarise, the current hourly service would need one train, but a much more customer-friendly two tph would need two trains.

Colchester To Peterborough

Greater Anglia have said that this new hourly service will replace the current service from Ipswich to Peterborough.

Current timings on this route are.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 20 minutes
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 99 minutes

A round trip should be possible in four hours.

Note the following.

  • Four trains would be needed to run an hourly service, if the round trip could be under four hours.
  • Some sections of the line are electrified.

If this service could be run at two tph, this would need eight trains.

I doubt two tph would be needed, as other trains and operators shadow the route.

To summarise, the proposed hourly service would need four trains.

Summary Of Class 755 Train Services

This is a summary of the current and proposed routes, with their frequencies and the trains needed

  • Norwich to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Sheringham – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Norwich to Lowestoft – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Lowestoft to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Lowestoft to London – One train per day would need one train.
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe – Hourly needs one train.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge – Hourly needs two trains.
  • Colchester Town to Sudbury – Hourly needs one train.
  • Colchester to Peterborough – Hourly needs four trains.

This is a total of twenty-one trains, which is less than the current number of trains running the service.

The reduction in trains needed is because of the following.

  • Class 755 trains are 100 mph trains and the timetable is written for 75 mph trains.
  • Class 755 trains will be able to stop at a station quicker than current trains.
  • Class 755 trains can take advantage of electrification where it exists.

Three- or four-car trains can be scheduled according to traffic needs.

In my analysis, I added what I thought would be more customer-friendly services.

  • Norwich to Yarmouth – Four tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Sheringham – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Norwich to Lowestoft – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Lowestoft to Yarmouth – Hourly needs one train.
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport – Hourly needs three trains.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft – Two tph needs four trains.
  • Lowestoft to London – One train per day would need one train.
  • Ipswich to Felixstowe – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge – Hourly needs two trains. Plus two trains to shuttle around Cambridge, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Colchester Town to Sudbury – Two tph needs two trains.
  • Colchester to Peterborough – Hourly needs four trains.

This is a total of thirty-one trains, which is still below the total number of thirty-eight trains.

Greater Anglia probably won’t expand services in the way I have suggested, but consider the following.

  • They have a flexible fleet with both three- and four-car Class 755 trains.
  • They are the dominant passenger operator.
  • Norwich and Cambridge stations have good platform capacity and Ipswich can be improved.
  • Most of the signalling and track is in excellent condition.

This would enable train services to be increased as required.

There would also be trains available for new services such as.

  • Cambridge to Wisbech.
  • Ipswich to Aldeburgh

I could even envisage a Bury St. Edmunds to London service, that splits and joins with the Lowestoft to London service at Ipswich station.

Greater Anglia have planned well.

 

Infrastructure Required

The infrastructure required to run all these trains includes

  • The Wherry Lines are being resignalled, This may not be needed, but it will certainly make things easier.
  • Some platforms may need to be lengthened.
  • Ideally, all the station platforms will be adjusted so that their height fits the Class 755 trains.
  • The Reedham Chord may be reinstated to allow direct Lowestoft to Yarmouth services.
  • Track improvements might night be needed on the Esst Suffolk Line.
  • Ipswich station will need extra platform capacity to handle extra services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
  • Colchester Town will need a second platform for the service to Sudbury.

No electrification is required, although to perhaps extend the wires for a few hundred metres in a few places might ease operation.

  • From Norwich to where the Bittern and Wherry Lines divide.
  • From Ipswich to where the East Suffolk and Felixstowe Lines divide.
  • At Marks Tey along the Gainsborough Line.

This will allow the Class 755 trains to run on electricity for longer.

Conclusion

I’m probably very wide of mark, but iI do feel there is scope with the large number of Class 755 trains ordered by Greater Anglia to improve trains in East Anglia by a large amount.

 

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Design Of The New Greater Anglia Class 745 Train

I am writing this article about the new Class 745 trains for Greater Anglia, as I think they fit the evolving pattern of train design.

The Article In The July 2017 Edition Of Modern Railways

In the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled GA Shows Off Stadler Mock-Up, where this is said.

GA’s fleet will all offer air-conditioning, wi-fi, plug and USB points, electronic seat reservations and will have a low floor design to offer improved accessibility.

I would expect no less!

This is also said.

The 12-car EMUs are formed of two six-car sets permanently married together. Each six-car set has one power bogie at each end, with a total of four on a 12-car train.

As the train has a First Class section and the bistro buffet between First and Second Classes, I suspect there could be two different types of six-car set.

  • One with the First Class seats, the bistro buffet and perhaps a couple of Second Class cars.
  • One with Second Class seats.

Normally, trains will be formed of one of each set.

I would assume, if say two six-car sets were out of service for some reason, the two working sets could be married to create some temporary capacity.

But yet again we see a train and a half-train philosophy.

Bicycle Spaces

As the Norwich trains will have six bicycle spaces, perhaps three will be placed in each set.

The article also says that Stansted Expresses will have eighteen spaces. Perhaps, Class 745 trains have a movable bulkhead at the end opposite to the cab, so that bicycle capacity can be tailored to the expected passengers.

Surely, being able to book your bicycle on the train going to East Anglia for the weekend will not be a feature that is not used.

Capacity To Norwich

Currently, there is two trains per hour (tph) between London and Norwich via Colchester and Ipswich, which are eight-cars long.

The new trains will enable 3 tph, each of twelve-cars, which is more than doubling the number of cars in an hour.

Train Power

The current Class 90 locomotives have a power output of 930 kW to pull the eight coaches.

It could be that each of the four powered bogies are rated at 1000 kW, so if that is right, these new trains are much more powerful than the current ones.

This is an extract from the article.

GA is currently investigating the potential to change from diesel to electric power on the move, and says it will seek to utilise the environmental benefits of electric power wherever possible, even on short stretches out of Norwich and Ipswich stations.

All units are designed for 100 mph operation, but with the potential for upgrading to 110 mph in future.

Does the speed upgrade apply to both the electric and bi-mode units?

Knowing the lines well, I suspect that the extra speed could be useful on the following lines.

  • Stowmarket to Norwich
  • Cambridge to Norwich

I suspect that if there is more improved double-track introduced, there couple be other places.

Conclusion

So expect Norwich-in-Ninety and Ipswich-in-Sixty!

 

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?

This Google Map shows Norwich station and the various rail lines that serve it.

Norwich Station And Approach Lines

Norwich Station And Approach Lines

All the lines come into the station from the East and they split soon after leaving the station, with lines to Cromer, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth taking the Eastern line, with trains to Ipswich and Cambridge taking the Southern line.

Between the two lines, lies Crown Point Traction and Rolling Stock Depot, which looks after much of Greater Anglia‘s rolling stock.

This Google Map shows the bridge at the South West corner of the depot, where the rail line to Ipswich and Cambridge, crosses the River Wensum.

Trowse Bridge

Trowse Bridge

Trowse Bridge is no ordinary bridge.

  • It is a single track swing bridge.
  • It was built in the 1980s, probably to a low cost design.
  • It is electrified by overhead conductor rail, rather than overhead wire.
  • It is mandated by an Act of Parliament to open for traffic on the river on demand.
  • It is rather unreliable.

It must be a nightmare for both Greater Anglia and Network Rail.

I wonder if this bridge has had effects on projects that are happening in East Anglia.

The New Depot At Brantham

A new depot is being built by Greater Anglia at Brantham, just North of Manningtree station. There are obviously, good reasons for this, but could the access over the Trowse Bridge to Crown Point be a factor.

It would certainly be easier for bi-mode Flirts working Lowestoft-Ipswich and Colchester-Peterborough to be based at Brantham rather than Crown Point. Wikipedia says this.

Scheduled to open in 2018, it will be the home depot for Greater Anglia’s new fleet of Class 745 and Class 755 Stadler Flirts.

Greater Anglia would be a very unusual company, if they didn’t have an efficient plan for the stabling and maintenance of their new trains.

Direct Yarmouth To Lowestoft Trains Via A Reinstated Reedham Chord

There used to be a direct Yarmouth to Lowestoft Line, but now it is possible to use the Wherry Lines, with a reverse at Reedham station.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

Could one of the reasons for looking at the the reinstatement of the Reedham Chord, be that it would allow diagrams for the trains working the branch lines to the East of Norwich and Ipswich to avoid the Trowse Bridge?

The Design Of The London To Norwich Trains

The current rakes of eight Mark 3 coaches hauled by Class 90 locomotives, that run the service between London to Norwich, only have one pantograph.

So does this mean there are operational problems with the train on the Trowse Bridge, as it does seem that the bridge owes a lot to Mr. Heath Robinson.

A long modern electric multiple unit, like say the Class 345 trains for Crossrail, often has two pantographs. This should be more reliable, if one should fail.

Consider.

  • The Class 745 trains, which have been ordered to replace current trains, will be somewhere around two hundred metres long.
  • These trains are Stadler Flirts, which in some cases have two pantographs.
  • Trowse bridge is less than thirty metres long.
  • The other passenger trains that will use bridge, will be bi-mode like the Class 755 trains or diesel.
  • On modern trains, pantograph control is automatic and fast.
  • Electrification gaps are common on third-rail systems.

Would two pantographs, allow the Class 745 trains to bridge an electrification gap on the bridge.

Suppose, the electrification was removed from the Trowse Bridge!

Would this and other improvements make it possible to simplify the bridge and improve reliability?

|Electric trains could use the following procedure to cross the bridge.

  • Trains could approach the bridge with the front pantograph lowered., drawing power from the rear one.
  • The train would cross the bridge and when the front pantograph was under the overhead wire on the other side, it would automatically raise and connect, lowering the rear pantograph appropriately.

Bi-mode trains would just use their diesel engines, swapping between modes automatically.

The Replacement Of The Bridge

Eventually, the bridge will have to be replaced, but surely a bridge without electrification would be easier to design and build. It could even be double-track to improve capacity into and out of Norwich.

I suspect that the long-term solution would be a double-track lifting bridge, similar to the Kingsferry Bridge in Kent. This was built in 1960 at a cost of £1.2million, which is £19.3million in today’s money.

When it is completed the Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme, will incorporate a similar lifting bridge which will carry a road and the Manchester Metrolink over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Both these schemes also incorporate roads, so the Trowse Bridge will be simpler.

I think there could be scope for an engineer or architect to design something special for this crossing.

The Affordable Alternative

It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and  foot and cycle bridges.

As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.

Other bribes could be given to occassional users.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crossrail 2 ‘Cannot Go Ahead’ Without Four-Tracking Of West Anglia Line

This is the title of an article in Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

MPs for constituencies along the West Anglia line called for the route to be four-tracked in order to accommodate new rolling stock and Crossrail 2 at a Westminster Hall debate yesterday.

I know the West Anglia Main Line very well, as for perhaps fifteen years, I used to travel on it, regularly to get between Cambridge and London.

The Problems Of The West Anglia Main Line

Summarising its shortcomings, I would include.

  1. Trains are too slow.
  2. Capacity on the line is too small.
  3. There are lots of level crossings, which cause problems.
  4. With the development of the port at London Gateway, there could be pressure to put more freight trains on this line, to go to and from the North.
  5. Services from London, should be better integrated with Peterborough and Norwich services.
  6. Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds to Stansted Airport, is not easy by train.

This Infrastructure section in Wikipedia describes the West Anglia Main Line.

The line was initially 5 ft (1,524 mm) gauge, but between 5 September and 7 October 1844 it was converted to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge.

In 2013 the line was double track for most of its length, with small sections of single track on the Stansted branch and at Ware and quadruple track between Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC and has a loading gauge of W8 except for the Stansted branch, which is W6.

The line is very much inferior to the Great Eastern Main Line.

The New Greater Anglia Franchise

The new Greater Anglia Franchise, will go a long way to sorting points 5 and 6, by introducing hourly services on the following routes.

  • Norwich to Stansred Airport via Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations.
  • Colchester to Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, and Ely.

With improved services from London to Stansted, this will help sort out a lot of the problems on the line.

But these changes will only put more pressure on capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.

Freight

The West Anglia Main Line doesn’t carry large numbers of freight trains, but there could be pressure to increase freight on the line in the future.

Once the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is electrified, there will be another electrified route from London Gateway to Peteborough.

It might be decided to reinstate the rail line from March to Spalding and the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line, to take freight away from the East Coast Main Line.

If thiese routes get to be used for freight, it will put extra pressure for more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.

More Capacity On The West Anglia Main Line

With demand for more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line, I think it is inevitable that the line will be improved.

This Future Developments section in Wikipedia, outlines what might happen.

If Stansted Airport’s expansion is authorised it is planned that the line will see many further changes. Long term proposals include four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne junction; an additional tunnel and platform edge on the Stansted Airport branch; one additional train per hour serving Stansted and up to six further trains per hour at peak times, including four into Stratford as a terminus. More stations, such as Broxbourne, will also have platform extensions to accommodate 12-car trains.

It seems likely that two tracks will be built alongside the line to Cheshunt as part of Crossrail 2. Intermediate stations from Tottenham Hale will transfer to Crossrail 2 releasing capacity on the main line for additional trains

Stansted Airport have certainly been a forceful advocate of four-tracking the West Anglia  Main Line.

Four-tracking of the twelve or so miles between Coppermill and Broxbourne Junctions would allow the following.

  • The possibility of at least 100 mph running on the fast lines.
  • Separation of slow and fast services.
  • Stansted and Cambridge Express services, that would be worthy of the name.
  • The possibility of more freight trains.

 

Four-tracking would certainly do the following.

  • Get the line ready to connect to Crossrail 2.
  • Probably make all stations between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne step-free.
  • Add the station at Meridian Water to the line.
  • Improve the freight gauge from W8 to W10, where needed.

I suspect that four-tracking will also remove some of the notorious level crossings on the line.

I have this feeling that the four-tracking of this line could be one of those projects, where the existing infrastructure works normally, whilst the new tracks are built alongside.

Fast Services To Stansted, Cambridge And Norwich

South of Broxbourne station, fast services to and from Cambridge, only stop at Cheshunt and Tottenham Hale.

Given that the Flirts, that will be running Cambridge and Stansted services in a few years will be 125 mph trains, would it be worth it to save a few minutes building the new fast lines to allow running at this speed?

But should the four-track section of railway stop at Broxbourne Junction?

Between Broxbourne and Bishops Strtford, the West Anglia Main Line, has wide margins and I think that there are possibilities of extending the four-track section further North, perhaps even to Bishops Stortford station.

As an example, this Google Map shows Roydon station.

Roydon Station

Roydon Station

The biggest problem at Roydon is the level crossing, but on a quick look, it would appear that four-tracking would be possible.

From my memories of driving past and going through Bishops Stortford station, I thought this station would be a major problem to four-tracking.

But look at this Google Map of the station.

Bishops Stortford Station

Bishops Stortford Station

It would appear that space is not the premium I expected.

I think it would be possible to expand the station, to take advantage of two slow and two fast lines South of the station.

Surely, the fast lines, even if a good proportion of trains stopped at the station could accommodate twelve or more trains per hour (tph) to Stansted Airport, Cambridge and the North.

North of Bishops Stortford, all of the trains would be modern trains with the following characteristics.

  • The ability to cruise at 100 mph or more.
  • The ability to stop and start extremely fast.

So I suspect, that if the current infrastructure was improved, consistent 100 mph running would be possible to Cambridge.

Cambridge could be a problem with all the work going on.

  • The expansion of the existing Cambridge station
  • The building of the new Cambridge North station
  • The reorganisation of services to cope with the new Greater Anglia franchise.
  • The arrival of the East West Rail Link in the mid-2020s.

But I suspect Network Rail and Greater Anglia are working together on the solutions, to raise speeds all the way to Ely.

North of Ely, the Breckland Line has a lower speed limit of 75-90 mph, but if it were to be upgraded for 100 mph running, this would mean that the new Norwich to Stansted service via Cambridge using bi-mode Flirt trains, would be considerably faster, than the ten minutes short of two hours now possible with a change at Cambridge.

One thing, that I suspect will happen is that the following services will arrive and leave in a convenient pattern at Cambridge.

  • Cambridge to/from Ipswich
  • Stansted Airport to/from Norwich
  • Cambridge to/from Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross to/from Cambridge
  • Liverpool Street to/from Cambridge
  • Peterborough to/from Cambridge
  • Thameslink to/from Cambridge

Cambridge will become an increasingly busy interchange.

As an example, I think we could see a Norwich to Kings Cross time of under two hours, with a change at Cambridge. Perhaps not ninety minutes, but with an upgraded Breckland Line running 100 mph plus bi-mode Flirts, it wouldn’t be far off.

Coppermill Junction

Four-tracking is proposed to start at Coppermill Junction, just South of Tottenham Hale station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Coppermill Junction.

Coppermill Junction

Coppermill Junction

Note.

  • The tunnels for Crossrail 2 will emerge to the North-West of this junction.
  • Rail access to the Crossrail 2 worksite would be a necessity.
  • I talked about plans to reinstate the Coppermill and Hall Farm Curves in Rumours Of Curves In Walthamstow.
  • The only inhabitants of the area are probably foxes, great crested newts and other sundry wildlife.

Surely, the creation of an upgraded track layout at Coppermill Junction, that allows Crossrail 2 to be built without disrupting services on the West Anglia Main Line and the Chingford Branch is important.

The reinstated Hall Farm Curve would also allow Chingford Branch services to run to Stratford for Crossrail and alternative Underground services.

The work to this junction, further emphasises that four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line must be done before Crossrail 2 is built.

Crossrail 2

Politics, public relations and good project management all probably say, that when Crossrail 2 gets the go-ahead, four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line, should be done first.

In a related and parallel project, the branch lines in South West London, should also be upgraded as early as possible to bring visible benefits.

  • Longer platforms at stations where needed.
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Sorting of level crossings and bottle-necks.

These improvements are needed, even if Crossrail 2 is not built.

If I have a criticism of the current Crossrail and Thameslink projects, it is that they are big-bang projects, where nothing appears to have happened except disruption for years and then it will all come together in a great splurge in 2018-2019.

With Crossrail 2, there is possibly a chance to build the line, so that the benefits come in a steady stream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

An Illustration Of East Anglia’s Rail Problems

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled More capacity for Anglia with second locomotive hauled set.

It describes how Abellio Greater Anglia is hiring in two Class 68 locomotives and a rake of three Mark 2 coaches, to maintain services after one of its Class 170 diesel multiple units, was badly damaged in a crash with a tractor at a level crossing in April. There are more details of this in this story on ITV, which is entitled Train carrying 135 passengers crashes at level crossing.

The hiring in of two-brand new locomotives can’t be a very affordable option, but it just illustrates that there is no spare stock available. If say a major bus company needs extra capacity for a big event, contingency plans probably mean a fleet is rustled up from somewhere.

So why isn’t there a pool of say refurbished diesel multiple units available? Most old diesel multiple units are probably only fit for scrap, when they are retired and I doubt any Government since railway nationialisation in 1948, would have allowed train companioes to have a central pool for emergencies.

But the real cause of this particular problem, is the old East Anglian one of level crossings. And a lot of those in East Anglia have trains passing at over 75 mph.

Intriguingly, in The New Trains Arriving In East Anglia, if I got it right that the Breckland Line between Cambridge and Norwich is going to run four- or even eight-car 100 mph electric trains with an IPEMU capability, then something must be done about these level crossings. The infrastructure has already been updated with new signalling and track improvements, but obviously this private level crossing was still being used.

July 1, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The New Trains Arriving In East Anglia

This article in the Derby Telegraph is entitled Derby workers on tenterhooks over contract worth BILLIONS. (Note the newspaper’s capitals!)

It states that the new East Anglian Franchise could be announced tomorrow, as it is supposed to be settled in June, and that the order for new trains is between Bombardier and Siemens.

I can’t believe that given the current Euro-turmoil in the country, that Siemens will be given this order.

I think that we can assume that based on London Overgroun’s contract for Class 710 trains, where this is said.

In July 2015 TfL announced that it had placed a £260m order for 45 4-car Bombardier Aventra EMUs

That a new four-car Aventra train will cost around £6million. I would suspect that Siemens Desiro City would probably be around the same price.

So for a billion pounds, you would get around a hundred and thirty trains.

As I said in Could Class 387 Trains Do Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty?, one twelve-car Class 387 train, could fulfil the franchise requirement of two fast trains a day on the Great Eastern Main Line in both directions. It might even be possible to deliver it, early in 2017, now that it appears production of Class 387 trains might be able to continue.

The Derby Telegragh article talks about Aventra trains, but unlike Class 387 trains, these would not be available until probably 2019, at the earliest.

But Aventras for the flagship London-Ipswich-Norwich route could be delivered with all or part of this specification.

  • Up to twelve-cars.
  • Walk-through capability. Thameslink’s Bedford to Brighton serrvice will be like this, so why not?
  • A specially-design business- and commuter-friendly interior.
  • 125 mph capability to give all services Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty.
  • A buffet car could be provided.
  • An IPEMU capability, so a direct Yarmouth service could be introduced.

Some might mourn the passing of the much-loved and well-used Mark 3 coaches, but the Great Eastern Main Line would have one of the best commuting trains in Europe.

I estimate that six sets would be needed to provide two trains per hour in 90 minutes between Norwich and London.

Currently, they have sixteen sets with eight coaches.

If the trains had an IPEMU-capability, which is possible, but of course hasn’t been announced, these trains could also work Norwich to London via the Breckland Line and the West Anglia Main Line, serving Thetford, Ely, the new Cambridge North, Cambridge and Tottenham Hale. Currently, this route would take just under three hours with a change at Cambridge. What time a 125 mph electric train could manage, is pure speculation, but a time of two and a half is probably possible, with some track improvements on the route.

So could we see the current hourly, Norwich to Cambridge service on this route, serving Cambridge North and extended to London? It would give advantages to passengers, the operator and Network Rail.

  • The improved connectivity between Cambridge and Norwich would spread the benefits of the Fenland Powerhouse to Norwich and Norfolk.
  • Norfolk would get a third direct route to the capital, after the Great Eastern Main Line and the Fen Line.
  • Norwich services would have a same platform interchange to Thameslink at one or possibly both Cambridge stations.
  • One of the Northern bay platforms at Cambridge would be used more efficiently, as most Norwich services would be through trains.
  • The trains could be identical or very similar to those serving the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The route would be available as a diversionary route between Norwich and London, should the |Great Eastern Main Line be closed.
  • There would be no major electrification needed.

To provide an hourly service, I think that three trains will be needed.

The Great Eastern Main Line to Ipswich and the western route to Ely, have platforms long enough for twelve-car trains. North from Ipswich, they can certainly take ten-car trains, as that is the effective length of the current stock.

So will the stock be eight- or twelve-car trains? It could be either, with perhaps some platform lengthening on the western route.

The minimum number of trains would be six for the Great Eastern Main Line and three for the western route. It would probably be prudent to call it ten trains.

I think adding in a bit extra for 125 mph and IPEMU-capabilities and a custom interior, that prices could be of the order of.

  • £20million for an eight-car train or £200million for ten.
  • £30million for a twelve-car train or £300million for ten.

That’s not billions!

Shorter units of perhaps four-car or eight-car formations with an IPEMU-capability,  could run the following routes.

  • Ipswich to Cambridge
  • Ipswich to Ely and Peterborough.
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft, if some form of charging could be provided at Lowestoft.

Four trains of eight-cars for these Ipswich-based routes, would be another £80million.

Still not billions!

This leads me to the conclusion, that a large number of other electric trains in the franchise will be replaced.

  • I believe for Norwich in Ninety, all trains north of Colchester need to have a 110 mph-capability or better.
  • Some trains are very tired, dated and lack capacity.
  • Some could have an IPEMU-capability for working the branch lines that don’t have electrification.

In the present franchise there are the following trains working the Great Eastern Main Line and the West Anglia Main Line

All are of four cars.

If all except the nearly-new Class 379 trains, were replaced with Aventras, that would cost about £950million including the IPEMUs for the branch lines.

I think that if they can develop a sensible way of charging trains at Lowestoft, Sherringham and Yarmouth, this would give the following advantages.

  • Every train would be a new or nearly-new electric multiple unit.
  • Some trains would have an IPEMU capability to handle lines without electrification.
  • Every train would be able to use regenerative braking to save energy.
  • There would be a large increase in capacity.
  • Most services would be faster and not just Norwich and Ipswich to London.
  • New trains into Southend to compete with c2c.
  • Trains would be available to serve the new Cambridge North station.
  • A possible London to Lowestoft service could be run.
  • .Services between Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough could be increased.
  • March to Wisbech could be added to the network.
  • Diversionary routes from Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough to London have been created.
  • No new electrification of a substantial nature.
  • Some quality diesel trains would be released to other operators.

As I indicated earlier, if it was decided to fulfil the requirements of Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty, early in the franchise, this could be done with some Class 387 trains.

If this happens, it will be a substantial improvement on the current service.

East Anglia will have been totally-electrified for passenger services, with all the electrification being done in a new, modern factory in Derby.

I don’t know what will happen, but unless something like this does, I can’t see how Bombardier will get the order for billions of pounds of new trains, as reported in the Derby Telegraph.

Engineering is the science of the possible!

 

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Class 387 Trains Do Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty?

In Are More Class 387 Trains On The Way?, I postulated that Bombardier may have the capability to build more Class 387 trains, and that they could be used on services between Liverpool Street, Ipswich and Norwich.

Currently, the route is worked by Class 90 locomotives pulling and pushing eight Mark 3 coaches, with the help of a driving van trailer.

There are several problems and possible problems with the current trains.

  • The Class 90s are approaching thirty years old.
  • The Class 90s have had maintenance issues in the past.
  • The Class 90s don’t have regenerative braking.
  • The sewage discharge from the toilets  in the Mark 3 coaches, doesn’t meet the latest regulations.
  • The doors on the Mark 3 coaches, don’t meet the latest regulations or the expectation of passengers.
  • The doors must lengthen stops at stations. I wonder what is the difference between these trains and say a Class 390 train!
  • Entrance and exit from the Mark 3 coaches is not step-free.
  • Ride in the Mark 3 coaches is good, but the quality of the seating and number of tables in standard class, leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Wi-fi is not to the standard passengers expect these days.
  • Effectively you get eight coaches of passengers in a train the length of ten cars, that is running on a line with 12-car platforms.
  • The trains can’t serve Great Yarmouth.

Refurbishment is being applied to the train sets, but will that be good enough?

Updating the line’s, sixteen rakes of eight carriages would be a totally different matter to Chiltern’s creation of their superb sets of six carriages.

  • Would fixing the doors and the toilets on a hundred and thirty carriages be economic?
  • Is there the capacity to do the rebuild?
  • Fifteen trains are probably needed to run the service, so how long would it take to upgrade sixteen trains one after the other?
  • New carriages from the only source I know; CAF would mean waiting a few years.

In addition, this is said under proposed developments of the Great Eastern Main Line in Wikipedia.

In November 2013 an upgrade of the GEML to enable London-Norwich express services to achieve an improved journey time of 90 minutes was announced, this indicated that a raised line speed of 110 mph would be required and the replacement of the existing Mark 3 rolling stock with new inter-city rolling stock.

So it looks like Norwich in Ninrty isn’t on with the current trains. Could this be the reason, why the specification for the new franchise specifies just two fast trains per day in each direction?

The East Anglian Express

The starting point for this would be three Gatwick Express-style Class 387 trains working as a 12-car unit.

  • Twelve cars would be able to run on the line’s long platforms.
  • The Gatwick-style interior, without the extra luggage capacity, would be a good starting point for what is needed.
  • It would certainly be able to maintain 110 mph for large parts of the route from London to Norwich.
  • An IPEMU version would be available.
  • Delivery could be as early as 2018.

What would be the issues raised by replacing the current trains with twelve-car Class 387 trains?

Capacity

Capacity is a problem on the services between London and Norwich.

It is a problem, despite passengers being squeezed in tightly.

At present the current trains have eight carriages, but Class 387 trains on Gatwick Express regularly run with twelve carriages.

I think that we can assume that, twelve-car electric multiple units are possible from London to Norwich, perhaps after some platform lengthening.

I can’t find any reliable figures on the Internet as to capacity, so I’ll have to resort to riding on the trains and counting seats.

Certainly, the Class 387 trains have more tables.

Acceleration

I don’t know if the acceleration of the Class 387 trains or the current trains is better.

But the Class 387 train has a power of 2,250 HP or 750 HP per carriage, whereas the current train has an installed power of just 1,250 HP or 156 HP per carriage.

I know it’s a bit of a comparison between apples and oranges, but it would appear that the Class 387 train has more power per carriage and might accelerate faster.

Braking

It may surprise some people, but if you want a train to run fast over a route with stops, you need efficient and high quality braking systems. The Class 387 train has the latest regenerative braking, whereas the current train has technology from thirty years ago.

As the Class 360 trains, that share the line to Ipswich have regenerative braking, I suspect that some parts of the line is built to accept returned energy, but is all of it?

With Class 387 trains, there is always the option to make them IPEMUs, so that braking energy is stored on the train and used to give extra acceleration on pulling away from the station.

Line Speed

Obviously, the faster the line speed, the quicker the journey time. At present it is 100 mph and the current trains are 110 mph capable as are the Class 387 trains.

So it looks like a bigger increase in performance can come by giving as much of the track as possible a 110 mph line speed.

Remember too, that between Haughley Junction and Norwich, the only significant feature of the line is the stop at Diss, so I would suspect it would almost be 110 mph all the way. As you’re looking for savings of thirty minutes or so between London and Norwich, I wonder if this section of line could be even faster.

Stops

Several factors determine the speed of calling at a station in a train.

  • How fast the train can brake from line speed and stop in the station.
  • How long it takes the passengers to get off and on the train.
  • Good design of the train-platform interface, with wide doors, large lobbies and just a step across all helping.
  • How fast the train can accelerate back up to line speed.
  • Well-trained staff.

There are obviously other factors like waiting for other trains to connect or clear signals, but these will effect all trains.

Because of their better design, faster acceleration and regenerative braking, I think that the Class 387 trains will save something at every stop over the current trains.

I also think we’ll see stops reduced to an absolute minimum on the fastest trains, which might only stop at Ipswich and Colchester.

Interaction With Stopping Trains

I will make an assumption that London to Norwich trains will never run more frequently than four trains per hour. As it is currently two trains per hour, I think that is a reasonable assumption.

From Liverpool Street to Shenfield, there will be occasional trains stopping at perhaps, Stratford, Ilford and Romford, but with a fifteen minute window between fast expresses, I suspect everything could be fitted in, especially as local trains and passengers will use the frequent Crossrail.

Shenfield to Colchester is the difficult bit, as there are trains to Colchester Town, Clacton, Frinton and Walton to accommodate on the double-track main line.

North of Colchester it gets easier, with the only section with serious levels of traffic being the stretch between Ipswich and Haughley Junction, where freight trains to and from Felixstowe run along the double-track main line.

One way of easing the problem would be to make as many trains as possible on the line capable of running at line speed. The thirteen-year-old Class 360 trains are only capable of 100 mph.

Perhaps the expensive part of Norwich in Ninety is replacing the Class 360 trains with more Class 387 trains or some other 110 mph train?

The Digital Railway

Network Rail’s Digital Railway must surely help in running trains at up to 110 mph on some of the busier parts of the line.

Crossrail

Crossrail is going to have effects on the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Crossrail will mean that between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, a lot fewer trains will stop on the fast lines.
  • Would it be possible to have 110 mph running between Liverpool Street and Shenfield?
  • Journeys like Diss to Goodmayes and Ipswich to Ilford should be quicker and easier.
  • If Norwich services stop at Shenfield and/or Stratford, how many passengers will transfer to Crossrail?

But we will have to wait until Crossrail opens to see how it changes travel patterns.

Stopping At Shenfield

One consequence of swifter stops is that an extra stop at Shenfield might be possible. This would connect to Crossrail, Southend and Southend Airport.

If you stop at Shenfield, there might be less need to stop at Stratford.

But passenger statistics will decide what is best.

Buffet Car

The current service has a buffet car. The Henry Blofelds of this world like to enjoy their train travel, so something better than a trolley service must be provided.

But that is a design issue, not one to do with the actual trains!

If the trains were fixed twelve-car formations, First Class might be in cars 1-3, with a buffet/shop in car 4. Car 1 would be the London end of the train.

Extra Services

There are several services in East Anglia, that could benefit from the intreoduction of new modern electric trains of at least four-cars.

  • London to Norwich via Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely.
  • London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough

All routes are electrified and would be possible with a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

Delivery And Introduction Into Service

If we assume that the two Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty are to start as soon as possible, then it will be a challenging condition to meet.

Suppose, that delivery of just one twelve-car train is possible at an early date, how could it be used?

Currently, the first three trains out of Norwich leave at 05:00, 05:30 and 06:00 taking a few minutes under two hours to Liverpool Street.

Let’s suppose that after running into London in ninety minutes non-stop or with just a stop at Ipswich, it arrives back in Norwich perhaps three hours and twenty minutes later.

The train that left at 05:00 could now form the 08:30 to London and do the trip in ninety minutes, provided it could thread its way through the traffic between Colchester and Shenfield.

Obviously, the 05:30 and 06:00 trains could form the 09:00 and 09:30 trains to London respectively.

But Norwich has got two ninety minute high-capacity East Anglian Express services to London with the delivery of just one 12-car train.

Obviously, in the evening the reverse would happen.

In fact, they might get more than two Norwich in Ninety services, as I doubt the train would sit around all day in a siding. If the pattern of a Norwich in Ninety service every three and a half hours through the day, there would be at least five services possible.

Two new trains would mean that say all on the hour departures from Norwich were Norwich in Ninety, with the existing stock performing as now on the half hour.

Alternative Strategies

As only one train is needed to meet the franchise requirement, are there  alternative trains that could be used? The train would need.

  • 110 mph or greater top speed.
  • Preferably electric power, as diesel-powered would be a backward step.
  • At least eight carriages.
  • A quality interior.

I don’t think a second-hand train would be good enough, as East Anglia has had enough of hand-me-downs!

The only suitable train, that the new East Anglian Franchise could obtain, would be a twelve-car Class 379 train, which is a close relation of the Class 387 train.

  • The Class 379 trains are in service with Abellio Greater Anglia on Stanstead Express and Cambridge services.
  • They are only a 100 mph train, but probably could be uprated to 110 mph.

But that would ask the question of what would fill in on the West Anglia Main Line.

The Final Solution

I feel that by using every trick in the book, that a suitable train can be found, that could do Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty at least twice a day.

I suspect it would only need one train to meet the franchise requirement.

But two trains a day from Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty will not satisfy the passengers for long.

Given that all the 100 mph Class 360 and Class 321 trains on the line, slow everything down, I can see these trains being updated or replaced with 110 mph units.

In addition to the services I mentioned under Extra Services, there are several lines that could benefit from trains fitted with IPEMU technology.

Could we be seeing a large order for Aventra trains or something similar soon after the franchise is awarded. Some trains would need a 125 mph capability for Norwich services and some would have an IPEMU capability for the lines without electrification.

Conclusions

I have come to the conclusion that Class 387 trains can probably do Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty from London.

I think though to achieve this, the following must happen.

  • Line speed is raised to 110 mph in all places possible.
  • Bottlenecks like the Trowse Bridge are minimised.
  • Stops will be cut to an absolute minimum on the fastest trains.
  • The Class 360 and Class 321 trains must also be replaced with 110 mph trains.
  • The Digital Railway will play its part.

I do think though that to get all London to Norwich trains to ninety minutes, that it might need a faster train with a speed of 125 mph on the line north of Haughley Junction, which would be upgraded for perhaps 120 mph.

But I don’t know how much good engineers can squeeze out of the current 100 mph line on the long straights North of Haughley.

 

June 23, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 7 Comments

Abellio Greater Anglia Make Football At Ipswich And Norwich Difficult

A couple of seasons ago, my getting to Portman Road for the football was made very difficult, as virtually every match was difficult because of works on the line and it meant getting on a bus for most of the day.

So now Network Rail is sorting out the ballast on the track and from the 31st of January until the 22nd of March there will be no direct trains between London, Ipswich and Norwich at weekends.

A typical journey will now take nearly two hours, as opposed to the just over one it normally does. As that is twice, I really must get a lift up and back from somewhere.

Luckily it would appear to only be three matches; Wigan (31st Jan), Reading (21st Feb) and Brentford (7th Mar), as most in the period seem to be on Tuesday evening or we’re away at easier places to get to like Rotherham or Middlesbrough.

Tuesday night matches seem to be OK at the moment. Although, if we have extra time and penalties in the FA Cup replay on Wednesday, getting home might be tricky. As I write this there is a lot of anger on the forums complaining about no late trains after the match to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

For the Norwich match on the first of March, which thankfully has a 14:05 start, it looks more feasible to go via Kings Cross and change at Cambridge.

Obviously, the ballast cleaning has to be done, but Abellio Greater Anglia could have used this disruption to fans getting to and from matches as a vehicle to show how well they can deal with adversity, instead of getting the old tired solutions out of the box.

For example, Abellio Greater Anglia have several rakes of Mark 3 coaches that run the services up the East Anglian Main Line. Could they not use a diesel locomotive to on match days run a football special either via or from Cambridge? Properly done, it might retrieve their battered reputation and encourage more people to travel by train.

But they can’t even get their information right. This was a poster at Liverpool Street on Saturday the 10th.

Greater Anglia Gets The Dates Wrong

Greater Anglia Gets The Dates Wrong

That is unless it’s me who’s got the wrong dates. At least they said the first of January was New Year’s Day. Although, it was a Thursday not a Wednesday.

It would be interesting to know how Norwich fans are coping during this period, as I think quite a few are dependent on using the long-distance trains to get to both home and away matches. Surely, during this interruption, they should seriously think about running direct diesel-hauled services from London to Norwich via Cambridge for all passengers. Does granny visiting Norwich really want to spend hours on a coach, when she booked a comfortable train? Especially, if it’s crammed full with angry football fans worried about missing the match or getting their onward connection in London.

Yet again, Abellio Greater Anglia have shown all the conservatism and arrogance of their Dutch masters, who managed the Fyra fiasco and introduced one of Europe’s worst ticketing systems to piss off foreign visitors.

 

January 11, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment