The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Sheffield and Leeds Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Sheffield.

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

I think it is a good plan.

Project Management Recommendations

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley

This station will be to the East of Barnsley in the vicinity of the village of Goldthorpe.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I used this map of the proposed High Speed Two and Northern Powerhoiuse routes in East Yorkshire.

Note, these points about High Speed Two.

  1. It by-passes Sheffield and Barnsley and enters Leeds from the East, via Junction 2.
  2. It goes via Junction 1 to link up with the East Coast Main Line to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  3. It links to the Leeds and Hull route at Junction 1.
  4. It has a Southern route via Chesterfield directly into Sheffield.

The current main route between Sheffield and Leeds is the Wakefield Line.

  • It is thirty nine miles long.
  • It is not electrified, except North of Wakefield Westgate station
  • Trains stop at Meadowhall, Rotherhall Central, Swinton, Bolton-on-Dearne, Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe, Moorthorpe, Fitzwilliam, Sandal & Agbrigg, Wakefield Westgate and Outwood.
  • Services take an hour and thirteen minutes
  • The route is not very busy, with only, a total of around 4-6 trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements will see four tph between Sheffield and Leeds

  • Journey times will be twenty-eight minutes.
  • Some trains will extend past Sheffield to London St. Pancras.
  • These fast services will probably stop less often.
  • They will probably be backed up by stopping trains at perhaps two tph.
  • I suspect the trains will be 125 mph bi-mode trains with batteries.
  • I doubt there will be full electrification, as train developments will achieve the same objectives, in a more affordable manner.
  • There will be full digital signalling to increase the capacity.

So where does the proposed Barnsley Dearne Valley station fit in?

  • It will be on both the Wakefield Line and High Speed Two.
  • It will have fast local trains between Leeds and Sheffield at four tph.
  • It will have High Speed Two services between London and Leeds via East Midlands Hub at a frequency of at least two tph.
  • It will have High Speed Two services between London and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub and York at a frequency of st least two tph.
  • As I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Turn-Up-And-Go service on major legs of High Speed Two, will Barnsley Dearne Valley have four tph?
  • Stopping trains to and from Sheffield could be at a frequency of four tph and be tram-trains.

The station would be a quality one, with ,lots of parking.

Barnsley would be welcomed to the Twenty-First Century.

I also believe, that the Wakefield Line could be improved, sooner rather than later.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route between Rohterham Central and Fitzwilliam stations.

  • It is at least double-track all the way.
  • It would appear to be fairly straight.
  • There is plenty of room on either side, so third and possibly fourth tracks could be added.
  • There are no level crossings and very few bridges.
  • The stations are simple, but could be easily upgraded to full step-free access.
  • Electrification could be a lot easier than some of the TransPennine routes.

So one way to give early benefits could be.

  • Electrify between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam.
  • Improve line speed to at least 100 mph and possibly 110-125 mph.
  • Make all stations step-free.
  • Build the Wakefield Line station at Barnsley Dearne Valley.
  • East Midlands Railway could run two tph between Leeds and Sheffield using 125 mph bi-mode trains, with stops at Barnsley Dearne Valley, Swinton and Rotherham Central.
  • Perhaps one tph could be between Leeds and London.
  • Extend the Sheffield tram-train to Barnsley Dearne Valley.

I don’t think much of the engineering would be difficult and an opening date of 2023 would probably be possible.

The proposal would give these advantages.

  • Twenty-eight minutes journeys between Leeds and Sheffield at a frequency of four tph.
  • One or possible two tph between Leeds and London calling at Barnsley Dearne Valley and Rotherham Central.
  • Extension of Leeds local electric trains to Barnsley Dearne Valley.
  • A four tph tram-train service between Sheffield and Barnsley Dearne Valley.
  • A direct service between Barnsley Dearne Valley and Doncaster is also a possibility.

The idea of a station at Barnsley Dearne Valley is a brilliant idea.

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Penistone Line And Rotherham Tram-Train Trials

The Penistone Line Tram-Train Trial

The Penistone Line from Sheffield to Barnsley, Penistone and Huddersfield was the line originally selected for the tram-train trial.

In the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said about the tram-train trial.

On 18 March 2008, the Department for Transport released details of a proposal to trial tram-trains on the Penistone Line, the first use of such vehicles in the UK. The trial was to start in 2010 and last for two years. Northern Rail, the operator of passenger services on the line, asked potential manufacturers to tender for the design and construction of five new vehicles, which Northern Rail would subsequently lease. In addition, Network Rail planned to spend £15m modifying track and stations to make them compatible with the new vehicles.

However, it was announced on 15 September 2009 that a city tram-train trial between Rotherham and Sheffield would replace the Penistone Line scheme.

More about the trial is said in this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial. In particular, this is said.

One of the biggest initial tasks is to set a specification for the building of the five diesel-electro hybrid tram trains at a cost of £9 million. The trains will have to be equipped with braking systems suitable for on-street running and a Train Protection Warning System which is required for running on lines with ‘heavy’ rail passenger and freight trains.

The article was written in 2008 and Chemnitz hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t enter service until 2016.

So was the trial on the Penistone Line a disaster before it even started?

It had the following problems.

  • It was expecting a diesel-electric hybrid tram to be designed and built before 2010.
  • A long distance was involved.
  • The track-work needed to connect to the Sheffield Supertram could have been incredibly complicated.
  • The first all-electric Citylink tram-trains weren’t delivered to Karlsruhe until May 2014, which was seven months late.

For these and other reasons, I think that the decision of the trial to be delayed and to use Rotherham, was a prudent decision.

The Rotherham Tram-Train Trial

Consider these characteristics of the current trial, between Cathedral and Rotherham Psrkgate.

  • The tram-trains are virtually standard Karlsruhe Citylink tram-trains, adapted for UK 25 KVAC and painted blue!
  • A simple chord connecting the two systems.
  • A few miles of electrification, that could be powered by either 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Modification of the recently-built Rotherham Central station.
  • Building of a new terminal tram stop at Rotherham Parkgate.

It’s a simple plan, but one that covers a lot of design possibilities and has few, if any, risky elements, that haven’t been done in the UK or Karlsruhe.

The following can be tested.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram network and an electrified main line.
  • Passenger entry and exit at Rotherham Central station and all over the Supertram network.
  • Operation under both 750 VDC or 25 KVAC.
  • Signalling systems on both tram and main line networks.

The one thing that can’t be tested is a diesel hybrid tram-train as they have in Chemnitz, as they haven’t ordered any!

But if they did want to order some, they could easily be tested between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate.

Conclusion

The original plan to use the Penistone Line and diesel-electric tram-trains was impossible.

Network Rail might have got this one right at the second attempt.

They could even run a UK version of the Chemnitz hybrid tram-train on the test route between Sheffield and Rotherham.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train – October 13th 2017

It is only a couple of weeks since I wrote Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train and progress seems to have accelerated in that time.

The Class 399 tram-trains are now running between Cathedral and Herdings Park, as I reported in Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service.

Progress On The Tinsley Chord

I took these pictures at Tinsley Chord, where the track connects theMeadowhall branch of the Supertram to the freight line to Rotherham.

There isn’t really much to see, as trees obscure any good view from the road.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  • The Tinsley Viaduct carrying the M1 cutting across the bottom-left corner of the map.
  • Blackburn Meadows, with the Water Treatment Plant and Biomass Power Station, at the North of the map.
  • The Blackburn Meadows Way linking into Meadowhall.
  • The freight line to Rotherham runs to the outh of this road.
  • The Supertram running along the West side of the motorway.

The Tinsley Chord, that links the tram and freight lines is hidden under the viaduct.

I did get some more pictures later.

The Tinsley Chord appears to be double-track, where it will join the existing tram line.

The Wires Are Going Up

These pictures show that the wires are going up between the freight line and Rotherham Central station.

The gantries seem much more main line than tram.

But the Class 399 tram-trains, won’t care if they contain 750 VDC or 25 KVAC. Changing the volts is a lot easier than changing the catenary.

Rotherham Station

These pictures show the current state of Rptherham Central station.

Note.

  • The wires are going up.
  • The low-level platform extensions need to be completed.
  • Trains will use the high end of the platforms and tram-trains the low end.

Karlsruhe have much worse platform height problems, as they have two generations of tram-trains and German trains that need low platforms to cope with.

Walking To The Parkgate Shopping

I thought about using a taxi, but in the end, I walked to the Parkgate Shopping, as the weather was sunny.

I did manage to get an idea of the distance in a thirty minute walk.

Parkgate Shopping

Parkgate Shopping is the sort of shopping centre I rarely visit.

I am a guerrilla shopper, who decides what he needs and then chooses where to go and buy it. Being a coeliac, food shopping usually requires a couple of shops. One of these must be a Marks and Spencer, as their gluten-free staples like bread, biscuits, beer and muesli are better than most.

These days, I don’t drive, but a couple of doctors have told me, they reckon I could get my licence back.It’s just that not having a car, removes a whole chunk of hassle from your life. I don’t want it back!

I also often create shopping with a visit to either a friend, a restaurant, a museum or perhaps even a dentist.

I’ll often plan my day, so I come home via somewhere like the Angel, Moorgate, Eastfield or King Cross, where I pick up my supper.

Parkgate might be a place to go if it fitted my target requirements and I lived locally.

But it would need decent public transport like Meadowhall down the riad.

The Tram Stop At Parkgate Shopping

These pictures show the railway that passes Parkgate Shopping and the tram-train stop being built.

The stop needs finishing and a route to the stops would need to be created.

But it looks like the designers have developed a simple one platform stop capable of handling the required three trains an hour.

Conclusion

The project appears to be coming towards the end.

There are several things that need to be completed.

  • The catenary.
  • The connection of the tracks at the Tinsley Chord.
  • Rotherham Central station pltforms
  • Parkgate Shopping tram stop.

Then it would need to be tested.

If I have a question about the project, I wonder how they managed to be so late and over budget, as IS reported in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Sheffield to Rotherham Tram-Train Is Five Times Over Budget, Says NAO.

My gut instinct tells me, that there are a few problems with this project, that would have been avoided by a little bit more thought before it started.

But I think it’ll come out alright on the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progress On The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train

I took these pictures in Sheffield and Rotherham, whilst trying to take pictures of Class 399 tram-trains.

Note.

  1. The heavy-weight gantries for the electrification, which I suspect would support 25 KVAC electrification.
  2. It appears simple bi-level platforms are being built at Rotherham Central station.
  3. Could a stop being put at the New York stadium?

It certainly doesn’t seem to be an expensive system.

Single Or Double Track Electrified At 25 KVAC

The heavy rail route which is both single and double-track is electrified using standard 25 KVAC electrification.

Simple Voltage Changeover

In Karlsruhe, a ceramic rod is used to connect the overhead wires of different voltages. The pantograph of the tram-train runs on this rod, as the vehicle passes between the two voltages.

The different voltages would be handled automatically on the tram-train.

Kinetic energy or a battery will take the tram-train over the very short dead section.

I didn’t see it, but I suspect a similar system is used on the Tinsley Chord in Sheffield, where the two voltage systems meet.

The advantage of this simple system, is that voltage changeover can be completely automatic, with the driver only monitoring the changeover.

 

Simple Bi-Level Platform Extensions

This technique is used in Karlsruhe, where they have myriad problems due to various classes of tram-trains and conventional trains.

Modern construction methods will certainly help here.

How Did Network Rail Manage To Spend So Much Money?

The only feasible positive explanation is that this tram-train trial is being very comprehensive and covers all possible UK operations.

  • The tram-trains are tested on 25 KVAC at Rotherham.
  • Single and double-track.
  • The tram-trains are tested on 750 VDC all over Sheffield.
  • The tram-trains are tested on sharp curves and climbing hills on the Sheffield Supertram network.
  • The voltage changeover is thoroughly tested on the Tinsley Chord.
  • Platform designs get a rigorous test.

If the tram-train passes these tests and the regulators and operators like it, it’ll be passed for the UK network.

Is The Rotherham Trial A Tram-Train Or A Train-Tram?

When going from Sheffield to Rotherham, the Class 399 train, starts as a tram and changes to a train on the Tinsley Chord.

But when going from Rotherham to Sheffield, the vehicle starts as a train and changes to a tram.

So I suppose it’s both and it changes over where the voltage changes on the Tinsley Chord.

But just as in the Rotherham trial, provided there is an overhead wire with an acceptable voltage, the Class 399 tram-trains can run on any track, be it for trams or trains.

On What Routes Could A Class 399 Train Run?

There are several possibilities.

Extending An Existing Tram Network On A Heavy Rail Line

The tram-train runs normally on a standard tram line and then the route is extended on a heavy rail line, which is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

This is what is being done at Rotherham.

More possibilities exist in Sheffield and probably on other systems like Birmingham, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Manchester and Nottingham.

Creating A Tram Link Across A Town Or City

Suppose a town or city has two electrified stations on opposite sides. Perhaps one handles trains from the West and the other handles trains from the East.

If a tram route can be created between the two stations, which is connected to the lines at the station, then tram-trains can run across the town or city.

This has been done in Karlsruhe and other European cities, but I doubt we’ll see a cross-city link like this in the UK for a decade or two.

Creating A Tram Link Between Two Electrified Lines

This is similar to the previous application, except that the tram route might be in a rural area.

One possibility might be from Cambridge to Marks Tey along a rebuilt Stour Valley Railway.

Running A Branch On A Heavy Rail Line As A Tram

Creating a branch line to tram standards should be cheaper than creating it to heavy rail standards.

The proposed Glasgow  Airport Tram-Train could be built this way, by building a tram track from the Inverclyde Line to the Airport.

The branch would have the following characteristics.

  • Segregated single-track from the Inverclyde Line
  • 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Low floor tram-trains.
  • Simple stations.

The tram-trains could run as normal electric trains from Glasgow Central station to West of Paisley St. James station, where they would take to the branch line and run as trams to the Airport.

As the performance of a Class 399 tram-train is not much slower than the current Class 314 trains that work some services on the Inverclyde Line, I feel that fitting the tram-train service into the service pattern on the line would be possible.

I estimate that a round trip from Glasgow Central to the Airport could be done within an hour, which would mean that to provide an adequate four tram-trains per hour, would require four vehicles.

Two other airports could be served in this way; Leeds and Liverpool

  • Leeds Airport would require electrifying as far as Horsforth station, where a tram track would lead to the Airport.
  • I suspect that the tram-trains could not only connect Leeds to the Airport, but Bradford as well.
  • Liverpool Airport from Liverpool Lime Street services would change to a tram at Liverpool South Parkway station.

I think we’ll be seeing tram-trains used for services like these.

Consider these points.

  • A suitable station on the electrified network is needed as a terminus.
  • A suitable junction must be possible between the branch and the electrified network.
  • Any number of stops could be built on the branch.
  • Simple tram-style 750 VDC overhead wires can be used, which would be less visually intrusive.

Some schemes will be simple like perhaps the Slough to Windsor and Eton Line and others would be more complicated.

Conclusion

In a year or so’s time, we’ll know if tram-trains are another method of expanding and improving the UK’s rail network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Electrification At Rotherham

These pictures show some of the electrification gantries around Rotherham Central station.

The overhead gantries would appear to be Network Rail’s standard for 25 KVAC, rather than the lighter-weight structures used on the Sheffield Supertram for their 1500 VDC.

So are Network Rail future-proofing the gantries for later conversion to 25 KVAC or are they being wired to that voltage, so that the tram-trains can be tested on the 25 KVAC as well?

The latter would be prudent, so that the problems and strengths of dual-voltage  25 KVAC/1500 VDC tram-trains can be assessed.

However, as I returned to Sheffield later, it appeared that the line connecting Rotherham and Sheffield had both heavy-weight and light-weight gantries in place.

Could there be a last minute change of project scope to include 25 KVAC  running in the Sheffield tram-train trial, which also explains the timing of the rebuilding of the College Road Bridge?

This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Sheffield Supertram.

A tram-train extension to Rotherham is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2018, with a fleet of seven Vossloh Citylink Class 399 tram-trains in a UK first. This will involve trams operating on Network Rail’s Dearne Valley Line from Meadowhall Interchange to Rotherham station with a short extension to Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre. The proposed station will be a combined tram stop and railway station.[10] It is also planned that Rotherham Parkgate will be the hub for longer distance inter regional services,[11] while Central station will be the hub for local, Yorkshire based services. To cater for the tram train services, Rotherham Central will have a third platform built. It is thought that constructing the station will cost around £14 million (£53 million including the railway service to Leeds) and deliver economic benefits worth over £100 million. A study has concluded that it is not worth expanding Rotherham Central railway station because it would cost £161 million to expand the station but only deliver benefits worth £76 million. This is why constructing a new station is considered more viable.

That explains a lot, especially as it is a big change from what was being said perhaps a year ago.

There is an article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Rotherham could get new rail station, which gives a lot more detail.

  • Parkgate station could cost up to £53.2 million
  • Parkgate would be the inter-regional station.
  • Central would be more local
  • Rotherham should have one train per hour (tph)  to Leeds and Manchester, three tph  to Doncaster and six tph to Sheffield.

As I came through the Rotherham Parkgate area on my train between Leeds and Rotherham earlier,  I didn’t see any evidence of station construction.

I think that Network Rail by putting up gsntries that can accept 25 KVAC electrification have made sure that they can fit any future plans.

So long as they can get some sort of wiring along the route and a reversing facility somewhere in the Rotherham area, I can see tram-trains running next year.

If Parkgate station is built, then provided any tracks are in the right place, this shouldn’t be a problem.

But the interesting idea could be to use Class 319 Flex trains on the route to Leeds via the Wakefield Line. The gaps in the electrification would be initially covered by the trains onboard diesel power.

As electrification is installed, they would eventually be able to do Rotherham Central to Leeds under electric power.

Whilst, Network Rail were electrifying the tram-train route, would it not be prudent to put up the wires to Meadowhall Interchange station or even Sheffield station?

The other way they could also electrify the short Swinton to Doncaster Line, which would allow electric trains from London to reach Rotherham Parkgate, Meadowhall and Sheffield stations.

I can certainly see something like the following services through Rotherham when Parkgate station is open.

  • 1 tph Sheffield to Leeds calling at Parkgate and Central
  • 1 tph Doncaster to Manchester and Manchester Airport calling at Parkgate and Sheffield
  • 2 tph Doncaster to Sheffield calling at Parkgate and Central

Add in three tram-trains per hour between Sheffield Cathedral and Parkway via Central and the required frequencies are achieved.

It will be interesting to see what finally happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Flows The Don

The tram-trains between Sheffield and Rotherham will join up to the Sheffield Supertram in the area of the Meadowhall South/Tinsley tram stop.

This Google Earth image shows the area.

Tinsley Area

Tinsley Area

Note the tram line marked by the blue symbol which shows the Meadowhall South/Tinsley stop, running down the map, with the single-track Tinsley/Masborough South Junction-Rotherham freight railway, splitting off to the right. Note the footbridge that rises from the tram stop and crosses the freight line, which you can see in the pictures. You can also see Meadowhall at the left and the M1 at the right and the various roads leading to and from Sheffield.

I took these pictures of the area.

Believe it or not, in the midst of all this chaos is a quiet area by the River Don.

For the eagerly awaited tram-train, a connection will need to be made between the tram line and the single-track freight line. There is little detail at present about how the connection will be made, but the freight line will have to be provided with some form of overhead electrification at either 750 V DC or 25kV AC. However, the Class 399 tram-trains will be able to use any handy voltage.

I’ve just found this page on the Network Rail web site, which is their home page for the creation of the Tinsley Chord which will connect the tram line to the freight line. I was able to create this map of the chord from one of their published documents, from the impressive and comprehensive site.

The Tinsley Chord

The Tinsley Chord

The new chord is shown in red and curves between the tram line at the left and the freight line, which goes off to the right.

Note that the Meadowhall South/Tinsley tram stop is the Sheffield side of the chord, so passengers going between Rotherham and Meadowhall could enter the Meadowhall Centre via Debenhams, as I did after my walk by the River Don.

Incidentally, Network Rail and their contractors will like working on this one, as sixty percent of the work is virtually indoors, as it is underneath the massive Tinsley Viaduct that carries the M1 over the area.

If you want to know how this chord underneath the M1 will effect the local bats, hedgehogs and newts it’s all laid out in this document.

Perhaps the best news of the project is contained in this recent report from the Sheffield Star, which is entitled Construction work planned for long-awaited £60m Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme.

The article hopes that tram-trains will be running in 2017.

 

April 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

What Is Happening To The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train?

The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train is a pilot project to prove whether the technology can work on UK railways.

It’s a laudable aim, but I don’t like pilot projects as if they work, then you usually end up with an inadequately funded permanent one, that is lacking in certain areas and has to be upgraded. On the other hand, if they don’t work you have all the expense of ripping them out.

It is much better to take proven technology and phase the introduction of the system, funding and building every phase adequately.

This Google Earth map shows the area where the tram-train will run.

Sheffield Rotherham Tram Train

Sheffield Rotherham Tram Train

In the top right or north east corner of the image is the Rotherham Parkgate Retail Park, which will be the terminus of the route. In the bottom left hand corner is Meadowhall Shopping Centre, with the associated Interchange station, where the tram-train will join the Sheffield Supertram network. Tram-trains are proposed to run three times in an hour, which would be in saddition to the two or three trains per hour on the route.

This Google Map shows the layout of train tracks around Rotherham Central station.

Lines Through Rotherham

Lines Through Rotherham

Note the New York stadium marked on the map, but not shown, as the image was taken before the stadium was built. Just after the stadium, the lines split with one going west to join other lines and go direct to the Meadowhall Interchange and the other, which is now a freight route, going more south-west over the river towards Sheffield.

This Google Map shows the layout of the railway lines and the tram tracks around Meadowhall Interchange.

Meadowhall Tram-Train Connection

Meadowhall Tram-Train Connection

Meadowhall Shopping Centre itself, is just off the bottom of this map and is connected to the station by a bridge over bus, tram and train stations, which can just be seen in the bottom-left corner.

Note how the railway to the east from Sheffield goes under the M1 motorway, with the Sheffield Supertram coming up parallel to the motorway and then turning into the interchange.

It will be difficult to get this connection right, as a direct tram-train from Rotherham will come under the motorway and then stop in the Meadowhall Interchange station. I would assume that it would stop in the Sheffield Supertram platforms and then reverse direction to go on to Sheffield.

This must be wrong, as it would be a difficult scheme to run efficiently with three tram-trains an hour in each direction reversing in the tram platforms and then Rotherham-bound trams sometimes waiting there to cross the westbound rail line to get on the right track for Rotherham.

So I would assume the second route that breaks off to the south-west from Rotherham would be used. This Google Earth map shows where the line meets the Sheffield Supertram around Meadowhall South station.

Meadowhall South

Medowhall South

This would be a much easier connection and I think this is the way the tram-trains will go to and from Rotherham.

The Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train has been a long time coming since the decision to start. I wonder if the reason is that the engineering of both track and signalling has been much more difficult than first thought. The first direct route is difficult if not impossible operationally, but sorting out the tracks for the second route may not be too easy, as looking at the image there is a lot of water about, that might need to be bridged, by the tight turn.

I think too, that as it’s only a trial, we might see a single track curve, as the tram-trains will be reversing at Meadowhall Interchange. That would at least cut costs and men less disruption to the Supertram, whilst the connection is being made.

One issue that has to be thrown into the pudding, is the electrification for the trams, which is 750 volts DC overhead. If at some future date the planned electrification of the Midland Main Line and trans-Pennine routes at Sheffield is extended to Meadowhall and Doncaster, then the new station at Rotherham Central would possibly be electrified at 25kV AC.

So it could be that extending the tram-train pilot scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham into the future, might be scuppered by electrification plans for the North.

It does strike me that the £60million or so being spent on the tram-train pilot, might be better spent on providing extra trams for the Sheffield Supertram and trains for more services through Rotherham.

Could it be that just as the great and good in the Department for Transport, forced Cambridge to have a guided busway, they are persuading Sheffield and Rotherham to have a tram-train?

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Match Twenty-Nine – Rotherham 2 – Ipswich 0

This was the most disappointing match of the year so far in what was the best smaller stadium we’ve visited.

Town are going through a bad spell, but they have had a tough sequence of matches since before Christmas and it just doesn’t seem to go right.

At lest coming home on the train from Sheffield, we got a lot of best wishes from Palace fans after their win at Leicester.

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment