The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail: Late 2021 Target For Central London

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Crossrail trains could begin operating through central London by the end of next year – if trial running begins before the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Crossrail Ltd Chief Executive Mark Wild told RAIL on October 12 that a six-week blockade carried out in the summer enabled tunnel work to be completed and the company to catch up on work delayed because of Covid-19.

It definitely seems to be a project, where the project management wasn’t to the same standard as the design.

I put my thughts in detail in Thoughts On The Lateness Of Crossrail.

 

 

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , | Leave a comment

An Untidy Railway

I took these pictures as I returned from Eridge.

You see it all over the railways and not just in the UK; general untidiness!

When I joined ICI in 1968, I went on a thorough and excellent induction course.

One very experienced engineer, gave a Health and Safety Lecture and one thing he said, was that a neat and tidy chemical plant was less likely to have silly accidents.

Some years later, I went to the United States to see some of Metier’s clients, of whom some were nuclear power stations. This must have been just after the Three Mile Island accident, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

Artemis was involved in maintenance at the nuclear stations I visited. I can remember at AEP Donald C Cook nuclear station being shown a database of work to do and many of the actions were referred to as TMIs and checking them had been mandated by the US regulatory authorities.

I should say, the site on the shores of Lake Michigan impressed me, but another I visited later didn’t. I won’t name it, as it is now closed and it was the most untidy industrial plant of any type I have visited.

As we left, I gave my opinion to our support engineer and he told me they had a very large number of TMIs to process. I wasn’t surprised!

So why are railways generally so untidy?

 

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Coronavirus: How Realistic Is Crossrail Opening Next Year?

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

The article takes the form of the BBC’s Transport Correspondent; Tom Edwards interviewing Crossrail’s Chief Executive; Mark Wild.

This is an extract.

But the big challenge is the 40% of work left to do on the safety checks known as “assurances”.

The management team say it is working to the opening date of the summer 2021 for the Paddington to Abbey Wood section under central London.

To make up for lost time, Crossrail wants to carry out blitz testing in August and September.

I asked Mr Wild if he could guarantee 100% if Crossrail will open in summer 2021.

He said: “I guarantee that this project team and myself, will do everything humanly possible to do it.

“I must say we are working pretty effectively – 2,500 people working off-site and we are making great progress on the assurance work.

“Clearly we have to do that safely but there’s no doubt Covid has had an effect and we are working now on a plan to recover lost ground.”

Having watched many projects, that were in dire straits, being recovered by top class project management, I feel that there is a good chance that if Mark Wild and his team, are up to scratch that Summer 2021 could be a realistic possibility.

I remember the tale of British Leyland’s MiniMetro plant, that was recalled in Michael Ewardes‘s book.

  • The complicated machine, that assembled the bodies wasn’t working.
  • It was then found out, that it had hit a motorway bridge on the journey from Germany.
  • Good project management saved the day, by reorganising and accelerating the commissioning of the second line, so that it came into production early enough to save the day.

As British Leyland were Artemis customers, I do wonder how much the software, I wrote in a Suffolk attic, played a part in that episode.

Let’s hope that Mark Wild and his team have some good project management software on their team.

June 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Existing Stations Where High Speed Two Trains Will Call

The June 2020 Edition Of Modern Railways has an article called HS2 Minister Backs 18 tph Frequency, which gives a detailed diagram of the route structure of High Speed Two and it is possible to summarise the stations, where High Speed Two trains will call.

  • Carlisle – 3 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Chesterfield – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Crewe – 2 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Darlington – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Durham – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • East Midlands Hub HS2 – 7 tph – 400 metres – Split/Join
  • Edinburgh Haymarket – 2.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Edinburgh Waverley – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Glasgow Central – 2.5 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lancaster – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Leeds HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Liverpool Lime Street – 2 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Lockerbie – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Macclesfield – 1 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Manchester Airport HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Manchester Piccadilly HS2 – 5 tph – 400 metres
  • Motherwell – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Newcastle – 3 tph – 200 metres – Terminal
  • Oxenholme – 0.5 tph – 200 metres
  • Penrith – 0.5n tph – 200 metres
  • Preston – 4 tph – 400 metres
  • Runcorn – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Sheffield – 2 tph – 200 metres
  • Stafford – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Warrington Bank  Quay – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • Wigan North Western – 1 tph – 200 metres
  • York – 4 tph – 200 metres

Note.

  1. HS2 after the station name indicates a new station for High Speed Two
  2. tph is trains per hour
  3. 0.5 tph is one train per two hours (tp2h).
  4. 200/400 metres is the maximum length of trains that will call.
  5. Terminal indicates that trains will terminate at these stations.
  6. Split/Join indicates that trains will split and join at these stations.

These are more detailed thoughts on how existing stations will need to be modified.

Train Lengths

Before, I look at the individual stations, I’ll look at the train lengths.

  • High Speed Two train – Single – 200 metres
  • High Speed Two train – Pair – 400 metres
  • Class 390 train – 11-car – 265.3 metres
  • Class 390 train – 9-car – 217.5 metres
  • Class 807 train – 7-car – 182 metres
  • Class 810 train – 5-car – 120 metres
  • Class 810 train – Pair of 5-car – 240 metres
  • InterCity 125 – 2+8 – 220 metres
  • InterCity 225 – 9-car – 245 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car – 93.34 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car – 116.16 metres
  • Class 222 train – 7-car – 161.8 metres
  • Class 222 train – 4-car+5-car – 209.5 metres
  • Class 222 train – 5-car+5-car – 232.32 metres

These are the thoughts on the individual stations.

Carlisle

Carlisle station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate the platforms are about 380 metres, but it looks like, they could be lengthened, without too much difficulty.

As High Speed Two trains to the North of Carlisle will be 200 metres long, there would probably be no need for platform lengthening North of Carlisle, as these trains are shorter than the Class 390 trains, that currently work the routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Carlisle station is step-free, has good secondary rail connections and is within walking distance of the city centre.

The only thing it needs, is a connection to Edinburgh on a rebuilt Borders Railway.

Chesterfield

Consider.

  • Chesterfield station will need to handle 200 metre trains.
  • Chesterfield station may be rebuilt for High Speed Two.
  • Chesterfield station can handle an InterCity 125, which is 220 metres.
  • It will need to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which would be 240 metres.

This Google Map shows Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. The slow lines passing the station on the Eastern side.
  2. There are two long through platforms and a third bi-directional platform on the down slow line.

There is space to build two long platforms for High Speed Two, but is it worth it, when one one tph will stop?

  • According to High Speed Two’s Journey Time Calculator, trains will take just twelve minutes between Sheffield and Chesterfield stations.
  • This compares with 12-15 minutes for the current diesel trains.
  • The distance between the two stations is 14 miles, which means that a twelve minute trip has an average speed of 70 mph.
  • If there are still two tph to St. Pancras, there will be four tph, that run fast between the Sheffield and Chesterfield stations, of which three will stop at Chesterfield.

I think this could result in a simple and efficient design for the tracks between Sheffield and South of Clay Cross, where High Speed Two joins the Erewash Valley Line.

Chesterfield station is step-free.

Crewe

Crewe station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

There have been references to rebuilding of Crewe stations, but it does appear that some platforms are over 300 metres long.

Darlington

Darlington station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Durham

Durham station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Haymarket

Edinburgh Haymarket station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Glasgow Central

Glasgow Central station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs the following services to Glasgow Central.

  • One tph from London Euston calling at Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from London Euston calling at Milton Keynes Central, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h) and Carlisle.

High Speed Two is proposing to run the following trains to Glasgow Central.

  • Two tph from London Euston calling at Old Oak Common, Preston and Carlisle.
  • One tp2h from Birmingham Curzon Street calling at Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h), Carlisle, Lockerbie and Motherwell (1tp2h)

If the current services to Glasgow Central  were to be replaced by the High Speed Two services, most travellers would get a similar or better service.

But if Avanti West Coast decide to drop their classic services to Glasgow via Birmingham, will travellers starting between Milton Keynes and Crewe, be a bit miffed to lose their direct services to Glasgow?

Glasgow Central station would appear to be ready for High Speed Two.

Lancaster

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminate at Lancaster station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There are two bypass lines without any platforms on the Western side of the tracks, where trains can speed through.
  2. The station has five platforms.
  3. Some Avanti West Coast services terminate at Lancaster station.
  4. 265 metre, eleven-car Class 390 trains, stop in Lancaster station.

As High Speed Two services will use 200 metre trains, which are shorter than all Class 390 trains, I would suspect that High Speed Two services will be able to be turned at Lancaster station, without too much difficulty.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station will need to be able to turn two 200 metre High Speed Two tph.

  • The remodelling of the station in 2018, probably allowed for two tph between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • From 2022-2023, it will be turning two Class 807 trains per hour, which will probably be 182 metres long.

Liverpool Lime Street station may well be ready for Phase One of High Speed Two. It’s also very much step-free.

There are also alternative plans for a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would be alongside the current Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • The station would have a route to High Speed Two at Crewe via Warrington and a junction at High Legh.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail would start in the station and go to Manchester via Warrington, High Legh and Manchester Airport.
  • It would enable six tph between Liverpool and Manchester, in a time of just 26 minutes.

I talked about this plan in Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, where I included this map.

High Legh Junction is numbered 5 and 6.

Nothing published about High Speed Two, would appear to rule this plan out.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Macclesfield

I was initially surprised, that on High Speed Two, one tph would terminal at Macclesfield station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Wikipedia says this about the platforms in the station.

There are three platforms but only two are in regular use, the up platform for services to Manchester and the down platform to Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. Platform 3 sees a small number of services. Evidence of a fourth platform can be seen, on which a Network Rail building now exists.

As the station has a regular Avanti West Coast service every hour, the platforms must be over 200 metres long and they will be long enough for the 200 metre High Speed Two trains.

So why would High Speed Two want to terminate a train at Macclesfield, rather than at Manchester Piccadilly as they do now?

Currently, Avanti West Coast runs these services between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph via Milton Keynes Central, Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport.
  • One tph via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport
  • One tph via Stafford, Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport

The diagram in the Modern Railways article shows these High Speed Two services to Manchester Piccadilly.

  • One tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport
  • Two tph from Birmingham Curzon Street via Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. None of these five tph serve Macclesfield, Milton Keynes Central, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent or Wilmslow.
  2. All five proposed services are shown to call at Manchester Airport.
  3. It is likely, that a tunnel will be bored between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  4. The High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly might even be in a tunnel under the current Manchester Piccadilly station or central Manchester.
  5. A below-ground High Speed Two station for Manchester could also serve Northern Powerhouse Rail services to Leeds and the East.
  6. According to the plans, I talked about under Liverpool Lime Street earlier, there could also be up to six tph running between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport, as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Plans need to be developed to serve the towns and cities, that will not be served by High Speed Two’s current proposals.

  • It appears Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield will be served by an independent High Speed Two service from London Euston.
  • Terminating one tph at Macclesfield station doesn’t appear to be challenging.
  • A rail route between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport to link up with the proposed tunnel could be very difficult.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield stations have a frequent rail connection, with most trains calling at Stockport station.
  • Perhaps during construction work for High Speed Two in the centre of Manchester, Macclesfield station can be used as an alternative route into the city, using the existing Manchester Piccadilly station.

The London Euston and Macclesfield service via Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent could be a pragmatic solution to part of the problem, but what about Milton Keynes, Wilmslow and Stockport?

According to the title of the Modern Railways article, High Speed Two will have a maximum frequency of 18 tph.

When fully-developed, the current proposed timetable shows the following.

  • A frequency of 17 tph between London Euston and Birmingham Interchange stations.
  • A frequency of 11 tph between Birmingham and Crewe.
  • A frequency of 9 tph through East Midlands Hub station.

It would appear that if there is a capacity bottleneck, it is between London and Birmingham.

However if classic services to Manchester Piccadilly are replaced by the High Speed Two services to the city via the new tunnel from Manchester Airport to a new station in the City Centre, there will be spare capacity on the Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly route via Wilmslow and Stockport stations.

This could lead to a number of solutions.

  • A direct High Speed Two service runs using the spare path, between London and the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Similar to the previous service, but the service splits and joins at Crewe, with one individual train going to Manchester Piccadilly and the other somewhere else. Blackpool?
  • One service between London and Liverpool is planned to split and join at Crewe with individual trains going to Lancaster and Liverpool. The other Liverpool service could split at Crewe with individual trains going to Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • The service between London and Macclesfield is run by a pair of trains, that split at Birmingham Interchange, with individual trains going to Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly. The advantage of this service, is that if you got into the wrong train, you’d still be going to roughly the same destination.
  • Wikipedia says “At peak times, the current Avanti West Coast services may additionally call at one or more of: Watford Junction, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield Trent Valley.” So why not run classic services on the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Milton Keynes using suitably fast trains. Perhaps, the new Class 807 trains would be ideal.

Note.

  1. All services serving the current Manchester Piccadilly station would call at Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport stations.
  2. Passengers going to or from Manchester Airport would change at Crewe.

The more I look at Macclesfield, the more I like using it as a High Speed Two destination.

Motherwell

Motherwell station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Newcastle

Newcastle station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Oxenholme

Oxenholme station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Penrith

Penrith station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Preston

Preston station will need two 400 metre through platforms, so each can accommodate a pair of 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

I estimate that the main through platforms aren’t much short of the required 400 metres.

But something must be done to make the station step-free.

Runcorn

Runcorn station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 217 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Sheffield

Sheffield station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As the station can already handle a 220 metre InterCity 125, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also substantially step-free.

Stafford

Stafford station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Wikipedia says this about Stafford station and High Speed Two.

Under current proposals, Stafford will be a part of the High Speed 2 network, via a ‘Classic Compatible’ junction, which will allow HS2 trains to operate to Stafford, and further on towards Liverpool. This would shorten journey time from Stafford to London, to an estimated 53 minutes. Under current proposals it is expected that an hourly services will operate in both directions, however it is currently unclear if these services will terminate at Stafford, or Liverpool.

This does appear to be rather out of date with High Speed Two’s latest proposals as disclosed in the Modern Railways article, which say that Stafford is served by the following service.

  • One tph between London Euston and Macclesfield.
  • Calls at Old Oak Common, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
  • A 200 metre train.

One possibility must surely be to run a pair of 200 metre trains to and from Stafford, where they would split and join.

  • One could go as currently proposed to Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.
  • The second train could go to Liverpool via Crewe and Runcorn or Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport.
  • The recent works at Norton Bridge Junction will have improved the route for the second train.

There would need to be platform lengthening at Stafford to accommodate the 400 metre pair of trains.

A split and join at Stafford does show the possibilities of the technique.

Another possibility is mentioned for Stafford in Wikipedia.

There is also been proposals to reintroduce services to Stafford to terminate on the Chase Line which was cutback to Rugeley Trent Valley in 2008. The Key Corridors states “Extension of Chase Line services to Stafford”. This is proposed to be in development.

It will surely connect a lot of people to Stafford for High Speed Two.

The extract from Wikipedia, that I used earlier, mentions a Classic Compatible junction, which will allow High Speed Two trains to reach Stafford.

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows the junction North of Lichfield, where High Speed Two connects to the Trent Valley Line through Stafford.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two runs North-South across the map.
  2. After the Junction by Fradley South,
  3. High Speed Two to Crewe and the North, is the branch to the East.
  4. The other branch connects to the Trent Valley Line, which can be picked out North of Lichfield, where it passes through Lichfield Trent Valley station.

The Trent Valley Line is no Victorian double-track slow-speed bottleneck.

  • Most of the route between Rugby and Stafford is three or four tracks.
  • The speed limit is generally 125 mph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 and Class 807 trains running at 140 mph on the route.
  • This speed would probably be attained by High Speed Two trains.

London Euston and Stafford would only have under twenty miles of slower line and that could be 140 mph, so High Speed Two  times on the route could be very fast. High Speed Two is quoting 54 minutes on their Journey Time Calculator.

Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

This Google Map shows the station.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The station is also step-free.

Warrington Bank Quay

Warrington Bank Quay station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 265 metre Class 390 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Wigan North Western

Wigan North Western station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

In Is Wigan North Western Station Ready For High Speed Two?, I said this.

Wigan North Western station would accept a single-train now, but the platforms would need lengthening to handle a double-train.

As all trains through Wigan North Western station will only be 200 metre single trains and the station is step-free, the station appears to be ready for High Speed Two.

York

York station will need to accommodate 200 metre trains.

As it already accommodates 245 metre InterCity 225 trains, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Conclusion

I have come to these conclusions.

  • Because most of these stations have been rebuilt in the last few decades to accommodate the 200-plus metre InterCity 125s, InterCity 225s and Class 390 trains, all the stations can handle a 200 metre High Speed Two train without significant lengthening.
  • Some stations like Carlisle, Crewe, Preston and Stafford may need a small amount of platform lengthening to accommodate a pair of trains, but most of the improvements needed for a world-class High Speed railway will be more refurbishment than a complete rebuild.
  • Using existing platforms at Lancaster and Macclesfield stations as terminal platforms is an elegant and a much more affordable solution than building new stations or even platforms.
  • Because all five tph into the High Speed Two station at Manchester Piccadilly go via Manchester Airport, I would envisage that this will be in a tunnel, that can be part of a future Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I also think that the plan has been devised with the Project Management and minimising disruption to travellers in mind.

 

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on isleofwhiteradio is entitled Funding From Government To Develop Isle Of Wight Railway Reopening Proposals.

The article lists two proposed schemes for expansion of the Island Line.

• Extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall.
• Integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport.

The article has an informative map.

Nearly, three years ago, I wrote Diesel And Battery Trains Could Be The Solution For Island Line, based on an article on the Island Echo, with the same title.

Since then, things have moved on and these developments have started.

  • Vivarail are building a fleet of five new zero-carbon Class 484 electric trains.
  • Network Rail have promised £5 million to upgrade Ryde Pier to secure the future of the line.
  • The track and signalling system will be upgraded this winter.
  • The passing loop at Brading will be reinstated.

This will allow a thirty minute service interval from May 2021.

Wikipedia states that a twenty-minute service could be possible in the future.

The Trains

These pictures show the Class 230 trains on the Marston Vale Line.

Note.

  1. These are a diesel-electric version of the Class 484, which will use the existing third-rail electrification and possibly batteries on the Island Line.
  2. The operator can choose an interior appropriate to their needs.
  3. Three-car versions of the train have been ordered by Transport for Wales.

Battery versions of the train are available with a forty-mile range, See Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

The Extension To Ventnor

Looking at the map and measuring distance using methods that would have been known to Drake and Grenville, I estimate that the distance between Shanklin and Ventnor via Wroxhall is less than fifteen miles.

  • As the battery range of Vivarail’s trains can be in the region of forty miles, this must open up the possibility of using battery power between Shanklin and Ventnor.
  • Building the extension without electrification would lower the cost.
  • Trains running from Shanklin to Ventnor would be charged on the electrified section of the route.
  • One of Vivarail’s charging systems could be installed at Ventnor if required. See Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train.

Would Vivarail just add a third car with batteries to the Class 484 trains and update the software to enable trains to run on the extension to Ventnor?

The Extension To Newport

The Island Line connects to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction station.

Note.

  1. The Island line running North-South on the Eastern side of the map.
  2. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway curving away to the South-West.
  3. The two railways connecting at Smallbrook Junction station.
  4. Ryde is to the North.
  5. Shanklin is to the South.
  6. Newport is to the West.

I doubt, that allowing trains to run between Ryde and Newport, would be one of the most challenging projects in railway engineering.

The map on the isleofwightradio web site, shows a chord, that would allow trains to run between Shanklin and Newport.

I would estimate that the distance between Smallbrook Junction and Newport is around ten miles.

  • The terminus would appear to be in the Barton area of Newport.
  • Much of the route would appear to be across open countryside.
  • The only place for a station could be the Isle of Wight Crematorium. Why not?

As with the extension to Ventnor, I believe that battery-electric Class 484 trains could run services to Newport.

Will The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Object?

I very much feel, that if the scheme is well-designed, that they could be a beneficiary because of increased numbers of visitors.

The scheme might also be able to give the steam railway paths to run steam trains as far as Ryde St. John’s Road station.

Conclusion

This proposal is an elegant one, that uses proven technology and builds smoothly on work, that is already underway.

It is also a zero-carbon solution, if the electricity is from renewable sources.

I also suspect, if Network Rail put one of their brighter teams on the current upgrade to the track and signalling of the Island Line, that the extra work needed to connect to Ventnor and Newport, could be planned and costed in a very short time.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

This Is My Second Lockdown

I can’t be the only person, but in the 1970s, I has locked myself away for nearly a year before. I did it to write the first version of the Project Management software; Artemis.

There are some differences between my situation then and my situation now.

  • My wife was alive then and we saw each other for perhaps two days a week.
  • I could drive and I occasionally went down the Clopton Crown for the odd pint and meal!
  • I hadn’t been diagnosed as a coeliac, as that happened in 1997.
  • There was no Internet or social media.
  • There was no Radio 5 Live.
  • I am a better cook now, than I was then.
  • I am within walking distance of a Marks and Spencer Simply Food store.

I think the rules for surviving are as follows.

  • Eat and drink enough.
  • Have entertaining radio or television on.
  • Break the day up with a bit of exercise.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Arrange good weather.

Let’s hope this lockdown turns out as well as the last.

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter To Jamie Burles Of Greater Anglia

I will open by saying that this letter is not a complaint about your company, as you, like all your passengers and staff are just suffering collateral damage from the overwhelming incompetence of the real culprit.

I have been supporting Ipswich Town, off and on, since my parents retired to Felixstowe around 1960, when the next door neighbour used to take me to Portman Road.

In 2007, after living together in Suffolk for nearly forty years, my wife died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, followed in 2010, by our son, who died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer. I am coeliac and because of all this grief, I neglected my health, which caused me to have a serious stroke. Luckily, the only lasting problem, I suffered was a partial loss of vision, which meant I was unable to drive.

So I sold up in Suffolk and moved back to London, where I had been born in 1947.

For a couple of years, things went well coming out to Ipswich for matches by train. Typically, on a match day I would have a gluten-free lunch in London and catch the reliable 12:30 Norwich express and just arrive in my seat a few minutes before kick-off.

I should note, that there is only one reliable place for a coeliac like myself, who needs gluten-free food to eat in Ipswich and that is Pizza Express. But you can only eat so much pizza! I can get gluten-free sandwiches in Marks and Spencer, but as with the pizza, it means walking to the centre of town and at seventy-two now, that is not such an easy proposition, as it once was.

Over the last six years, the journey has got worse. The much longer journey  time on replacement buses, means I can’t eat properly or do any of the other things , I need to do in life on an average Saturday.

Consider.

  • Football may be important to me, but it is not that important.
  • I should say, that sometimes, I go via Cambridge, when replacement buses are in operation for a change, as I can have a meal in the city with friends or buy sandwiches in the Marks & Spencer in the station.
  • In all these years of disruption, it always seems that if Ipswich are at home on the Saturday, there would be a busification of the service, whereas on other Saturdays a full service operated.

When I first started coming out from London to see matches, there were quite a few supporters on the trains from London, including one guy in a wheel-chair. Over the years many seem to have fallen by the wayside, because of the constant disruption.

I had hoped that this season, Network Rail’s deplorable project management of the Great Eastern Main line, which often results in surprise closures,  would have been consigned to history.

But if ever, there have been more closures this season and the latest batch of nine closures starting on Saturday, are the last straw as far as I am concerned.

Saturday’s closure was particularly inconvenient, as Kings Cross was closed and the West Anglia Main Line was running a reduced service, so in the end, I had a late breakfast at St. Pancras and took Southeastern Highspeed to Ebbsfleet where a friend and fellow Ipswich season ticket holder, who lives nearby, gave me a lift  to the match. The home-to-home round trip , was actually almost as long, as that on the previous Saturday’s trip to Tranmere.

Looking at the next few Saturday Ipswich home games, I see the following.

  • Peterborough – 1st February – Normal service (?)
  • Burton Albion – 15th February – Buses
  • Oxford United – 22nd February – Buses
  • Coventry – 7th March – Buses
  • Portsmouth- 21th March – Buses
  • Rochdale – 18th April – Buses

I probably speak with more authority, than most, as the company I started in Ipswich; Metier Management Systems, is recognised as one of the companies, that changed project management completely, in the last three decades of the twentieth century. At times, half the major projects in the world were being planned and managed by software I wrote in a Suffolk attic.

I rate, Network Rail’s performance over the last few years in the wider UK, as one of the worst project management disasters I have known, alongside Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport, the legendary hospital built the wrong way round, and the Boeing 737 MAX.

January 26, 2020 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

It looks to me that there will be increasing links and merging between High Speed Two (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Proposals and possibilities include.

  • NPR will have a Western terminal at a new station in Liverpool City Centre.
  • HS2 trains would access Liverpool and Manchester via a junction between HS2 and NPR at High Legh.
  • There will be six trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport.
  • The route between Manchester and Manchester Airport is planned to be in tunnel.
  • There will be six tph between Manchester and Leeds.

In addition, Boris has made positive noises about a high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being of a high priority.

So will the planners go for the logical solution of a High Speed tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds?

  • There could be a theoretical capacity of perhaps 15 tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.
  • Speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible.
  • Stations could be at Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly/Piccadilly Gardens, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • West of Manchester Airport, the route appears easier and the tunnel would emerge close to the airport.
  • East of Leeds the tunnel would join up with existing routes to Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle and York.

I believe such a tunnel could be built without disrupting existing rail services and passengers. Remember building Crossrail’s tunnels was an almost invisible process.

It would result in two rail systems across Northern England.

  • Upgraded Classic Rail Routes
  • The Big Bore

My thoughts on the two systems follow.

Upgraded Classic Rail Routes

This could include improvements such as these,

  • Extra passing loops.
  • Selective electrification
  • Improved stations
  • Comprehensive in-cab digital signalling
  • More paths for passenger and freight trains.

Which could be applied to routes, such as these.

In addition, there could be the reopening of some closed or freight routes to passenger trains.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

It is a comprehensive upgrade that includes.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line.

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements, I talked about planned improvements to the Hope Valley Line, which should begin in the next couple of years.

These improvements are given in detail under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line.

The Hope Valley Improvements will cost in the region of tens of millions of pounds and Wikipedeia sums up the benefits like this.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It seems like good value to me!

So could we see other Multi-million and billion pound projects created to improve the classic routes across the Pennines?

Projects would be fully planned and the costs and benefits would then be assessed and calculated.

Then it would be up to the Project Managers to devise the optimal structure and order in which to carry out all the projects.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following techniques used.

  • Discontinuous electrification to avoid bridge reconstruction.
  • Intelligent, hybrid diesel/electric/battery trains from Bombardier, Hitachi or Stadler, capable of 125 mph running and changing mode at speed.
  • Modular digital signalling
  • Factory built stations and step-free bridges.
  • Removal of all level crossings.
  • All stations updated for step-free access between train and platform.

The objectives would be as follows.

  • More paths, where needed.
  • Faster line speed.
  • Less running on diesel.
  • Fast station stops.

Hopefully, the upgrading could be done without too much disruption.

Remember though, that disruption to existing users during a project, is most likely down to bad project management.

The Big Bore

The Central Core tunnel of Crossrail between Royal Oak and East London, was virtually a separate project before Crossrail’s stations and much of other infrastructure was built.

I believe that digging the tunnel first gave a big advantage, in that it could be constructed as an independent project, provided that the logistics of delivering the components and removing the junk was done efficiently.

But it did mean that travellers wouldn’t see any benefits until the project was almost complete.

HS2 and NPR are different in that they also envisage upgrading these routes.

  • The Huddersfield Line
  • The Chat Moss Line
  • The Calder Valley Line
  • The Hope Valley Line
  • The Dearne Valley Line
  • The Selby Line
  • The Midland Main Line North Of Clay Cross

Only the Huddersfield Line is directly affected by the Big Bore.

Effectively, the Big Bore will provide a by-pass route for passenger trains between Leeds and West of Manchester Airport, to take the fast trains of HS2 and NPR underneath the congested classic lines.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North I said this about a tunnel between Leeds and Manchester.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

It would be a very big project and probably one of the longest rail tunnels in the world.

Comparison With The Gotthard Base Tunnel

But surely, if a small and rich nation like Switzerland can build the Gotthard Base Tunnel, then we have the resources to build the Big Bore between Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Consider these facts about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

  • It is two single track bores.
  • Each bore has a track length of around 57 kilometres or 35 miles.
  • The tunnel may be deep, but it is direct and level.
  • The maximum speed is 250 kph or 160 mph.
  • The operational speed for passenger trains is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • The operational speed for freight is 100 kph or 62 mph.
  • It can take the largest freight trains.

To make numbers even more impressive it is joined to the shorter Ceneri Base Tunnel, to provide an even longer route.

Manchester Airport And Leeds Direct

Now consider Manchester Airport and Leeds.

  • The current rail distance is 56 miles.
  • There are stops at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.
  • Journey time is eighty minutes.

But the direct distance is only 68 kilometres or forty-three miles.

Surely if the Swiss can blast and dig two 57 km. single-track rail tunnels, we can go eleven kilometres further with all the recent experience of tunnelling around the world.

The lengths of the various legs would be as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 14 km.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 35 km.
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 17 km.
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km

Trains running on the various legs at 200 kph, which is the cruising speed of a 1970s-built InterCity 125, could take the following times for the various legs.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 4.2 minutes
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 10.5 minutes
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 5.1 minutes
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km – 3.9 minutes

Leeds and Manchester Airport would be under thirty minutes apart.

Looking at NPR between Liverpool and Hull, times could be as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 20 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

Or a Coast-to-Coast time of under ninety minutes.

Train Frequencies

HS2 is being designed to handle fifteen tph, although slower intensive railways in the UK can handle up to twenty-four tph.

At the current time or certainly in a few years time, the theoretical maximum frequency through the Big Bore should be between these two figures. I will assume at least fifteen tph in this post.

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report talks about the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport – Six tph.
  • Manchester and Leeds – Six tph
  • Leeds and Hull – Two tph

This is all so lacking in ambition. It is like building a new high capacity road and only allowing those with status to use the road.

If Leeds and Manchester Airport can handle fifteen tph, why not use some of it to create an Express Metro under the Pennines?

To me, if the Big Bore is built, nothing short of twelve tph or a train every five minutes is acceptable, at Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds stations.

The extension to Hull could be reduced to perhaps six tph, but with the upgrading of the Hull and Leeds Line to perhaps 140 mph, I’d be bold and create a true TransPennine Express;

Hull and Liverpool every five minutes would be the ultimate Marketing Man’s dream.

The Underground Stations

Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all be through stations deep underground.

  • They would be connected to the surface by lifts and escalators.
  • Some entrances to the stations would connect to existing stations and others might emerge in City squares like Manchester’s P:iccadilly Gardens.
  • Most stations would be just two platforms, as all trains would pass through on either side of a large underground concourse.;
  • All stations would have platform edge doors.
  • Passengers would be able to reverse direction by just walking across the concourse.

Stations would build on the lessons learned from Crossrail. But then NPR is closer to Crossrail than a Classic High Speed Line.

The Terminal Stations

The two main terminal stations for NPR and trains running through the Big Bore would be the proposed High Speed station at Liverpool and the existing Hull station.

But one other terminal station is being created; Edinburgh.

I have been going to Edinburgh station to and from England for perhaps thirty years and the capacity of the station has constantly increased.

Recent developments are extended Platforms 5 and 6, that can take the longest LNER trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that with the application of digital signalling, that there is capacity for at least eight tph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

There would certainly be capacity for at least two tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

In the East the other possibilities for terminals are Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

  • I would discount Newcastle, as it lacks capacity and its location would make it difficult to add more.
  • Doncaster has good connectivity and space, but do Leeds and Hull offer similar connectivity?

So that leaves Hull, Edinburgh and York, as the only Eastern terminals.

In the West, there is probably a need to connect to the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Glasgow Central is probably the obvious terminal, but it would need an extra connection at the junction of HS2, NPR and WCML at High Legh.

If necessary Preston could be used, as it has space and lots of connectivity.

Integration Of HS2 and NPR

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report is proposing this and it looks that the following HS2 services could be possible between Euston and Manchester.

  • Two tph – Euston and Hull via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds
  • Two tph – Euston and Edinburgh via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

Note.

  1. Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all have four tph to and from London, by the Western arm of HS2’s Y.
  2. If in addition there were two tph between Liverpool and Hull and Liverpool and Edinburgh, this would mean four tph from the Big Bore of NPR to both Hull and Edinburgh.
  3. None of these core services need to terminate in the Big Bore.

I very much feel that integrating HS2 and NPR is the way to go.

Could We See A High Speed Northern Metro?

If we assume that the Big Bore could handle the HS2 frequency of at least fifteen tph, then it would be possible to create a service across the Pennines with the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Hull – 4 tph
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 2 tph

This would result in the following frequencies

  • Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston – 4 tph
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph
  • Manchester – 12 tph
  • Huddersfield – 12 tph
  • Bradford – 12 tph
  • Leeds – 12 tph
  • Hull – 8 tph
  • York – 4 tph
  • Newcastle – 4 tph
  • Edinburgh – 4 tph

What would these frequencies do for train travel in the North of England?

Freight

The Gotthard Base Tunnel has been designed so that both freight and passenger trains can use the route.

There is a need for extra freight capacity across the country and I wonder if freight trains could use the Big Bore.

I estimate that the Big Bore would be 68 kilometres if bored straight and level between West of Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Lets assume it is seventy kilometres or 43.5 miles.

So times, through the tunnel at various average speeds would be.

  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 110 mph – 23.7 minutes
  • 100 mph – 26.1 minutes
  • 90 mph – 29 minutes
  • 80 mph – 32.6 minutes
  • 62 mph (Gotthard Base Tunnel speed for freight) – 42 minutes.

Could it be mandated that freight trains can use the tunnel, if they could maintain a particular speed?

Consider.

  • A 125 mph train with stops at Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would probably take thirty minutes to transit the tunnel.
  • A freight train running at 90 mph would take more or less the same time.
  • Fifteen tph would mean a train every four minutes.
  • Automatic control of all trains in the tunnel would be a possibility. It appears to work on the much more complicated Thameslink.

I think with the following conditions, one or even two freight trains per hour, in addition to the passenger trains, can pass through the Big Bore in each direction.

  • The locomotives have the performance of at least the Class 93 locomotive, which is currently being built.
  • Freight trains can be hauled through at a minimum speed, which could be between 90 and 110 mph.
  • The passenger trains and train and platform staff work together to produce very short station dwell times.
  • All passenger trains are identical.
  • Station platforms are designed so that passengers can leave and enter the trains rapidly.

It will be a Big Bore with a capacity to match!

What About Sheffield?

I haven’t forgotten Sheffield, but I think it could be linked across the Penines by another route.

Under the upgrades for Northen Powerhouse Rail, it is proposed that services between Sheffield and Leeds become 4 ton in 25 minutes along the Dearne Valley Line.

Does Boris Know More Than He Lets On?

The headline on the front cover of Issue 885 of Rail Magazine is Boris Backs New Pennine Railway.

There is also a sub-heading of PM commits to Leeds-Machester line.

Boris didn’t apply any substance to the speech, except to say that it will be funded.

I believe that my naive analysis in this post shows that something is possible and I just wonder, if Boris has been briefed about a much better plan?

August 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crossrail Rushes To Make Bond Street Ready For Testing

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

Mark Wild, who is Crossrail’s Chief Executive, is quoted as telling the London Assembly.

Our current focus is predominantly on key areas of risk such as ensuring that Bond Street station is at the required stage of completion to allow us to commence trial running early in 2020..

The more I read about this project, the more I believe, that the projects lateness is down to two things.

  • Some very optimistic project management by contractors to get some of the enormous contracts on offer.
  • A lack of resources in vital areas like some trades and the testing of trains.

But then what do I know about Project Management and computer software?

Could Bond Street also be the only really late station, as it is on a very cramped site in the centre of some of the most expensive real estate on the planet?

The 3D visualisation shows the area around the station.

Note .

  1. The new Western entrance to Bond Street Crossrail station, which is the cleared site with the russet-coloured building behind.
  2. The new Eastern entrance, which is just to the West of Hanover Square.
  3. Bond Street running down from Next on Oxford Street to Fenwicks.

Surface access is not good to say the least.

The same access problem probably applies at Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations, but at these five stations, there were buildings that could be demolished to give access for construction.

It should also be notes, that some of these stations have only a few local residents.

I’ll take a quick look at these five stations.

Paddington

This Google Map shows Paddington station.

Note the Crossrail station, which has been squeezed into the old cab rank, alongside the station.

Tottenham Court Road

This Google Map shows Tottenham Court Road station.

Note the amount of cleared space around the station,

Farringdon

This Google Map shows Farringdon station.

The Crossrail station is to the West of the current station. It must have helped contractors, that the station had been redeveloped a couple of times for the construction and update of Thameslink.

Moorgate

This Google Map shows Moorgate station.

Moor House, which is the large office block behind Moorgate station, was built in 2004 and was designed to accept Crossrail in the basement.

Finsbury Circus, which is the green space in the East was used as a construction site.

Liverpool Street

This Google Map shows Liverpool Street station.

The main entrance to the Crossrail station will be in front of the Broadgate office complex, which is to the West of the station.

This section of Broadgate is also being redeveloped, which probably helps and hinders in equal measure.

Conclusion

I think lessons will be learned that can be applied to other cross-city rail projects.

  • Future-planning as with Moor House should be increasingly used.
  • Should stations be built in conjunction with other developments?
  • Are stations in areas of high real-estate values a good idea?
  • Could more innovative ways be used to bring in construction materials?

Will future projects be better?

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Damned If They Did: A Defence Of Crossrail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Global Co9nstruction Review.

It is a must-read!

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment