The Anonymous Widower

Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening

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

The Northwich to Sandbach Line provides a link between Northwich station on the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach station on the Crewe-Manchester Line.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line, this is said under Reopening The Northwich To Sandbach Line To Passenger Trains.

This would allow a direct train service from places on the line to Crewe, which will should reduce journey times to destinations south of Chester, as well as reducing fares to those destinations. It would also allow the former station at Middlewich to re-open, and the possibility of a new station opening at Rudheath. An independent feasibility report found the Benefit to Cost Ratio for the reopening to be 5:1, which is almost four times higher than the recently reopened Borders railway in Scotland

5:1 sounds like a good financial case.

The Rail Magazine article also has this quote from Chris Grayling.

There are two routes in the North that I feel particularly keen to look at seriously reopening. One is the line from Skipton to Colne, the other is the line that passes through Middlewich that, in my view, should be a commuter railway into Manchester.

There is also the question as to whether the Northwich to Sandbach Line should be electrified.

But at 8.5 miles, I suspect that it will be an ideal line for a battery train, if both of the lines it connects, are electrified.

  • The Crewe-Manchester Line was electrified in 1959.
  • Electrification of the Mid-Cheshire Line has a high priority.

In addition, the Crewe-Chester Line could be electrified to allow Chester to have direct electric trains from London and Manchester.

It was good to see that Chris Grayling also endorsed Skipton to Colne.

 

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

New Passenger Rail Routes In The West Midlands

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come acrossseveral proposed rail route re-openings and improvement schemes in the West Midlands on Wikipedia.

Birmingham-Peterborough Line

The Birmingham-Peterborough Line is a major route between Birmingham and the East.

I am including it, as there are aspirations to add new stations at Castle Bromwich and Fort Parkway.

Between Birmingham and Nuneaton must be a candidate for in-fill electrification, especially as this section has two freight terminals.

Camp Hill Line

The reopening of the Camp Hill Line across Birmingham has been a long term ambition of the City Council for years.

The current status of the proposed development of the Camp Hill Line is given in Wikipedia under Future Plans.

This is the last part of that section.

In 2017, the newly elected Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street pledged to get work started on restoring services to the line by 2020. And officials were said to be investigating the business case for a fourth station at Balsall Heath (previously called Brighton Road) This would mean Lifford and Camp Hill would be the only stations not to be reopened.

In August 2017, West Midlands Trains announced plans as part of their franchise deal that the line would reopen by December 2019 as part of a £1 billion investment in the West Midlands. This included a new station at Moseley.

In February 2018, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said that the viaduct would not be needed, as Hereford to Birmingham New Street trains could be diverted along this line, meaning that extra capacity at Birmingham New Street was not required to open this line.

Note that the original completion date for this scheme was 2025 and it has now been moved forward to December 2019.

The current scheme seems to include the following.

  • Four new stations at Balsall Heath, Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • A possible connection into Birmingham Moor Street station.
  • Birmingham New Street to Worcester services would use the Camp Hill Line.

It seems that this scheme provides a rail service to a new part of the city and also releases capacity at Birmingham New Street. I think there’s some Brummie cunning at work and that a simpler scheme is being created, that could involve.

  • The new stations.
  • None or very little new electrification, track and signalling.
  • No connection to Moor Street station.
  • Services from Birmingham New Street to Kings Norton, Redditch and Bromsgrove using new Aventra trains running on batteries on the Camp Hill Line, which would call at all stations.
  • An improved Birmingham New Street to the new Worcester Parkway station using new CAF Civity diesel trains, along the Camp Hill Line.
  • Will CrossCountry’s Cardiff-Nottingham service be rerouted via the Camp Hill Line?

The New Street to Worcester services could be rerouted earlier, if it was necessary to squeeze more capacity out of New Street station.

Note that if all services stopped at Bromsgrove, when it gets its electric service on the Cross-City Line in May 2018, passengers for a lot of destinations, would surely change at Bromsgrove, rather than New Street!

Darlaston Loop

The reopening of the Darlaston Loop has been suggested by Andy Street, who is now Mayor of the West Midlands.

I suspect that this reopening fits within a larger overall scheme.

South Staffordshire Line

Network Rail and Midland Metro, both seem to have aspirations to run services on the South Staffordshire Line.

Re-opening Proposals in the Wikipedia entry gives full details of the proposals. Included are.

  • Freight trains on a single track.
  • Midland Metro on a single track with passing places.
  • National Rail services.
  • Tram-trains sharing with freight trains.

This is the last entry.

In September 2017, the new franchise operators, West Midlands Trains, plans to restore disused railway lines including the South Staffordshire Line which would be an extension of the existing Birmingham to Stourbridge Junction service which it plans to extend to Brierley Hill in the future.

On the Wikipedia entry for the Midland Metro, under Wednesbury and Merry Hill – Extension, this is said.

From Line 1 in Wednesbury, the Brierley Hill Extension (WBHE) would follow the disused South Staffordshire Line, through Tipton to the vicinity of the former Dudley Town station (which closed in 1964 and was later the site of a freightliner terminal), then on-street into Dudley town centre. It would leave Dudley alongside the Southern Bypass to access the railway corridor, leaving it at the approach to the Waterfront/Merry Hill area and Brierley Hill and then on to Stourbridge.

Centro has stated that the WBHE would provide 10 trams per hour, alternately serving Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Journey time from Brierley Hill to West Bromwich was stated as 31 minutes.

There are a lot of possibilities.

Various things might help in the design.

  • There is space for two tracks. It has been suggested that one is for trams and one for freight.
  • Midland Metro’s trams can run on battery power, so no electrification is required, if all other trains are diesel-powered.
  • Midland Metro’s trams and West Midlands Trains’s new diesel trains are both built by CAF, so are they compatible enough to share a track?
  • Modern signalling gets better and better.

I think we might see a very innovative plan for the use of this line.

Sutton Park Line

The Sutton Park Line is another line in the est Midlands area, that could be re-opened.

Re-opening in the Wikipedia entry gives full details of the proposals.

In February 2008 it was announced that Birmingham City Council, Network Rail and Centro were launching a feasibility study to assess the possibility of re-opening the line to passenger services. In January 2015 the line was put on hold for reopening to passenger trains. In April 2017, the proposals were being looked at again as part of a spin-off to the HS2 scheme. In December 2017, it has been proposed that the line could reopen as part of the Governments plans to reopen lines closed in the 1960s and later cuts by British Rail.

I would think, that one of the main reasons, this line is being reopened is that is connects several of the other suburban lines in Birmingham. It also allows freight trains to by-pass Birmingham New Street station.

Walsall-Wolverhampton Line

This is said about reopening a passenger service on the Walsall-Woverhampton Line in Wikipedia under Future Plans.

The West Midlands Combined Authority have announced their intention to restore a passenger service to the line by 2027, along with new stations at Willenhall and Darlaston James Bridge.

Note.

  1. At the present time, this route is for freight.
  2. It has had passenger services on and off for fifty years.
  3. It can be used as a diversion route around engineering works.

If a direct service were to be reinstated it would take just twelve minutes, as opposed to an hour via Birmingham New Street station.

It strikes me that this would be a simple route to upgrade.

Walsall and Wolverhampton stations are electrified.

The route is surely short enough to be handled by a battery-powered train.

Signalling is probably up-to-date.

There is also this report in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, which is entitled Spring Satement: £350m Housing Deal For The West Midlands, which says this.

The deal comes after ministers revealed plans to bring the line between the town and city back into use, including new railway stations at Willenhall and James Bridge, Darlaston.

Things seem to be happening on this route.

Possible New Stations

I’ll summarise the possible new and reopened stations.

Could a common design be created, so that the cost of stations is reduced?

Is There A Plan?

The West Midlands Combined Authority and the train operation company for the area; West Midlands Trains, seem at a first look, taken all the freight and disused routes and seeing how they can be linked into a network to the benefit of Birmingham.

But I think it is more than that!

The trains and trams are a varied fleet.

  • CAF Urbos trams. – Can be fitted powered with batteries
  • Bombardier Aventra trains in three- and five-car units. – Might be possible to be powered with batteries
  • CAF Civity diesel-multiple units in two- and four-car units.

Full details have not been given about the Aventras, but it could be that all trams and trains are capable of moving for perhaps a dozen miles under their own power. Obviously, the CAF Civitiies can go a lot further on diesel fuel.

I have some questions.

  • Could all these trains, mean that the lines can be added to the current network without installing too much electrification?
  • Is it only the South Staffordshire Line and the Darlaston Loop, where new track needs to be laid?
  • CAF are a company noted for innovation, who are opening a factory in Wales. Have they got a Spanish Surprise to help the WMCA create a world-class network?
  • Are architects and engineers working on a unique platform design, that all trains can share?
  • Could the Camp Hill Line and the Walsall-Wolverhampton Line have a passenger service, as soon as there are trains to run the service?

I wonder if there is a plan to bring in new routes continuously!

  • Electric trains  on the Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley station and to Bromsgrove station will be first in 2018.
  • Walsall and Wolverhampton using the Wallsall-Wolverhampton Line
  • New Street and Worcester using the Camp Hill Line.
  • New Street and Bromsgrove using new stations on the Camp Hill Line.
  • Coleshill Parkway tand Walsall using the Sutton Park Line.
  • Walsall and Stourbridge Junction using the South Staffordshire Line and diesel trains.
  • Wednesbury and Merry Hill using the South Staffordshire Line and trams.

Note.

  1. The early bonus of the new electrification.
  2. Walsall and Bromsgrove will develop into well-connected hubs.
  3. Euston and Walsall will be introduced by West Midlands Trains.
  4. As the network expands, new trains are delivered.
  5. Stations will be added continuously.
  6. All parts of Greater Birmingham will benefit.

Is this the way, Andy Street will market the network to his customers?

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swansea Bay Metro

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Swansea Bay Metro on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia outlines the project like this.

  • A new line from Baglan to Swansea station diverting the mainline from the current route via Neath, reducing journey times to Cardiff to 30 Minutes
  • The new Main Line would have stations at Swansea Bay Campus and SA1
  • Reopening of the current freight only Neath Valley Line to passengers with new stations at Jersey Marine, Neath Abbey, Neath (shown as Neath 2) and Aberdulais
  • A new line from Neath to Llansamlet Interchange via a new station at Llandarcy
  • New stations on the existing Swansea to Baglan at Llansamlet Interchange, Phoenix and Morfa
  • New stations at M4 J45, Morriston, M4 J46 and Pontlliw
  • A new station on Station Road.

It is a comprehensive project that would probably cost over a £1 billion.

This could just be the sort of project that Chris Grayling felt could be developed.

This study document from Professor Mark Barry gives more details of a possible proposal.

This map is included.

It certainly is a comprehensive project.

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

York-Beverley Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the York-Beverley Line on Wikipedia.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

Following the Government’s plans to reinstate lines closed in the 1960s which was announced in November 2017, it has been proposed that the line could reopen as a result.

The line runs between Bootham Junction on the York-Scarborough Line and Beverley Junction on the Hull-Scarborough Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the detailed route.

I only know the area as a visitor, but it would appear to be a valuable new connection.

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ringwood Branch Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Ringwood Branch Line on Wikipedia.

It would appear that the plan is to open a section of the Southampton to Dorchester Railway from Lymington Junction to a new Ringwood station.

This is said in Wikipedia.

A report from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) published in June 2009 recommended the rebuilding of part of the line from Brockenhurst to Ringwood. It looked into the feasibility of reopening disused lines and stations, and concluded that there was a business case for investing £70m in the new link with an hourly service.

This diagram from Wikipedia, shows the lines in the area.

Note.

  1. Would any other stations be reopened?
  2. The line was all double-track.
  3. I’ve flown my helicopter from Brockenhurst to Ringwood and you can clearly see the old track-bed.

This Google Map shows a portion of the route.

The route runs in a curve between Byrbush Car Park in the West and Holmsley Station Tea Rooms in the East.

Earlier, I quoted that ATOC have suggested an hourly service. Would this be one of the following?

  • A shuttle between Ringwood and Brockenhurst like the Lymington Branch Line, which also starts at Brockenhurst.
  • A through train to London.
  • A through train to Southampton.

Given the number of active and proposed routes in the area, there willprobably be better ideas.

 

 

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

The Heath Rail Link In Devon

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Heath Rail Link in Devon on Wikipedia.

This is said.

In January 2018, a new company, Heath Rail Link met with Network Rail to discuss plans and progress. During the meeting, Network Rail gave authorisation for Heath Rail Link to lease the line once funds were submitted for it.

I also found this article on Heritage Railway, which is entitled A Fourth Tourist Line In South Devon In 2020?.

Something is definitely happening, but will it lead to anything?

Will the line be a heritage railway or will it be run by something like a Class 230 train?

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Cranleigh Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Cranleigh Line on Wikipedia.

This is part of what is said on Wikipedia about Possible Reopening, in a eport by Buchanan and Partners in 1994.

The report estimated that around 500 car users could transfer to rail each day. The cost of reinstating the line between Guildford and Cranleigh was projected at £24 million which would include the base, civil, electrical, engineering and signalling works. It did not include land acquisition costs, legal costs and bridge works. The reinstatement of the bridge over the River Wey was costed at £750,000.

The report concluded that, based on a preliminary analysis of the line’s potential returns, re-opening would not be feasible. The line was, according to the report, likely to recoup only 3% of the capital investment in the first year of re-opening, and this without taking into account its operating costs. British Rail usually insisted on a figure of at least 8% before investing capital into re-opening a line. Nevertheless, the County Council decided to commission a detailed economic feasibility study by British Rail into the line’s potential for re-opening, and looked into the possibility of using a light railway or tramway substitute.

What would a report say now?

Given that the line runs between the busy stations at Guildford and Horsham, the latter of which has a Thameslink frequency of two trains per hour, I think that the answers would be very different.

The route would also be one, that could be run by a third-rail tram-train!

Consider.

  • The tram-trains would use battery power, where there is no third-rail electrification.
  • The route between Guildford and Peasmarsh Junction is electrified and has no stations.
  • The route between Horsham and Stammerham Junction is electrified and has no stations.
  • Between Peasmarsh Junction and Stammerham Junction, there were stations at Bramley & Wonersh, Cranleigh, Baynards, Rudgwick and Slinford.
  • Stations could be rebuilt and added to as required.
  • Between Peasmarsh Junction and Stammerham Junction, the new line would be without electrification.

Could the new line share the route with walkers and cyclists?

I think there is a chance here to create a new type of light rail link!

 

 

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Carmarthen–Aberystwyth Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Carmarthen–Aberystwyth Line on Wikipedia.

This is said on Wikipedia under Reopening.

Official talks of reopening started in 2014, when First Minister Carwyn Jones shared his support towards the reopening, and it was adopted as an official policy of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The next two years were followed by support from Carmarthenshire County Council, Ceredigion County Council, the Minister for Science, Economy and Transport (Welsh Government) and Plaid Cymru. Official talks and meeting included Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales and James Price, Director General, Economy, Science and Transport (Welsh Government) shortly followed by the AECOM report. There have been several support, funding and help pledges.

In October 2016, the Welsh government announced it would be allocating £300,000 towards funding a feasibility report into re-opening the railway as part of the draft 2017-18 budget. The study is being carried out by engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald and began in September 2017.

Reopening would certainly open up an area with no railways.

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Formartine and Buchan Railway

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Formartine and Buchan Railway on Wikipedia.

This is said on Wikipedia.

Transport Scotland is considering re-opening sections of this line. The population in the area, largely thanks to the oil and gas industry, has shown a considerable increase since the line was closed. For example, the town of Ellon has 50% more inhabitants than it had in 1979.

I’ll be interested to see what happens here.

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Third-Rail Tram-Train

I’ve never seen anybody propose a third-rail powered tram-train, but that is probably because everybody has assumed quite rightly, that you couldn’t power a tram by using third-rail electrification. It’s just too dangerous! But is it so dangerous on a segreated track?

In February 2016 I wrote Brummies Go For Battery Trams and it is now ienvisaged that Midland Metro‘s trams will be running services under battery power in 2019.

Battery power is used for trams in several places around Europe and the rest of the World and is becoming a proven technology. Is there any reason why a battery tram-train, can’t be powered by third-rail electrification, when it is running as a train?

The Class 399 Tram-Train

The Class 399 tram-train is under test in Sheffield, to prove that it can run passenger services in the UK.

These tram-trains can handle either 25 KVAC or 750 VDC from overhead wiring. I also think, they are also clever enough to work out what voltage they are getting and configure themselves accordingly.

Since, I originally wrote this post, KeolisAmey Wales  have ordered thirty-six tram-trains from the same Citylink family as the Class 399 trains.

Stadler, whose Valemcia factory built the Class 399 tram-trains, will also be building trains for Merseyrail’s network, which will run using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Would it be reasonable to assume, that Stadler will be able to design an appropriate pick-up shoe for the Class 399 tram-train, so that it can run on a 750 VDC third-rail network?

Batteries

A battery system would also be needed, but I believe that this will be generally offered by all tram and tram-train manufacturers, as trams and tram-trains will be running increasingly in heritage or sensitive areas.

Charging The Batteries

Batteries would normally be charged, when the tram-train is running on an electrified line, under power from the third-rail system.

The MetroCentro in Seville, works without catenary and has a fast charging system  at the two end stops.

There is no reason to believe that a Class 399 tram-train with batteries, couldn’t work with a fast charging station like a Railbaar.

Tram-Trains For The South Wales Metro

Since, I originally wrote this post, KeolisAmey Wales  have ordered thirty-six tram-trains from the same Citylink family as the Class 399 trains, for running on the South Wales Metro.

These tram-trains will be fitted with batteries.

Would A Third-Rail Tram-Train Have A Pantograph?

This would be a matter for the operator.

But there is one UK tram network; the London Tramlink in Croydon, which is surrounded by an extensive third-rail electrified network.

The ability to run on both types of 750 VDC systems might be an asset and enable new services to be created without any extra electrification, by using a small amount of battery power to change from one system to another.

Changing Between Third-Rail And Overhead Electrification

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Mitcham Junction station.

Suppose a link were to be provided, so that tram-trains could come from the South, pass through Mitcham Junction station and then cross over to the tram tracks for Wimbledon.

These pictures show the area.

As the link would have no electrification, the power changeover would be as follows.

  • Arrive in Mitcham Junction station, using third-rail power.
  • Raise and isolate the third-rail shoe.
  • Switch to battery power.
  • Proceed using the link to Mitcham tram stop.
  • Raise the pantograph and switch to overhead power.

A reversed procedure would be used in the opposite direction.

Range On Third-Rail Power

The range of a Class 399 tram-train running on third-rail power, would be more limited by the train-tram’s speed of 100 kph and interaction with other services, rather than any electrification issues.

The range will probably be the same as the German cousins of the Class 399 tram-trains on the Karlsruhe Stadtbahn. These trams run on both 750 VDC and 15 KVAC, to places up to fifty kilometres from the Centre of Karlsruhe.

As a simple example, a third-rail tram-train running on the London Tramlink, could certainly use third-rail lines to access Gatwick Airport.

Range On Battery Power

In Out Of The Mouths Of Brummies, which describes an interview with those involved in the Midland Metro battery train project, I published this quote about battery trams.

Since then there has been lots of work and we’re now comfortable that battery technology has advanced sufficiently for it to be viable.

Under test conditions with plain straight track a tram could travel 20 km catenary-free. In practice, this would be rather less for a fully laden tram ascending the 9% gradient on Penfold Street. The longest catenary-free run we’ve envisaged is around 2 km, and we’re comfortable we can achieve that.

I think until Birmingham proves otherwise, 2 km. would be a sensible range for a tram or tram-train running on a full battery.

Compatibility Issues With Other Rail Vehicles And Platforms

This to me is a matter of design, but after the Sheffield tram-train trial and the analysis of platform solutions in Europe, I suspect that we’ll come up with a solution that works.

I think it is true to say, that many of our trains are badly matched to the platforms, but as this picture of a Class 378 train on the London Overground shows, the gap is becoming easier to mind.

I think too, we have an advantage over Europe, in that our loading gauge is smaller and our trains are closer in size to a modern tram or tram-train.

We are also good at innovative access solutions, as this picture from Canonbury station shows.

We may have a problem with using double-deck trains, but I believe that good design can minimise the problems of good access to both trains and tram-trains at the same platform.

Applications

The applications will be limited by battery range and by the gradients of the line.

In Southampton – A City Built For Cars, I describe how if they built their proposed Solent Metro around third-rail tram-train technology, they could transform the city.

In Could Beckenham Junction To Birkbeck Be Run Using Third-Rail Tram-Trains?, I show how third-rail tram train-technology , could be used to create more capacity at Beckenham Junction station.

In Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Be Used To Increase Services In South London?, I show how third-rail tram-train technology, could be used to expand the London Tramlink.

In Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Work The Epsom Downs Branch?, I show how third-rail tram-train technology, could serve the Royal Marsden Hospital.

In The Cranleigh Line, I suggest that third-rail tram-train technology could be used on this route.

Conclusion

Technically, I feel that a Class 399 tram-train capable of running on third-rail electrified lines is possible.

But it would have to run on battery power or 750 VDC overhead, when running as a tram.

 

 

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments