The Anonymous Widower

Redhill To Ashford International Via Tonbridge

I did this trip to find out what the current service was like after writing Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East.

The journey can be broken into sections.

Changing At Redhill Station

I arrived at Redhill station and took these pictures as I changed to the train for Tonbridge station.

The three services are in Redhill station at approximately the same time.

  • The Southern service to and from Tonbridge used Platform 1a.
  • The GWR service from Reading to Gatwick used Platform 1.
  • The GWR service from Gatwick to Reading used Platform 0.

I think if you’re nippy on the stairs, travellers wanting to go between Reading and Ashford or vice-versa could manage the train, but a direct through service would be preferred by some travellers.

Between Redhill And Tonbridge Stations

I took these pictures as the train ran between Redhill and Tonbridge.

Note.

  1. The train was a smart three-car Class 377 train.
  2. It is a route with a quiet calm along the Downs.
  3. There are new housing and commercial developments along the route.

Some of the stations could do with improvement, which should probably include step-free access, as at Redhill and Tonbridge stations.

Changing At Tonbridge Station

These pictures show Tonbridge station.

Note.

  • The station is step-free with lifts.
  • I had to use the bridge to get from one side of the station to the other to catch my next train.
  • There seemed to be several passengers, who continued their journey from Tonbridge.

After a wait of nearly thirty minutes I was on my way to Ashford International station.

Thoughts On The Service

These are my thoughts on the service.

Battery Electric Trains

Having seen this service in operation, I feel that this must be one of the most suitable services for battery electric trains in the UK.

In Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East, I broke the route down into electrified and non-electrified sections.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.
  5. The route is more than 75 % electrified.

There are several trains, which have been fitted with batteries, plans to fit them with batteries exist or would be suitable to be fitted with batteries.

All trains have similar specifications.

  • Four cars.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • All are modern trains.
  • They either have third-rail shoes or can be fitted with them.

In addition, no infrastructure changes would be needed.

I also feel, that the same class of train could be used on these services in the South-East.

  • Oxted and Uckfield
  • Ashford International and Hastings

Why not use one class of battery electric trains for all these routes?

The Three Reverses

The full service between Reading and Ashford International stations will require three reverses at Gatwick and Redhill (twice).

Having seen the current system in operation at Redhill station, I feel the following operation would work, using a version of London Underground’s stepping-up.

From Reading to Ashford International the following sequence would apply.

  • The train from Reading would stop in Platform 1 at Redhill, as they do now.
  • A second driver would step-up into the rear cab and take control of the train.
  • The original or first driver, who’d driven the train from Reading would stay in the cab.
  • The second driver would drive the train to Gatwick.
  • When, the train is ready to leave, the first driver takes control from his cab.
  • The second driver, who’d driven the train from Redhill would stay in the cab.
  • The first driver would drive the train back to Platform 0 at Redhill, as they do now.
  • When, the train is ready to leave, the second driver takes control from his cab.
  • The first driver would step down and probably have a break, before he is needed to drive another train.
  • The second driver would drive the train to Ashford International.

Trains going the other way would do a similar sequence in reverse.

Other than the battery system, the trains may need a communication and safety system between the two cabs.

Hydrogen Trains

Consider these points about using a hydrogen-powered train between Reading and Ashford International.

  • The maximum distance without electrification is just 20 miles.
  • The route is over 75 % electrified.
  • Hydrogen fuelling and supply systems would need to be provided.
  • Hydrogen trains would require changes to maintenance.

In my view, using a hydrogen-powered train would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Gatwick Connect

Could the service be considered to be a Gatwick Connect service?

The full Reading and Ashford International service would call at these major locations

  • In the West – Reading, Winnersh, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Farnborough, Guildford, Dorking and Reigate
  • In the East – Ashford International, Paddock Wood and Tonbridge.

Both the Eastern and Western legs also call at Redhill.

Could the service be extended in the West?

The obvious destination would be Heathrow.

Once the future of Heathrow is sorted, there will probably be some form of Southern or South-Western access into Heathrow.

Could this service connect Gatwick and Heathrow?

  • Perhaps there would be a reverse at Reading!
  • Or it might use one of numerous schemes put forward to access Heathrow from the West.

In any case, as Reading is one of the best-connected stations in England, passengers will use this connectivity to get to Gatwick.

Could the service be extended in the East?

Like Reading, Ashford International is a well-connected station.

It would be possible to extend the service to perhaps Canterbury or Dover?

There must also be the possibility of running a service to Maidstone West or Strood in the East!

Conclusion

There could be a lot of possibilities for this route.

I also feel, that it is one of the best routes to be run by battery trains in the UK. These trains could also be the same, as those working Oxted-Uckfield and Ashford International-Hastings.

There would be no need for any new infrastructure, as there is electrification at both ends of the route.

 

 

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

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

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Unlocking Capacity And Services Through Bramley (Hants)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Bramley Station

Bramley (Hants) station is on the  Reading-Basingstoke Line, which is 15.5 miles long.

  • The line is double-track.
  • Bramley station is the nearest one to Basingstoke station.
  • The two stations are about five miles apart.
  • The basic local service is two trains per hour (tph), with trains taking a few minutes under half-an-hour.
  • The speed limit is listed in Wikipedia at 75 mph and my Class 165 train was travelling at about 60 mph on both journeys between Basingstoke and Bramley stations.

This Google Map shows Bramley station.

Note the level crossing, just to the North of the station.

These are some pictures, that I took, whilst I spent about thirty minutes at Bramley station.

Note

  1. In the thirty minutes, I was at the station, two long freight trains and three passenger trains came through.
  2. The level crossing barriers were going up and down like a whore’s drawers.
  3. Each level crossing closure resulted in long queues at the barriers.

It reminded me how bad the level crossing at Brimsdown station used to be in the Peak in 1966, when I crossed it twice every day to go to and from work at Enfield Rolling Mills. At least I was on two wheels and it gave me a break from pedalling!

There is more on the problems of the level crossing on this article on the Bramley Parish Council web site, which is entitled Living With Our Level Crossing.

Current Future Plans For the Reading-Basingstoke Line

The Wikipedia entry for the Reading-Basingstoke Line has a Future section, where this is said.

The railway is listed with Network Rail as part of route 13, the Great Western main line, and was due to be electrified with 25 kV overhead wiring by 2017 as part of the modernisation of the main line.[8] In July 2007, plans were agreed to build a station in Reading south of Southcote Junction in the Green Park business park, serving the southern suburbs of Reading and also the Madejski Stadium. Construction of Reading Green Park railway station was expected to be completed in 2010; the plans were suspended in 2011, but were reinstated in 2013. It is now set to open by the end of 2020[9], with electrification along the line at a later date.

It is my view, that the new Reading Green Park station will probably mean that four tph between Reading and Basingstoke stations will be needed. especially if a second new station were to be built at Chineham.

But four tph would probably be impossible, without improving the traffic of both rail and road through Bramley.

Solving The Level Crossing Problem

Ideally, the level crossing should be closed and the road diverted or put on a bridge,

If you look at a wider map of the area, building a by-pass to enable road traffic to avoid the crossing will be difficult if not impossible.

But this is not an untypical problem on rail networks and not just in the UK.

I suspect that with precise train control using digital ERTMS  signalling, trains and level crossing closures can be timed to improve traffic on both road and rail.

Consider.

  • If trains crossed on the level crossing and they were under precise control, this would reduce the number of level crossing closures per hour.
  • If the line speed was higher and the trains ran faster, this should ease timetabling, as there could be more train paths per hour.
  • Faster accelerating electric trains would save time too, by shortening station dwell times.
  • A third track might be laid in places.
  • The signalling could possibly drive the train or tell the driver exactly what speed to travel, so trains passed on the crossing or in the station.

As Network Rail and their contractors roll-out ERTMS, they’ll discover better and more intelligent ways to deploy the system.

Electric Trains Would Help

Electric trains accelerate faster and if they use regenerative braking to batteries, this cuts station dwell times.

But powering them by electrification would mean the connecting lines between the Reading and Basingstoke Lines and the nearest electrified lines would also have to be electrified.  This would make the scheme excessively expensive.

But Battery Electric Trains Could Be Better!

I believe that battery electric trains, would be a more-than-viable alternative.

  • You still get the performance advantages of electric trains.
  • With charging at just one end of the route, a battery electric train could run a round trip on battery power.

The big advantage, would be that the only new electrification infrastructure needed would be to charge the trains.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Reading Station

Reading is a fully electrified station and the shuttle trains to and from Basingstoke station, appear to use Platform 2.

This Google Map shows electrification gantries over Platforms 1, 2 and 3 at Reading station.

Note.

  1. The route between Reading station and Southcote junction, where the Basingstoke and Newbury routes divide, may be under two miles, but it is fully electrified.
  2. Trains take three minutes to travel between Reading station and Southcote junction.
  3. Trains wait for up to twenty minutes in the platform at Reading station.

It would appear that trains get enough time at Reading to fully charge the batteries.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Basingstoke Station

The shuttle trains between Reading and Basingstoke stations, appear to use Platform 5 in Basingstoke station.

This Google Map shows Platform 5 at Basingstoke station.

Platform 5 is towards the top of the map and contains a two-car train.

These pictures show the platform.

Note.

  1. There would appear to be space on the North side of Platform 5 to install another platform, if one should be needed.
  2. It appears from the Google Map, that Platform 5 could take a four-car train.
  3. The platform is wide and spacious for passengers.
  4. I suspect a Fast Charge system of some sort could be installed in this platform.

As at Reading, trains can take around twenty minutes to turn back at Basingstoke, which would be ideal for a battery charge.

What Trains Could Work The Shuttle?

After South Western Railway‘s interim Managing Director; Mark Hopwood’s comments, that led me to write Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, these trains must be a possibility.

I also think, that as both South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are both First Group companies, there won’t be too much argument about who supplies the trains for the shuttle.

CrossCountry Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

CrossCountry will need to replace their Class 220 trains with electric or bi-mode trains soon, to meet the dates for decarbonisation.

The prime candidate must be a dual-voltage version of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which could easily work the 15.5 miles between Reading and Basingstoke on battery power, after charging up on the electrification at both ends.

The trains could also be easily fitted with the ERTMS signalling equipment that will be required to go smoothly along the line.

Freight Trains Between Reading And Basingstoke

We might see this section of the UK rail network, electrified for freight, but as it would require lots of connecting electrification, I think it is more likely that freight locomotives will be powered by an alternative fuel like hydrogen or bio-diesel. This would cut electrification needs, but still reduce carbon emissions.

Freight locomotives are already being fitted with the required ERTMS signalling equipment.

 

Conclusion

I am absolutely sure, that there’s a technological solution in there, that can increase the number of trains through Bramley.

But diverting the road traffic and clossing the level crossing would appear to be difficult.

 

 

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birmingham Airport Connectivity

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Birmingham Airport Connectivity.

This is the introductory paragraph.

By using capacity released by HS2 and investing in new track south of Birmingham Airport, we can improve connections from the south of England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.

The page contains this helpful map.

It looks like Midlands Connect are thinking about improving the Reading and Newcastle service.

Points made on the page and related articles, like this one on Rail News  include.

  • Birmingham Airport has plans to increase passenger numbers to 18 million by 2033.
  • Coventry and Leamington Spa via Kenilworth will be double-tracked.
  • High Speed Two will release capacity in the area.
  • It will open up rail capacity between Birmingham and Solihull.
  • There will be a new service between Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
  • It will improve local connections to Birmingham Airport.
  • Birmingham and Reading services will be increased to two trains per hour (tph)
  • The Government is being asked to chip in £20 million.

These are my thoughts.

Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport can become a true Heart of England Airport.

I feel that the future of aviation will be very different to the past.

  • COVID-19 and the future pandemics, that we will endure from the East and the Americas, will mean that flying will be a very different experience with hygiene and social distancing to the fore.
  • Smaller aircraft, for flights up to 500 miles, will be odd-looking zero-carbon machines with exotic power systems.
  • Larger aircraft will be energy efficient planes powered by aviation biofuels produced from household and industrial waste, and biomass.
  • Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s will only be talked about in tales from older people to the young.
  • Airports will be important rail hubs to more than just the local area.

Wikipedia also says this about expansion of Birmingham Airport.

Plans for a second runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.

This Google Map shows the Airport.

Note the M42 motorway passing North-South to the East of the Airport.

Could Birmingham Airport develop towards Birmingham Interchange and High Speed Two?

It is worth looking at the distance to other airports.

  • Aberdeen – 328 miles
  • Amsterdam – 280 miles
  • Dublin – 199 miles
  • Frankfurt – 478 miles
  • Geneva – 558 miles
  • Paris – 304 miles

All could be within range of an electric aircraft like the under-development Eviation Alice.

I believe that large airports will develop low-noise zero-carbon secondary runways.

Birmingham Airport is well-situated to take advantage.

Adding A Second Track Between Leamington Spa And Coventry

This section of track is about ten miles long, with probably under half only single-track.

This Google Map shows the single-track through the new Kenilworth station.

And these are pictures I took soon after the station opened.

It is certainly one of the best of the current crop of new small stations.

I don’t think that adding a second track will be the most challenging of projects.

It should be noted that the Leamington Spa and Nuneaton service could be a candidate for a battery electric train.

  • The route is twenty miles long
  • Nuneaton and Coventry stations are fully electrified.
  • There might be possibilities to extend this service at either or both ends.
  • Nuneaton and Leicester are nineteen miles apart and a new Nuneaton Parkway station is proposed for the route. I wrote about this station in New Railway Station Between Hinckley And Nuneaton Receives Backing.
  • Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon are fifteen miles apart and would need a reverse at Leamington Spa.

A battery electric train might give a faster and more passenger-friendly service, if the passenger numbers and forecasts would support an extended service.

A Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford Service

This Google Map shows Birmingham Moor Street station.

Note.

  1. The two Northern through platforms on the Snow Hill Lines, that continue under Birmingham to Birmingham Snow Hill station.
  2. At least two, but possibly three bay platforms, that can take Chiltern Railway’s longest trains.
  3. There is more space for possibly another two bay platforms to be reinstated or built.

Birmingham Moor Street station will also be a short walk from High Speed Two’s Birmingham Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows Oxford station.

Note.

  1. Birmingham Moor Street station is to the North via Banbury and Warwick Parkway stations.
  2. The two long through platforms capable of taking a nine-car train.
  3. There are two bay platforms to the East of the two through platforms, at the Northern end of the station.
  4. The bay platforms handle Chiltern’s services from London Marylebone and could also handle the proposed service to Birmingham Moor Street.

Consider this about the proposed Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service.

  • The service could stop at Solihull, Warwick Parkway, Warwick, Leamington Spar and Banbury, as was thought necessary.
  • I estimate that Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford are 66 miles apart and that a 100 mph train would take around 66 minutes.
  • Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury are 43 miles apart.
  • Oxford and Banbury are 23 miles apart.

With these timings and a few minutes to reverse at each end of the route, I would estimate that a 2.5 hour round trip would be possible.

But, I also think, that with charging facilities or short lengths of electrification at Birmingham Moor Street, Banbury and Oxford stations, this service could be run by battery electric trains.

  • A three hour round trip should be possible.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service.
  • Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick would have a direct connection to High Speed Two.

It should also be noted

  • Birmingham Moor Street and Stratford-upon-Avon stations are only 25 miles apart and the journey rakes 46 minutes
  • Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon are 35 miles apart. and the journey takes 57 minutes.
  • Leamington Spa and Nuneaton are 20 miles apart and the journey takes 36 minutes.

There would appear to be tremendous potential for battery electric services between Birmingham and Oxford.

How many tourists would a Birmingham and Oxford service via Stratford-upon-Avon attract?

Improving The Reading And Newcastle Service

Currently, this is a one tph service between Reading and Newcastle stations.

  • It is run by CrossCountry.
  • Intermediate stops include Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • It appears that the full journey takes four-and-a-half hours.

It looks like to run a two tph service would need as many as twenty trains.

There is an alternative route after High Speed Two opens.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes
  • Walk – Curzon Street and New Street – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street and Reading – 90 minutes

This saves about forty-five minutes.

You could even do a double change.

  • High Speed Two – Newcastle and East Midlands Hub – 96 minutes
  • High Speed Two – East Midlands Hub and Birmingham Interchange – 17 minutes
  • Walk – Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham International – 10 minutes
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham International and Reading – 78 minutes

This gives a time of around three hours and twenty minutes.

High Speed Two certainly saves time.

But look at this map clipped from the High Speed Two web site.

Note.

  1. The blue dot shows the location of Curzon Street station.
    The West Coast Main Line running into New Street station, is just to the South of Curzon Street station.
    New Street station can be picked out to the West of Curzon Street station.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the current Curzon Street station site.

The same pattern of rail lines going past the Curzon Street site into New Street station can be picked out.

Surely, a connection could be made to allow trains from a couple of platforms in Curzon Street station to terminate trains from the West Coast Main Line.

To improve services between Newcastle and Reading, trains would do the following.

  • Run on the current East Coast Main Line infrastructure between Newcastle and York. Station stops could be Durham, Darlington and York.
  • Switch to new High Speed Two infrastructure South of York.
  • Run on High Speed Two infrastructure to Birmingham Curzon Street station. Station stops could be Sheffield, Chesterfield and East Midlands Hub.
  • The train would reverse at Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Switch to the West Coast Main Line outside Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • Run on the West Coast Main Line to Birmingham International station.
  • Take the route currently used by CrossCountry between Birmingham International and Reading. Station stops could be Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway, Banbury and Oxford stations.

Timings would be as follows.

  • Newcastle and Birmingham Curzon Street – 118 minutes – From High Speed Two web site.
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Reading – 90 minutes – Current CrossCountry timing.

Note.

  1. This saves about an hour over the current CrossCountry timings.
  2. It could use classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  3. Between Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle, it follows the same route as one of the current proposed High Speed Two services.
  4. The service could be extended to Edinburgh from Newcastle.
  5. The service could be extended to Southampton from Reading
  6. As there are only twelve tph planned to be running on the Eastern leg of High Speed Two, against a total capacity of eighteen tph, it should be possible to accommodate the extra service or services.

This would surely be a very useful High Speed Two service.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive package of measures, some of which could have a high cost benefit ratio.

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street And Some Other Stations Compared

I am doing this exercise to get a handle on the scale of the problem at Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

In 2018/19, these were some passenger statistics for the two stations and some others.

  • Birmingham New Street station handled 47.928 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 3.62 million per platform per year.
  • Brighton station handled 17.385 million passengers on its eight platforms or 2.17 million per platform per year.
  • Bristol Temple Meads station handled 11.368 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 0.87 million per platform per year.
  • Cardiff station handled 14.205 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.78 million per platform per year.
  • Chelmsford station handled 8.927 million passengers on two platforms of 4.46 million per platform per year.
  • Crewe station handled 3.318 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.28 million per platform per year.
  • Deansgate station handled 0.458 million passengers on its two platforms or 0.23 million per platform per year.
  • Doncaster station handled 3,918 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • East Croydon station handled 24.770 million passengers on its six platforms or 4.12 million per platform per year.
  • Exeter St. Davids station handled 2.620 million passengers on its six platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • Gatwick Airport station handled 21.225 million passengers on its seven platforms or 3.03 million per platform per year.
  • Leeds station handled 30.839 million passengers on its seventeen train platforms or 1.81 million per platform per year.
  • Leicester station handled 5.582 million passengers on its four platforms or 1.40 million per platform per year.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station handled 14.221 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 1.29 million per platform per year.
  • London Bridge station handled 61.308 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 4.08 million per platform per year.
  • London Fenchurch Street station handled 18.508 million passengers on its four platforms or 4.63 million per platform per year.
  • London Paddington station handled 38.18 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 2,94 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station handled 9.338 million passengers on its five platforms or 1.87 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station handled 30.252 million passengers on its fourteen platforms and two tram platforms or 1.89 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Victoria station handled 8.950 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.12 million per platform per year.
  • Newcastle station handled 8,914 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.74 million per platform per year.
  • Nottingham station handled 8.005 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.89 million per platform per year.
  • Peterborough station handled 5.060 million passengers on its seven platforms or 0.72 million per platform per year.
  • Preston station handled 4.646 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.52 million per platform per year.
  • Reading station handled 17.081 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 1.14 million per platform per year.
  • York station handled 9.991 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 0.90 million per platform per year.

These figures have given rise to a few thoughts.

Brighton

Brighton station is an eight platform terminal station, that handles a lot of passengers, considering that the City doesn’t have any mass transit system and passengers rely on walking, bicycles, buses and private cars for onward travel.

  • There are upwards of eight trains per hour (tph) at the station to and from London, all of which can be up to twelve cars.
  • The West Coastway and East Coastway Lines have at least six tph in the Off Peak.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line and out to walking routes and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Brighton station is at capacity.

Chelmsford

It is truly remarkable that Chelmsford station is the second busiest station in terms of passengers per platform per year on my list.

  • The station has two separate platforms on either side of the tracks.
  • Access is via wide stairs and lifts.
  • The station appears to handle five tph in both directions in the Off Peak, with up to twice that number in the Peak.
  • Most trains calling at the station are between eight and twelve cars.
  • Chelmsford station could get even busier in terms of passengers when the new longer Class 720 trains and Class 745 trains are brought into service in the next twelve months, as these trains have higher capacities, than the current trains.
  • It is aimed, that the new trains though will have level access between train and platform, at some point in the future.

I very much feel, that Chelmsford shows what can be done at an ordinary two platform station with the application of good simple design.

London Fenchurch Street

London Fenchurch Street is the busiest station on my list.

  • The limited number of platforms will increase the number of passengers per platform per year.
  • The station has two entrances to each platform.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line at the main entrance and down escalators to walking routes at street level, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Many trains in the Peak are twelve cars.
  • Adding extra platforms would be difficult.

It does appear, that work has been done to maximise the station’s capacity.

Crewe, Doncaster, Exeter St. Davids, Newcastle, Peterborough, Preston and York

All these stations are interchange stations on the main lines, that may have been improved, but have not been substantially rebuilt.

They all manage to handle between 0.5 million and 1 million passengers per platform per year.

Leeds

Leeds station has been improved over the last few years.

  • There are six through platforms and eleven where trains can terminate.
  • After passing through the gate line, passengers are in a concourse from where long distance services to London and the North and local services to Bradford, Harrogate, Ilkley and Skipton can be boarded.
  • A new wide bridge with escalators, a lift and steps leads from this concourse across the through lines and platforms to the other side of the station.
  • There are lifts and escalators from the bridge to some of the through platforms and the terminating platforms beyond them.
  • At the far side of the bridge, a new Southern entrance has been added.

<The bridge works well and shows how a wide bridge over or a wide concourse under the tracks, can improve circulation in a station.

If you compare the bridge at Leeds, with the bridge at Reading, which was designed at around the same time, the Reading one is better in that it is wider and has more escalators, with one up and one down escalator to each pair of platforms.

Was a certain amount of design at Leeds station performed by accountants?

London Bridge

London Bridge station shows what can be done by applying good design in a new or rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through and six terminal platforms.
  • All platforms can take full-length twelve-car trains.
  • There is a massive concourse underneath all fifteen platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the concourse and the platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the concourse and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the Underground and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • London Bridge station was designed by Grimshaw Architects

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Reading

Reading station is another good design applied to a rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through platforms,  three East-facing bay platforms and three West-facing bay platforms.
  • All through platforms can take full-length trains.
  • All bay platforms are a level walk from the Southernmost through platform and the main entrance gate line to the station.
  • There is a massive bridge over all nine through platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the bridge and the through platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the bridge and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the car-parks and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Reading station was designed by Grimshaw architects.

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Redesigning Manchester Piccadilly

Could some of the principles of these stations be applied to rebuilding Manchester Piccadilly station?

There are currently twelve terminal platforms numbered 1-12 in the main part of the station.

  • Platforms 1 to 4 are used for services to Marple, New Mills, Rose Hill and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line, and services on the Glossop Line.
  • Platforms 5 to 9 are the longest and used by Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry services.
  • Platforms 10 to 12 are shorter than the others and are usually used to accommodate local trains to Crewe and Manchester Airport, plus Mid-Cheshire line, Buxton Line and South Wales services.

The two through platforms 13 and 14 are on the Southern side of the station.

These ideas might be possible.

A Wide Bridge Or Concourse Connecting The Platforms At The London End

Currently, there is a bridge over the platforms 1 to 12 at the London end, but compared to the bridges at Leeds or Reading stations, it is a rather feeble affair.

  • It is narrow.
  • It doesn’t have any kiosks or shops.
  • It is only connected to the platforms by steps.

Could this be replaced by a wide bridge, like say the one at Reading?

It would certainly give advantages if it could!

  • Passengers arriving in Manchester Piccadilly needing to change to another service, might find it more convenient to use the bridge, rather than exit on to the main concourse.
  • The bridge could be designed as a waiting area, with kiosks, shops, cafes and other facilities.
  • The bridge would be connected to all platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Steps would provide additional and reserve capacity.

Note that if you buy a ticket to Manchester stations, that allows you to go to either Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate or Manchester Victoria stations, So a quick route up and down an escalator at the London end of Piccadilly station to Platform 14 would be very convenient.

Access To Platforms 13 And 14

Compared to the wide island platforms at Leeds and Reading, platform 13 and 14 are a bit narrow, but I’m fairly sure, that a good layout for escalators and lifts could be designed, so that access to these two platforms can be improved.

Trains Through Platforms 13 and 14

These must be arranged, so that they are all similar with wide double doors and step-free access between platform and train.

Improvement Along The Castlefield Corridor

Various improvements need to be done on the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Deansgate can be improved to provide better access to the Metrolink at Castlefield.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station needs a complete rebuilt and a better track layout.
  • The Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport service via Warrington and Manchester Oxford Road needs a strong rethink.

It appears that it has already been decided to reduce the number of trains, as I wrote about in Castlefield Corridor Trade-Off Plan For Fewer Trains.

Wide Gate Lines

Passengers arriving at Manchester Piccadilly station in the main part of the station should be able to walk forward to a gate line stretching right across all the platforms.

  • The present gate line isn’t continuous.
  • There is still a lot of manual checking of tickets.

The current layout can certainly be improved.

Access To Metrolink

I also wonder if better access to the Metrolink could be provided, so that passengers access the Metrolink station from inside the gate line. Now that the Metrolink allows contactless ticketing, this might be easier.

Conclusion

I believe there’s a solution in there somewhere!

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading For Lunch On TfL Rail

On Sunday, TfL Rail took over the services between Paddington and Reading via Maidenhead.

The pictures show that there is still a lot of work to do to get a complete step-free Western Branch of Crossrail.

I walked to Carluccio’s at Reading, which is about a kilometre. It would be closer, if Reading had decent maps like other civilised towns or cities.

These are my comments about the new TfL Rail service.

Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail

I would expect services on TfL Rail will be competitively priced and some details are given on this page on the TfL web site, which is entitled TfL Rail Will Operate Services To Reading From 15 December.

Freedom Passes

I can use my Freedom Pass all the way to Reading for a cost of precisely nothing.

  • There are lots of places along the line, where holders might go to enjoy themselves.
  • Freedom Pass holders can take children with them on some rail services in London. Will they be able to do this on TfL Rail?
  • Freedom Pass holders like to extract maximum benefit from their passes.

But it won’t be long before canny holders, realise that other places like these are just an extension ticket away.

  • Basingstoke – £4.50
  • Henley-on-Thames – £2.65
  • Marlow – £3.10
  • Newbury or Newbury Racecourse – £4.50
  • Oxford – £6.65
  • Winchester – £11.55
  • Windsor – £1.90
  • Woking – £9.75

I included Winchester, as that is where my granddaughter lives.

Will Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • This is not a rip-off offer, but a chasm in the fare regulations.
  • There are some good pubs and restaurants by the Thames.

They will take advantage in hoards.

Reverse Commuters

On my trip to Harrogate, I met a guy, who told me, that Reading has difficulty attracting workers for high-tech businesses.

I suspect that the new service might encourage some reverse commuting.

Will some Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • I know a lot of people still working, who commute within London on a Freedom Pass.
  • Not all Freedom Pass holders are pensioners. For instance, I would have been eligible because I lost my Driving Licence, when my eyesight was ruined by a stroke.

As the pictures show, there is a lot of offices going up around the station in Reading.

Access To The Thames

The route between Paddington and Reading gives access to the River Thames at the following places.

  • Windsor from Slough
  • Marlow from Maidenhead
  • Henley from Twyford.
  • Reading
  • Oxford from Reading

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route being used extensively by leisure travellers to explore and visit London’s principle river.

Connection To Central London

When Crossrail opens to Central London, this must surely result in a large increase in cummuter, leisure and tourist traffic.

Indian Sub-Continent Families

There are a lot of people with roots in the Indian sub-continent living along the route between Paddington and Reading.

Note that Southall station is one of a small group of English stations with bilingual signage. At Southall the signs are in both English and Punjabi.

I feel, that strong family, cultural and religious ties will mean, that this large group will use the trains of TfL extensively in their daily lives.

Train Frequency

It was a Sunday, and the train had perhaps sixty percent of the seats taken.

I have this feeling that this route could suffer from London Overground Syndrome and that passenger numbers will rise much higher than the most optimistic forecasts, because of the factors I outlined in previous sections.

  • Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail
  • Freedom Passes
  • Reverse Commuters
  • Indian Sub-Continent Families
  • Access To The Thames
  • Connection To Central London

This leads me to predict that this line will need a full four trains per hour (tph) service as far as Reading before the end of 2021 and not just in the Peak Hours.

Connections To The Branches

On my journey to and from Reading,, I didn’t see any trains on the four branches, that have the following frequencies.

  • Greenford – Two tph
  • Windsor – Three tph
  • Marlow – One tph
  • Henley – Two tph

Surely, as the current TfL Rail service has a frequency of two tph to Reading, it should interface better with the Greenford and Henley branches.

It appears to me, that there is scope for a better timetable and increased frequency on some of the branches.

Or is the current timetable geared to making profits in the cafes and coffee stalls at the interchange stations?

My timetable would be as follows.

  • Greenford – Four tph
  • Windsor – Four tph
  • Marlow – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.
  • Henley – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.

If the Crossrail and branch service are both four tph or better and there are reasonable facilities, I suspect that will work reasonably well.

But the higher the frequency the better!

Train Performance

On my trip, the Class 345 train was stretching its legs to the West of West Drayton and I recorded a speed of 90 mph.

Their performance doesn’t seem to be much slower than Great Western Railways 110 mph Class 387 trains.

Ticketing

From what I’ve seen, ticketing on this line needs to be augmented.

What is currently, in place will work for Londoners and those that live close to the line.

But would it work for tourists and especially those for whom English is not their first language, who want to visit Oxford and Windsor?

There would appear to be a need for a ticket which allowed the following.

  • Use of TfL Rail between West Drayton and Reading.
  • Slough and Windsor
  • Maidenhead and Marlow
  • Twyford and Henley
  • Reading and Oxford

Could it be called a Thames Valley Ranger?

The alternative would be to bring all the routes into London’s contactless payments system.

But would this mean complicated wrangling over ticket revenue between TfL Rail and Great Western Railway?

There certainly needs to be a simple ticketing system at Slough, so that passengers can purchase a return to Windsor.

The only ways at present are.

  • Buy a ticket at Paddington to Windsor.
  • Leave Slough station and buy a return ticket to Windsor.

Something much better is needed.

Crossrail To Oxford

Because of Network Rail’s l;ate delivery of the electrification West of Reading, the services have ended up as less than optimal.

I think eventually, services to Oxford, will be reorganised something along these lines.

  • Crossrail will be extended to Oxford.
  • Fast services to and from London would be the responsibility of Great Western Railway. The frequency would be at least two tph.
  • CrossCountry fast services would continue as now.
  • Stopping services to and from London would be the responsibility of Crossrail
  • Stations between Reading and Oxford, with the exception of Didcot Parkway would only be served by Crossrail.

The Crossrail service to Oxford would have the following characteristics.

  • Four tph
  • The service would terminate in a South-facing bay platform at Oxford station.
  • Pssible battery operation between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • The service would have a dedicated pair of platforms at Reading.

There would possibly be a ticketing problem, but as there would be separation of fast and stopping services, I feel that a good solution can be created, which would allow changing between the fast and stopping services at Reading. So commuters from somewhere like Cholsey could either go Crossrail all the way to and from London or change to a faster train at Reading.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that this service will be overwhelming popular.

But the ticketing leaves much to be desired.

 

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

TfL Confirms Details Of Reading Services

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is first paragraph.

Details of the transfer of London Paddington – Reading stopping services from Great Western Railway to TfL Rail from the December 15 timetable change have been confirmed by Transport for London.

Some significant points to note from the article.

  • The service will be run by Class 345 trains.
  • Fast services from Reading and some stations to the East will continue to be run by Great Western Railway.
  • There will be four trains per hour (tph) in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.
  • After the New Year Bank Holiday, contactless payments will be available between Paddington and Reading.
  • Children under 11 who are accompanied by an adult, as well as people who are eligible for the Freedom Pass, will be able to travel for free to Reading on the TfL service.
  • Oyster will not be available to the West of West Drayton.
  • Great Western Railway , but not South Western Railway, are expected to bring in contactless ticketing in the New Year.

A few of my thoughts.

What Will Be The Service Pattern?

When the possibility of TfL Rail taking over theservices to Reading, I wrote Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?.

The service pattern to Maidenhead to Reading appears to be.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these services up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

The frequency of trains would appear to satisfy Transport for London’s Turn-Up-And-Go frequency for Metro services.

No one should wait more than fifteen minutes on a Metro for a train!

Freedom Pass Holders Will Be Winners

Being able to use a Freedom Pass between Paddington and Reading will be very useful for many travellers.

It would appear that the cheapest way to use the trains West of Reading for a Freedom Pass Holder, will be to use the pass to get to Reading on TfL Rail and then buy a tricket from Reading to your ultimate destination.

Note that on the Overground, you can buy a ticket between any two UK stations. So if I was going to Bristol, I’d buy a Return at my local Dalston Junction station and use it from Reading, afdter going there on TfL Rail.

Very covenient and with the best price!

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 15 Comments

The East-West Rail Link Plans For Services Between Reading And East Anglia

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link.

This post is particularly about services to Reading and the report says this about services between Reading and East Anglia.

Proposed Core Train Services

This is a sentence.

It has been assumed that, by this stage, a half hourly service will operate on the Central and Western sections between Oxford – Cambridge.

The report then goes on to add.

25 minutes are added to the Oxford journey time to represent the option of one service being extended to / from Reading with a Reading – Oxford non-stop.

So that looks like there will be a core hourly service between Reading and Cambridge, which will take 98 minutes.

The report then goes on to detail how various towns and cities in East Anglia will be connected to Reading.

Bury St. Edmunds

2h16 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Great Yarmouth

3h14 hourly direct

Ipswich

2h43 hourly with cross-platform changes at Cambridge and new A14 Parkway station.

Lowestoft

3h30 hourly with change at Norwich and cross platform change at Reedham.

Norwich

2h40 hourly direct

Trains For The Route

It looks like there will be two direct hourly train services.

  • Reading and Great Yarmouth via Cambridge and Norwich, which will take three hours and fourteen minutes.
  • Oxford and Ipswich via Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, which will take two hours and nineteen minutes.

The long term service pattern, envisages extending the Oxford and Ipswich service to Manningtree, which would add twenty-five minutes.

These are long services and given the overcrowding that happens on the current service between Norwich and Liverpool, I would think that the trains should be as follows.

  • At least four or five cars.
  • An on-board buffet.
  • At least 100 mph operation.

I also think the trains should be bi-mode trains, able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification or onboard power.

How Many Trains?

It looks like the Reading and Great Yarmouth service would be a seven-hour round trip, which would need seven trains.

The future Oxford and Manningtree service would be a six-hour round trip, which would need six trains.

So add in an allowance for maintenance and a spare, I suspect the fleet should be sixteen trains.

 

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

Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line

The title of this post is the same as this statement on the Crossrail web site.

These are a few points from the statement.

The Opening Date Of The Central Section

This is a sentence from the statement.

Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020. Crossrail will be making every effort to deliver the service as early as possible.

Does that meet some date between the 1st October 2020 and 31st March 2021?

And what will open on that date?

There is then this paragraph.

The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.

Twelve trains per hour (tph) gives a capacity of 18,000 passengers per hour, which compares with the 36 tph and 31,500 passengers per hour of the Victoria Line.

Practically, this means that a twelve tph Crossrail could be carrying sixty percent of the number of passengers of the Victoria Line. It’s better than a kick in the teeth!

But then Dear Old Vicky is the Platinum Standard with lots of encrusted diamonds!

Bond Street Station

This is a sentence from the statement.

It is expected that all stations on the route will open except for Bond Street which is delayed because of design and delivery challenges.

The stations are designed so that trains can pass through, so this is not a problem.

Western Branch Services

This is a paragraph from the statement.

TfL Rail services between Paddington and Reading will commence in December 2019 with a frequency of 4 trains per hour in the peak. Testing of the signalling system continues to allow the new class 345 trains to be extended from Hayes & Harlington to Heathrow.

When Crossrail is fully open, the Western Branch frequencies are planned to be as follows.

  • Reading and Abbey Wood – 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood – 4 tph all day.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day.

Currently, TfL Rail’s services are as follows.

  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Paddington – 2 tph all day
  • Hayes & Harlington and Paddington – 2 tph all day

It appears that the two Hayes & Harlington services are designed and timed, so they can be extended to Heathrow Terninal 5, with trains leaving Paddington at these times.

  • XX:08 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:10 – Heathrow Terminal 5
  • XX:23 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:38 – Heathrow Terminal 4
  • XX:42 – Heathrow Terminal 5
  • XX:53 – Heathrow Terminal 4

Perhaps, if the signalling had worked as intended, we would now be seeing Class 345 trains working as follows.

  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Paddington – 4 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Paddington – 2 tph all day

Once the signalling works as needed and signed off in blood, sweat and tears, the difficult part of the job has been done.

The Reading and Maidenhead services could then be added to the mix. Especially, as no problems have been admitted or rumoured with running to these destinations.

These would mean twelve trains per hour in the Peak and ten trains per hour in the Off Peak needing to be handled at the London end of the Western Branch of Crossrail.

Paddington Station Or Central Tunnel?

The twelve tph in the Peak and ten in the Off Peak is an interesting frequency.

In If Crossrail Opens To Reading In December 2019, How Will It Terminate In Paddington?, I describe how Heathrow and Reading services at a frequency of twelve tph,  could run into Platforms 12 and 14 at Paddington.

This was my conclusion.

Platform 12 and 14 at Paddington could be converted into a two-platform Crossrail station handling seven-car Class 345 trains, at a frequency of twelve tph, with its own gate line.

I’ll ralso epeat this paragraph from the statement.

The central section of the Elizabeth line will open between Paddington and Abbey Wood and link the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with initially 12 trains per hour during the peak.

Twelve tph in the Peak is the maximum frequency of the Western Branch into London.

Crossrail have designed a system, where trains can initially terminate in either Paddington or Abbey Wood stations.

Tp give themselves all options and get the Western Branch running, Crossrail would need to complete and certify the following.

  1. Get the signalling working to Heathrow.
  2. Make sure twelve tph could terminate in Paddington.
  3. Make sure twelve tph could run  through the tunnel between Royal Oak and Abbey Wood.

This would mean it would be possible to run twelve tph from Heathrow, Maidenhead and Reading in the West to either Paddington or Abbey Wood in London.

As twelve tph is only one train every five minutes, this surely could be run safely, once the three tasks above are complete and signed off.

Running A Split Service

This is said in the statement.

When the Elizabeth line opens the railway will operate as follows:

  • Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via Central London
  • Liverpool Street (main line station) to Shenfield
  • Paddington (main line station) to Heathrow and Reading

At a first look it appears to be a sensible plan.

  • All three services are independent of each other
  • Liverpool Street and Shenfield is working well and will carry on regardless as long as needed at six tph.
  • The Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading services can be run as two independent rail  services.

The following will also get a thorough testing.

  • Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The interchange tunnel between the Bakerloo Line and Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The important turnback facility at Royal Oak for trains turning in the Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)

The only problem, is that passengers will have to change trains at Paddington.

Running A Limited Preview Service In The Central Tunnel

Would it be possible to run a preview service in the Central Tunnel, after the following are tested and certified?

  • The turnback facility at Royal Oak
  • Paddington (Elizabeth Line station)
  • The intermediate stations.
  • The operation of trains in the tunnel at twelve tph.
  • Abbey Wood station.
  • The turnback facility at Abbey Wood.

A frequency of four or six tph may give the station systems a thorough testing.

Rolling Out The Full Service

This is a paragraph from the statement.

Once the central section opens, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will commence as soon as possible.

I would assume stations and extra services will be added as soon as testing is complete and drivers and station staff are fully-trained.

Conclusion

The plan is good, as it allows these and other systems to be tested independently.

  • The signalling into Heathrow.
  • Twelve tph trains to and from Heathrow, Maidenhead and Reading.
  • Operation of the platforms in Paddington (main line station)
  • Operation of the turnback facility at Royal Oak
  • Operation of the platforms in Paddington (Elizabeth line station)
  • Handling of twelve tph and the signalling in the Central Tunnel.
  • Operation of the turnback facility at Abbey Wood.

I wouldn’t be surprised, that if all goes well, we may be seeing a very limited Crossrail service earlier than anybody currently thinks.

It would also appear to get the Western and Shenfield branches working independently to provide much needed, more frequent and quality services,.

These will then be joined by services in the Central Tunnel, which initially will be run independently.

As I said earlier a twelve tph Crossrail between Paddington and Abbey Wood through the Central Tunnel, would carry sixty percent of the passengers of the Victoria Line!

 

April 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Platforms 10-14 At Paddington Station

This Google Map shows the Western end of Paddington station.

Note.

  1. In the top right hand corner of the map you can see the canal boats parked alongside the station.
  2. The light brown flat roof, would appear to be the roof of the London Underground station, which has two platforms and is served by the Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines.
  3. The thin platform pointing out from under the road bridge at the is probably the extension of the two Underground platforms, which are numbered 15 and 16.
  4. The next platform end which is wider, is platforms 12 and 14.

Now look at this picture taken by the end barrier on platform 15.

Note.

  1. The road bridge is over the top.
  2. Platform 14 is opposite, which is fitted with overhead electrification.
  3. The track for Platform 15, is the Westbound Underground line and has typical London Underground electrification.
  4. I think the signal gantry at the end of the platform can be seen on the Google Map.

The Google Map and my photo are two different views of the same area.

The Length of Platform 14

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled All Change At Paddington.

This is an extract, which is talking about Platform 14.

To extend the platform’s operational length to 164 metres, it had to be extended at both ends. On the London end, the buffer stop had already been moved by 11 metres, and that was all the room available. The country end had also been extended as much as possible.

164 metres is an interesting length.

The length of a four-car Class 387 train is just over eighty metres, so two working as a pair would fit Platform 14.

In Weight And Dimensions Of A Class 345 Train, I state that the length of a seven-car Class 345 train is 159.74 metres.

It looks like platform 14 can accept either of the electric trains that work the suburban services out of  Paddington.

The Length of Platform 12

Platform 12 is the other platform face of the island containing platform 14.

I took these pictures as I walked down the Underground platform.

I then left the Underground station and took these pictures on the island containing platforms 12 and 14.

Note that the train in Platform 12 is an eight-car Class 387 train, which is around 160 metres long.

The end of the train appeared to be about the same place as the end barriers on the Eastern end of the Underground platform.

As a S7 Stock train is 117.45 metres long, I estimate that the length of Platform 12 is almost 280 metres.

This picture was taken at the Eastern End of the platforms from behind the buffers.

As there is perhaps forty metres, between the buffer stop and the train, does that mean that Platform 12 and its neighbour; Plstform 11 are long enough to accommodate any of the following.

  • Up to four four-car Class 387 trains.
  • Two seven car Class 345 trains.
  • A Class 345 train at the maximum length of nine or ten cars.

Network Rail seem to have provided a lot of space for future services.

Conclusion

There is certainly enough space to run a Western Cossrail service to Reading. The space is available now, so it should be available in December 2019.

The only restriction would be that Platform 14 can only handle a seven-car Class 345 train.

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment