The Anonymous Widower

The Robin Hood Line In Nottingham

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the Robin Hood Line as it connects to Nottingham station.


Note the triangular junction towards the bottom of the map.

  • The line to the East goes into Nottingham station.
  • The line to the West goes to Beeston and eventually to London. In a few years time, it will go to the East Midland Hub station for HS2.
  • The line to the North is the Robin Hood Line and the Erewash Valley Line.

The \Erewash Valley Line splits to the West, from the Robin Hood Line just off the top of the map to the North of Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus.

It is worth looking at services that go between these two branches and Nottingham station.

Langley Mill station on the Erewash Valley Line has the following services.

  • One train per hour (tph) between Nottingham and Leeds.
  • A few trains per day between Liverpool and Nottingham.
  • Some trains between Sheffield and London stop.

Passengers though are expected to take the infrequent service to Nottingham for onward trains.

On the 2nd of April, Ilkeston station will open on the Erewash Valley Line between Nottingham and Langley Mill.

Hucknall station on the Robin Hood Line has two hourly services.

Plans also exist for a branch to Ollerton, so this might change the service pattern. But there is no more than a total of four or five trains per hour in both directions.

All of these services go round the North-East chord of the junction and thus connect Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus and  Nottingham station

But there are no stations along this line, although there used to be one at Radford.

In A Look At New Station Projects, I came across references to stations at Faraday Road and Lenton.

Both locations are on this section of line and it would seem logical that the more Northerly location would be ideal to serve the Jubilee Campus.

If only the local trains stopped, it would have the following services.

  • 1-2 tph to Ilkeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton
  • 2 tph to Hucknall, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Mansfield
  • 3-4 tph to Nottingham.

Other questions and issues are raised.

  • Would a second station to the South nearer to the triangular junction be worthwhile?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit. have an interchange with the trains the Robin Hood Line?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit call both campuses of the University of Nottingham?
  • In future could 1-2 tph go to the HS2 station at East Midland Hub?

It does appear that there is scope for improving connectivity in the Western Part of the City Centre.


February 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Midland Main Line Electrification

I have been thinking about how the method of electrifying the Midland Main Line might change if the Aventra IPEMU was available.

These are thoughts in no particular order.

The Battery High Speed Train

An Aventra uses a modern version of the same bogies that are used in the Class 222 trains, which are capable of 200 kph. As the Class 387 train, which is a version of the Electrostar, can travel at 110 mph, I wouldn’t rule out that the more modern Aventra could run at 200 kph or 125 mph.

Acceleration on batteries would be the problem, not maintaining a high speed. that had been built up whilst running under the wires.

Also, when the train comes to the end of its northward journey at say Corby, it has to brake. With regenerative braking on the Aventra IPEMU, all of this energy would go back into the batteries.

So does this mean that no charging would need to be provided at say Corby?

I’m not totally sure of the mathematics and physics, but I’m certain that a battery electric train with regenerative braking, would put a significant part of the electricity it would need to accelerate away from a station, into the batteries as it stopped.

This would mean that stops at Wellingborough and Kettering would not stop Corby services from reaching their destination.

St. Pancras to Corby

I estimate that the distance from the end of the electrification at Bedford and Corby station is about thirty five miles.

This would mean that this route out of St.Pancras could be covered by an Aventra IPEMU.

Would this release a Class 222 train for use elsewhere? Or would the Aventra IPEMUs enable East Midlands Trains to offer more capacity or an increased frequency on this service?

St. Pancras to Leicester

I estimate that the distance from the end of the electrification at Bedford and Leicester station is about fifty miles.

This would mean that this route out of St.Pancras to Leicester could be covered by an Aventra IPEMU, especially if it were possible to recharge the train at Leicester, using the sort of short electrification, I wrote about at Rugeley Trent Valley station in Up And Down The Chase Line.

Leicester has problems as a station, as this extract from Wikipedia says.

Train operators using the station include CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains. Due to a 15 mph maximum speed to the south of the station, all passenger trains stop at the station. Up until the winter 2008 timetable, the morning southbound The Master Cutler express from Leeds to London St Pancras was an exception although this now also calls.

Leicester is a bottleneck station as it has only four platforms. All platforms are well utilised, especially platforms two and three which receive freight as well as passenger trains. A freight loop goes to the east of the station alongside the carriage sidings which run adjacent to platform four.

This Google Map of the station shows the platforms and the freight loop.

Leicester Station

Leicester Station

It does look that there would be space to expand the station and from this section in Wikipedia, I’m sure Network Rail are working on an upgrade to the area to address all the problems.

It would appear to be stating the obvious to say, that Leicester station must be sorted first before any electrification in the area.

An extra bay platform would probably allow Aventra IPEMUs to run an electrified service to St. Pancras, if East Midlands Trains felt this was needed. Because of the regenerating braking of the train, it might not be necessary to provide a means of charging the trains at Leicester.

Creating A High Speed Route To Chesterfield and Sheffield

A few years ago, much of the Erewash Valley Line was upgraded ready for electrification and high speed running. On the Future of this line, Wikipedia says this.

Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.

As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion. As the new signalling is rolled out, train detection is moving away from the traditional Track circuit detection of trains to Axle counting.

So could we see all of the very fastest services from St. Pancras to Chesterfield and Sheffield using this route?

Is the route from Trent Junction in the South to Chesterfield and Sheffield in the North ready for electrification?

Network Rail must ensure that as much of the line is capable of 125 mph running and that all bridges and tunnels have sufficient clearance from London to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

Creeping The Electrification North

From Bedford the electrification would be crept north at a sensible pace, which would be designed to cause minimum disruption to services.

Every mile it went north would increase the reach of the new electric trains, but only after the bottleneck of Leicester was eased to allow high speed running through the station.

The Electric Spine

If the Electric Spine was to be implemented in full from Southampton to Sheffield and Doncaster, then the electrification must be completed North of Bedford.

But as there are a lot of places where the electrification will not be completed elsewhere, will we see a shift towards electro-diesel freight locomotives like the Class 88.

So although freight would take advantage of an electrified Midland Main Line, it may not be as important as many think.

Completing The Electrified Routes to Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby

These three important cities all have extensive local rail networks, that could benefit from an electrified hub, so that Aventra IPEMUs could be used to bring benefits to all the communities served by diesel multiple units and in Sheffield’s case, quite a few Pacers.

So as a minimum, this electrification must be completed.

  • East Midlands Parkway to Derby
  • East Midlands Parkway to Nottingham
  • East Midlands Parkway to Chesterfield and Sheffield via the Erewash Valley Line.

Chesterfield to Derby would probably be filed in the Too Difficult box, but would be an easy run for an Aventra IPEMU.

Note that I would start the electrification from East Midlands Parkway, as this station and the Airport are talked about as destinations for tram-train services.

Obviously to complete the Electric Spine, the following electrification would also need to be done.

  • Complete the electrification between Bedford and East Midlands Parkway.
  • Sheffield to Doncaster.

But once Sheffield station is electrified none of the many local lines reaching out from the city would need to be electrified, as most services could be run using Aventra IPEMUs. Obviously, if there was a special reason like freight or tram-trains, this wiring would only help the Aventra IPEMUs.

New Elecric Services

Once electrification has been installed up the Erewash Valley Line to Sheffield, lots of important places become within range of Aventra IPEMUs running from St. Pancras.

  • Barnsley
  • Bradford
  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds
  • Manchester

It would also mean that several existing cross-country services could be run using electric trains.

  • Liverpool to Norwich
  • Nottingham to Cardiff
  • Bristol to Newcastle

Remarkable in some ways as a lot of electrification has been dropped.

September 28, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From Nottingham To Peterborough

I took an East Midlands Trains service to Norwich to get to Peterborough. I wanted to look at the Allington Chord. Wikipedia says this about the chord under its entry for the East Coast Main Line.

The Allington Chord was constructed near Grantham in 2006, allowing services between Nottingham and Skegness to call at Grantham without having to use the ECML, trains now passing under the line. This provided sufficient extra capacity for 12 additional services between Leeds and London each day.

This certainly illustrates the improvements gained, when these crossings of the East Coast Main Line are sorted. Could similar improvements be gained when the Newark Crossing is eliminated.

I took these pictures on the journey.

My problems then started as I reported here in The Curse of the Coeliac Traveller.

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Railways East Of Nottingham

As an engineer, I’m always of the view that a lot of engineers, do the jobs they do because they like creating things on the one hand and because it’s great fun on the other.

Although, I’ve been much more in a support role to engineers in many varied industries, I’ve loved the solving of problems and the creating of products all my working life. It might have been stressful at times, but it has been tremendous fun!

It strikes me that the rail projects centred on Nottingham in the last few years, have been done well and with a great deal of style and innovation.

There has been a lot of them in recent years.

Network Rail are following these with other projects in the area.

Only the Ilkeston station project has started, although not much trackwork needs to be done for the two new routes.

There would appear to be little work either done or proposed to the East of Nottingham.

But that would ignore the big project about thirty miles to the East – the updating of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway (GNGE). I wrote about that project in Project Managers Having Fun In The East.

Effectively, £230million has been spent to create a high-quality line for freight between Doncaster and Peterborough, so that there is a higher capacity for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line.

So what could happen in the area?

Poor Lincoln – Level Crossings

I say poor Lincoln, as the city has suffered for years because there is a busy level crossing used by very large numbers of people, vehicles and trains, right in the centre of the City on the High Street. This article from the Lincolnite talks about the start of a £12m project to create two footbridges over the railway. Reading the comments to the article is an informative exercise.

If you want to read more about this project, there are more details on this page on Network Rail’s web site.

This Google Map shows the two level crossings to the West of Lincoln Central station.

Lincoln Level Crossings

Lincoln Level Crossings

As an East West relief road is also being built, according to this article in the Linconite, the two projects might improve the problems in the City centre for a few years.

Before I leave the level crossings at Lincoln, take a look at this article from Rail Magazine. This is said about the level crossings.

Early Network Rail figures suggest that by 2030, with all freight paths being used and all East Anglian ports running at maximum capacity, the barriers in Lincoln could potentially be down for 40 minutes in every hour. The resulting road traffic problems are likely to increase local discontent.

So something serious must be planned for the future.

Poor Lincoln – Passenger Services

Lincoln also deserves sympathy for the poor passenger service that the City has to connect it with the rest of the UK. By comparison, Norwich is perhaps fifty percent bigger than Lincoln, but has a half-hourly service to Ipswich and London, and an hourly service to Cambridge.

Lincoln has an hourly shuttle to Newark and a few direct trains to London. There is also an irregularly-timed shuttle to Newark for London trains.

I think a city with the population and status of Lincoln deserves better.

North and South Through Lincoln

I have read the Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for the East Midlands and searched it for references to Lincoln. Two sections are of note. This is said in the RUS.

In addition, the interaction between passenger services terminating at Lincoln and freight trains passing through the station area has been identified by the RUS as a constraint to future growth. The RUS recommends that the  great Northern/Great Eastern (GN/GE) Joint Line scheme, which will provide additional capacity between Peterborough and Doncaster (via Spalding) in CP4, considers whether or not combining terminating services at Lincoln (to create more through services and reduce congestion in the station area) would free up sufficient capacity to accommodate growth.

With my scheduling hat on, I think this simple matter of joining services together could give some needed additional paths to improve passenger services. In many places in the UK, like Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, this has been done to provide cross-city services, that release platform space in the station.

This was also said about improving services between Lincoln and Peterborough.

Peterborough and Lincoln by providing an improved service using existing resources once the upgrade of the GN/GE Joint Line has been completed.

After the upgrade of the GNGE, I wonder if any changes have been made to the passenger services between Peterborough, Lincoln and Doncaster.

I think not!

From my travels in Germany, the Peterborough to Doncaster and/or Sheffield/Meadowhall via Lincoln, is just the sort of route on which the Germans would run a regional service.

I think the RUS is hoping that someone will do this, but it would seem it’s just the same old slow service.

There may have been an improvement between Lincoln and Peterborough, as the service is roughly hourly and takes eighty minutes with four stops. There may be an improvement to come, when Werrington Junction, where the GNGE joins the East Coast Main Line, is improved. I wrote about this junction in To Dive Or Fly At Werrington.

But if you look at the services from Lincoln and Doncaster, some go direct in forty seven minutes and others go to everywhere in Yorkshire and take over two hours.

Lincoln To Nottingham via Newark

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

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

I have now looked at this Victorian railway relic in The Newark Crossing


Local Services Between Nottingham And The East

As I said earlier, Network Rail and the various local councils have done a lot of work to give Nottingham a first class tram systems and Nottingham station has been upgraded to accept extra services. They are now starting to improve services to the West and North.

So what will happen to services to the East of the city?

There are rumours about tram-trains being introduced in Nottingham and this is said in the section on Future Routes in the Wikipedia entry for the Nottingham Express Transit.

The document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Gedling is on the line to Newark and Bingham is on the line to Grantham.

So one option would be to use tram-trains on the routes to Newark and Grantham, where the services run into the city as far as Bingham and Gedling as trains and then run as trams, to join the main tram network at either Nottingham station or some other convenient point.

One interesting observation is that as tram-trains can take much tighter curves than trains, is that a Nottingham to Newark tram-train might be able to call at Newark Castle, then cross the East Coast Main Line and then do a tight turn to call in the bay platform at Newark North Gate station before reversing and going on to Lincoln. This Google Map shows the Newark Crossing in detail.

Newark Crossing Close-Up

Newark Crossing Close-Up

It is a very crowded place, but there may just be space for a tram-train coming from Nottingham to turn and go to Newark North Gate. It would appear to be no tighter than the Tinsley curve that will be used by Sheffield’s tram-trains to Rotherham.

Going the other way from the spur to Nottingham, might be more difficult, but I think it would be possible.

So could using tram-trains to Lincoln, give that city a much better service to and from Nottingham, but also take some pressure off the design of any solution at Newark?

I would suspect that if tram-trains went to Newark/Lincoln and Grantham, there would be a half-hourly service to and from Nottingham.

The Class 399 tram-train would also provide a faster service than the current trains.

Conclusion On The Newark Crossing

I only come to one conclusion about the solution to the Newark Crossing. Everybody should prepare for the unexpected.



September 12, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Expanding The Robin Hood Line

The Robin Hood Line, runs between Nottingham and Worksop. It had been closed to passenger trains in the 1960s and reopened to passengers in the 1990s. I used to use it regularly to see a client in Mansfield in the years soon after it opened.

A Proposed Branch To Ollerton

In my investigations into Ilkeston station, the Robin Hood Line kept cropping up and especially talk of a branch from the line to Ollerton.

Search Google News for Robin Hood Line and articles with titles like Chancellor backs Robin Hood line passenger plans are found in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad. This is the start to the article.

The Chancellor George Osborne, has confirmed his backing for plans to open a passenger service on the Robin Hood line, from Shirebrook to Ollerton, including passenger stations at Ollerton and Edwinstowe.

Other Government figures like David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin and important local councillors are also quoted saying similar things.

What is not said is that the line will serve the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest and that the rail line needed is currently fully maintained for driver training. This Google Map shows the area.

Proposed Ollerton Branch

Proposed Ollerton Branch

The branch turns off from the Robin Hood Line just North of Shirebrook station in the top left hand corner of the map and then makes it way to Ollerton by way of the South of Warsop and Edwinstowe and North of the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest .

The line probably illustrates the only environmentally-friendly use for coal, which is to keep rail lines open and in good condition, until we can find a better use for them.

There is an interesting section called Branch Lines in the Wikipedia entry for Shirebrook station. This is said.

Two branch lines are plainly visible veering off north of the bridge at the north end of Shirebrook station.

The double tracks branching off eastwards (i.e. to the right as viewed from the station) to the side of the signalbox joined the LD&ECR’s one-time main line to Lincoln, next stop Warsop. The branch only ever carried a regular passenger service for a few years in Edwardian times. It did, however, carry Summer holiday trains such as the Summer Saturdays Radford to Skegness in at least 1963. The branch’s main purpose was always freight traffic, with coal being overwhelmingly dominant.

In 2013 the line gives access to Thoresby Colliery and to the High Marnham Test Track.

There is some hope of reopening the line as a branch off the Robin Hood Line and reopening Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton stations, providing an hourly service to Mansfield and Nottingham.

This Google Map shows Shirebrook station and the railway lines around it.

Shirebrook Station

Shirebrook Station

The junction of the Ollerton branch would appear to allow access to trains from or to either Nottingham and Mansfield in the South and Worksop in the North

So there could be three stations; Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton on a double-track branch.

From Ollerton To Lincoln

Interestingly, after Ollerton the line goes all the way to Lincoln. But I doubt that it would ever be part of the plans for passenger trains in the area.

But who knows?

Services To Derby

The area between Chesterfield, Mansfield and Nottingham is not very well connected to Derby.

If you want to go from Mansfield or Kirkby-in-Ashfield on the Robin Hood Line to Derby, you always have to change at Nottingham, with sometimes an extra change at East Midlands Parkway.

The Erewash Valley Line runs North-South a few miles to the West of the Robin Hood Line.

Despite being partially in Derbyshire, getting from stations like Alfreton, Langley Mill and the soon-to-be-opened Ilkeston stations to Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.

Look at this Google Map of the area

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield


There must be a better way of getting to Derby, than by changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.

But what?

There are four main North-South routes in the area.

What seems to be missing is high-capacity East-West routes for both rail and road.

The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.

In a Notes on Current Station section on the Wikipedia entry for Long Eaton station, this is said.

It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.

It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.

It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Alfreton, Ilkeston and Langley Mill to both Derby and Mansfield. This service would also improve services from stations stations North of Mansfield to Derby.

A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfreton and the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.

It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.

The Future Of Railways In North Nottingham And South Yorkshire

Look at any map of the area between Nottingham and Derby in the South to Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley in the North and you will see rail lines criss-crossing everywhere. Many are now disused and show up as green scars on the landscape.

Also on the maps, you will see quite a few large power stations. Most were originally coal-fired and merry-go-round trains transported the coal from the mines to the power stations.

So most of the rail lines in the area, were built to take the coal away from the mines to where it was needed. Passengers were almost an afterthought. The railway companies even built the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Doncaster to East Anglia to take coal to where it could profitably be used.

After the Second World War, the railways contracted and cut passenger services. As an example, the Robin Hood Line closed in the 1960s.

The passenger services were suffering because of car ownership, so most were withdrawn, except on the main routes. Mansfield before the Robin Hood Line reopened, was one of the largest towns in England without a rail station, an honour now held by Ilkeston a few miles away.

In recent years, coal use has in my view rightly declined. Everybody knows the poor environmental record of coal, with its creation of CO2 and other pollutants. On the other hand, I have met people whose fathers worked in the mines and the general advice they received is don’t go underground!

So as the need to move coal by rail has declined, many of these railway lines have ceased to carry much freight traffic and have fallen into disuse.

But some are coal’s last legacy, in that until comparatively recently, they were still used to get coal to the power stations. Like the line from Shirebrook to Ollerton, they are in good condition and only need stations to bring them back into use as passenger lines. Just as the Robin Hood Line was reused twenty years ago!

Because these lines serves the coalfields and the mines, they also serve the mining communities and the small towns, that need improved public transport links.

Network Rail’s plans seem to be going some way to be addressing some of the problems in the area.

I don’t think that the reopening of the Ollerton Branch and the connection between the vErewash Valley and Robin Hood Lines, will be the last lines to reopen in the area.


September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Ilkeston Station In A Few Years Time

I am not putting a time-scale on this, as there are so many possibilities in the mix.

I think we can assume that at some point, there will be a new station, that will look substantially like this visualisation.

Ilkeston Station Visualisation

Ilkeston Station Visualisation

The Wikipedia entry for Ilkeston station says that the station is expected to open in August 2016. I think this may be challenging, but there is one factor that makes building a station here easier. It would appear that there will not be any substantial new track, so other than the station, there should not be a great deal of work to do, before trains can provide a service at the station.

There was also a substantial amount of engineering work done to the line through Ilkeston and Langley Mill in Summer 2007.

The Initial Train Service

I had intended to check whether trains between Nottingham and Leeds that call at Langley Mill, actually pass through the Ilkeston station site, when I visited Ilkeston. But as the weather was so bad and I was sitting on the other side of the train, I didn’t see anything.

I shall certainly be going to Nottingham on October 24th, so if I don’t get the information by then, I can take a detour.

If the trains that go through Langley Mill can stop at Ilkeston, the station would not have to wait long before the timetables were adjusted, so that they called. According to Wikipedia, this is the services at Langley Mill.

Northern Rail run an hourly service between Nottingham and Leeds that stops at Langley Mill. This service started from the December 2008 timetable change.

East Midlands Trains operate a few services per day from Langley Mill southbound to Nottingham and beyond (usually Norwich) and northbound to Sheffield (usually continuing to Liverpool Lime Street).

Some East Midlands Trains Mainline services from London St Pancras to Sheffield / Leeds call here, but generally interchange with London services should be made at Nottingham.


Incidentally a typical Nottingham to Leeds service stops at Langley Mill, Alfreton, Chesterfield, Dronfield, Sheffield, Meadowhall, Barnsley and Wakefield Kirkgate.

So will the new station at Ilkeston get a similar service? I think that the service will be at least as good as that to Langley Mill.

After all the timetable change of 2008 was implemented, when it was quite likely that a station would be built at Ilkeston, so I would assume timings make allowance for a possible stop at Ilkeston

In fact of the two stations, if either gets preference for services, it is more likely to be Ilkeston, as unless Langley Mill is upgraded it is a very basic station according to Network Rail.

One of the usual problems, when starting a service is finding the trains to run it. This delayed the opening of the Todmorden Curve by several months.

But in the case of services at Ilkeston, it’s mainly a process adjusting schedules so that passing trains, stop at the station.

Problems On The Midland Main Line Through Derby

It’s an ill wind, that blows nobody any good!

Ilkeston station is actually on the Erewash Valley Line, which runs from Long Eaton to south of Chesterfield joining the Midland Main Line at both ends.

In the Future section for the Erewash Valley Line on Wikipedia, this is said.

Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.

As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion.

So it looks like Ilkeston could be on a by-pass of the Midland Main Line.


The Midland Main Line is scheduled to be electrified and the services on the line could be provided by Class 800 and Class 801 trains,

I just wonder if Class 800 electro-diesel trains were run through Derby and Class 801 electric trains were run on the Erewash Valley Line, this might get round the problem of the heritage lobby objecting to electrifying through the World Heritage Area of the Derwent Valley, with its Grade 2 Listed tunnels and cuttings.

Derby would still get new trains. It would just be that the faster electrified ones ran up the Erewash Valley Line.

Would these trains call selectively at Long Eaton, Alfreton and Ilkeston?

Services To Derby

Ilkeston is in Derbyshire, so I expect there will be pressure to have a direct service to Derby.

At present, if you want to go between Langley Mill and Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.

I suspect that when Ilkeston station opens the route between Ilkeston and Derby will be as tortuous as it is now from Langley Mill.

Look at this Google Map of the area.

Around Ilkeston

Around Ilkeston

Ilkeston is indicated by the red arrow.

There must be a better way, than changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.

But what?

The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.

In a Notes on Current Station section on the Wikipedia entry for Long Eaton station, this is said.

The usable length of the station platforms is shorter than the express trains which stop here, so passengers arriving from London, Derby or Sheffield will usually have to get off from the front four carriages. Elderly passengers or those with pushchairs, heavy luggage or bicycles wishing to alight at Loughborough should take particular care to board the correct portion of the train. Cycles may have to be stored in vestibules away from the cycle lockers depending on the orientation of the train.

It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.

It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.

It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Ilkeston to both Derby and Mansfield. A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfretonand the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.

It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.

IPEMU Trains For Ilkeston?

If the Erewash Valley Line is electrified, so that Class 801 can run fast from London to Chesterfield and Sheffield, one option for the local services is to use Aventra IPEMU trains, which will be built in Derby.

IPEMU stands for Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit. These trains have all the features of the standard four-car electric multiple unit, but they have an on-board battery that is charged when running from the overhead line and gives them a range of about sixty miles, when the wires run out.

So chargeing the battery on the Erewash Valley Line, they could reach Derby, Mansfield and Nottingham.

If Nottingham and Derby weren’t electrified until a later phase, then Class 800 electro-diesel trains could work the routes to London, until full electrification were to be completed.

Watch what happens about IPEMU trains.

Rumours have appeared in Modern Railways that orders for trains powered by the technology are imminent.

Tram-Trains For Ilkeston?

In my view the Nottingham Express Transit will get overcrowded in a few years and the capacity of the system will have to be increased.

One way to increase capacity would be to run tram-trains to destinations away from the city on the heavy rail lines. Once in the city centre they transfer to the tram lines and run as trams to suitable destinations, thus increasing the number of trams running on the various lines.

So tram-trains could say run between Ilkeston and say the Old Market Square or the Queens Medical Centre and then on to one of the terminals.

It all sounds rather fanciful, but go to Karlsruhe or Kassel and see the tram-trains in action.

Ilkeston To HS2

Tram-trains, IPEMU or standard trains from Ilkeston and other places to the North could link quite a few places to the proposed East Midlands Hub station at Toton.


The more I look at the future of Ilkeston station, the more I realise that constructing the new station is just petty cash in the big scheme of things around rail and tram expansion in the East Midlands.

A lot of money has been spent in sorting Nottingham station and expanding the Nottingham Express Transit and a lot more will be spent in improving and electrifying the Midland Main Line and the Erewash Valley Line. The latter will be equipped with several new stations and probably new trains of some sort.



September 4, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Nottingham To Ilkeston And Back

Ilkeston is a town without a railway station and this is said in Wikpedia about the town and its railway links.

Ilkeston has not had a railway station since 1967, despite its substantial population and the fact that the Midland Main Line (formerly part of the Midland Railway, later the LMS) skirts the eastern edge of the town. Due to recent rail reopenings in similarly-sized towns it is now, by some definitions, the largest town in Britain with no station.

So I had to go to the nearest station at Langley Mill and hopefully, I could organise a taxi. I took these pictures on the journey.

After trying three taxi numbers at Langley Mill and all saying they couldn’t help, I got a bus to Heanor from where I got another bus to Ilkeston. To be fair to the buses, I’ve travelled on much worse services elsewhere in the UK. Cambridge to Haverhill for a start. And I was not issued with a dreaded ticket.

After my meeting, I decide to take the easy route back, so I got an express bus into Nottingham and then use the Nottingham Express Transit to get to the station.

I don’t think that in the twenty-first century, where we’re supposed to use green public transport, that this is the best we can do to get in a reasonable time from Nottingham to Ilkeston.

A related question, is, Is it easier to get to Ilkeston by taking a train to Derby and getting the bus from there?

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Tram-Trains To East Midlands Airport

I have a Google Alert looking for tram-trains and it found this article on the Nottingham Post entitled Could tram-trains link Nottingham to East Midlands Airport?

It’s a thought!

The article talks about a proposal to create a link between East Midlands Airport and the Midland Main Line, that would allow tram-trains to connect the airport to cities like Nottingham, Derby and Leicester and the proposed HS2 station at Toton.

This is a Google Map of the area between the Airport and the Midland Main Line.

East Midlands Airport, the M1 And The Midland Main Line

East Midlands Airport, the M1 And The Midland Main Line

East Midlands Parkway station is at the top right of the map.

I think that properly designed this idea could have legs.

A few points.

  1. Some doubt the South East will ever get a new runway, so improving connections to East Midlands Airport would surely mean more passengers flew from their local airport, rather than a congested Heathrow.
  2. It would improve links between the major cities and population centres of the East Midlands and they probably need an improved turn-up-and-go four trains per hour service between each.
  3. There are a number of intermediate stations to the various destinations, which probably need better connections.
  4. The tram-line would also cross the M1. So would a pick-up/drop-off tram stop ease travel in the area?
  5. Once the tram-train technology is proven and approved and the Midland Main Line is electrified, I doubt that creating the link would be a difficult planning or engineering project.

I will be very surprised if at some point in the future, some form of light or heavy rail line doesn’t reach East Midlands Airport.

But then I think tram-trains would be best.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Phase Two Of The Nottingham Express Transit Opens Today

The Nottingham Express Transit is in my view one of our better tram systems.

As a regular user of tram systems in the UK and Europe and a Londoner, I actually think that the London Tramlink is the best, but that is because of the ticketing, which is based on the London contactless system and I just touch-in and go. Both Nottingham and Croydon systems are low-floor systems.

Nottingham Express Transit (NET) has also proved to be reasonably commercially successful. Wikipedia says this.

The new line proved successful, leading to an increase of public transport use for the Nottingham urban area of 8% in the five years to 2008, together with a less than 1% growth in road traffic, compared to the national average of around 4%. Nottingham has exceeded the most optimistic predictions, carrying 9.7 million people in 2005. This bolsters the case for the construction of new lines.

In my view other than the non-contactless ticketing, NET major problems are that it is not big enough, doesn’t connect properly to the rail station and doesn’t serve the two football and the major cricket grounds at Trent Bridge, which are all clustered together a twenty-minute walk south of the rail station.

The size problem is being rectified today with opening of Phase 2 of the system. According to this article on Global Rail News, it is happening today.

I think that this could turn out to be a significant day in the history of modern tramways in the UK, as if it proves out to be a successful extension to a proven system, it will be a wonderful advert for trams and light-rail in general.

It is just a pity, that the tram system still doesn’t serve the three sports grounds. Nottingham County Cricket Club, does at least say this about using trams to get to the ground on this page of its web site.

The nearest tram stop, Station Street, is a 20 minute walk from the ground, and anyone travelling from outside the city can take advantage of NET’s free park and ride facilities.?As an added incentive to take the tram, NET will be running a £2 return ticket for all match and season ticket holders.

Nottingham Forest give no information on how to use the tram, although Notts County would seem to run a similar scheme to the cricket.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station, the River Trent and the three sports grounds.

Nottingham Station, The River Trent And Sports Grounds

Nottingham Station, The River Trent And Sports Grounds

Note the bridge at the left hand side of the map over the River Trent. This is the Wilford Toll Bridge, which the NET uses to cross the river.

I suspect though that many meetings about transport in Nottingham have concluded that crossing the River Trent is the biggest transport problem in the area.

When I used to drive to Nottingham from Suffolk to either see a client or watch football or racing, getting away from the city to the East was always difficult, as the river always seemed to get in the way.

The simplistic solution to solve the sports ground problem of running a tram route over Trent Bridge or Lady Bay Bridge, which are the two bridges near the grounds would probably be the sort of measure that would be terribly unpopular with motorists.

I have searched for stories about a possible new crossing across the Trent to the East of Nottingham and there is certainly a lot of studies and speculation. This report in the Nottingham Post talks about a fourth road crossing and this one in the same paper talks about a foot and cycle crossing.

My feelings are that this is a classic problem, that should be sorted locally by a local Nottingham-wide Mayor or Transport Commissioner, responsible to a lkocal electorate.

If the extension to the NET are successful and take traffic off the roads, this might give impetus to expand the tram to the east and south-east of the city coupled with a new route to get cars and trucks over the river. This is a Google Map of the East of Nottingham.

East Nottingham

East Nottingham

Note Lady Bay Bridge and the City Ground in the bottom left-hand corner  and the Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre to the right. I bet the Watersports Centre would love a tram from the centre of Nottingham.

Also in this map in the top right hand corner is Carlton station on the Nottingham to Lincoln rail line. After what I’ve seen in Germany, this line would be one, they’d not hesitate to use for tram-trains. Little modification except for electrification would be needed outside of the city. At Nottingham station, the tram-trains would become trams and use the tram network to get to their final destination. I hope that Nottingham’s great and good visit their twin city of Karlsruhe and see how tram-trains working on the Karlsruhe model combine trams and trains in the city.

One thing that would make connecting tram-trains to the new tram stop at Nottingham station is that Nottingham station is not on a cramped site and a lot of the land surrounding the station is surface-level car parking.

I can envisage tram-trains arriving at Nottingham station from places like Grantham, Mansfield and Newark and then transferring to the NET tracks to go north or south from the station. You could even run tram-trains to Sheffield, so that the two tram systems are connected.

Compared to similar lines around Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff, the frequencies on all these rail branches out of Nottingham are not high enough. Nottingham to Sheffield, as an example is only twice an hour, when four should be a minimum for cities of this size.

I suspect that Nottingham is watching the result of Sheffield’s tram-train trial to Rotherham with interest.

One way or other the Nottingham Express Transit will be key to solving the transport problems in Nottingham.



August 25, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Is It Not Planned To Take The Nottingham Tram To Trent Bridge?

From my limited knowledge of Nottingham, I find the Nottingham tram, a bit of a conundrum, in the way it doesn’t serve the football and cricket grounds.

England has four major cities; Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Nottingham, that use tram or light rail to move passengers around the city. In addition, Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol have heavy rail networks that do a similar job.

Most major sports ground and arenas in larger cities are located on these networks. In fact, some clubs have the tram stop or train station named to connect it to the stadium or club.

There is Arsenal, Upton Park and White Hart Lane in London, St. James in Newcastle, Hawthorns in Birmingham and Hillsborough in Sheffield.

Nottingham has three stadia in the Trent Bridge area of the city; Trent Bridge cricket ground, Forest’s City Ground and County’s Meadow Lane, but surprisingly the Nottingham tram doesn’t go or isn’t even planned to go to the area.

However this lack of connection to the City Ground, didn’t stop the tram advertising in the stadium.

I am totally surprised that Nottingham are spending all these millions on constructing a tram system, that doesn’t go near the area, where a lot of visitors to the city want to go.

Today for instance, after arriving from London, I took the tram up the hill to a restaurant I like in King Street. After my lunch, it would have been so easy to walk to the tram line and then get a tram to the ground! I’d have also probably taken a tram back to the station. So instead of probably a day ticket for £3.70, I bought just one single ticket at £2.20.

And did a lot of walking!

October 5, 2014 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment