The Anonymous Widower

Nottinghamshire MPs Pressing Government For Robin Hood Line Rail Extension

The title of this post is the same as that as an article on Notts TV.

This is an extract.

Besides the six mile-plus extension from Warsop to Ollerton, the plan would involve re-opening existing stations in Warsop, and Edwinstowe and building a new station in Ollerton.

The existing line is operated on a franchise held by East Midlands Trains, which is due for renewal in the coming months.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the extension is being consulted on as part of the franchise renewal, with a decision expected next month.

I have always liked this rail project and linking it to the new franchise will surely push it up the list of new projects.

It is actually, a low-cost project, as the track  already exists and is regularly used by both Network Rail and East Midlands Trains for test purposes and to train drivers.

I have flown my virtual helicopter over the route and between the Robin Hood Line and Ollerton, there is a lot of double-track with the Eastern end single track, Part of the line is the High Marnham Test Track. The track-bed would appear to lead all the way to Lincoln.

It appears to be that the major costs would be.

  • Replacing the track.
  • Adding new signalling to replace the previous system destroyed by vandals.
  • Building three new stations.
  • Finding a few extra trains.

Surely, some good engineers and designers could turn this at an affordable cost into a worthwhile and well-used passenger rail line between Mansfield and Ollerton.

The New Fanchise And Rolling Stock

East Midlands Trains’ current fleet is diesel-only and includes the following units from the last century.

Many routes are run by inadequate trains and with the East Midlands franchise up for renewal, there is likely to be a reorganisation of rolling stock.

All recent new franchise awards have involved fleets of new trains and I doubt this one will be any different.

HS2

Although HS2 doesn’t arrive at East Midlands Hub station at Toton until 2032, I feel that the over the next few years, rail lines in the Nottingham and |Derby areas will be developed to make this new station a focus.

In After The Robin Hood Line Will Nottingham See The Maid Marian Line?, I discussed possible rail development between Toton and Mansfield based on this article in the Nottingham Post.

Conclusion

What the planners decide about HS2 will decide whether the Robin Hood Line is extended to Ollerton.

Development of Lincoln to Toton as a 90 mph route, with proportions of 100 mph running, would certain transform the area.

 

 

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Robin Hood Line In Nottingham

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the Robin Hood Line as it connects to Nottingham station.

southrobinhood

Note the triangular junction towards the bottom of the map.

  • The line to the East goes into Nottingham station.
  • The line to the West goes to Beeston and eventually to London. In a few years time, it will go to the East Midland Hub station for HS2.
  • The line to the North is the Robin Hood Line and the Erewash Valley Line.

The \Erewash Valley Line splits to the West, from the Robin Hood Line just off the top of the map to the North of Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus.

It is worth looking at services that go between these two branches and Nottingham station.

Langley Mill station on the Erewash Valley Line has the following services.

  • One train per hour (tph) between Nottingham and Leeds.
  • A few trains per day between Liverpool and Nottingham.
  • Some trains between Sheffield and London stop.

Passengers though are expected to take the infrequent service to Nottingham for onward trains.

On the 2nd of April, Ilkeston station will open on the Erewash Valley Line between Nottingham and Langley Mill.

Hucknall station on the Robin Hood Line has two hourly services.

Plans also exist for a branch to Ollerton, so this might change the service pattern. But there is no more than a total of four or five trains per hour in both directions.

All of these services go round the North-East chord of the junction and thus connect Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus and  Nottingham station

But there are no stations along this line, although there used to be one at Radford.

In A Look At New Station Projects, I came across references to stations at Faraday Road and Lenton.

Both locations are on this section of line and it would seem logical that the more Northerly location would be ideal to serve the Jubilee Campus.

If only the local trains stopped, it would have the following services.

  • 1-2 tph to Ilkeston, Langley Mill and Alfreton
  • 2 tph to Hucknall, Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Mansfield
  • 3-4 tph to Nottingham.

Other questions and issues are raised.

  • Would a second station to the South nearer to the triangular junction be worthwhile?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit. have an interchange with the trains the Robin Hood Line?
  • Could the Nottingham Express Transit call both campuses of the University of Nottingham?
  • In future could 1-2 tph go to the HS2 station at East Midland Hub?

It does appear that there is scope for improving connectivity in the Western Part of the City Centre.

 

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

After The Robin Hood Line Will Nottingham See The Maid Marian Line?

This article in the Nottingham Post is entitled Hopes HS2 could see ‘Maid Marian Line’ opened to passengers.

There is a freight only line between Kirkby-in-Ashfield station on the Robin Hood Line and Pye Bridge on the Erewash Valley Line.

The proposal would allow trains to go between Kirkby-in-Ashfield via Pinxton and Selston to Langley Mill and Ilkeston and then on to Nottingham.

I’ve been here before in September 2015 in a post called Expanding The Robin Hood Line.

But the new baby elephant in the room is the new Ilkeston station, which hopefully opens on the 2nd of April 2017.

Given Chris Grayling’s thoughts, that I wrote about in Government Focuses On New Stations And Trains, could it be that if extra trains can be found, that to provide a second train per hour  between Nottingham and Ilkeston, a second route to Kirkby-in-Ashfield and on to to Mansfield and Worksop, is opened up the Erewash Valley Line.

The route could even terminate on the proposed extension of the Robin Hood Line to Ollerton.

The route from Nottingham to Ollerton would be.

  • Nottingham
  • Toton for HS2
  • Ilkeston
  • Langley Mill
  • Selston – New station
  • Pinxton- New station
  • Kirkby-in-Ashfield
  • Sutton Parkway
  • Mansfield
  • Mansfield Woodhouse
  • Shirebrook
  • Warsop- New station
  • Edwinstowe – New station
  • Ollerton – New station

I think it is likely that this route could be developed.

  • The track is all there and is used by freight trains and/or for driver training.
  • An hourly service on this route would mean additional services for many of the stations on the route.
  • The only problem would be finding some suitable diesel trains for the route.
  • It could probably be trialled to Mansfield or with a simple station at Ollerton.
  • The track from Ollerton appears to be intact all the way to Lincoln.

But the clincher is that it would provide connectivity for HS2 all the way from Worksop and Mansfield to Lincoln and Grimsby.

HS2 is needed, but we must make sure that the benefits of the line are spread to all parts of the country.

If this route to Lincoln could be developed as a 100 mph line, the time from Lincoln to London with a change to HS2 at Toton could be likely to be under two hours.

In Government Focuses On New Stations And Trains, Chris Grayling mentioned the route from Grimsby to Sheffield. Surely creating this route from Lincoln to Toton via Ollerton for HS2, is what really improves train transport in North Lincolnshire.

 

 

 

 

January 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Expanding The Robin Hood Line

The Robin Hood Line, runs between Nottingham and Worksop. It had been closed to passenger trains in the 1960s and reopened to passengers in the 1990s. I used to use it regularly to see a client in Worksop in the years soon after it opened.


A Proposed Branch To Ollerton

In my investigations into Ilkeston station, the Robin Hood Line kept cropping up and especially talk of a branch from the line to Ollerton.

Search Google News for Robin Hood Line and articles with titles like Chancellor backs Robin Hood line passenger plans are found in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad. This is the start to the article.

The Chancellor George Osborne, has confirmed his backing for plans to open a passenger service on the Robin Hood line, from Shirebrook to Ollerton, including passenger stations at Ollerton and Edwinstowe.

Other Government figures like David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin and important local councillors are also quoted saying similar things.

What is not said is that the line will serve the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest and that the rail line needed is currently fully maintained for driver training. This Google Map shows the area.

Proposed Ollerton Branch

Proposed Ollerton Branch

The branch turns off from the Robin Hood Line just North of Shirebrook station in the top left hand corner of the map and then makes it way to Ollerton by way of the South of Warsop and Edwinstowe and North of the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest .

The line probably illustrates the only environmentally-friendly use for coal, which is to keep rail lines open and in good condition, until we can find a better use for them.

There is an interesting section called Branch Lines in the Wikipedia entry for Shirebrook station. This is said.

Two branch lines are plainly visible veering off north of the bridge at the north end of Shirebrook station.

The double tracks branching off eastwards (i.e. to the right as viewed from the station) to the side of the signalbox joined the LD&ECR’s one-time main line to Lincoln, next stop Warsop. The branch only ever carried a regular passenger service for a few years in Edwardian times. It did, however, carry Summer holiday trains such as the Summer Saturdays Radford to Skegness in at least 1963. The branch’s main purpose was always freight traffic, with coal being overwhelmingly dominant.

In 2013 the line gives access to Thoresby Colliery and to the High Marnham Test Track.

There is some hope of reopening the line as a branch off the Robin Hood Line and reopening Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton stations, providing an hourly service to Mansfield and Nottingham.

This Google Map shows Shirebrook station and the railway lines around it.

Shirebrook Station

Shirebrook Station

The junction of the Ollerton branch would appear to allow access to trains from or to either Nottingham and Mansfield in the South and Worksop in the North

So there could be three stations; Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton on a double-track branch.

From Ollerton To Lincoln

Interestingly, after Ollerton the line goes all the way to Lincoln. But I doubt that it would ever be part of the plans for passenger trains in the area.

But who knows?


Services To Derby

The area between Chesterfield, Mansfield and Nottingham is not very well connected to Derby.

If you want to go from Mansfield or Kirkby-in-Ashfield on the Robin Hood Line to Derby, you always have to change at Nottingham, with sometimes an extra change at East Midlands Parkway.

The Erewash Valley Line runs North-South a few miles to the West of the Robin Hood Line.

Despite being partially in Derbyshire, getting from stations like Alfreton, Langley Mill and the soon-to-be-opened Ilkeston stations to Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.

Look at this Google Map of the area

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield

 

There must be a better way of getting to Derby, than by changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.

But what?

There are four main North-South routes in the area.

What seems to be missing is high-capacity East-West routes for both rail and road.

The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.

In a Notes on Current Station section on the Wikipedia entry for Long Eaton station, this is said.

It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.

It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.

It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Alfreton, Ilkeston and Langley Mill to both Derby and Mansfield. This service would also improve services from stations stations North of Mansfield to Derby.

A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfreton and the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.

It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.

The Future Of Railways In North Nottingham And South Yorkshire

Look at any map of the area between Nottingham and Derby in the South to Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley in the North and you will see rail lines criss-crossing everywhere. Many are now disused and show up as green scars on the landscape.

Also on the maps, you will see quite a few large power stations. Most were originally coal-fired and merry-go-round trains transported the coal from the mines to the power stations.

So most of the rail lines in the area, were built to take the coal away from the mines to where it was needed. Passengers were almost an afterthought. The railway companies even built the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Doncaster to East Anglia to take coal to where it could profitably be used.

After the Second World War, the railways contracted and cut passenger services. As an example, the Robin Hood Line closed in the 1960s.

The passenger services were suffering because of car ownership, so most were withdrawn, except on the main routes. Mansfield before the Robin Hood Line reopened, was one of the largest towns in England without a rail station, an honour now held by Ilkeston a few miles away.

In recent years, coal use has in my view rightly declined. Everybody knows the poor environmental record of coal, with its creation of CO2 and other pollutants. On the other hand, I have met people whose fathers worked in the mines and the general advice they received is don’t go underground!

So as the need to move coal by rail has declined, many of these railway lines have ceased to carry much freight traffic and have fallen into disuse.

But some are coal’s last legacy, in that until comparatively recently, they were still used to get coal to the power stations. Like the line from Shirebrook to Ollerton, they are in good condition and only need stations to bring them back into use as passenger lines. Just as the Robin Hood Line was reused twenty years ago!

Because these lines serves the coalfields and the mines, they also serve the mining communities and the small towns, that need improved public transport links.

Network Rail’s plans seem to be going some way to be addressing some of the problems in the area.

I don’t think that the reopening of the Ollerton Branch and the connection between the vErewash Valley and Robin Hood Lines, will be the last lines to reopen in the area.

 

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Conclusions On Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit

Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit seems to have opened without a hitch and from what I saw, the reactions of the passengers seemed to be very positive, as they travelled around with smiles on their faces.

These were some of many comments I heard from fellow passengers.

  1. I can get to the hospital easier, by parking at the Park-and-Ride by using the tram.
  2. My grandchildren love the tram.
  3. I’ll use it instead of driving in a lot of the time.
  4. A student didn’t realise the tram went to the University until I told him and he was pleased.

These comments lead me to the conclusion that I doubt, they’ll be scratching around for passengers.

I do have some reservations on the system, which is otherwise well-designed.

Contactless Ticketing With Ban/Credit Cards

One of the many Customer Service Representatives at Nottingham station, told me that she had already been asked by a traveller from London, if contactless ticketing with a band or credit card was allowed.

Hopefully, as their Mango card is a touch-in and out system, they will be able to incorporate this later.

In my view contactless ticketing with a bank or credit card is something that any transport system should allow as it is so visitor-friendly.

Maps And Information

Maps at tram stops do exist, but they are only small and should be bigger, with perhaps showing walking routes to local attractions. For instance, the stop at Meadows Embankment should show visitors how to walk through the gardens and along the river to the major sports grounds.

There is also a need for a display at the Nottingham station tram stop, showing departures and arrivals in the main station below.

London Overground Syndrome

But my biggest conclusion is that now the NET is a real system, rather than a line to just the north of the city, is that it will suffer from London Overground Syndrome.

The London Overground was designed and opened in 2009, with just enough three-car Class 378 trains, with platforms to fit these trains.

These have now been augmented with additional trains in 2011 and progressively lengthened to five carriages, which has necessitated lengthening the platforms.

NET doesn’t have the platform lengthening problem, but I do feel they will have to beg, borrow or steal some extra trams. At least the track and signalling seems to be able to cope with two different tram types, so if say more trams came from a new supplier, there would probably not be a problem. After all, Edinburgh, Sheffield and the Midland Metro are the only tram systems in the UK with one type of tram. Soon Sheffield will have two.

Just before I left, I talked with one of NET’s Customer Service Representatives. Except that he was a Senior Manager checking things out and getting feedback. Good for him!

Tram-Trains

I suggested to him that after what I’d seen in Germany an especially at Nottingham’s twin city of Karlruhe, that the city is crying out for tram-trains.

His demeanour had Watch This Space written all over it!

So do I think that we’ll see tram-trains in Nottingham?

Wikipedia says this in the section on further routes for the system.

A document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Obviously tram-trains will have to prove their worth in Sheffield first.

Gedling, Bingham and Ilkeston, all are on or close to railway lines radiating from Nottingham, although Bingham on the line to Grantham, is the only one with a station.

A couple of points about tram-trains and Nottingham.

If tram-trains had been proven and certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, they would have could been used to create a continuous tram-train route between Nottingham to Worksop.

Tram-trains release platform space at central stations, as they go straight through the station and on to the destinations where people really want to go. Nottingham station is very crowded with split platforms and other techniques being used to get the number of trains through the station.

Tram-Trains To The East Of Nottingham

Look at this Google Map of Central Nottingham.

Central Nottingham

Central Nottingham

The main station is indicated by the red arrow and note how the railway lines to the East pass to the North of the racecourse in a green corridor from the city centre.

To the edge of this map, the lines split into two with the northernmost one going to Carlton station in the Borough of Gedling and then on the Nottingham to Lincoln Line to Newark and Lincoln, whilst the southernmost one goes to Bingham station on the Nottingham to Grantham Line to Grantham.

Both lines have a generally hourly service, which given the population density is probably not enough, especially in the more densely populated areas closer to Nottingham.

So running tram-trains from Nottingham to a convenient intermediate station would be a means of upping the frequency closer to Nottingham, if you could find a way of getting the tram-trains onto the tram network to finish their journeys.

Tram-Trains To The West Of Nottingham

Ilkeston is to the west and a new Ilkeston station is being built at the town. It will be the first station out of Nottingham on a line that goes through the western suburbs of the city, which also passes through some sizeable communities.

Tram-Trains On The Robin Hood Line

I said earlier that if tram-trains had been certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, that tram-trains would have most likely been used between Nottingham and Mansfield and Worksop.

Nottinghamshire County Council is looking to extend the Robin Hood Line to Shirebrook, Warsop and Edwinstowe on an old freight route.

If this extension is done properly, I can’t see tram-trains not being involved. Especially, as an extension like this, would probably be cheaper to build if it was built to tram standards rather than heavy rail.

What difference would it make to passengers from say Mansfield or Worksop, if instead of having a direct train service into Nottingham station, they had a tram-train service going direct to Nottingham city centre and the Nottingham station tram stop.

  1. New Class 399 tram-trains would probably be used on the route and these would be faster and offer more capacity than the current trains used.
  2. There are numerous stops on the route and electric trains save a minute or so at each stop because of their better acceleration.
  3. The current frequency is generally two trains per hour to/from Mansfield and one to/from Worksop. Three or four trains per hour should be possible.
  4. Train times from Mansfield to Nottingham station would probably be about the same, even though the tram section from Nottingham station to Bulwell takes twenty four minutes, as opposed to ten.
  5. There would be no reason, why trains still couldn’t use the direct route into Nottingham station.
  6. A present, many passengers going to Nottingham city centre probably now change at Hucknall or Bulwell onto the tram. With tram-tains, they would do the journey without a change.
  7. With perhaps extra steps and escalators between Nottingham station and Nottingham station tram stop, interchange between Robin Hood Line and other services might be easier.

Obviously, whether this project goes ahed, would be determined by the traffic patterns and needs of travellers.

A subsidiary factor would be the amount of freight on the line. Electric tram-trains would not interfere with freight any more than the current diesel units, but if the line was electrified to main line standards, more efficient electric locomotives could be used.

Getting Tram-Trains On The NET At Nottingham Station

I think connecting tram-trains to the northern branches of the NET might be difficult, but as Nottingham is a station on a spacious site, connection to the lines going south might be easier. But what do I know?

I only know Nottingham as a visitor and don’t know the demographics and routes of travellers, but it strikes me that it would be possible to use tram-trains running between the southern branches of the NET and the lines to Newark, Lincoln, Grantham and Ilkeston, creating stops or stations at important centres on the routes.

As the rail routes already exist, outside of the Nottingham station area, there would be little disruptive construction needed, other than creating the stations and stops.

In designing the connection at Nottingham station, remember that trams and tram-trains running as trams are much more manoeuvrable than  trains and can go round very tight corners, so can reach places trains cannot reach.

As Nottingham station has been through a big remodelling in recent years, I would suspect that the work was future-proofed for any tram-train connection. As tram-train proposals for Nottingham were talked about in this report on the Nottingham Post website in 2009, one has to assume that the connection is at least on an engineering fag-packet in Network Rail’s bottom drawer.

Some external factors and projects will complicate or simplify any development of tram-train routes around Nottingham,

When and if, the Midland Main Line is electrified, will have the biggest effect, as it will bring a number of electrified routes into the city. Some of these may be suitable for tram-train operation alongside main line services.

To the east of the city, there is the need to sort out the flat junction at Newark,  where the Nottingham to Lincoln Line crosses the East Coast Main Line. It strikes me that if this line was an electric route from Nottingham to the East Coast Main Line, this might open up other possibilities.

 

 

 

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment