The Anonymous Widower

Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 911 of Rail Magazine.

This is the opening paragraph.

On July 28, a South Western Railway train ran along the Fawley Branch Line. to make the case for reopening to passenger services after a 54-year gap.

On board were the Rail Minister; Chris Heaton-Harris, Network Rail Chairman; Sir Peter Hendy, Managing Director of South Western Railway; Mark Hopwood and Lord Montagu of Beulieu.

The article reports the trip and fills in more of the details, that make more sense of my sketchy post called Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line.

These are some points from the article.

The Infrastructure Needs Updating

This is a quote from the article.

The route has a line speed of 30 mph, with lower speed restrictions at level crossings, some of which are still hand-operated. Semaphore signals operated from by mechanical levers from Marchwood remain in use. A token is given to the driver to allow the train to run towards Fawley. All this would require updating.

Elsewhere the article says there are ten level crossings.

Housing Is The Game Changer

This is another quote from the article.

The big change is urban sprawl. In the half century since passenger services ended, housing estates for thousands of people have been built alongside the line. mostly for commuters into Southampton and the surrounding conurbation.

Up to 5,000 further new homes are planned, including an all-new small town on the site of the former Fawley power station on the southern tip of Southampton Water. Planning permission for at least 1,300 homes was granted the very evening before the Fawley train ran.

This Google Map shows the the town of Hythe and the giant Fawley Refinery.

Note.

  1. Hythe is towards the top of the map on Southampton Water.
  2. The refinery is the large beige blob in the middle on Southampton Water.
  3. The Fawley Branch runs close to the water and finishes inside the secure fence of the refinery.
  4. There will be stations at Marchwood, Hythe Town and Hythe & Fawley Parkway.
  5. The parkway station will be to the North of the refinery.
  6. The major housing site is on the former Fawley power station site, which is the Southernmost beige blob.
  7. The blue dot towards the West indicates the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

It looks to me, that an electric shuttle bus between Hythe & Fawley Parkway, Beaulieu and the various housing sites would be a good idea.

The Cost Of The Scheme

This is another quote from the article.

The campaign to open the line has been spearheaded by the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership.

Chairman Nick Farthing says:

“For £45m, you get the track, signalling and level crossings sorted. You get a 60 mph railway with three stations = upgrading Marchwood, a new station for Hythe, and Fawley park-and-ride (just beyond Holbury, where Hardley Halt used to be).

“Three Rivers commissioned a level crossing study from Network Rail, so we know what has to be done. We’ve used a rail-approved contractor to work out how much the three stations will cost.

Three Rivers have also identified some affordable diesel rolling stock.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

This plan seems to be coming together strongly.

All the partners like Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, Network Rail, South Western Railway and other local interests seem to be acting together and very professionally.

 

 

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MP Campaigns To Extend Train Services For Melton Borough

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

A campaign has been launched by the Melton’s MP to improve services passing and operating from the town station and the one at Bottesford.

Alicia Kearns has submitted two bids to the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

I’ll now look at the two proposals in more detail.

More Regular Services To Bottesford

Wikipedia says this about services at Bottesford station.

  • The service is generally every two hours to Nottingham in the West and Skegness in the East.
  • Some trains call at Grantham and give connection to the East Coast Main Line.
  • LNER services at Grantham connect to Doncaster, King’s Cross, Leeds, Lincoln, Peterborough, Stevenage, Wakefield and York.
  • Bottesford is in the Borough of Melton and their is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Melton. A typical journey takes over two-and-a-half hours with two changes, that can include a wait of an hour at Leicester station.
  • Bottesford is in the County of Leicester. There is no direct rail service between Bottesford and Leicester.

I think the MP has a point and an improved and more frequent service at Bottesford could be very beneficial.

  • Many routes like this in the UK have an hourly service and I suspect many communities along the Poacher Line would benefit from this frequency.
  • All services calling at Grantham for East Coast Main Line services would be useful.
  • Do services have a good interchange at Nottingham for Midland Main Line services?

It looks like improvements at Bottesford wouldn’t require any new expensive infrastructure, but they would need more trains.

More Services Through Melton

Wikipedia says this about services at Melton station.

  • There is an hourly off-peak service in both directions between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, that calls at Cambridge, Peterborough, Oakham and Leicester.
  • East Midlands Railway and their predescessor have added services to London via Corby and to Derby and East Midlands Parkway.

When you consider, that both Bottesford and Melton Mowbray are the same Council and Parliamentary constituency, it does seem that a more direct train service is needed between Bottesford and Melton stations.

It does seem to me that some innovative thinking is needed.

If the current plans to fulfil British Rail’s ambition of an Ivanhoe Line running from Lincoln to Burton-on-Trent via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Loughborough and Leicester, are carried out, that will give important towns to the West of Leicester much better rail connections.

Given that High Speed Two is coming to East Midlands Hub station at Toton and there will be a Bedford and Leeds service run by Midlands Connect using High Speed Two classic-compatible trains, that I wrote about in Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains At East Midlands Hub Station, I wonder if in the interim, there should be more trains between Derby and Melton.

  • Intermediate stations would be Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway Long Eaton and Spondon.
  • An hourly frequency would double the service frquency at smaller stations like Sileby and Barrow-upon-Soar.
  • The Southern terminal could be Melton station, but I feel Corby or Peterborough stations would be better, as this would improve services at Oakham station. We should not forget Rutland.
  • As Corby will be an electrified two-platform station with a two trains per hour (tph) service to London, this could work quite well as a Southern terminus.
  • Peterborough would have advantages and give a good connection to Cambridge, London and Scotland, but improvements to the current Birmingham and Stansted Airport service would have similar effects.

This route would be just as valuable after High Speed Two opens through the East Midlands Hub station, as it will give fast ongoing connections to Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

I feel strongly, that full electrification of the Midland Main Line could be a step to far.

  • Electrification, through Leicester station will mean a complete closure of the station for a couple of years.
  • Electrification of the route North of Derby, through the Derwent Valley Mills, which is a World Heritage Site, will be opposed by the Heritage Taliban with all their might.

But.

  • Electrification of the route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield via Chesterfield will take place in conjunction with High Speed Two
  • Electrification to Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles South of Leicester will happen.
  • East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery option giving a range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • Pantographs on this trains can go up and down with all the alacrity of a whore’s drawers.

If the easier section of electrification between Leicester and Derby stations, were to be erected, this would enable the following routes to be run using battery=equipped Class 810 trains.

  • London and Derby, where battery power would be used through Leicester.
  • London and Nottingham, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between East Midlands Parkway and Nottingham.
  • London and Sheffield, where battery power would be used through Leicester and between Derby and Clay Cross Junction.
  • Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent, where battery power would be used South of Leicester and North of East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby and Corby, where battery power would be used between Syston and Corby.

There would also be the service between Derby and Norwich, which might be able to be run by a similar train.

Conclusion

The MP’s plan is worth pursuing.

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Restoring Your Railway Fund Could Provide A Toolkit For Town Transformation

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

The article talks a lot of sense and is a must-read for improving a town, that is on its uppers.

It uses the Ashington Line in the North East as an example and describes how the fund can be used with the Towns Fund.

This paragraph gives a few examples of rail lines that could be improved using the fund!

Potential priorities for future rounds of funding could include the South Yorkshire Joint Line, a freight line serving 50 000 people between Doncaster and Worksop; the Leamside Line, a disused line which would serve 70 000 in Washington; March to Wisbech, a disused line which would connect 35 000 people in Wisbech to the network; and the line from Yate to Thornbury, another freight line which would connect 15 000 people in Thornbury to Bristol and beyond.

In the early sixties, I lived in the crap town of Felixstowe, with a sparse rail service to civilisation (London). Now the town has an hourly rail service to Ipswich in a smart new train and the town is more successful.

There’s a lot of chicken-and-egg syndrome at work here, but sorting the rail routes could be a good start.

In some cases, it’s not necessarily rebuilding infrastructure, as that is there for freight or an inadequate passenger service using a scrapyard special. But why not use refurbished trains powered by battery or hydrogen, on these routes to provide an hourly service. The curiosity value of the unusual propulsion, might even be a selling point to those reluctant to give up their PPVs, (Personal Protective Vehicles)!

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line

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

At first I wasn’t sure, which line was referred to as the Waterside Line. But then I looked at the Fawley Line on Wikipedia.

This is the opening paragraph.

The Fawley branch line, also known as the Waterside line is a standard-gauge railway line to Fawley, in the English county of Hampshire. It is on the opposite side of Southampton Water from the city of Southampton itself, in an area known as Waterside. For 40 years a passenger service operated, but this was withdrawn with the exception of the occasional enthusiasts’ railtour. The line serves the freight needs of Marchwood Military Port, having also served the same function for Fawley Refinery until 2016.

I explored this line in Reopening The Fawley Branch Line.

The Wikipedia entry, also gives details under Future, of a plan by the Association of Train Operating Companies to reopen the line.

The proposals in Wikipedia included.

  1. Reopening of all former stations along the line; Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley Halt and Fawley
  2. A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  3. A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.

The service was planned to run half-hourly during peak times and hourly at other times.

The Route

This Google Map shows the area of the Waterside Line

Fawley Branch Line

Note.

  1. The line starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.
  2. All the places with stations are named on the map.
  3. The line is about seven miles in length.
  4. From my helicopter, it looks to be single-track most, if not all the way.
  5. There is a ferry between Hythe and Southampton.

This picture shows where the Waterside Line joins the main line.

 

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I took these pictures, when I visited Hythe in February 2017.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

As the Waterside Line was still fully in use to Esso Fawley until four years ago, I should suspect that updating the track and signalling for passenger trains wouldn’t be the most challenging of projects.

The Trains

Wikipedia says this about the trains to be used.

The service would be operated by the then franchisee; South West Trains using diesel multiple units (DMUs)

This means they will be Class 158 or Class 159 trains, as South West Trains doesn’t have any other DMUs.

This picture shows a newly-liveried Class 159 train at Corfe Castle station.

The Class 158/159 trains would certainly do a job, but I believe that any solution must be zero-carbon, to meet the UK’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The Use Of Battery Trains

Consider.

  • Fawley and Totton West Junction are seven files apart. As there are five stations, I will assume three minutes per station of a journey of fifteen minutes.
  • Totton West and Eastleigh are ten miles apart and fast trains take seventeen minutes.
  • Eastleigh and Romsey are seven miles apart and fast trains take fourteen minutes.
  • Only the section between Totton West and Eastleigh is electrified.
  • Adding up the times gives a journey time between Fawley and Romsey of forty-six minutes.
  • Add in fourteen minutes to turn the trains and each Fawley and Romsey takes an hour with a two-hour round trip. This is all very convenient!
  • For example, an hourly service, would need two trains and they could leave Fawley and Romsey at the same time.
  • It could also be arranged, that only one train was on the single-track Waterside Line at any one time.
  • The fourteen minutes being used to turn the train, could also be used to charge the batteries on a battery-electric train.
  • In each two-hour round trip between Fawley and Romsey, trains would spent thirty-four minutes connected to electrification and twenty-eight minutes connected to chargers. This means that there is plenty of time to charge the batteries.
  •  It should be noted that the train runs on a busy main line between Totton West and Eastleigh, so good acceleration and 90-100 mph capability would probably be needed, by any trains shuttling between Fawley and Romsey.

With charging facilities at Romsey and Fawley, I would be certain, that a two battery-electric trains could provide an hourly service on the route.

Candidates would probably include battery-electric versions of a Bombardier Aventra or Electrostar, a CAF Civity or a Siemens Desiro City. I doubt, that the performance of a Class 230 train is enough to keep out of the way of fast expresses.

The Use Of Hydrogen Trains

The route could also be worked by a hydrogen-powered train with enough performance.

The Stations

There would need to be new stations at Totton West, Marchwood, Hythe, Hardley and Fawley.

As the first is new and the others were closed in the 1960s, they would be complete builds, rather than an easy refurbishment.

Fawley Waters

In the Wikipedia entry for Fawley station, there is a section called Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In August 2018, it was revealed that plans to reopen the Fawley Branch Line had been resurrected as part of the redevelopment known as Fawley Waters. It proposed a half-hourly service on a Monday to Saturday from Southampton Central to Fawley. At Marchwood the journey time would take 12 minutes and the linespeed would be 60 mph (97 km/h). Fawley station, if reopened, would be known as Hythe & Fawley Parkway which would serve both Hythe and Fawley.

Now, there would appear to be two plans for the operation of the Waterside Line.

  • The Association for Train Operating Companies plan, which has an hourly service to Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey, from five stations on the branch.
  • The Fawley Waters plan, which has a half-hourly service to Totton and Southampton Central, from just two stations on the branch.

One plan would probably appeal to existing residents and the other to those, who bought new properties in Fawley Waters.

Conclusion

Future studies funded by the successful bid, could decide, which plan is best.

Overall though, this is a simple plan, that opens up an area to the West of Southampton for development.

 

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

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

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

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

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

The article has an informative map.

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

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

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

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

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

The Trains

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

Note.

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

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

The Extension To Ventnor

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

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

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

The Extension To Newport

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Object?

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

 

 

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

Reinstatement Of The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

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

This article on Rochdale OnLine is entitled Successful First Step To Restore Rochdale-Heywood-Bury Railway Line.

The work can now begin to fill out what is possible, with the award of funding from the Government to go towards a full study.

The funding was welcomed by Tony Lloyd, the MP for Rochdale, who is quoted as saying this.

Metrolink services and the rail service from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre, but it does not provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.

“The current public transport offering between Heywood and Manchester city centre is provided by bus services but during the busiest times of the day this journey can take more than one hour, limiting the borough’s residents’ access to the many jobs located there.

What will the new rail link look like?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I gave my views, based on an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which had the same title.

Summarising the other article, I can say the following.

The Track

I described the track like this.

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The route is about twelve miles long.

The Services

These are given as follows.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

The Stations

The following stations will be on the route.

Most will need updating, but Heywood would probably be a new station.

The Trains

The original article suggests Class230 trains, but several others are possible. The proposed battery-electric Class 331 train is surely a possibility.

Conclusion

This could be a very sensible scheme.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Ivanhoe Line

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

The Ivanhoe Line, is a half-completed project left over from the days of British Rail.

  • The main objective appears to be to extend the current line between Lincoln and Leicester via Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway and Loughborough stations to Burton-upon-Trent along the freight-only Leicester-Burton-upon-Trent Line.
  • Some new stations will be added.

In January 2020, I wrote Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester, after reading an article on Derbyshire Live.

I finished that article by listing the possibilities.

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to East Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

It now looks like it’s all going to be turned into a plan for reality.

I do have some questions.

What Will Be The Solution To The Knighton Junction Problem?

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

It looks like the preferred solution, will be to build a new station to the South of Knighton Junction.

  • The station would only need a single platform.
  • It could be easily fitted in alongside the Midland Main Line.

Trains will reverse to get around the tight corner.

Will There Be A Station At Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would Leicester City want a station?

Could The Ivanhoe Line Be Connected To High Speed Two At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?

I heard an MP on the radio, who was very much against High Speed Two and that led me to write Could High Speed Two Have A Station At Ashby-de-la-Zouch?.

I think this is a serious possibility in the future.

Could East Midlands Railway Use The Route To Run A London And Burton-on-Trent Service?

Consider.

  • East Midlands Railway‘s Class 810 trains could be fitted with a battery, that would give the trains a battery range of between 55 and 65 miles.
  • The trains would have a charge time of perhaps 10 minutes.
  • The distance between Knighton Junction and Burton-on-Trent is around 35 miles.
  • The distance between Knighton Junction and the Northern limit of the electrification at Market Harborough station is fifteen miles.
  • The distance between Market Harborough and Burton-on-Trent stations is 50 miles.

I think it would be possible for a battery-electric Class 810 train to run between London and Burton-on-Trent.

  • The batteries would need to be charged at Burton-on-Trent.
  • Perhaps, the easiest way to provide charging facilities would be to electrify the last ten miles between Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Burton-on-Trent stations
  • The service could call at all or selected stations between Knighton Junction and Burton-on-Trent.

I think this could be a very useful service, even if it only ran a couple of times every day.

Could Battery-Electric Trains Run The Whole Ivanhoe Line Between Lincoln And Burton-on-Trent?

The problem is not the trains, but the lack of electrification between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction.

Leicester station is an important station on the MML.

But it would be a difficult station to electrify because of a bridge with limited clearance.

In Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station, I discussed how the following.

  • Discontinuous electrification through Leicester station.
  • Electrification between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrifying the High Speed Two route between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

Would allow Hitachi Class 810 trains, equipped with batteries to run between London and Sheffield on electric power alone.

Consider.

  • As I have said East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries with a range of 55 to 65 miles.
  • The gap between Leicester station and the end of the electrification at Market Harborough is sixteen miles.
  • Knighton Junction is less than two miles South of Leicester station.
  • Burton-on-Trent is around forty miles from Leicester station.
  • All passenger trains passing through Leicester station, stop in the station to set down and pick up passengers.

It would thus appear that the following would be possible.

  • A Northbound battery-electric  train from St. Pancras to Leicester or further North could reach Leicester on battery power from Market Harborough.
  • A Northbound battery-electric train from Burton-on-Trent to Leicester or further North could reach Leicester on battery power from Burton-on-Trent.
  • A Southbound train from Leicester or further North to St. Pancras could reach Market Harborough on battery power from Leicester.
  • A Southbound train from Leicester or further North to Burton-on-Trent could reach Burton-on-Trent on battery power from Leicester.

Trains leaving Leicester would need to be fully charged.

So how would this be arranged?

I think the simplest method would be to electrify the  section of the Midland Main Line between Leicester and Derby stations.

  • The route is probably not the most difficult to electrify.
  • East Midlands Parkway has good electrical connections, as it is next to Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
  • Nottingham is just nine miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Derby is thirty miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Clay Cross North Junction, where the joint electrified section with High Speed Two commences is twenty-one miles from Derby.
  • Lincoln is forty-two miles from East Midlands Parkway.
  • Battery-electric trains could use this electrification for both traction power and to charge their batteries.
  • As the trains would use battery power between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, the sensitive issue of electrifying through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills, will have been avoided.

All East Midlands Railway’s InterCity services would be totally carbon-free.

It should also be noted, that as Lincoln is only forty-two miles from East Midlands Parkway, provided there was the ability to recharge the trains at Lincoln, the whole Ivinghoe route between Lincoln and Burton-on-Trent could be run by a suitable battery-electric train.

Could Hydrogen Trains Run The Whole Ivanhoe Line Between Lincoln And Burton-on-Trent?

If the route can be run by a battery-electric train, I can see no reason, why a hydrogen-powered train couldn’t do a good job on the route.

I suspect that the Alstom Breeze and any future trains, that are designed for hydrogen power, will also be able to use electrification, where it exists.

So, if any more electrification was erected on the Midland Main Line, the hydrogen trains would take advantage.

The hydrogen trains would need to be refuelled, but because of their long range, this would probably only be a twice a day operation at most.

There is probably space for a refuelling point, at either end of the route.

Conclusion

This is a good scheme, that should have been completed decades ago.

 

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield

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

The Route

This Google Map shows where the Barrow Hill Line starts at Tapton Junction near Chesterfield station.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield station is less than a mile to the South.
  2. The left railway going North is the Midland Main Line to Sheffield
  3. The right railway going North is the Barrow Hill Line.

The Barrow Hill Line turns slightly to the East and this Google Map shows it passing through Barrow Hill, which gives the route its name.

Note.

The historic Barrow Hill Roundhouse and some rail-related businesses to the North of the line.

There used to be a station here called Barrow Hill! What a surprise!

The Wikipedia entry for Barrow Hill station has a section called Modern Traffic, where this is said.

At 22 June 2013 the line is part of the Midland Main Line. It is used predominantly for freight, with a handful of passenger trains going the “long way round” from Chesterfield to Sheffield via the Old Road and Darnall largely to retain staff route knowledge in case of diversions.

The Wikipedia entry for the station also has a section called Possible Future, which is worth a read, as it lists other mothballed rail lines in the area, that could be developed.

Follow the Barrow Hill Line to the North-East and it goes through a mix of agricultural land, industrial dereliction, modern factories and nature reserves before it splits near Beighton.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The rail lines splitting by the Rother Valley Country Park at Beighton Junction.
  2. Barrow Hill is to the South.
  3. There used to be a station at Beighton.
  4. Woodhouse station is in the North West corner of the map.
  5. Woodhouse station is on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, which can be seen crossing the area.
  6. Trains taking the left fork at Beighton Junction can go to Sheffield via Woodhouse and Darnall stations.
  7. Trains taking the right fork go under the Sheffield-Lincoln line and have connections to a large number of destinations for both freight and passengers.

It looks to me, that it is proposed to convert this long-way round route, into a second route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

  • Stations exist at Woodhouse and Darnall.
  • Stations used to exist at Barrow Hill, Eckington & Renishaw, Killamarsh West  and Beighton.
  • The route would surely be very useful, when the Midland Main Line route between Sheffield and Chesterfield is updated for High Speed Two.
  • The route might also be very useful for East Midlands Railway to develop services to Rotherham and other places to the East of Sheffield.
  • I’ve found a train that takes this route between Chesterfield and Sheffield and with no stops it took twenty-five minutes.
  • Typically, the direct route takes about eleven minutes.

I can see several possibilities for local, regional and national services using the Barrow Hill Line.

I have a few questions.

Would The Barrow Hill Line Be Electrified?

It has been stated that High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share an electrified corridor from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield via Chesterfield.

  • So as both stations will be electrified, it would not be any problem to rustle up a good electricity supply to power an electrified Barrow Hill Route.
  • Electrification might narrow the fourteen minute difference between the routes.
  • Electrification would allow East Midlands Railway‘s new Class 810 trains to have a second electrified route into Sheffield.
  • Is there a case for a service between London and the South of England and the South and East of Sheffield?

I think electrification of the Barrow Hill Line is more than a possibility.

Would Gauge-Clearance For Electrification Be Difficult?

As the route is already cleared for freight trains with the largest containers, it won’t be as difficult as some routes.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used Between Sheffield And Chesterfield On The Barrow Hill Line?

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Tram-Train Route To A New Station At Waverley, I talked about a plan by the Sheffield Region for a new tram-train route between Sheffield station and a new housing district of Waverley on the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.

  • Waverley is between Darnall and Woodhouse stations.
  • The new Advanced Manufacturing Park would also be served.
  • Tram-trains could venture further down the Sheffield-Lincoln Line, if that was so desired.

If tram-trains were used on the Barrow Hill Line, between Sheffield and Chesterfield, both routes would share the track between Sheffield and Darnall stations.

Note that tram-trains would be able to share tracks with all electric trains used around Sheffield, including freight trains and the Class 810 trains.

Note that the stations for tram-trains can be much simpler and even share platforms with full-size trains.

The pictures show Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations.

  • I feel with innovative design, the whole route between Sheffield and Chesterfield could be run using tram-trains.
  • The route could be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Instead of taking the Sheffield fork at Beighton Junction, the tram-trains could also take the right fork and link Chesterfield with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Swinton.
  • These tram-trains also come with batteries, if that is needed.

Barnsley, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield could be getting a lot of better connectivity and the Barrow Hill Line is key.

Conclusion

This looks to be a very sensible project.

  • It could be run with either trains or tram-trams.
  • It should be electrified, so could be zero-carbon.
  • Tram-trains could be used to make stations simpler.
  • It could give an alternative route for electric trains to Sheffield station.
  • The track is already there and regularly used.

But surely the biggest reason to built it, is that it appears to open up a lot of South and South-East Sheffield and North-East Chesterfield for development.

 

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Clitheroe To Hellifield Railway Line

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

This line is part of the route between Blackburn and Hellifield stations, which I have tried to use a couple of times in the past without success.

Why Blackburn? You may ask!

When I’m in that area, I often stay in the Premier Inn in the town, as it’s only about a hundred metres from the station. There are a couple of reliable gluten-free eateries too by the hotel.

A couple of times, I’ve taken the train up the Ribble Valley Line to Clitheroe and had a look around.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many trains to Hellifield from Blackburn and only on Sundays. Twice, though, I’ve planned trips to get a Sunday morning train from Blackburn to Hellifield and twice the train has been cancelled.

Perhaps, I’ll get to go later this year.

I’ve been to Clitheroe a couple of times and these pictures show the state of the lower section of the line.

Wikipedia documents a lot of improvements to the line over the last few years and now there are now generally two trains per hour (tph) between Blackburn and Manchester and one tph between Blackburn and Clitheroe on the route.

Clitheroe And Hellifield

I have just flown my virtual helicopter between Clitheroe and Hellifield stations and the route is best characterised as follows.

  •  A fairly straight double-track railway.
  • No current stations, although they used to exist at Chatburn, Rimington, Gisburn and Newsholme.
  • Mainly agricultural countryside.
  • Lots of businesses flagged up by Google Maps, of which many are visitor related.

Finally, I arrived at Hellifield station.

Note.

  1. The railway line to the South East leads to Skipton and Leeds
  2. The railway line to the South is the Ribble Valley Line and it leads to Clitheroe, Blackburn and Manchester.
  3. The line to the North East is the Settle and Carlisle Line.

I think I can see where those that took the trouble to nominate the Ribble Valley Line between Clitheroe and Hellifield are coming from.

  • There is a well-maintained double-track railway in good condition between Manchester and Hellifield via Bolton, Darwen, Blackburn and Clitheroe, that links to the countryside above Clitheroe that needs vistors for its businesses and produce.
  • Lancashire County Council, the Community Rail Partnerships in the area and local activists have done a good job on Network Rail to persuade them to improve the railway.
  • The Settle and Carlisle is waiting for visitors to explore one of the world’s most iconic railways.

All it needs is a train service and possibly a station or two!

Some of my questions.

What Are The Local Aspirations?

I found this article on the Lancashire Telegraph, which is entitled Campaign To Restore Rail Service From Clitheroe To Hellifield.

This is a quote from the Ribble Valley Council leader.

This plan forms part of the council’s approved proposals to drive the Ribble Valley economy to create more jobs, particularly for our young people and further strengthen our strong tourist industry. It will take cars off congested roads and bring more tourists to the Ribble Valley. It will also improve the connectivity for the Ribble Valley community to surrounding urban conurbations for residents.

These are other points from the article.

  • An aim is to see the reopening of Chatburn, Gisburn and Newsholme stations.
  • Another is better links to Manchester.
  • New rolling stock is planned for the line.
  • The line is used daily by heavy freight trains.
  • It would connect Clitheroe to Bradford, Leeds and Skipton

It does seem to me, that restoring the services between Clitheroe and Hellifield could offer a lot of benefits.

What Frequency Of Trains Is Needed Between Manchester and Hellifield, via Bolton, Blackburn and Clitheroe?

The frequency on the Settle and Carlisle Line is around eight trains per day (tpd), with six on Sundays.

That frequency would probably not be sustainable on the Ribble Valley Line, but the train timetable should be such, that someone can leave Manchester in the morning, have an adventure and return in the evening.

Is Any New Infrastructure Required?

As trains use the line occasionally, I suspect that all the track, signalling and communications needed for perhaps four tpd in both directions between Clitheroe and Hellifield is in place.

So the only thing needed in the fullness of time, might be the extra stations.

But which one do you do first?

I would do the following.

First I would ask passengers, where they would like additional stations on the route.

And then why not build a temporary one using scaffolding and see what happens.

The picture shows a temporary platform at Liverpool South Parkway station, whilst Lime Street was closed for rebuilding.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that it restoring psassenger trains between Clitheroe and Hellifield will be a worthwhile thing to do.

 

 

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reinstatement Of The Abbey Line Between St Albans Abbey And Watford Junction

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

Over the years on this blog, I have written several times about the Abbey Line, which is one of those lines, that despite very few improvements or modernisation has continued to give good and faithful service.

Objectives Of The Upgrade

Any railway upgrade must meet a series of objectives.

I would suggest the following objectives for the Abbey Line.

  • A minimum of two trains per hour (tph)
  • High quality reliable trains.
  • Step-free stations.
  • Zero-carbon operation.
  • A solution that will last at least until 2050.

It should also have an acceptable benefit-cost ratio.

Last Year’s Consultants Report

Last year, consultants reported on the Abbey Line. In the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Abbey Line Passing Loop Proposed, which discusses the proposed solution. This paragraph outlines the core idea in the proposal.

A study undertaken by The Railway Consultancy for ABFLY, the Abbey Line Users’ Group, suggests the platform at Bricket Wood be lengthened such that trains stop at different ends of a single platform, similar to the solution adopted at Penryn on the branch line between Truro and Falmouth, which would help to minimise costs. Infrastructure costs of a loop have been estimated at up to £10million, with the additional costs of running more services adding up to a further £1 million.

I did a detailed analysis of the proposals in Abbey Line Passing Loop Proposed.

This was my conclusion.

There are certainly, several affordable ways to improve the Abbey Line.

My preferred solution would be to go for the Penryn solution, using a fleet of Class 319 trains.

So how does this solution fit the objectives, I set down earlier?

A Minimum Of Two Trains Per Hour

This objective will be met.

High-Quality Reliable Trains

The current Class 319 trains on the route are in excellent condition, despite their age!

A fleet of three would probably do a good job, but a new electric train built specifically for the route could do better.

Class 710 trains, like those used by the London Overground, would offer advantages over the existing trains.

  • They have a higher capacity.
  • They have a faster acceleration, so this might help in increasing the frequency of the service.
  • There could be a battery version, which might mean that the loop would be without electrification.
  • They are walk-through trains, which might offer loading and unloading advantages in short platforms.

But they would cost more!

Step-Free Stations

All stations are fully-accessible and as no modifications are proposed to the stations, they will stay that way.

Zero-Carbon Operation

Provided the electricity for the route and the trains is produced by renewable electricity, the operation will be zero-carbon.

A Solution That Will Last Until 2050

The UK is committed  by law, to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

For that reason any solution must last until that date.

This solution should last, as trains, electrification and signalling should be replaceable with new, at any time.

Conclusion

This project could be shovel ready, if Network Rail have done their track and signalling design.

 

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments