The Anonymous Widower

A First Ride In One Of LNER’s New Azumas

The Azuma is the name given by LNER‘s new Class 800 trains.

I rode in one today from Peterborough to Kings Cross after deliberately doing the trip the other way in an InterCity 125.

I took these pictures.

These are my thoughts.

The Brand-Name

The Azuma brand-name is one of those names, that was either thought-up for a fee of several million pounds by a specialist agency or it was thought up by a few serious real-ale drinkers in a comfortable pub, in front of a roaring fire or a blazing sun.

  • It is actually Japanese for East, so I doubt it will be controversial.
  • It is catchy and if say Simon Calder said that he liked the new Azuma, it might result in extra ticket sales.
  • It will differentiate LNER from their competitors running differently-liveried examples of the same Class 800 train.
  • Does it suggest speed in English, with the zoom in the middle?

LNER obviously like it, as Wikipedia says they retained the name, which was devised by the previous franchise holder; Virgin Trains East Coast.

Thinking through the history of the East Coast Main Line, I can only remember one class of locomotives or trains, that got a name; the Class 55 locomotive or Deltic. For those of my generation, Deltics are often iconic. In The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses, I describe a memorable trip behind a Deltic.

The Livery

The livery is distinctly cheeky, with an eye suggested around the front side-window!

The eye certainly stands out, which could be a good way to get extra seat sales.

It also appears that the livery has changed from the original Virgin East Coast design.

I like it!

The Interior

The interior is simple, practical and bright with some innovative touches.

  • I was in Standard and there were a reasonable number of good-sized tables, which is always welcome.
  • The seats seemed better than those fitted to the Class 800 trains on Great Western Railway (GWR).
  • The electronic seat registration status displays were clear and understandable.
  • I didn’t use the wi-fi or the charging points, but others were using them and one guy said they worked fine.
  • Our ticket collector had a moan and I suspect there are a few problems that will be corrected as necessary.

But then trains always get a lot better after their first major update.

Comparison With Great Western Railway’s Version

The general consensus between two other passengers and myself, was that the seats in the Azuma were more comfortable, than those of GWR’s Class 800 trains.

A Three Class Train

Like some other services in the UK, the Azuma is effectively a three-class train.

  • First Class
  • Standard Class with a table.
  • Bog Standard Class

I find it interesting that East Midlands Railway are promising that all seats will have tables, which already happens on some services on Chiltern Railways.

I wonder if LNER’s competitors; East Coast Trains, Grand Central and Hull Trains will offer more tables.

As a regular user of Chiltern Railways, I can see more tables being added to all main line services.

Performance

As the pictures show, I followed the train speed with the Speedview app on my phone.

After accelerating away from Peterborough 125 mph was held to Stevenage and then after slowing for the twin-track section over the Digswell Viaduct, the train maintained 100 mph for most opf the way until Kings Cross.

I think we will see improved performance onf the East Coast Main Line, with speeds increasing and journey times decreasing.

  • There are plans to add extra tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough.
  • The flyunder at Werrington will be completed.
  • There are plans for improvements to the North at Newark, Doncaster and York.
  • Digital signalling will allow 140 mph running of Azumas and other Class 800 trains.
  • It has been suggested that capacity on the route would improve with 125 mph trains running to Kings Lynn.

If all operators were running Class 800 trains, this would surely increase capacity.

Splitting And Joining

This document on the Hitachi web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-Speed Rolling Stock For UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a sentence from the document.

It also incorporates an automatic coupling system that shortens the time taken to couple or uncouple trains while stopped at a station.

Their Kentish cousins have been at it for several years.

LNER have not disclosed how they will use splitting and joining, but there are possibilities, where two five-car trains leave London as a ten-car train and then split en route to serve two destinations.

  • London to Aberdeen and Inverness, splitting, at Edinburgh.
  • London to Harrogate or Skipton and Middlesborough, splitting at Leeds.
  • London to Lincoln and Hull, splitting at Newark.

Trains would join at the same stations, when returning South.

The splitting and joining has advantages over the current fixed-length InterCity 125 and InterCity 225.

  • A five-car Azuma, only needs a 130 metre long platform. So services to destinations like Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland without a long platform become possible without expensive platform extensions.
  • Train paths on the East Coast Main Line are being used more efficiently, as in some cases two destinations are served by one service into Kings Cross.

There are some disadvantages.

  • Travellers must make sure they get into the correct part of the train.
  • There is probably more staff on the train, as both five-car trains need a full crew.
  • Returning South, trains must keep to time precisely to the joining station, to avoid delaying another service.
  • All possible calling points on the East Coast Main Line, must be able to handle ten-car trains But as these are less than twenty metres longer than an InterCity 225, lengthening shouldn’t be a major exercise.

It’s probably best to consider the two five-car trains as separate services, which happened to be coupled together on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should also be noted that several stations like Kings Cross, Doncaster, York and others have entrances in the middle of the platform, which is convenient for either the front or rear train.

Bicycles, Surf Boards And Oversized Luggage

I don’t think you get many surfboards on London to Leeds services, but a member of LNER’s staff told me, that during the recent Tour de Yorkshire, there were a lot of passengers with bicycles. This could be a problem on the Azuma,, as the nine-car train has only four spaces, with a five-car just two.

With the conversion of Scottish services to Azumas, I can see that luggage could be a problem.

I took this picture at Edinburgh, where this luggage is about to be swallowed by the locomotive of an InterCity 125.

I can see a time, when there will be a need to add another car to some nine-car trains, to make sure all the bicycles, surf boards and oversized luggage can be accommodated on the train.

  • Are LNER cutting themselves off from upmarket golf tours, where passengers travel between London and Gleneagles in First Class luxury?
  • GWR have a similar problem on South West England services and I think, it will get more serious in the next few years, as more people take up cycling and surfing.
  • It appears GWR have resorted to banning surf-boards.
  • ScotRail have opted to convert redundant single-car Class 153 trains, into multi-purpose additional carriages to enhance services on the West Highland Line.

I can also see a problem on the London to Inverness services. In Promoting The Highland Main Line, I wrote about the efforts of the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership to encourage more visitors to their iconic line and the surrounding area.

Many of the visitors that are attracted to the area, might come with bicycles, golf bags, climbing equipment and other oversized baggage.

So could we see an extra multi-purpose car added to some Azumas working between London and Scotland?

  • The Class 800 trains can be lengthened to as long as twelve cars.
  • Manufacturing of extra cars in the next few years, should be relatively easy.
  • Adding extra cars is a simple cut-and-paste, with the train software ascertaining the train formation.
  • Most platforms are probably long enough for at least ten-car trains.
  • A ten-car Class 800 formation is only fifteen metres longer than a nine-car InterCity 225.
  • There may be opportunities to carry high-value, urgent or perishable freight.

Obviously, the train operators’ needs to satisfy their markets and their finances will decide if extra cars are worth adding.

But I think, that we’ll see some ten-car Azumas on the London and Aerdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness routes.

Conclusion

The train appears to meet the specification, but as regards bulky luggage, it could be that the specification is lacking.

 

 

 

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Than A Thousand People In This Town Want A Rail Service To Cambridge

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Cambridgeshire Live.

This is the first three paragraphs.

t’s a town talked about more for its struggling market than its booming businesses.

But more than a thousand people in St Neots have signed a petition wanting to see that end.

The petition, which was started by Michelle Woodbridge, a resident from the town, wants the ‘forgotten’ area to be part of a new rail connection between Oxford and Cambridge – which people believe may revitalise the area.

St. Neots station is on the East Coast Main

  • It is to the East of the town.
  • The station has a new footbridge with lifts.
  • It has an half-hourly Thameslink service between Peterborough and Horsham, with extra services in the Peak.
  • There is a bus connection to Cambridge

This Google Map shows the Eastern area of the town around the railway station.

Note.

  1. The large area of development to the East of the station.
  2. The A428 road running across the bottom half of the map.
  3. The A428 is being upgraded and could become a dual-carriageway route to Cambridge via Caxton Gibbet, Cambourne and Madingley.

The East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge is planned to cross the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and then take a Southerly route to Cambridge South station.

The Route Option B is described like this in Wikipedia.

Route B involves running from the Marston Vale line to a new Bedford South station before then running to a relocated Sandy (to the north Tempsford area or south of St. Neots). The route heads east to a new station in Cambourne before swinging south to join the existing line northbound to Cambridge.

It does seem a bit of a roundabout route, but the new station at Tempsford could be a well-placed Park-and-Ride station for Cambridge.

I don’t think that the choice of route between Bedford and Cambridge will be easy.

However, certain factors may help in the design of the route.

An Improved A1 Road

The A1 road runs North-South to the West of the East Coast Main Line.

The road is only a two lanes in each direction and probably needs improvement.

So the improvements could be done in conjunction with the building of the East-West Rail Link.

The East Coast Main Line Is Four Tracks

Much of the East Coast Main Line is four tracks or could be made so, through St. Neots and Sandy stations.

Both stations have four platforms.

Sandy Station Could Be An Interchange Between The East-West Rail Link And The East Coast Main Line

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandy station developed into a comprehensiove interchange station, either in its present position or slightly closer to St. Neots.

It would  be served by the following services.

  • East Coast Main Line services between Kings Cross, the North of England and the East of Scotland.
  • Tramslink services between London and Peterborough.
  • East-West services between Cambridge and Oxford via Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It would also be a Park-and Ride station for London, Bedford and Cambridge.

The East Coast Main Line Will Be Digitally Signalled

This must help increase the numbers of trains on the Route.

Greater Anglia Are Ambitious

I just wonder if there was a flyover at Sandy station, if trains could use the East Coast Main Line and the East West Rail Link to create a new service from Cambridge to Peterborough via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

It would suit Greater Anglia’s ambitions and the 100 mph Class 755 trains could handle the partially-electrified route with ease.

There could even be a circular service, where trains returned from Peterborough via March, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.

  • The trains would not terminate at Cambridge, but would go through the three Cambridge stations in order.
  • Four trains per hour (tph), with two going via Sandy and two via Ely could be handled in a single platform at Peterborough.

I estimate the following times are possible

  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Sandy – 60 minutes
  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Ely – 50 minutes

Two tph doing the circular route in both directions would need eight trains. All stations would get at least two tph service to Cambridge and Peterborough.

Conclusion

I can see a time when there is a direct service between Peterborough and Cambridge via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

St. Neots would have a two tph service to Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Peterborough.

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nervous Operators Force Network Rail To Defer King’s Cross Plan

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

King’s Cross station has to be closed for three months, so that tracks, electrification and signalling can be replaced and modernised for about 1.5 miles from the buffer stops at the station.

The original dates of the closure were to have been between December 2019 and March 2020, but now it looks like it could be delayed by up to a year.

The article on the web site, is a shortened version of the article in the magazine, where this is said.

Closure dates have yet to be announced, and NR is still developing a passenger handling strategy which could include long-distance services at Finsbury Park or some services terminating at Peterborough. Some trains could even be rerouted into London Liverpool Street.

I wonder, if Network Rail’s planners are cursing that the around thirty miles between Peterborough and Ely is not electrified.

If it were electrified, it would allow electric trains as well as diesel and bi-mode trains to access Liverpool Street station via the West Anglia Main Line.

What Benefits Would There Be From Electrifying Peterborough To Ely?

I can imagine Oxford-educated civil servants in the Department of Transport and The Treasury dismissing calls for more electrification in the backwater of East Anglia, after the successful electrification to Norwich in the 1980s.

But now Cambridge is powering ahead and East Anglia is on the rise, with the massive Port of Felixstowe needing large numbers of freight trains to other parts of mainland UK.

This East Anglian success gives reasons for the electrification of the Peterborough-Ely Line.

Direct Electric Trains Between Peterborough And Cambridge

I have met Cambridge thinkers, who believe that Peterborough is the ideal place for businesses, who need to expand from Cambridge.

Peterborough has the space that Cambridge lacks.

But the transport links between the two cities are abysmal.

  • The A14 is only a two-lane dual-carriageway, although a motorway-standard section is being added around Huntingdon.
  • Peterborough station has been improved in recent years.
  • The direct train service is an hourly three-car diesel service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport, which doesn’t stop at the increasingly-important Cambridge North station.

The road will get better, but the rail service needs improvement.

  • There needs to be at least two direct trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • They would stop at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely and March.
  • End-to-end timing would be under an hour.
  • Greater Anglia will have the four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains, which would be ideal for the route from next year.

If the Peterborough- Ely Line was electrified, Greater Anglia could use five-car Class 720 trains.

An Electric Diversion Route For The East Coast Main Line

The works at Kings Cross station, and the possible proposal to run some trains into Liverpool Street station, show that an electric diversion route would be useful, when there are closures or problems on the East Coast Main Line.

In the case of the Kings Cross closure, if Peterborough were to be used as the terminal for some trains from the North, then I suspect some high-capacity Class 800 trains could shuttle passengers to Liverpool Street.

If the date of the Kings Cross closure is 2020, then certain things may help.

  • Crossrail will be running.
  • Extra trains will be running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • Hull Trains will be running bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • There could be more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • There could be more capacity and some longer platforms at Liverpool Street.

What would really help, is the proposed four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

The latter could prove extremely useful, when Network Rail decide to bite the bullet and four-track the Digswell Viaduct.

Extending Greater Anglia’s Network

Greater Anglia have bought new bi-mode Class 755 trains.

This would appear to be more than enough to covering the current services, as they are replacing twenty-six trains with a total of fifty-eight coaches with thirty-eight trains with a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is 46 % more trains and 137 % more coaches.

The new trains are also genuine 100 mph trains on both electricity and diesel.

Obviously, Greater Anglia will be running extra services, but with the explosive growth around Cambridge, coupled with the new Cambridge North station, I feel they will be running extra services on the Peterborough to Cambridge route and perhaps further.

The new Werrington Grade Separation will make a difference.

  • It will open in a couple of years.
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln won’t block the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Leicester route could also be improved.

So services to and from Lincoln and Leicester would probably be easier to run from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

CrossCountry run a service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport stations.

  • The service stops at Coleshill Parlway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely and.Cambridge and Audley End stations.
  • The service doesn’t stop at Cambridge North station.
  • The service is run by an inadequate Class 170 train, which sometimes is only two coaches and totally full.
  • Trains take just over three hours ten minutes for the journey.

Will Greater Anglia take over this route? Or possibly run a second train as far as Leicester?

Their Class 755 trains with better performance and specification would offer the following.

  • Electric running between Ely and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Greater passenger capacity.
  • wi-fi, plugs and USB sockets.
  • A three hour journey both ways.
  • The extra performance would probably allow an extra important stop at Cambridge North station.

The new trains would certainly offer what passengers want.

CrossCountry run an extra train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester, so perhaps at the Western end, the Greater Anglia service need only go as far as Leicester.

At the Stansted end of the route, there will be an hourly train between Stansted Airport and Norwich, so there could be scope for perhaps cutting one the services back to Cambridge.

Obviously, time-tabling would sort it out to the benefit of the train operators and passengers, but I can envisage a set of services like this.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport – CrossCountry – 1 tph
  • Leicester and Cambridge – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Colchester and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Nottingham (Currently Liverpool Lime Street) – 1 tph

Adding these up you get.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge – 2 tph – As now!
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge North – 2 tph – New service!
  • Cambridge and Ely – 4 tph – At least!
  • Ely and Peterborough – 4 tph – At least!
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 2 tph – Up from 1 tph
  • Stansted Airport and Peterbough – 1 tph – As now!
  • Cambridge and Leicester – 2 tph = Up from 1 tph.

This pattern or something like it would be much better for all.

If the Ely-Peterborough section of the were to be electrified then it would enable the following.

  • A reduced journey time for electric or bi-mode trains.
  • If required Greater Anglia could run an extra electric service using Class 720 trains between Stansted Airport and Peterbough.

I said earlier that the Werrington Grade Separation will make it easier to run services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

So why not add an hourly service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I can envisage, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked at the southern end, that there might be enough capacity for a Liverpool Street to Lincoln service via Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.

But whatever happens Greater Anglia’s choice of bi-mode Class 755 trains, seems to give them the flexibility to match services to passengers needs.

Electro-Diesel and Battery-Electric Freight Locomotives

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel freight locomotive, that can use either power from overhead electrification or an pnboard diesel engine.

I believe that locomotives like this will become more common and that eventually, we’ll see a battery-electric heavy freight locomotive.

I wrote about the latter in Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive.

The Peterborough-Ely Line will see increasing numbers of trains hauled by these powerful electric locomotives, with either diesel or battery power to propel them over the gaps in the electrification.

Electrifying the line would speed these hybrid trains through and increase the capacity of the route.

Conclusion

Network Rail have annoyed the train operators with their planning and timing of the upgrade at Kings Cross station.

It looks to me, that the part of the problem, is that there is no viable electrified secondary route to London.

Bi-mode trains can use the Peterborough-Ely Line to go to Liverpool Street via Cambridge.

This line is one of those routes that sits in a sea of electrification, which carries a lot of traffic, that would bring several benefits if it were to be electrified.

  • Direct electric trains between Cambridge and Peterborough, would greatly improve the spasmodic service between the two cities, with large economic benefits to the county.
  • An electric diversion route would be created from Peterborough to Liverpool Street via Ely and Cambridge.
  • It would allow Greater Anglia to develop routes West of Cambridge to places like Lincoln and Leicester using their future fleet of Class 755 trains.
  • It would also make it easier for battery-electric freight locomotives to cover the busy freight route between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

I also feel that it wouldn’t be the most difficult route to electrify.

The Fens are flat.

There is no history of mining.

The track is fairly straight and simple.

I suspect that it could become a high-quality 90-100 mph, electrified line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With

 

 

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Will Greater Anglia Deploy The First Class 745 Trains?

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled ‘Gorgeous Beast’ Will Change Perception Of Rail Travel.

This is unusual language, when you’re talking about modern diesel and electric trains, especially when it comes from the CEO of a financial company investing in trains, as a safe long-term investment for money like pension funds.

But if the Class 755 trains cause Mark Swindell to use such language, they must have something about them.

Perhaps, it’s the fact that they follow the layout of the legendary and much-loved by some, Class 442 train, which also had a power-car in the middle. It is informative to compare the Class 442 train with a four-car Class 755/4 train.

  • The 442’s power-car is electric, whilst the 755/4’s is diesel/electric and can be diesel/electric/battery.
  • The 442 has seats for 346 in two classes, whilst the 755/4 has 229 in a single class.
  • The 442 has 1200 kW of power, whilst the 755/4 has 2600 kW on electric power and 1920 kW on diesel-electric power
  • Both are 100 mph trains, although the 442 holds the World Record for a third-rail train at 108 mph.

I am drawn to the following conclusions about the Class 755 train.

Passenger Comfort

Passengers will have plenty of space, in addition to the customer comforts, which appear to be of a high standard.

Some passengers might miss First Class, but will the extra space compensate.

Power

The power figures quoted in the Railway Gazette show the following.

  • In electric mode, the train will have more than double of the power of the 442.
  • In diesel-electric mode, the train has sixty percent more power, than the 442.

This will mean that the train should have superb acceleration.

Top Speed

With all this power, the planned operating speed of 100 mph will be determined more by the track, signalling and other trains, rather than any limitations of the trains.

There are three improvements in Network Rail’s Improvement Pipeline, that will allow faster running by Class 755 trains.

  • Trowse Swingbridge
  • Haughley Junction doubling
  • Ely Area service improvements

The improvement will help these services by Class 755 trains.

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

I could also see the operating speed on the Breckland Line raised.

Routes

How will the routes be affected by trains with a better performance?

Norwich To Stansted

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Norwich to Cambridge – 1:24
  • Cambridge to Stansted – 0:39

Which adds up to a convenient 2:03.

With the faster trains and eight stops, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one train per hour (tph)service.

Ipswich to Cambridge

Currently, this route takes 1:16 with eight stops.

This is not very convenient and the time savings needed to get the route under an hour will not be easy.

Colchester to Peterborough

Currently, the two legs take.

  • Colchester to Ipswich – 0:19
  • Ipswich to Peterborough – 1.41

Which adds up to a convenient 2:00.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under two hours, with a round trip of four hours, which would need four trains for a one tph service.

Ipswich to Lowestoft

Currently, this route takes 1:26 with nine stops.

With the faster trains, it looks like this route could be done several minutes under one-and-a-half hours, with a round trip of three hours, which would need three trains for a one tph service.

It also looks like up to three trains per day will run from London to Lowestoft.

So Which Route Will Get The New Trains First?

Greater Anglia will obviously deploy them, where there is the greatest need for extra capacity or there is the greatest return to be made!

I think, we’ll see them on the Lowestoft route or between Cambride and Norwich first.

They’ll certainly be worth waiting for, if Mark Swindell is right.

September 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Thameslink Trains Serving The East Coast Main Line From May 20th 2018

The National Rail timetable is now showing the following new Thameslink trains serving the East Coast Main Line.

There will be two trains per hour (tph) between Peterborough and Horsham.

  • XX:26 and XX:56 – Peterborough
  • XX:08 and XX;38 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:00 and XX:30 – London Bridge
  • XX:08 and XX:38 – Horsham

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 45 minutes.
  2. Stops include Huntingdon, St. Neots, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:24 from Peterborough.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:25 and XX:55.

There will be one tph  between Cambridge and Brighton.

  • XX:54 at Cambridge
  • XX:52 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:15 – London Bridge
  • XX:19 – Brighton

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 25 minutes.
  2. Stops include Royston, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Haywards Heath to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:54 from Cambridge.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:07.

But going to Gatwick, I might go to Finsbury Park, where I can now get three trains per hour to the Airport.

  • XX:08 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:38 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:52 taking around 52 minutes

But coming back, I would take the first train to London Bridge, from where I’d get a 141 bus to just outside my door.

Are The Trains Acceptable?

For my journey of an hour to Gatwick, the trains are just about acceptable.

But, in some ways, I think that passengers from Cambridge and Peterborough will only use Thameslink to South of East Croydon occasionally, as over two hours in a Class 700 train, is an experience, passengers will be reluctant to repeat.

I would do the following.

  • Add wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Add a few tables to make some groups of four seats, suitable for families.
  • Add seat-back tables.
  • Make the seats more comfortable.

I’d love to have five minutes with the idiot who signed off the order for these trains, which must be the worst new trains on the UK network. Perhaps, that’s not being harsh enough. I suspect they could be the worst new trains in the world!

I’ve had better passenger comfort in a Pacer, that I wrote about in Is This Really A Pacer In A New Outfit?.

But that journey was only between Rotherham and Sheffield, not say Cambridge and Gatwick.

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Thameslink Is Now Serving Peterborough And Cambridge

This article in the Standard is entitled First Direct Trains From Cambridge To Brighton Via Central London Launch.

This is said about the initial service.

There will be one return service from Brighton to Cambridge, departing at 11.32am from Brighton and 2.14pm from Cambridge, and two between Horsham and Peterborough. These will depart at 10am and 1.30pm from Horsham and 9.46am and 1.17pm from Peterborough.

Do it looks like things are getting started.

Unfortunately, they’re not running on Saturday, when Greater Anglia is employing the dreaded buses.

March 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Improving Services To Lincoln

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

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

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

Sorting Out Newark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember that Castle station is closer to the town centre.

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

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

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

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

The Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

The speeds of the three trains are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faster connections to Doncaster and Peterborough would bring various benefits.

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

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

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

Reinstating The Complete Great Northern And Great Eastern Joint Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

I have come to the following occlusions.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Will The Hertford Loop Line Be Upgraded?

In All Change On Thameslink, I said this about the Hertford Loop Line.

In the future, don’t discount improvements to the Hertford Loop Line, to get more trains through the area.

The Current Hertford Loop Line

So what are the characteristics of the Hertford Loop Line? Wikipedia introduces it like this.

The Hertford Line (also known colloquially as the Hertford Loop) is a branch of the East Coast Main Line, providing a commuter route to London for Hertford and other Hertfordshire towns and an occasional diversion route for the main line. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 8, SRS 08.03 and is classified as a London and South East Commuter line.

Riding on the line is an experience like many of the commuter lines in North London, that were electrified in the thirty years after the Second World War.

  • It is double track throughout.
  • It is electrified at 25 KVAC using overhead wires.
  • It has a speed limit of 121 kph.
  • It has eleven intermediate stations, most of which have two platforms.
  • Hertford North station has two through platforms and a bay platform.
  • The trains are elderly Class 313 trains, which usually run in six-car formations along the Northern City Line into Moorgate.
  • It is connected to the East Coast Main Line using grade-separated junctions at both ends.
  • According to the History in the Wikipedia entry for the Line, it was built to relieve pressure on the Digswell Viaduct.

I don’t know the condition of the line, the electrification and the signalling, but the line was used for the testing of ERTMS, so it can’t be too bad.

New Class 717 Trains

But changes are happening in that the Class 313 trains are being replaced with new six-car Class 717 trains, which are cousins of the Class 700 trains used by Thameslink.

Yesterday I was at Stevenage station and there were problems on the fast line North of the station, which meant that my train directly into Kings Cross was swapped from the slow to the fast line to get it out of the way and into Kings Cross as soon as possible

Obviously, this is probably not an unusual action, but you wouldn’t be wanting to put 121 kph trains like the Class 313 trains onto the fast lines, as they’d slow everything down.

The speeds of the various local and Cambridge trains that use the East Coast Main Line are.

I would suspect that because of the need to occasionally run on the fast lines, that the Class 717 trains may well be 160 kph units. This would also mean that all the trains running on the Cambridge Line would be 160 kph trains or faster.

There is a factor about the order for the Class 717 trains, that doesn’t seem to have been noticed. At present there are effectively twenty-two six-car elderly Class 313 trains working the suburban services. These are being replaced with a fleet of  twenty-five six-car modern Class 717 trains.

Consider.

  • The Class 717 trains could be substantially faster, than the Class 313 trains.
  • The Class 717 trains will handle stops faster.
  • The Class 717 trains will be more passenger-friendly, probably like the Class 700 train, I wrote about in A First Ride In A Class 700 train.
  • The Class 717 trains will have lots of gizmos and automation to aid staff and to inform and entertain passengers.
  • Wi-fi could even be fast and free on the Class 717 trains.

Add all of these factors together and I believe that there is going to be a massive increase in capacity on the services out of Moorgate. Unless of course, they park some of the extra new trains in sidings.

I suspect too, that Govia Thameslink Railway are hoping thast new trains on the Northern City and Hertford Loop ines will increase ridership and poach customers from rival services.

Voltage Changeover At Drayton Park

In the previous section, I noted that automation on the new Class 717 trains will assist staff.

One problem is the AC/DC changeover at Drayton Park. This may not be exactly the same as the similar voltage changeover at Farringdon on Thameslink, that will be performed hundreds of times a day by Class 700 trains. But it surely won’t be much different.

As a Control Engineer, who has experience in industrial automation, I can’t believe that a modern train won’t change power pick-up automatically, much faster and in a more reliable way, than a forty year old train.

As the electrical systems on the two trains must be virtually identical, by the time the Class 717 trains enter service, any power change on the Class 700 trains, will surely be fully debugged.

I’m sure Siemens will get this changeover to work smoothly, but on the Northern City Line, I’ve felt since I rode the of Bombardier’s Class 379 IPEMU prototype at Manningtree, that the line should be run using onboard energy storage, so that the tunnels are electrically dead.

The other alternative would be to use an overhead rail at 25 KVAC, which is what the Germans or Swiss would do.

Local And Cambridge Branch Trains On The East Coast Main Line

What local and Cambridge Branch trains will be running on the East Coast Main Line, between Hitchin and Kings Cross?

  • Thameslink – 2 tph Peterborough to Horsham – |Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Thameslink – 2 tph Cambridge North to Brighton – Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Thameslink – 2 tph Cambridge to Maidstone East – Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Peterborough to Kings Cross – Semi-Fast including stop at Welwyn North
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Peterborough to Kings Cross – Stopping including stop at Welwyn North
  • Great Northern – 2 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Non-Stop
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Semi-Fast
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Stopping
  • Northern City – 3 tph Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City – Stopping
  • Northern City – 2 tph Moorgate to Hertford North – Stopping via Hertford Loop
  • Northern City – 1 tph Moorgate to Letchworth Garden City – Stopping via Hertford Loop

So we get the following totals.

  • 6 tph between St. Pancras and Finsbury Park
  • 6 tph between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park
  • 6 tph between Moorgate and Finsbury Park
  • 18 tph between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace
  • 3 tph between Alexandra Palace and Hertford North via Hertford Loop
  • 15 tph between Alexandra Palace and Welwyn Garden City
  • 12 tph between Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage – 2 stop at Welwyn North
  • 1 tph between Hertford North and Stevenage via Hertfood Loop
  • 13 tph between Stevenage and Hitchin
  • 4 tph bertween Hitchin and Peterborough
  • 9 tph bertween Hitchin and Letchworth Garden City
  • 8 tph between Letchworth Garden City and Cambridge

Obviously on the East Coast Main Line, there is a mixture of fast, semi-fast and stopping trains, but as the whole route is quadruple track between Finsbury Park and Hitchin, this service pattern could probably be easily handled.

Simple Cross-Platform And Same-Platform interchanges

There are three different London end destinations for local services on the Southern section the East Coast Main Line.

  • St. Pancras and the South, through the Canal Tunnels.
  • Kings Cross, using the East Coast Main Line.
  • Moorgate using the Northern City Line.

Passengers to and from these stations, will need to get to and from any station on the following routes.

  • The East Coast Main Line to Peterborough.
  • The Cambridge Line to Cambridge
  • The Hertford Loop Line

Quite a number of stations will be ideal places to change if you can’t get a direct train. These stations and some others might become recommended interchanges.

  • Finsbury Park
  • Alexandra Palace
  • Potters Bar
  • Welwyn Garden City
  • Stevenage
  • Hitchin

Will these stations be given a platform layout, where interchange between different services entails just getting off one train and then getting another train from the same platform face or one at the other side of the platform?

Some stations like Finsbury Park, Alexandra Palace and Stevenage already have this layout or it has been substantially implemented.

But I think it essential, that all recommended interchange stations have simple step-free changes.

Passengers Will Duck And Dive

In a few years time, passengers will be very savvy and armed to the teeth with apps, cards and electronic devices to use the network in the fastest and most cost efficient way possible.

So the passenger wanting to go from say Ashwell and Morden to say Gillingham will be guided through the Thameslink network according to how the trains are running, by their large number of intelligent friends.

I do this now, often using National Rail’s information web site from my phone, to check routes and make sure, I don’t get stuck in Croydon, Scunthorpe or Manchester.

This passenger freedom and flexibility, will not be bad for train companies, as how long before an app is developed, that sends passengers on less crowded routes.

looking at the Hertford Loop Line, no passenger is going to mind being recommended to take a Hertford Loop Line train one day and a main line train another, provided the cost is acceptable for both journeys.

Could More Trains Run On The Hertford Loop Line?

It is interesting to compare the 15 tph between Alexandra Palace and Welwyn Garden City and the 3 tph between Alexandra Palace and Hertford North on the Hertford Loop.

As the line is self-contained with grade-separated junctions at both ends and a bay platform at Hertford North and Gordon Hill stations, running 3 tph on the line, must be way under the maximum capacity, when there are double track electrified lines with lots of stations, like the East London Line that can handle 16-20 tph.

I think we’ll see the line improved in the following way.

  • An upgraded speed limit of perhaps 120 kph.
  • Longer platforms if needed
  • Perhaps a couple of reopened or new stations.
  • Better interchange at Alexandra Palace and Stevenage stations.

I am certain, this would enable some extra trains to serve the line to perhaps Stevenage, Peterborough or Cambridge.

Before I look at the train services on the Hertford Loop Line in detail, I’ll look at other issues for local and Cambridge Line trains on the two Northern branches of the Thameslink Great Northern network.

Upgrade Of The Slow Lines Between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace Stations

I found this statement in a Network Rail document posted on the web.

The section is entitled Upgrade to down slow 2 and creation of up slow 2 line between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.

This is said.

Up slow 2 and down slow 2 lines available for passenger use with increased linespeeds with a new platform provided at Finsbury Park in the up direction. No platform faces are provided at Harringay and Hornsey. The scheme allows some Hertford North/Gordon Hill to Moorgate inner suburban services to operate independently of outer suburban services and long distance high speed (LDHS) services, which removes a timetable constraint.

I would assume it means that there are two slow lines in both directions, one of which leads directly to the Hertford Loop Line. This is also said.

Due to the focus on the off peak timetable, the line upgrades between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace have a smaller impact, as the majority of services call at intermediate stations on this section. However, provision of platform faces on the upgraded lines has the potential to ease timetabling constraints on the busy Alexandra Palace – Welwyn section.

The only stations without platform faces on the upgraded lines in this section are Harringay and Hornsey.

It would appear to me, that this could be a half-finished job.

The ability to separate Hertford Loop Line services from those on the East Coast Main Line has been enabled, but no provision has been made to allow separated Hertford Loop Line services at Harringay and Hornsey stations. It’s not that the two intermediate stations are lightly used, as these are the usage statistics for 2014-2015.

  • Bowes Park – 0.96 million
  • New Southgate – 0.69 million
  • Alexandra Palace – 1.42 million
  • Hornsey – 1.35 million
  • Harringay – 1.26 million
  • Finsbury Park – 6.26 million

It’s not as though Hornsey and Harringay hardly see any passengers.

So for the present time, all passenger services must share the same slow lines between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.

Have Network Rail got the planning of this section right?

Finsbury Park Station

Three routes come together at Finsbury Park station.

  • Thameslink – 6 tph between St. Pancras  and Finsbury Park
  • Great Northern – 6 tph between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park
  • Northern City – 6 tph between Moorgate and Finsbury Park

I wonder if we’ll see a simple cross- and same-platform interchange, so that Northbound passengers can get off their train from Kings Cross, Moorgate or St. Pancras at Finsbury Park and without changing platforms get a train to any station towards Cambridge or Peterborough, either up the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line. Obviously going South, passengers will need to reverse the process.

To complicate matters, Finsbury Park station will be one of the main interchanges between the Thameslink Great Northern network and the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the lines at Finsbury Park station.

Lines At Finsbury Park Station

Lines At Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station certainly has a lot of platforms and crossovers and it strikes me that given the current work at the station, that Network Rail has an acceptable solution.

I took these pictures at the station.

There is plenty of work to do and questions to answer before the station is ready for Thameslink.

  • Will Northern City Line services to use platforms 1 and 8?
  • Will Kings Cross services continue to use platforms 2 and 7?
  • Platforms 2 and 3 and Platforms 6 and 7 are either side of a single track, although Platforms 3 and 6 don’t seem to be currently used.
  • Is the work outside of platform 8, creating two new platforms 9 and 10?
  • Will the spiral staircases to the Underground be adequate?

There has been no indication as to which platforms Thameslink will use, although all platforms at the stations are probably long enough for the two-hundred metre long Thameslink trains.

But our French friends at carto.metro.free.fr have a map, which shows the routes between the Canal Tunnels, that take Thameslink trains between St. Pancras and the East Coast Main Line.

It would appear that the lines through the Canal Tunnels connect directly to the slow lines, that go through Finsbury Park.

  • The Canal Tunnel lines are shown at the bottom left of the map.
  • There is even a convenient flyover taking the up slow lines to the correct side of the main lines for Thameslink.

So it would appear that the Thameslink lines South of Finsbury Park will take the same route as local services out of Kings Cross do now.

Remember that between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace stations, there are two slow lines both ways, which will have to accommodate 18 tph, empty stock movements and some freight trains.

I feel this means that at Finsbury Park, there is sufficient capacity to adopt a logical strategy, that will be easily understood and remembered by passengers.

I suspect that the platform allocations will be as follows.

  • Platform 1 – Services to Moorgate – 6 tph
  • Platform 2 – Services to Kings Cross and Thameslink – 12 tph
  • Platform 7 – Services up the East Coast Main Line – 15 tph
  • Platform 8 – Services on the Hertford Loop Line – 3 tph

Given all the advanced signalling in the area and on the trains, I don’t think these frequencies are unreasonable.

Could we also see Thameslink trains on Platforms 2 and 7 opening doors on both sides?

Possibly, as there may be advantages in this!

Whilst at Finsbury Park this morning, I saw an outer suburban train stop in Platform 4 and quite a few passengers got off to continue their journey on the Underground. After Thameslink opens, would there be any value in having a cross platform interchange to Platform 3, where Thameslink trains would open their doors on both sides, so giving extra connections?

Obviously, if it would work going into London, it would work going out of the capital.

But these are only my speculation.

Moorgate Station

Moorgate station is one of those outposts of the UK rail network, that has had a sorry and tragic history.

At Moorgate, the Northern City Line tunnels are above those of the Northern Line, in an unusual double-decker station design.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the two lines.

Lines At Moorgate Station

Lines At Moorgate Station

The caption says this.

Northern Underground and Northern City Line tunnels and stations are superimposed between Old Street and Moorgate.

These are pictures that I took of the Northern City Line station.

Note.

  • The two platforms are not spacious by modern standards.
  • Two escalators connect the Northern City Line platforms to the ticket hall.
  • Two fairly long escalators lead between the Northern City Line and Northern Line platforms.
  • The platforms could do with a well-designed makeover.

In addition, the two Northern Line platforms have a pair of escalators connecting them to the booking hall.

The four platforms are certainly well connected to each other and to the surface by escalators. The only thing lacking is a lift for step-free access to connect the booking hall to both levels of platforms.

The current Underground ticket hall will be extended and become the new Western ticket hall for the double-ended Liverpool Street Crossrail station.

On this page of the Crossrail web site, this is said.

The Moorgate worksite also incorporates a 42m deep shaft that provides ventilation and emergency access to the new ticket hall.  The Moorgate shaft is currently being used by our station tunnelling contractor to build an access passage linking the Crossrail platforms to the Northern line.  Later this year our Eastern Running Tunnels contractor will use the shaft to carry out out concrete works to form the foundation slab that will support the trackwork in the tunnels.

I have to ask if this access passage linking the Crossrail platforms to the Northern Line, will link to the Northern City Line as well. If it does it will probably be step-free and have a high-capacity as well.

But even if it doesn’t, access to and from the Northern City Line, will still be by two escalators from the ticket hall and two from the Northern Line platforms.

I suspect that as the Northern City and Northern Lines are superimposed on each other, I do wonder if a large enough corner has been identified, where a lift can serve all levels of the station.

If we have Crossrail going through a short distance away, where forty-eight (2 x 24) massive trains per hour will be stopping, even if only a small proportion of passengers, wanted to use the Northern City services out of Moorgate to explore the delights of North London and Hertfordshire, the current 6 tph out of Moorgate will be seriously inadequate.

But the Northern City Line is getting new Class 717 trains and as I said earlier, these trains will bring in a large increase in capacity.

So how many trains per hour could work the lines into the two-platform terminus at Moorgate?

At present Moorgate handles 6 tph most of the day, but during the peaks the line handles at least 9 tph.

But even 9 tph is very small compared to the upwards of thirty tph handled at both the two-platform Brixton and Walthamstow Central termini on the Victoria Line.

Given that the Class 717 trains are versions of the Class 700 Thameslink trains, that are planned to run at 24 tph under London, with a voltage change at Farringdon, I suspect that the theoretical limit for the number of trains per hour into Moorgate is higher than the 9 tph achieved by the scrapyard specials in the peak.

So is London going to get a new high-capacity route from the City to North London and Hertfordshire, that links to both Crossrail and Thameslink?

You bet it is!

Consider.

  • Moorgate can probably handle up to fifteen to twenty Class 717 trains per hour, with signalling and operational improvements.
  • The Class 717 trains will hold more passengers than the Class 313 trains.
  • The greater performance of the Class 717 trains will probably speed up the services.
  • Finsbury Park station should be ready to accept the higher frequency and give same platform interchange to Thameslink.
  • The doubling and improvement to the slow lines between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace will allow the increased frequency to be handled.

If twelve trains per hour ran into Moorgate and they split equally between Welwyn Garden City and the Hertford Loop Line as they do now, that would give a ten minute interval on both routes, which is twice as many trains as the current time.

I think the biggest problem will be to persuade the RMT, that running say twelve trains or more per hour into Moorgate, is safe.

Harringay Station

Harringay station has two platforms, with one for each direction.

This Google Map shows Harringay station.

Harringay Station

Harringay Station

Note.

  • The bridge across the tracks with steps leading down to the two platforms.
  • The station is not step-free, with steep staircases.
  • There is no platform faces on the newly-created second pair of slow lines.

To be fair, Harringay is a dump and one of the worst stations on the line, but an architect with flair could make it work, with cross platform interchange between trains on both pairs of slow lines.

These pictures show Haringay station.

Note.

  • The station certainly is a dump.
  • The two down slow lines lie between platform 2 and the retaining wall.
  • In a couple of pictures, you can see the Harringay Curve that connects the Gospel Oak to Barking and East Coast Main Lines.
  • Platform 1 actually lies between the two slow lines.

The station obviously needs a rebuild.

  • This would incorporate acceptable passenger access and customer services.
  • There appears to be space to create a double-sided up platform 1.
  • Platform 2 is probably easier to move between the two slow lines.

But rebuilding would probably mean complete closure of the lines through the station and a large degree of inconvenience.

I doubt we’ll see little more than a general tidying up in the near future, with the station handling all of the stopping traffic and all other services, like freight and empty stock movements using the two lines without platform faces.

One advantage of the current layout, is that non-passenger services are kept away from the platforms.

Hornsey Station

Hornsey station has two platforms, with one for each direction.

This Google Map shows Hornsey station.

Hornsey Station

Hornsey Station

These pictures show Hornsey station.

Note.

  • The two fast lines go between the two platforms.
  • The current down platform is on the inner of the two slow lines and is actually between the two slow lines.

Like Harringay, Hornsey can be improved with respect to passenger access and customer services.

Building an island down platform looks possible, but as at Harringay, the current layout works safely.

Alexandra Palace Station

Alexandra Palace station has four platforms, but the station has the air of a work-in-progress as although there is some easy interchange between services, it’s not perfect or step-free.

This Google Map shows the station.

Alexandra Palace Station

Alexandra Palace Station

Note.

  • The Hertford Loop Line curves across the East Coast Main Line.
  • Train stabling for the East Coast Main Line sits to the North of the station.
  • Hertford Loop Line services have to stop at the two outer platforms in the station.
  • Crossrail 2 might serve this station.

Knowing the station well, I feel that a good  station can be created here, where Thameslink, Great Northern to Cambridge and Peterborough,  and Hertford Loop Line services have a simple cross- or same-platform interchange in the Northerly direction.

These are pictures of the station.

Note.

  • If you are going North and you’re on the wrong train, you have a cross-platform interchange on Platforms 2 and 4 at Alexandra Palace station.
  • Trains for the South can stop at either platforms 1 or 2.
  • The station is not step-free, but lifts could probably be added to the existing bridge.
  • The Yard cafe at the station is excellent and I had a very good gluten-free frittata.

I never would have thought when I used to use the station in the 1950s and 1960s, that it would grow up to be a very capable station.

Other Stations Between Alexandra Palace And Welwyn Garden City

The stations on the Main Line are a bit of a mixed bunch.

  • Some have four platforms and some have just two.
  • Some are step-free and some are not.
  • Some are modern and some are fairly old and need updating.

These pictures give a flavour of the stations.

Welwyn Garden City station is unique, as it is one corner of a shopping centre, called the Howard Centre

Is it the only station in the UK, with a Boots, a large proper Marks and Spencer, a Next and a Monsoon, with John Lewis not far away?

Trains terminating at Welwyn Grden City seem to use platforms 3 and 4 by the Howard Centre, using the sidings to the North of the station if required. On leaving the station, the trains cross the main lines and get to the up slow line using a flyover.

Welwyn Garden City is certainly a well-designed station to return trains to London.

Gordon Hill Station

Gordon Hill station must be the only station with the same name as a footballer.

I’d never been until I visited a few days ago and I’d rather expected a typical bog-standard, rather poor two-platform suburban station.

This Google Map of the station gives a few clues about the station.

GordonHillStation

Note that it appears that the station could have once had four platform faces and these could easily be long enough for eight car trains.

What I did find was a charming early twentieth-century station as these pictures show.

Note.

  • The station has three working platform faces; two through and a bay one on the Eastern side.
  • There would appear to be space on the Western side to create a fourth platform.
  • The bridge is of no architectural merit and probably should be replaced by one giving full step free access.

I believe that the station could play a major port in an upgraded Hertford Loop Line, in that if the station was to be converted to a full four-through platform station, then it would create a passing loop that the line needs to increase capacity.

In some ways Gordon Hill station, shows how truly bad our planning was in the first half of the twentieth century. The station opened in 1910, so was well established when Chase Farm Hospital opened just after the Second World War, just a short distance to the North. Hopefully, these days, it would be hoped that when a new hospital is built, that it is connected properly to the local transport network. Since it was built the hospital has had a chequered history and with the way healthcare is changing and perhaps requiring smaller and more specialised hospitals, I can see a time, when the hospital site becomes housing, which to increase its green credentials could be connected by a footpath and cycleway to Gordon Hill station.

If the hospital stays operational, it should surely have a sensible modern connection to the station and not just the odd bus every hour or so.

This Google Map shows the hospital and the station.

Chase Farm Hospital And Gordon Hill Station

Chase Farm Hospital And Gordon Hill Station

We should think more holistically and not assume that everybody has a car.

Hertford North Station

Hertford North station is one of the busiest stations on the Hertford Loop Line and one of only two stations with more than two platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

Hertford North Station

Hertford North Station

These are some pictures of the station.

I feel that with some clever engineering that Hertford North station can be upgraded into a four-platform station with two passing loops.

Other Stations On The Hertford Loop Line

All the other stations seem to be two platform stations, with minimal facilities and little or no parking.

With more and better trains, increased links to the stations and perhaps some better parking, I wouldn’t think it unfeasible to increase the passengers using the stations on the loop.

There might possibly be a case for reopening Stapleford station.

The Digswell Viaduct And Welwyn North Station

The two-track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station is a major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

The Wikipedia entry for the viaduct says this.

The viaduct carries the East Coast Main Line, which has to narrow from four tracks to two to cross the viaduct, making it a bottleneck restraining capacity over this strategic transport route.. This problem is exacerbated by Welwyn North railway station situated at the northern end of the viaduct, which blocks the line while trains are stationary and two tunnels to the north. Several ideas to overcome the limitations of the viaduct and station without damaging the viaduct’s essential historic character and rhythmic design are periodically discussed.

In some ways, the station is more of a problem than the viaduct. Every stop at the station and there are just two trains per hour in both directions, effectively blocks the main line for a few minutes. It’s a bit like having a level crossing on a motorway.

If the viaduct were to be rebuilt to four tracks, which these days with modern construction methods is probably a very expensive possibility, this would still leave the problem of the station, which is on a very restricted site. Wikipedia also says this about the station.

The station is a rare survival of architecture from the early days of the GNR and this is now recognised with listed building status. The main station building, the footbridge, the tunnel portal to the north and Digswell Viaduct to the south are all Grade 2 listed.

This leads me to a very extreme solution to the problem.

Welwyn North station should lose most or all of its train services.

This Google Map shows the station and the viaduct.

Digswell Viaduct And Welwyn North Station

Digswell Viaduct And Welwyn North Station

Perhaps, a better solution would be a mixture of road and rail improvements .

  • Improve the traffic routes from the area to other stations at Knebworth and Welwyn Garden City.
  • Provide more car parking at Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage stations.
  • Provide a free and frequent shuttle bus between Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City stations calling at Welwyn North and Knebworth stations.
  • Build a new station at Stapleford on the Hertford Loop Line.

Perhaps a parkway station could be built in the South of Stevenage on the Hertford Loop Line.

Elimination of the stopping of trains at Welwyn North would lead to the following.

  • Extra paths in both directions through the station.
  • Services like Thameslink and the Great Northern services to Cambridge would save a few minutes.
  • The expresses to and from the North would be able to provide a faster and more reliable service.

In my view, we should go the whole way and close Welwyn North station.

A South Stevenage Parkway Station

This Google Map shows the area between Stevenage and Watton-At-Stone stations.

South Stevenage

South Stevenage

If Stevenage expands southwards, I wonder if a South Stevenage Parkway station could be built on the Hertford Loop Line with good connections to the A1M and lots of parking.

I would estimate the station would be around six kilometres from Welwyn North station.

It would be another carrot for the closure of Welwyn North station.

Stevenage Station

Stevenage station is a modern station, but it could probably be extended and improved.

  • The station has four platforms and is step-free.
  • Some long-distance services to the North and Scotland stop at the station.
  • The station is the only one between Kings Cross and Peterborough, where long distance trains stop.
  • It is first station, North of where the Northern end of the Hertford Loop Line joins the East Coast Main Line in grade-separated junction.
  • There are also plans to upgrade the station with extra platforms.

I think it is true to say, that the station is not a bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line, but that an improved Stevenage station could do the following.

  • Improve the flow of fast expresses, by ending the practice of trains stopping on the fast lines.
  • Give better services to the North and Scotland for passengers living between Stevenage and Kings Cross.
  • The station will probably be served by six Thameslink trains per hour.
  • Provide a better interchange for those coming South needing to go on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • The station could turnback some trains on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Note that Hertford North to Stevenage takes just 13 minutes in the current Class 313 trains.

The question has to be asked if  Stevenage would be a better terminus for the Hertford Loop line, than Hertford North?

Operationally, this would probably be easier than turning the trains at Hertford North, especially, if other fast services were to be diverted to the Hertford Loop Line.

Assuming 12 trains per hour, were going into Moorgate and these split equally between the main line and Hertford Loop routes, turning trains at Stevenage wsould give a service with a ten minute interval to Moorgate.

As this is the same as the Thameslink frequency I believe a pattern of trains could be developed

At present one-in-three trains on the Hertford Loop Line, go on to Letchworth Garden City, so if the current policy prevailed Letchworth would get 2 tph to Moorgate.

There are certainly lots of ways to use an upgraded Stevenage station.

Hitchin To Peterborough

This is a line with capacity problems as there is sections of twin and triple track  in the mainly quadruple track, between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

The trains on this section are.

  • Thameslink – 2 tph Peterborough to Horsham – Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Peterborough to Kings Cross – Semi-Fast – London King’s Cross and Peterborough calling at Finsbury Park, Stevenage and then all stations.
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Peterborough to Kings Cross – Stopping – London King’s Cross and Peterborough calling at Finsbury Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and then all stations.

If there were continuous slow lines, then you could have an optimised stopping pattern, but as trains have to use the fast lines to progress in places, you can’t interfere with speeding Virgins.

I suspect that there’s a very unusual pattern of trains, as they sneak through.

The line definitely needs quadrupling where there are only two and three tracks.

You could probably argue that between Stevenage and Peterborough, there needs to be a service with a pattern like this.

  • 2-4 tph stopping at all stations.
  • 2-4 tph stopping at important stations with four platforms.

I wouldn’t be surprised that Network Rail and Thameslink have a plan to remove this bottleneck.

Htchin To Cambridge

The trains on this section are.

  • Thameslink – 2 tph Cambridge North to Brighton – Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Thameslink – 2 tph Cambridge to Maidstone East – Stopping Pattern Unknown
  • Great Northern – 2 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Non-Stop
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Semi-Fast -London King’s Cross and Cambridge calling at Finsbury Park, Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston.
  • Great Northern – 1 tph Cambridge to Kings Cross – Stopping – London King’s Cross and Cambridge calling at Finsbury Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and then all stations
  • Northern City – 1 tph Moorgate to Letchworth Garden City – Stopping via Hertford Loop

So this gives  8 tph to Cambridge and an extra one to Letchworth Garden City. All are currently run by various parts of Govia Thameslink Railway.

Wikipedia says this about the infrastructure of the Cambridge Line.

The line is double track throughout. Traction current is supplied at 25 kV AC using overhead line equipment overseen by York Electrical Control Room, with Neutral Sections at Cambridge junction, Litlington and Shepreth Branch junction. It has a loading gauge of W8 and a maximum line speed of 90 mph

Note

  • If after all the new 160 kph trains are delivered, it could be an efficient line to run, possibly even at a slightly higher speed.
  • At present, stations like Shepreth and Meldreth often only get an hourly service.
  • In a few years time, a new station will possibly be built for the East West Rail Link near Addenbrookes Hospital.

The big problem on the Cambridge Line was solved by the Hitchin Flyover, which allowed trains for Cambridge to leave the East Coast Main Line without delaying fast trains.

I think extending the Letchworth Garden City service to Cambridge North would give a lot of benefits.

  • Cambridge would now have three destinations in London; Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Moorgate.
  • It would connect with the Kings Cross stopping train,  a 2 tph, high class local service into both Cambridge stations.
  • A Cambridge North to Moorgate service would connect the Cambridge Science Park to Silicon Rundabout.
  • If the service connected to a 2 tph service across Suffolk to Bury St. Edmunds, it would greatly improve Suffolk’s links to London.

I suspect there are other factors and they will lead to an improved service pattern on this line and the other ones radiating from Cambridge.

The Kings Cross To Peterborough Fast Lines

If as I believe, you can do the following.

  • Eliminate stopping at Welwyn North station, by enticing passengers to use other means.
  • Remodel Stevenage station, so that trains do not stop on the fast lines.
  • Create a four-track railway between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

You would then create an unbroken pair of fast lines from between Kings Cross and Peterborough, with slow lines on either side and two slow lines as far as Alexandra Palace.

The limiting factor of the number of trains on the line would probably be determined, by the number of platforms at Kings Cross.

It would be some railway for one mostly built in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Thameslink Trains To Cambridge And Peterborough

There are of four of these to Cambridge and two to Peterborough in each hour.

The stopping pattern has not been announced, except that they will be semi-fast.

So could they have a pattern similar to the current semi-fast trains of only stops at Finsbury Park, Stevenage and Hitchin, South of where the Cambridge Line joins at Hitchin?

The other major stations, where they might stop are Alexandra Palace, Potters Bar, Hstfield and Welwyn Garden City.

They would probably swap between fast and slow lines as they progressed, as there are restrictions, due to the platform and track layout.

  • The trains would be on the slow lines at Finsbury Park to access the Canal Tunnels.
  • Alexandra Palace station has no fast line platform.
  • Over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station, trains would be on the fast lines.
  • Hitchin station has no fast line platform.
  • Trains need to be on the slow line through Hitchin, to access the Cambridge Line.

If it was desired, that there was no fast line stopping, this would mean trains would be on the slow lines, except through Digswell and Welwyn North.

Surely, that would be one preferred scenario, as it has advantages.

  • Stopping trains fit in well and would deliver extra passengers to Finsbury Park, Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage.
  • Stops at other stations with slow line platforms could be easily added.

It should be noted, that step-free access at some of the important stations isn’t perfect.

The Non-Stop Kings Cross To Cambridge Trains

If they continue after Thameslink starts, these would probably be run by 175 kph Class 387 trains, so they would be totally capable of running with the expresses, which would use the fast lines between Kings Cross and Hitchin.

As the new trains are generally faster than those currently on the line past Hitchin, we may even see a few seconds off the current forty-five minutes.

So it looks like these services would require two paths in every hour on the fast lines.

The Semi-Fast Trains To Cambridge And Peterborough

These trains, which would probably be run using 175 kph Class 387 trains, seem to stop at only Finsbury Park, Stevenage and Hitchin, South of where the Cambridge Line joins at Hitchin.

Although the Cambridge Line is only double-track, as all trains will be capable of at least 160 kmh, if the line was upgraded to run at this speed, with perhaps the removal of the level crossings, I suspect an efficient and fast service could be run to Cambridge.

On the route to Peterborough, it would be much better, if the line were to be four-tracked.

Again, it looks like these services would require two paths in every hour on the fast lines.

But after Thameslink opens, would these services be needed?

The Stopping Trains To Cambridge And Peterborough

Both services have similar patterns calling at Finsbury Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and then all stations.

These trains are the two troublemakers that currently call at Welwyn North.

If the decision is made to stop most services at Welwyn North, then there are various possibilities.

  • The stopping train could just use the fast lines between the Southern end of the Digswell Viaduct and Knebworth station.
  • The stopping trains go via the Hertford Loop and rejoin their current route at Stevenage.
  • The stopping trains are replaced by another semi-fast service.
  • The stopping trains are discontinued South of Stevenage.

There might even be a case to put these stopping trains into Moorgate rather than Kings Cross, thus separating Thameslink, fast and slow services.

It should also be born in mind that there will be six Thameslink services on the route, which will probably stop at Finsbury Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and Hitchin, so the stopping train won’t be as important as it is now, unless you want to go to an intermediate station.

How Would Times On The Hertford Loop Line Compare With The Main Line?

Currently the fastest Finsbury Park to Stevenage trains take eighteen minutes without a stop on the main line and fifty minutes on the Hertford Loop Line.

That is quite a difference.

I wouldn’t speculate on how much a Class 717 train would knock off the current time, but.

  • They are faster than the Class 313 trains.
  • There are eleven stations on the loop and modern trains are good at stopping and getting going again.
  • We must assume the line is improved.

I also think that increasing the number of trains on the Hertford Loop Line, would not be a bad thing, for passengers, the areas served by the line and train operators.

Conclusions

As I write this I’m getting more and more convinced, that the best solution to the problem of the two track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station, is the following.

  • Close Welwyn North station to nost if not all trains.
  • Improve road connections in the Welwyn North area, as a more affordable and easier alternative to rebuilding the viaduct and station.
  • Improve the Hertford Loop Line with higher speeds and passing loops at Gordon Hill and Hertford North.
  • Possibly build a parkway station on the Hertford Loop Line, South of Stevenage.

Other improvements are also likely and would help services.

  • Improvements to Stevenage station.
  • Four-tracking between Hitchin and Peterborough.
  • Upgrading the Cambridge Line to a 160 kph line.
  • Full step-free access at all stations. Or at least where Thameslink calls.

This would give the operator a railway that could provide the services passengers want.

I can see a Thameslink Great Northern network that looks like this.

  • Thameslink services from St. Pancras and the South serving destinations of Cambridge, Peterborough and possibly Welwyn Garden City.
  • A possible fast Kings Cross to Cambridge/Kings Lynn service.
  • Suburban services from Moorgate serving the Hertford Loop Line and Welwyn Garden City, with possible extensions to Cambridge, Peterborough and Stevenage.

This would certainly free up platforms at Kings Cross and high speed paths on the fast line.

 

 

 

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

What Will Be The Service On The Great Northern Lines After Thameslink Opens?

When I did the short trip from Essex Road station on the Northern City Line, that I wrote about in Never On Sunday, I was surprised to see that the frequency of the service was Transport for London’s turn-up-and-go frequency of 4 trains per hour (tph), with 2 tph to going to Hertford North, with 1 tph extended to Stevenage and 2 tph to Welwyn Garden City.

The services at Essex Road station in the Off Peak include these trains.

It is interesting to note that between 0800 and 0900 on a weekday morning, thirteen trains arrive at Moorgate.

From 2018, the new Class 717 trains will start to run on the Northern City Line. The number of passengers on this line will surely grow as the Southern terminus of Moorgate station will be on Crossrail from December 2018.

Assuming these six-car Class 717 trains can carry about half that of a 12-car  Class 700 train, then in that hour they could bring 4,329 passengers into Moorgate station.

Will the low-level platforms at Moorgate station be able to cope?

Probably easily, if there is a direct tunnel and escalator access to Crossrail.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the various lines at Moorgate.

 

MoorgateLines

Note.

  • The Northern City Line is superimposed on top of the Northern Line at Moorgate station.
  • The 200 m. long Crossrail platforms almost stretch between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Interchange between the Northern Line at Moorgate and the Central Line will probably be a three hundred metre walk.
  • Crossrail should mean that all Liverpool Street to Moorgate interchanges will be desert dry in the wettest weather.

If this massive interchange doesn’t create a need for more capacity on the Northern City Line, I’ll be very surprised.

As there have been improvements to the lines on the Great Northern Route, between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace stations, I wouldn’t be surprised that when Crossrail opens, this Cinderella line, that nobody wanted is running eight, ten or even more tph between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations and further up the route.

The services on the Great Northern Route are intense, but despite that, the route has some of the most crowded trains in the UK..

Thameslink is coming and that will change everything dramatically.

At present Cambridge has 4 tph to Kings Cross in the Off Peak, of which two tph are non-stop Cambridge Cruisers.

When Thameslink connects to Cambridge, the provisional timetable says it will add 4 tph semi-fast trains between St. Pancras Thameslink and Cambridge.

Thameslink haven’t said what services they will retain between Kings Cross and Cambridge, but I did read somewhere that they want to hold on to the Class 387 trains to run the Cambridge Cruisers.

At present, Peterborough has 2 tph Great Northern services to Kings Cross, in addition to several non-stop expresses.

As with Cambridge, Peterborough will get an additional 4 tph, when Thameslink opens.

I think the outcome will be lots of direct services between Cambridge or Peterborough in the North and Kings Cross or St. Pancras Thameslink in the South.

If you are prepared to change just once, you’ll be able to travel between any station North of Finsbury Park to any of the three London terminals; Kings Cross, Moorgate and St. Pancras Thameslink.

I believe that because Thameslink has such a large number of stations and connections, that many passengers will have a wide choice of route.

There is also the performance and quality of the various trains on the routes to consider.

A succession of 100 mph plus trains speeding up and down the Great Northern Route won’t be a slower service than is currently offered.

There would probably be four semi-fast trains to and from both Northern destinsations, stopping at all major stations, with well-connected stopping trains serving the intermediate stations.

There might even be service patterns like say four tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City stopping at all stations, which have a same platform interchange with four tph stopping services to Cambridge and Peterborough. So from say Foxton to New Barnet, you’d always change at Welwyn Garden City.

As an example of how the new improved Thanmeslink will help passengers, look at the routes from my home to Cambridge.

I could.

  1. Take a 277 bus to Highbury and Islington station and get a Victoria Line train to St. Pancras for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  2. Take a 38 bus or walk to Essex Road station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  3. Take a 141 bus to Moorgate station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  4. Take a 277 bus or walk to Highbury and Islington station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  5. Take a 30 bus to Kings Cross station and get a Cambridge Cruiser to Cambridge.

The possibilities will be endless.

I wouldn’t take the first option, as St. Pancras is A Fur Coat And No Knicker Station, with a long walk between the Victoria Line and Thameslink.

My choice of route, will probably be decided by the first bus that arrives and the quality of the smile on the driver’s face.

 

 

 

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment