The Anonymous Widower

Avanti West Coast Looks To Recover

The title of this post is the same as an article in the March 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

These are some points from the article.

Passengers Numbers Are Recovering

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Wittingham says the recovery has been strongest on the Anglo-Scottish and Liverpool corridors, while Manchester have begun to bounce back. Slowest to recover is the London to West Midlands market; ‘there’s several operators here and we were the main carrier of business passengers, and that sector has been recovering more slowly than leisure’ says Mr. Whittingham.

Phil Whittingham is MD of Avanti West Coast.

Train Numbers Are Recovering

Avanti are building up train numbers from Euston after the pandemic.

Frequencies are as follows in trains per hour (tph)

  • Pre-Covid – 9
  • During the pandemic – 4
  • From December 2021 – 7
  • Omicron – 4
  • From February 2022 – 6
  • From May 2022 – 6+

Avanti have reacted to demand.

Three Classes Of Travel

This is a paragraph.

Avanti’s business has historically been driven by leisure travel – before Covid this accounted for broadly 60 % of passengers, with most of the rest travelling for business plus a smaller number of commuters. ‘The demand is there, and we think by next year we’ll be on the way to full recovery’ says Mr. Whittingham. ‘Leisure has been strong, especially at weekends, but the missing bit is the corporate market.’

Avanti have been running a marketing campaign and it appears to have been successful.

This paragraph describes Avanti’s new Standard Premium class.

Last year, Avanti West Coast launched a new class of travel – Standard Premium. This was first introduced in May on an upgrade-only basis before going fully live in September with the option to book online in advance. The new class sits between Standard and First, giving passengers larger seats and greater space but without some of the extras that come with First Class Travel such as complimentary refreshments and lounge access.

These are Mr. Whittingham’s comments on the three classes.

The current split of passengers is 84% Standard, 12 % First and 4 % Standard Premium, but given the latter has been in place for less than a year there is clearly scope for growth. ‘Our research shows people have been upgrading to Standard Premium rather than downgrading from First’.

I have yet to try Standard Premium, but I will next time I use Avanti.

Refreshments

Avanti have decided to serve different refreshments in Standard Premium and First classes.

  • In Standard Premium, they are now offering At Seat Orders.
  • In First, they have updated the menu.

Both seem to have been well-received.

I like this statement from Mr. Whittingham.

We’ve tried to make it a more personalised service with a less rigid structure, so we give customers what they want, when they want it, rather than when we want to give it to them.

A Consistent Offer

This is a paragraph.

Mr. Whittingham says Avanti has not yet confirmed whether t will offer three classes of travel on the new Hitachi trains it has ordered, but says the aim is to provide a more consistent offer. Assisting this will be changes in the ongoing Pendolino refurbishment, where 11-car sets are having Coach G converted from First to Standard accommodation, meaning all Pendolinos, whether nine-car or 11-car, will have three coaches for First and Standard Premium passengers.

My instinct says that the four trains will be something like.

  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Nine-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – six Standard cars
  • Class 390 train – Pendolino – Eleven-car – three First/Standard Premium cars – eight Standard cars
  • Class 805 train – Hitachi – Five-car – one First/Standard Premium car – four Standard cars
  • Class 807 train – Hitachi – Seven-car – two First/Standard Premium car – five Standard cars

Note.

  1. The Class 805 and Class 807 Hitachi trains are very much plug-and-play and can be lengthened or shortened as required.
  2. A regular passenger between London and Liverpool, who regularly upgrades from Standard to Standard Premium in a Class 390 train could be a bit miffed if he couldn’t, because the service was being run by a Class 807 train.
  3. Hitachi would probably be very happy to add extra cars to the Class 805 and Class 807 trains.

As the Class 390 Pendolino trains are being refurbished, I do wonder if they will be receiving some fittings from the Hitachi trains to make sure the trains are consistent to both on-board staff and passengers.

Pendolino Investment

The Pendolino refurbishment is comprehensive.

  • It is one of the largest such programmes ever undertaken in the UK.
  • Leasing company; Angel Trains are funding the work.
  • Alstom are doing the work at Widnes.
  • There appears to be a smooth plan to refurbish all trains.
  • Coach G will be converted from First to Standard accommodation in eleven-car trains.
  • Mr. Whittingham says that all trains will come out looking like a new train.

The eleven-car trains are being converted first, as the conversion of Coach G gives a capacity benefit of around thirty seats.

The awful seats in Standard Class will be replaced with Lumo-style seats and laptop-friendly fold-down tables.

These seats will be a big improvement!

New Trains Coming

This paragraph introduces the new trains.

The second major fleet investment from Avanti is the £350 million for new trains from Hitachi, financed by Rock Rail. These comprise 13×5-car Class 805 bi-modes, ordered for destinations off the electrified route including North Wales and Shrewsbury and 10×7-car Class 807 electrics. Deployment plans for the latter are still being worked through but are likely to include services to Birmingham and Liverpool, and potentially to Blackpool.

What is not said in this paragraph, is that all trains have a redesigned front end, which I suspect is more aerodynamic.

The all-electric Class 807 trains have no diesel engines or batteries, so have they been put on a diet, to improve the acceleration?

In Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?, I came to these conclusions.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new Class 807 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster and if they cut out a couple of stops could probably break two hours.

I also calculated that a two tph service between London and Liverpool in two hours would need nine trains.

Timetable Changes

This paragraph introduces the article’s section on timetable changes.

The project in turn feeds into a major timetable change planned by Avanti and other West Coast main line operators. This will be the first significant change to West Coast main line schedules since 2008; ‘the world has changed, and we need to think about how we best serve our markets’ says Mr Whittingham.

This paragraph sums up the major changes.

Of note are the planned changes to the pattern of London to West Midlands services; the pre-Covid 20-minute interval would be amended to offer faster journey times and greater connectivity. Also featuring in the new timetable aspirations would be additional Trent Valley calls in some Liverpool and Manchester services; Mr Whittingham cites as one benefit of this the potential for improved journey times between the North West and the East Midlands via a change of train at Nuneaton. The Hitachi trains, with their better acceleration, will be particularly useful on services with more frequent stops.

The next three sections will look at some timetable changes in a bit more detail.

London And West Midlands Services

Replacement of twenty diesel Class 221 trains with thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains will mean a major reorganisation of services to the West Midlands.

  • Some current diesel services will now be electric.
  • All services between Birmingham New Street and Euston will now be electric.
  • No services will run on diesel under live electrification.
  • Avanti have promised to serve Walsall.
  • There will be extra services to Shrewsbury and other places.

The electric services will also speed up some services to the West Midlands.

North West And East Midlands Services

I will look at train times for services between the North West (Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly) and the East Midlands (Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln), where passengers change at Nuneaton.

These are the current fastest possible times according to the National Rail journey planner.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 with changes at Crewe and Nuneaton,
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 with change at Sheffield
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 with no changes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 with no changes
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 with changes at Sheffield and Doncaster
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 with change at Sheffield

Note that times are in hours:minutes.

These are all current times for the various legs if the route is via Nuneaton.

  • Avanti West Coast – Liverpool Lime Street and Nuneaton – 1:18
  • Avanti West Coast – Manchester Piccadilly and Nuneaton – 1:13
  • CrossCountry – Nuneaton and Leicester – 0:27
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:48 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Nottingham – 0:20 – Time from St. Pancras and Nottingham service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Leicester and Lincoln -1:42 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.
  • East Midlands Railway – Nottingham and Lincoln -0:52 – Time from Leicester and Lincoln service.

Note that the two Avanti West Coast times have been estimated by taking the time from Real Time Trains and adding three minutes for the acceleration or deceleration at Nuneaton.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:47
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:42
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:32
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:31
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 3:26

Note that I am assuming changes at Nuneaton and Leicester are cross-platform or same platform changes that take two minutes.

But there is another level of improvement possible.

Suppose that East Midlands Railway’s Lincoln and Leicester service were to be extended to Nuneaton and run by a train with this specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • Battery-electric power.
  • 100 mph operating speed on battery power.
  • Range of 56 miles on battery
  • Ability to use the Midland Main Line electrification, when it is erected.

Charging stations would be needed at Nuneaton and Lincoln.

These would be possible times between the North West and the East Midlands via Nuneaton with the one change at Nuneaton.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester – 1:45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 1:40
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:05
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 2:00
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 2:57
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:52

Note.

I am assuming that the timings for the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs are as for the current trains.

I am assuming the change at Nuneaton is a cross-platform or same platform change that takes two minutes.

Trains run on battery where tracks are not electrified.

I can build a table of current times, times via Nuneaton and savings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Leicester -2:24 – 1:45 – 0:39
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Leicester – 2:11 – 1:40 – 0.31
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham – 2:42 – 2:05 – 0:37
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham – 1:51 – 2:00 – 0.09 slower
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Lincoln- 3:42 – 2:57 – 0.45
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Lincoln – 2:38 – 2:52 – 0:14 slower

It does appear that by using the 125 mph speed of the West Coast Main Line has a positive effect on some times from the North West to the East Midlands.

But times could be reduced further.

  • Installing full digital signalling, that would enable 140 mph running between Crewe and Nuneaton, could save ten minutes.
  • Improving the Nuneaton and Leicester and the Nottingham and Lincoln legs could allow faster running.

The more I look at changing at Nuneaton, I feel it is a good idea.

  • It improves the connections between East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough and the North West.
  • It improves the connections between Cambridge, Peterborough and Stansted Airport and the North West, if the change at Nuneaton is to CrossCountry’s Stansted Airport and Birmingham New Street service.
  • It improves the connections between Coventry and Leamington Spa and the North West.

Avanti have come up with a cunning plan, worthy of Baldrick at his best.

A Second Hourly Service Between London And Liverpool

A paragraph talks about the second hourly service between London and Liverpool.

Avanti still has ambitions to introduce a second hourly service between Euston and Liverpool, but when this will come in will depend on demand recovery.

Consider.

  • If would be desirable if some or all trains running on the route could achieve a timing of two hours between London and Liverpool.
  • It is felt that the second service should stop at Liverpool South Parkway station, where the platforms are too short for eleven-car Class 390 trains.
  • Avanti have stated they would like more stops in the Trent Valley, especially at Nuneaton, where they would connect to services to the East Midlands.
  • Nuneaton is almost exactly halfway between London and Liverpool.
  • Running two tph with Class 807 trains would need nine trains and Avanti have only ordered ten in total.

I believe that a practical timetable like this could work.

  • Class 390 train – one tph – Non-stop or perhaps a single stop in the Midlands – Under two hours
  • Class 705 train – one tph – Stopping at Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool South Parkway – Current time or better

An hourly service between London and Liverpool in under two hours would surely be a passenger magnet.

February 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Plans For £100m Coventry To Nottingham Rail Link Announced

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A £100m scheme to reconnect three Midlands cities by rail could be running by 2025, subject to funding, according to a regional transport group.

Midlands Connect said it had completed a strategic business case for a direct link between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The article also says this about the route.

The group said there was a “strong case” for the project and it had narrowed it down to two – one which called at the Warwickshire town of Nuneaton and one which ran direct between the three cities.

In A Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail Link, which I wrote in February 2019, I talked about this link and came to the conclusion it was feasible.

But things have moved on in those two years and these are my updated thoughts.

Via Nuneaton Or Direct

This Google Map shows the rail layout to the South of Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. The multi-track electrified railway running North-West and South-East is the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Branching off to the South-West is the Coventry and Nuneaton Line.
  3. Branching off to the South-East is the line to Leicester.

Nuneaton station is off the map to the North on the West Coast Main Line.

Unfortunately, services to Coventry and Leamington Spa call in Platform 1 on the Western side of the station and services between Leicester and Birmingham call in platforms 6 and 7 on the Eastern side.

This probably rules out a clever solution, where perhaps an island platform, has Birmingham and Leicester services on one side and Coventry and Leicester services on the other.

This Google Map shows Nuneaton station.

Note.

  1. Platform 6 and 7 form the island platform on the North-East side of the station.
  2. Birmingham trains call in Platform 6.
  3. Leicester trains call in Platform 7.

The track layout for Platforms 6 and 7 appears comprehensive with crossovers allowing both platforms to be used for services to both cities.

This Google Map shows the crowded track layout to the South of the station.

The only possibility would appear to be a single track dive-under that connected Platform 6 and/or 7 to the Coventry and Nuneaton Line on the other side of the West Coast Main Line.

I feel that costs would rule it out.

I suspect that a direct solution cutting out Nuneaton might be possible.

This Google Map shows the three routes diverging to the South of Nuneaton station.

It might be possible to connect the Coventry and Leicester Lines, but the curve might be too tight.

The alternative could be to build a dive-under that would connect Platform 1 to the Leicester Line.

  • It would appear that it could be the easiest and most affordable option.
  • Trains would reverse in Nuneaton station.

It is certainly a tricky problem, but I do believe there is a simple cost-effective solution in there somewhere.

Nuneaton Parkway Station

This page on Coventry Live gives some information about the proposed Nuneaton Parkway station.

There is also a proposed station, to be called Nuneaton Parkway, situated off the A5 between Hinckley and Nuneaton.

This Google Map shows the area where the A5 crosses the Birmingham-Peterborough Line, that runs between Hinckley and Nuneaton..

This must surely be one of the best sites to build a new Parkway station in the UK.

  • The triangular site is a waste transfer station operated by Veolia Environmental Services UK.
  • It has a direct connection to the A5, which could be easily improved, with perhaps a roundabout.
  • Doing a crude estimate from the Google Map, I calculate that the site is about sixteen hectares, which is surely a good size for a Parkway station.
  • There’s even quite a lot of new housing within walking and cycling distance.

It would also appear that the station could be built on this site without major disruption to either road or rail traffic.

The Stations And Timing

This document on the Midlands Connect web site, gives their aims for the service.

  • Coventry and Leicester – 38 minutes from 54 minutes with one change.
  • Coventry and Loughborough – 50 minutes from 88 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and East Midlands Parkway – 56 minutes from 104 minutes with otwo changes.
  • Coventry and Nottingham – 70 minutes from 108 minutes with otwo changes.

The service would have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

If the train did the same station stops as the current services between Coventry and Leicester, it could stop at all or a selection of the following intermediate stations.

  • South Wigston
  • Narborough
  • Hinckley
  • Nuneaton
  • Bermuda Park
  • Bedworth
  • Coventry Arena

The total time would appear to be around fifty minutes, with 28 minutes for Leicester to Nuneaton and 22 minutes from Nuneaton to Coventry. Although the BBC article says that Coventry and Leicester would drop from the current 54 minutes to 38 minutes.

Currently services between Leicester and Birmingham New Street stations are run by CrossCountry.

  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Cambridge or Stansted Airport
  • One tph – Birmingham New Street and Leicester

Note that not all intermediate stations receive a two tph service.

Would a two tph service between Leicester and Coventry enable all the stations on the route to have a two tph service?

The Current Leicester And Nottingham Service

Currently the following services run between Leicester and Nottingham.

  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Direct
  • 1 tph – EMR InterCity – Via Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston
  • 1 tph – EMR Regional – Via Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Attenborough and Beeston

Note.

  1. Timings vary between 23 and 49 minutes.
  2. Four tph between Leicester and Nottingham would be a Turn-Up-and-Go service that would attract passengers.
  3. The BBC article is indicating a Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes, which would indicate a Leicester and Nottingham time of 32 minutes, which would appear to be in-line with the EMR Intercity service that stops at Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston.

It looks to me that a fourth semi-fast service between Leicester and Nottingham would not be a bad idea.

But Midlands Connect are proposing two extra tph between Coventry and Nottingham.

A Coventry And Nottingham Service

Consider.

  • An two tph service would fit in well and give a Turn-Up-and-Go service between Leicester and Nottingham.
  • The Coventry and Nottingham time of 70 minutes indicates that the train would need to be to EMR InterCity standard.
  • If there is an allowance of twenty minutes at either end of the route, this would indicate a round trip of three hours.

This standard of service would need an operational fleet of six five-car Class 810 trains or similar for a frequency of two tph.

I very much feel that there should be electrification of the Midland Main Line between Leicester and either East Midlands Parkway or Derby.

This would mean that the Coventry and Nottingham route would break down as follows.

  • Coventry and Nuneaton – 19,2 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and East Midlands Parkway – 19.1 miles – Possible electrification
  • East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham – 8.4 miles – No electrification

Note that electrification is already available  at Coventry and Nuneaton.

The Coventry and Nottingham route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, after the route between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway is electrified.

An Improved Birmingham And Cambridge Service

If Nottingham and Coventry needs a fast two tph service stopping at the major towns and cities in between, surely Birmingham and Cambridge need a similar service.

  • It could call at Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, Ely and Cambridge North.
  • Some services could be extended to Stansted Airport.
  • It would have a frequency of two tph.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would break down as follows.

  • Birmingham and Nuneaton – 21 miles – No electrification
  • Nuneaton and Leicester – 18.8 miles – No electrification
  • Leicester and Peterborough – 40 miles – No electrification
  • Peterborough and Ely – 30.5 miles – No electrification
  • Ely and Cambridge – 14.7 miles – Electrified.

Note that electrification is already available  at Birmingham, Nuneaton and Peterborough.

The Birmingham and Cambridge route would appear to be possible with battery-electric trains, if Leicester station were to be electrified.

Midland Connect’s Proposed Leeds and Bedford Service

I wrote about this service in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station.

It would run between Leeds and Bedford stations.

It would use the Midland Main Line between Bedford and East Midlands Hub stations.

It would use High Speed Two between East Midlands Hub and Leeds stations.

It would stop at Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and East Midlands Hub stations.

  • The service frequency could be hourly, but two trains per hour (tph) would be better.
  • Leicester and Leeds would take 46 minutes.

Obviously, it wouldn’t run until the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two opens, but it could open up the possibility of Coventry and Leeds in under ninety minutes.

Driving takes over two hours via the M1.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very feasible and fast service.

It also illustrates how extending the electrification on the Midland Main Line can enable battery-electric trains to provide connecting services.

Enough electrification at Leicester and a few miles North of the station to fully charge passing trains would probably be all that is needed.

 

 

 

May 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A 1500 Tonne Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Nuneaton

I am writing this post to show how I believe the new Class 93 locomotive would haul a freight train between the Port of Felixstowe and Nuneaton, where it would join the West Coast Main Line for Liverpool, Manchester mor Scotland.

Why 1500 Tonnes?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Re-Engineering Rail Freight, gives a few more details about the operation of the Class 93 locomotives.

This is said about performance.

As a result, the 86-tonne Class 93 is capable of hauling 1,500 tonnes on non-electrified routes and 2,500 tonnes on electrified routes. With a route availability (RA) of seven, it can be used on most of the rail network.

So as I’m talking about non-electrified routes, I’ll use 1500 tonnes.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction – 13.5 miles – 43 minutes -18.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction – 12.1 miles – 24 minutes -30.2 mph – Electrified
  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38.3 miles – 77 minutes -29.8 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles – 58 minutes -31.6 mph – Not Electrified
  • Peterborough and Werrington Junction – 3.1 miles – 5 minutes -37.2 mph – Electrified
  • Werrington Junction and Leicester – 49.1 miles – 97 minutes -30.4 mph – Not Electrified
  • Leicester and Nuneaton – 18.8 miles – 27 minutes -41.8 mph – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The train only averages around 40 mph on two sections.
  2. There is electrification at between Europa Junction and Haughley Junction, at Ely and Peterborough, that could be used to fully charge the batteries.
  3. In Trimode Class 93 Locomotives Ordered By Rail Operations (UK), I calculated that the 80 kWh batteries in a Class 93 locomotive hauling a 1500 tonne load can accelerate the train to 40 mph.

I can see some innovative junctions being created, where electrification starts and finishes, so that batteries are fully charged as the trains pass through.

  • There must be tremendous possibilities at Ely, Haughley and Werrington to take trains smartly through the junctions and send, them on their way with full batteries.
  • All have modern electrification, hopefully with a strong power supply, so how far could the electrification be continued on the lines without electrification?
  • Given that the pantographs on the Class 93 locomotives, will have all the alacrity and speed to go up and down like a whore’s drawers, I’m sure there will be many places on the UK rail network to top up the batteries.

Consider going between Ely and Peterborough.

  • Leaving Ely, the train will have a battery containing enough energy to get them to forty mph.
  • Once rolling along at forty, the Cat would take them to the East Coast Main Line, where they would arrive with an almost flat battery.
  • It would then be a case of pan up and on to Peterborough.

These are my ideas for how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich Europa Junction

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich Europa Junction and Haughley Junction

Consider.

  • This is a 100 mph line.
  • It is fully-electrified.
  • All the passenger trains will be running at this speed.

If the freight ran at that speed, up to 17 minutes could be saved.

Haughley Junction And Ely

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

There are also plans to improve Haughley Junction, which I wrote about in Haughley Junction Improvements.

One possibility would be to extend the electrification from Haughley Junction a few miles to the West, to cut down diesel use in both Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains and any freight trains hauled by Class 93 locomotives.

As there are plans for an A14 Parkway station at Chippenham Junction, which is 25 miles to the West of Haughley Junction, it might be sensible to electrify around Chippenham Junction.

Ely and Peterborough

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

It should also be noted that the tracks at Ely are to be remodelled.

  • Would it not be sensible to have sufficient electrification at the station, so that a Class 93 locomotive leaves the area with full batteries?
  • Acceleration to operating speed would be on battery power, thus further reducing diesel use.

It probably wouldn’t be the most difficult of projects at Peterborough to electrify between Peterborough East Junction and Werrington Junction on the Stamford Lines used by the freight trains.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that the route between Ely and Peterborough should be an early electrification project.

  • It would give a second electrified route between London and Peterborough, which could be a valuable diversion route.
  • It would allow bi-mode trains to work easier to and from Peterborough.
  • It would be a great help to Class 93 locomotives hauling freight out of Felixstowe.

As the Ely-Peterborough Line has a 75 mph operating speed, it would Class 73 locomotive-hauled freights would save around thirty ,inutes.

Peterborough and Werrington Junction

This section looks to be being electrified during the building of the Werrington Dive Under.

Werrington Junction and Leicester

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries, which could be fully charged when entering the section.

Leicester and Nuneaton

This section would be diesel hauled, with help from the batteries,

As there is full electrification at Nuneaton, this electrification could be extended for a few miles towards Leicester.

Conclusion

This has only been a rough analysis, but it does show that Class 93 locomotives can offer advantages in running freight trains between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.

But selective lengths of electrification would bring time and diesel savings.

January 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip Around The West Midlands

Today, I did a trip around the West Midlands, using five different trains.

Tain 1 – 19:10 – Chiltern – London Marylebone To Leamington Spa

This was one of Chiltern’s rakes of Mark 3 coaches hauled by a Class 68 locomotive.

I like these trains.

  • They are comfortable.
  • Everybody gets a table and half sit by a big window.
  • There is more space than Virgin Train’s Class 390 trains.
  • They may be slower, but they are fast enough for most journeys I make.

The train arrived seven minutes late at Leamington Spa at 11:32.

Train 2 – 12:02 – West Midlands Trains – Leamington Spa To Nuneaton

This is a new West Midlands Trains service, via the new station at Kenilworth and Coventry.

The trains are Class 172 trains, that used to run on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Note.

  1. The have been repainted and refreshed.
  2. The seat cover on the driver’s seat is a relic of the London Overground.
  3. The train now has a toilet.

The train was about half-full and I got the impression, that the new service had been well-received.

The train arrived on time at Nuneaton at 12:38.

Train 3 – 12:54 – West Midlands Trains – Nuneaton to Rugeley Trent Valley

The train was a Class 350 train and it arrived eight minutes late at 13:29.

These pictures show Rugeley Trent Valley station.

It is very minimal with just a shelter, a basic footbridge and no information on how or where to buy a ticket.

Passengers deserve better than this!

Train 4 – 13:43 – West Midlands Trains – Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street

This is a new West Midlands Trains electric service.

Compared to the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton service, passengers were spread rather thinly in the train.

The train was a Class 350 train and it arrived five minutes late at 14:44.

Train 5 – 15:55 – Chiltern – Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone

Another comfortable Chiltern Railways train back to London, which arrived four minutes late at 17:47.

Customer Service

Customer service and especially that from West Midlands Trains was rather patchy.

  • Leamington Spa station was rebuilding the entrance, but staff were around.
  • Nuneaton station was very quiet.
  • Rugeley Trent Valley station needs a lot of improvement.
  • The two Birmingham City Centre stations were much better.

I actually had to travel ticketless from Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street, as the Conductor on the train didn’t check the tickets.

But Virgin Trains were very professional at Birmingham New Street.

Service Pattern

I have some observations on the service patterns.

  • For comfort reasons, I would prefer that Chiltern ran Mark 3 coaches and Class 68 locomotives on all Birmingham services.
  • In the future, it looks like Leamington Spa and Nuneaton needs at least a half-hourly service.
  • There definitely needs to be more services on the Chase Line.

There also is a serious need for staff and better facilities at Rugeley Trent Valley station.

No-one even a hardened member of the SAS would want to spend thirty minutes changing trains there on a blustery and cold winter’s day.

Conclusion

I tried two new services today, that started on the May 2019 timetable change.

  • A diesel service between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton via Kenilworth and Coventry.
  • An electrified service between Rugeley Trent Valley and Birmingham New Street.

The first would appear to be what passengers want, but the second needs a bit of promoting.

 

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail Link

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Potential Leicester To Coventry Rail lLnk Mulled Over In Updated Leicestershire Transport Vision.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The potential of a Leicester to Coventry rail link has been revived again as one of the key highlights of a new transport masterplan outlined by Leicestershire County Council.

In the council’s revamped Prospectus for Growth handed out to Leicestershire County Council members this week, the document noted that there are currently no direct rail services between Leicester and Coventry, meaning a journey of just 25 miles takes an average of one hour and eight minutes.

The route would use these two lines.

This sounds easy. So what’s wrong with using two trains and changing at Nuneaton station?

  • Driving along the M69 between the two cities will take around 43 minutes.
  • The fastest rail services take 48 minutes, and run hourly.
  • Most other rail services take over an hour and a quarter, with a long wait at Nuneaton station.
  • Leicester and Coventry services serve opposite sides of Nuneaton station.

I suspect regular travellers have got the rail journey sorted, but occasional travellers will always take the car.

This Google Map shows Nuneaton station.

Note.

  • The West Coast Main Line going NW-SE through the station.
  • Coventry services terminate in Platform 2, which is on the West side of the station.
  • Birmingham-Leicester services stop on the other side of the station.

The station has lifts, but it wouldn’t be a good one for a fast change of trains.

This Google Map shows the West Coast Main Line to the South of Nuneaton station.

Note how the West Coast Main Line splits into three.

  • The Coventry to Nuneaton Line goes South.
  • The electrified West Coast Main Line goes South-East.
  • The Nuneaton to Leicester breaks away to the East.

It would appear that a train going from Leicester to Coventry would need to cross the West Coast Main Line.

This would be very difficult without a flyover or a tunnel.

It would be even more difficult if the train had to call at Nuneaton station.

But it might be possible for trains between Leicester and Coventry to do the following.

  • Call at Platform 2 in Nuneaton station.
  • All trains would reverse at Nuneaton station.
  • A single-track flyover or dive-under  would link the Eastern track of the Coventry to Nuneaton Line to the Nuneaton to Leicester Line.

It would be a tricky piece of engineering.

The Possible Route

If the train did the same station stops as the current services, it could stop at the following intermediate stations.

  • South Wigston
  • Narborough
  • Hinckley
  • Nuneaton
  • Bermuda Park
  • Bedworth
  • Coventry Arena

The total time would appear to be around fifty minutes, with 28 minutes for Leicester to Nuneaton and 22 minutes from Nuneaton to Coventry.

I think if the route were to be run using a modern 100 mph bi-mode  or diesel train, that saved time at each stop, that a round trip could be done within two hours.

If this were possible then two trains would be needed for an hourly service.

The article talks of extending the services to Nottingham and The Thames Valley.

It would be likely, that a route length would be chosen, that was convenient to timetable.

Conclusion

The plan to run a Leicester to Coventry service looks feasible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The New Bromsgrove Station

This is the new Bromsgrove station, which opened this week.

It is not what you’d call a spectacular station, but it certainly fulfils the objectives of the design.

  • Act as a second Southern terminus for three trains per hour on Birmingham’s Cross-City Line.
  • Be able to accept trains up to nine cars on the Cross-Country route from Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford through Birmingham and onto the East Midlands and Yorkshire.
  • Provide a step-free interchange, between trains, buses, cars and cycles.
  • Provide a Park-and-Ride station for Birmingham.

But as it has four platforms, will soon be electrified and have connections across the City, will it after the timetable has settled, become an important interchange that takes the pressure from Birmingham New Street? I think it will, as Reading does for Paddington, Stratford does for Liverpool Street and Clapham Junction, does for ictoria and Waterloo, in London.

It is also not finished and needs a shop and coffee stalls. In some ways it has a similar aura to the new Lea Bridge station in East London. Both stations shout that they are open for business, so please send us some trains and we’ll make the passengers happy.

It could turn out to be a masterstroke.

The electric trains on the line that will work the electrified service are Class 323 trains. There are forty-three, three-car units of which London Midland have twenty-six units, or just thirteen six-car trains, which is the train-length, the line obviously needs.

Will they get the other seventeen units from Northern, as that company gets new rolling stock, to create a fleet that could serve the line adequately?

They could also be looking at new trains. Something like four-car Class 710 trains, which are being built for similar urban routes on the London Overground, would be ideal. And in these Brexit times, they are built in Derby.

If Class 710 trains were to be used, they open up the intriguing possibility of fitting some or all of them with on-board energy storage.

This would enable the following routes.

  • Bromsgrove to Worcester is only a dozen miles, and doesn’t include the notorious Lickey Incline, which will soon be electrified. So it would be possible to run a frequent Birmingham to Worcester service using onboard energy, which would also serve Droitwich Spa and the new Worcestershire Parkway station.
  • The Camp Hill Line provides an alternative route across Birmingham City Centre. It is not electrified, but as it is short, it would be well within onboard energy storage range.
  • On the other side of Birmingham, it is only about twenty-five miles or so from the electrified Cross-City Line to the electrified West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.

So could we see a second Cross-City Line in Birmingham from Worcester to Nuneaton via Bromsgrove, Camp Hill, Water Orton and Coleshill Parkway?

It would need no new electrification and just appropriate track and station improvements.

 

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Ride From Nuneaton To Coventry In A London Midland Class 306 Train

I went to Nuneaton station and then took the Coventry to Nuneaton Line to see the new stations at Bermuda Park and Coventry Arena before changing at Coventry for Birmingham. I took these pictures from the train.

Both new stations have two similar platforms, so I only photographed one at each station.

All platforms seem to be able to take at least a three car train, but the Coventry-facing platform at Coventry Arena station can take six card to handle events. I also suspect that selective door opening on modern trains like Electrostars can allow longer trains to call.

The train was actually two Class 153 trains, which explains the Class 306 train.

The line may be electrified in future, as it is used by freight trains, but if Network Rail get their act together, I can see the passenger service on this line using IPEMUs. Especially, when Kenilworth station is reopened on the Coventry to Leamington Line.

Unless the two lines are electrified, freight would still be diesel-hauled. A Class 88 locomotive could be used, so that where there is electrification.freight trains could be electric-hauled. But they seem to be taking a long time to arrive!

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Freight Through Nuneaton

Nuneaton is where freight trains between Felixstowe and the North West and the West of Scotland,  join and leave the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

This Google Map shows the rail lines through Nuneaton station.

Freight Through Nuneaton

Freight Through Nuneaton

Note how the WCML runs diagonally North-West to South-East, though Nuneaton station.

Freight trains from Felixstowe arrive and turn North alongside the WCML before crossing the WCML on a flyover.

Trains can either go straight on to Birmingham and the West Midlands or turn North using the 2012-built single-track Nuneaton North Chord to proceed up the WCML.

This Google Map shows the flyover and the Nuneaton North Chord.

Nuneaton Flyover And North Chord

Nuneaton Flyover And North Chord

Trains from the West Midlands to Felixstowe take the flyover in the other direction, but trains from the WCML proceed through Nuneaton station and then turn off to Felixstowe.

This Google Map shows the WCML to the South of Nuneaton station, with the line to Coventry turning off to the West and the line to Felixstowe turning off to the East.

Lines South Of Nuneaton Station

Lines South Of Nuneaton Station

As I came through the area today from North to South, I took these pictures.

I didn’t take any south of the station, as I was sitting on the wrong side to show the line going East.

The Nuneaton North Chord was a one-mile chord and cost £25.6million, which in terms of railway projects isn’t a lot of money.

But it is one of a pattern of short railway lines that have been built or planned in recent years to unlock the potential of the UK’s railways.

But iit is not all plain sailing, as the saga to create the Ordsall Chord in Manchester shows. Plans show it should be finished in December 2016 at a cost of £95million, but a determined local protester has stuck the development in the Courts with the local Councils, Network Rail, the train companies and the Government on the other side.

I do wonder how many of these short railway lines and chords can and should be built.

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment