The Anonymous Widower

How Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Maximise Capacity On The Midland Main Line?

In this post, I will try and get a feel to how Abellio East Midlands Railway, will maximise capacity on the Midland Main Line.

The Current Service

There are currently two trains per hour (tph) to both Nottingham and Sheffield and one tph to Corby from London.

Ignoring the Corby service, which will be using electric trains, intermediate calls have these frequencies, from South to North.

  • Bedford – One tph
  • Wellingborough – One tph
  • Kettering – One tph
  • Market Harborough – Two tph
  • Leicester – Four tph
  • Loughborough – Two tph
  • East Midlands Parkway – Two tph
  • Long Eaton – One tph
  • Beeston – One tph
  • Derby – Two tph
  • Chesterfield – Two tph

As the new bi-mode trains will be more modern, with probably shorter dwell times at each station, I suspect that when Abellio East Midlands Railway implement their ultimate timetable, there will be more stops, without degrading journey times.

These are fastest times.

  • London and Nottingham is one hour forty minutes
  • London and Sheffield is two hours

I feel that round trips to both destinations will be four hours with some speed increases and shorter station dwell times.

  • The current two tph to Nottingham and Sheffield needs eight trains to each destination.
  • This is a total of sixteen trains.

As each train could be two five-car trains working as a ten-car train, train numbers for the current service could be as high as thirty-two trains.

A first look seems to indicate that there .will be no overall increase in train frequency, although, as I said earlier, the performance of the new trains should allow extra station stops.

It also indicates to me, that any increases in frequency between London and Nottingham/Sheffield will need extra trains.

The Electrified High Speed Line South Of Kettering

Midland Main Line services South of Kettering are as follows.

  • Two tph to London and Nottingham
  • Two tph between London and Sheffield
  • One tph between London and Corby.

From December 2021, there will be two tph between London and Corby.

The maximum number of services between London and Kettering on the electrified section currently envisaged is only six tph or one train every ten minutes.

As the Class 700 trains on Thameslink are capable of using digital signalling and all the new trains will also be similarly equipped, I wouldn’t be surprised that the theoretical capacity of the electrified fast lines could be higher than the proposed six tph. |Especially, when digital signalling is installed.

The number of trains in the fleet, is much more of a limit on services, than the capacity of the Midland Main Line.

If all trains were ten cars, the following numbers of trains would be needed.

  • Current two tph – 32 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 48 trains
  • Increase to three tph – 64 trains

Are there enough passengers to fill all these trains?

Does St. Pancras Have Enough Capacity?

St. Pancras station has four platforms for Midland Main Line services.

  • The platforms are long enough to take two five-car Class 222 trains,.
  • They would surely accommodate a ten-car formation of the new Hitachi trains.
  • Each platform can probably handle three or four tph, giving a total capacity of 12-16 tph.

As four tph to Nottingham and Sheffield and two tph to Corby is only a total of ten tph, there is enough platform capacity for several years to come.

If there is a problem, it is that the large numbers of passengers would overwhelm the stairs and escalators between the ground level of the station and the platforms.

I am certain, that just like the Eurostar platforms at St. Pancras, the Midland Main Line platforms will need better passenger access and facilities.

Will it even be enough, when up to six tph, all of which could be 240 metres long, start to arrive in December 2021?

What could be done to help solve the capacity problem at St. Pancras station in the future?

Better Access To The Midland Main Line Platforms

Consider.

  • Space is limited to add extra escalators, lifts and places to wait
  • St. Pancras is a Grade I Listed Building.
  • As I don’t travel through the station in the Peak, the escalators seem to always be going the wrong way.

Improving the current access will be very difficult.

This Google Map shows the Northern End of the station.

Note.

  1. The Midland Main Line platforms are the two island platforms on the left.
  2. The Southeastern HighSpeed platforms are the two island platforms on the right.
  3. The Eurostar platforms are the three island platforms in the middle.

Could a second entrance to some of the platforms be built here?

It would be very difficult, unless the extension was future-proofed when it was built.

Underground Improvements

Getting between the Midland Main Line platforms and the Underground is an obstable course.

As a Londoner, who’s had the operation to have the Underground Map implanted in my brain, I generally go to the Midland Main Line platforms at St. Pancras by taking one of the following.

A bus from close to my house to outside the station.

  • A Metropolitan Line train from Moorgate
  • A Northern Line train from Angel.
  • A Piccadilly Line train from Manor House
  • A Victoria Line train from Highbury & Islington

The last four need a bus to get to the Underground.

I usually come back home, by spending just over a tenner on a black cab!

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 should improve matters, but will it ever be built?

Will The New Brent Cross Thameslink Station Allow Cross Platform Interchange Between Midland Main Line and Thameslink Services?

Consider.

  • The proposed Brent Cross Thameslink will be just North of Cricklewood station.
  • Midland Main Line services through the station would be six tph.
  • Thameslink services through the station would be fourteen tph
  • The West London Orbital Railway could be built to connect the station to High Speed Two and Heathrow

Would it take the pressure off St. Pancras?

It might do, if a cross-platform interchange could be arranged.

Could Some Midland Main Line Services Use Thameslink?

Consider.

  • The obvious service to go through Thameslink would be the two tph service between Corby and St. Pancras.
  • Thameslink is currently setup to handle 24 tph, but it has been designed for 30 tph.
  • The Corby service will stop at Kettering, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway, to the North of London.
  • It could perhaps terminate at the soon-to-be-rebuilt Gatwick Airport station in the South.

It might work!

Especially, if Kettering station were to be rebuilt to have cross-platform interchange between Corby sewrvices and the bi-mode ones going further North.

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Rock Rail Wins Again!, I gave this simple example of how the splitting and joining capability of Hitachi AT-300 trains can be used.

A ten-car train might leave St. Pancras as two five-car units running as a pair. It could split at East Midlands Parkway station and one train could go to Nottingham and the other to Derby. Coming South the two trains would join at East Midlands Parkway.

I feel that Derby, East Midlands Parkway and Leicester are ideal stations on the Midland Main Line, where services could be split and joined.

  • They have at least four platforms.
  • The platforms are long and straight.

The two terminals at Nottingham and Sheffield could also probably be used to enable services to serve more destinations.

Shorter trains must have advantages on some routes.

  • Capacity is better matched to demand.
  • Platforms may not need to be extended.
  • Services can be run by a driver and a conductor.

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway use splitting and joining to increase the coverage of their services?

Great Western Railway’s Class 800, 801 and 802 trains have the capability to split and join and the operator doesn’t seem to use it. Although, they do split and join Class 387 trains.

Extended Services To And From The North And East

The ability to split and join, that could be used to extend services to the North And East.

Serving Barnsley, South Yorkshire And Leeds

Consider.

I wonder if there are paths and need for a London and Sheffield service to split at Sheffield with, the two five-car trains going to different destinations.

  • Leeds via Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate, is one possibility.
  • Could a service go to Huddersfield?
  • Hull is probably too far.

One tph could terminate at Sheffield and one splitting and one tph could split and serve other destinations.

Advantages could include.

  • Barnsley and Rotherham get a direct hourly service to London.
  • South Yorkshire and Leeds have a direct hourly service to the East Midlands.
  • Sheffield and Leeds have an hourly fast service.

I’m sure Abellio have a very workable plan to improve services North of Sheffield.

Serving Lincolnshire And Nottinghamshire

Consider.

  • Splitting and joining at Nottingham may allow an increase in direct services to and from Lincoln.
  • Perhaps parts of North Lincolnshire could be well-served by a fast train from Nottingham.
  • Would Mansfield and Worksop benefit from a direct service from London on the Robin Hood Line, after a reverse at Nottingham.

The five-car trains give the flexibility to do the previously unthinkable.

Conclusion

There is a lot of developments that can or will happen with Midland Main Line services.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements

The improvements to the Hope Valley Line are listed under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the line.

This is said.

Network Rail, in partnership with South Yorkshire ITA, will redouble the track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, at an estimated cost of £15 million. This costing is based on four additional vehicles in traffic to deliver the option, however, this will depend on vehicle allocation through the DfT rolling stock plan. This work will be programmed, subject to funding, in conjunction with signalling renewals in the Dore/Totley Tunnel area.

Other proposals include a loop in the Bamford area, in order to fit in an all-day (07:00–19:00) hourly Manchester–Sheffield via New Mills Central stopping service, by extending an existing Manchester–New Mills Central service. Planning permission for this was granted in February 2018.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

So what does that all mean?

All of the stations mentioned like Dore & Totley, Bamford are at the Sheffield end of the Hope Valley Line, where it joins the Midland Main Line.

This map, which was clipped from Wikipedia, shows the lines and the stations.

Note.

  1. The Midland Main Line runs South to North and West is upwards
  2. Dore West Junction is close to the Eastern end of Totley Tunnel.
  3. The Hope Valley Line is double track from Dore West Junction to the West.
  4. The Midland Main Line is double-track.
  5. Dore & Totley station is on a single-track chord, between Dore West Junction and Dore Station Junction.
  6. Another single-track chord connects Dore West Junction and Dore South Junction on the Midland Main Line.

I’ll now cover each part of the work in seperate sections.

Dore Junction And Dpre & Totley Station

This Google Map shows the area of Dore & Totley station and the triangular junction.

Note.

  1. Dore & Totley station is at the North of the map.
  2. The Midland Main Line goes down the Eastern side of the triangular junction.
  3. The Hope Valley Line goes West from Dore West Junction.
  4. The Midland Main Line goes South from Dore South Junction.

Network Rail’s plan would appear to do the following.

  • Create a double-track between Dore Station Junction and Dore West Junction, through the Dore & Totley station.
  • Add a second platform and a footbridge with lifts to the station.

Instead of a single-track line handling traffic in both directions, there will be a double-track railway with a track in each direction.

Capacity will have been increased.

In some ways Network Rail are only returning the station to how it existed in the past, so it shouldn’t be the most difficult of projects. But many of this type of project have surprises, so I’ll see it when the new station opens.

The Bamford Loop

On this page on the Friends of Dore & Totley Station web site, this is said about the Bamford Loop.

A Bamford Loop which is a place to halt frieight trains to allow passenger trains to overtake. This is east of Bamford station.

It is around a thousand metres long.

Flying my helicopter between Bamford and Heathersage stations, the track appears almost straight and adding a loop shouldn’t be that difficult.

The only problem is that there is a level crossing for a footpath at Heathersage West.

This will be replaced by a footbridge.

Benefits

The page on the Friends of Dore & Totley Station gives the main benefits of the scheme are to :-

  • Increase the number of fast trains from 2 to 3 per hour
  • Increase the stopping trains from 1 every 2 hours to 1 per hour
  • To provide for 3 freight trains every two hours as at present.
  • Allow trains of up to 6 cars to use the route
  • Accommodate longer freight trains
  • Improve reliability on the route

These seem to be fairly worthwhile benefits from a relatively simple scheme

 

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ambitious Transport Plans Unveiled For Sheffield Region

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

I will split the points made in the article into separate posts.

I have also been helped by this report published by the Sheffield City Region.

 

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

TfGM Announces Contactless Payments On Metrolink Trams

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

This is the first paragraph.

Passengers will be able to ‘touch-in’ using their contactless cards on Manchester Metrolink trams from July 15, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) announced today.

I shall be there with my contactless credit card on Monday week, to check that this is not fake news.

I look forward to the day, when Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds are all one contactless card area for trams, trains and buses.

When you consider that the combined area will be smaller than Greater London’s contactless area and that the distance between Lime Street and Leeds or Sheffield, is less than Reading to Shenfield, which will be contactless when Crossrail opens, the problems can’t be technological.

If the leaders of the four major Northern cities can agree this advance in ticketing, they will do more for the North, than any other short-term  transport development will achieve.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The government is reconsidering the route of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester and also between Birmingham and Leeds, which are jointly known as Phase 2b.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to use HS2 as a regional route, by providing two new junctions so that Northern Powerhouse Rail services could use HS2 to reach Manchester.

The Times also has a news item entitled HS2 To Link With Northern Powerhouse Line, that adds some other details to the story.

This is the start of the news item.

HS2 trains will be able to run across Northern England under plans for a fully-integrated high-speed network.

The government said yesterday that HS2 would connect into a proposed east-west route across the Pennines, enabling trains to run directly between more cities.

Four years ago, I wrote Whither HS2 And HS3?, which argued for greater integration of the two routes and more tunnelled stations under major cities to build High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail with less disruption.

Part of that post was deliberately over the top, but it seems that others have been thinking in a similar way.

The Times also says the following.

  • Two junctions near High Legh will connect High Speed Two and the East-West line.
  • High Speed Two will be realigned between Nottingham and Derby to avoid a year-long part-closure of the M1.
  • The government has insisted that both High Speed lines are necessary.
  • Northern Powerhouse trains would be able to use High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two trains may be able to run at speed direct to Liverpool, Bradford and Hull.
  • The CBI are quoted as liking the proposal.

The Times also has a map that shows the proposed routes of the High Speed railways.

At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail

This is the name of this report on the Transport for the North web site.

I will use information from this report , when it is relevant and the best available.

My Thoughts

These are my thoughts on the project taking information from the two articles and the Transport for the North report.

Preamble – Line Speeds On High Speed Two, The West Coast Main And The East Coast Main Line

High Speed Two is being designed for running at a speed of 225 mph with a capacity of eighteen trains per hour (tph)

The West And East Coast Main Lines are designed for 125 mph running for most of their lengths.

In the future, with the addition of in-cab digital signalling, it is intended that these two lines will be upgraded to allow running at 140 mph.

A Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line

Looking at the map and the position of High Legh, it appears that a new High Speed line could be built Vaguely along the route of the M56 between Liverpool  and Manchester.

  • It appears to cross the Mersey to the West of Warrington.
  • It appears to go South of Warrington, where there could be a station.
  • It would call at Manchester Airport.

From this article in the Knutsford Guardian, which is entitled Government Releases New HS2 Plans For High Legh And Ashley, I suspect there will be a lot of opposition from local politicians and residents.

I seem to remember, a lot of opposition to the building of the M56.

This could be a difficult route to persuade the local people to accept.

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note how the M56 motorway passes across the North-West of the Airport.

Could the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line be alongside the motorway or even in a tunnel underneath?

This second Google Map shows the area around High Legh.

Note.

  1. The M56 going across the top of the map.
  2. The spaghetti in the North-East corner of the map is Junction 8 on the M56, where it joins the A556.
  3. The new A556 by-pass route to the West of the original route.
  4. The M6 running diagonally across the map.
  5. High Legh village is just to the North-West of the middle of the map.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the area.

High Speed Two would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

The Liverpool Lime Street Capacity Problem

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled New High-Speed Rail Station For Liverpool City Centre Takes Step Forward.

This is an extract.

A plan to build a completely new high-speed rail station in the CENTRE of Liverpool is taking a major step forward today – and Everton’s chief executive will be leading it.

Transport leaders want to build a new high-speed line into Liverpool to connect with HS2 to London and the planned Northern Powerhouse rail line across the north.

That means an entirely new “architecturally stunning” station in Liverpool city centre as Lime Street is too small to cope with the extra traffic.

So why is Lime Street station still too small, as it has been increased in capacity in the last couple of years?

I will look at the direct Virgin services between Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

  • Northbound trains leave at XX:07 and take two hours and 12-14 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 26-28 minutes in the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • Sorthbound trains leave at XX:47 and take two hours and 12-16 minutes for the journey.
  • Trains wait for 4-8 minutes in the platform at Euston station.

It looks to me, that Virgin are using the platform at Lime Street station to balance the service. It does mean that trains probably keep more reliably to the timetable, but it hogs the platform at Liverpool Lime Street

Virgin want to increase the frequency to two tph  and the London and Liverpool timing of around two hours and 12-16 minutes, means that a second platform is needed at Liverpool Lime Street station.

The station has now been remodelled and at least one extra platform has been added.

The problem could also be solved if the classic Virgin services took say one hour and 52 minutes between Euston and Liverpool.

This would enable the following.

  • Trains would leave Euston and Liverpool Lime Street at the same time.
  • Trains would have eight minutes to turn round at each end of the journey.
  • There would be a very passenger-friendly journey time of under two hours.

I think this will happen at some time in the future.

  • Digital signalling and track improvements will allow a high proportion of 140 mph running.
  • New trains will have faster dwell times at stations.

, Competing against High Speed Two will drive faster services on the classic route.

High Speed Two is currently saying that London and Liverpool services will take one hour and thirty-six minutes and run at a two tph frequency.

This will probably mean that a clock-face timetable will be difficult without trains waiting in platforms at each end of the journey for a long time.

It will certainly mean that High Speed Two between London and Liverpool will need two platforms at the Northern end.

Even if the proposed one hour and thirty-six minutes was reduced to my estimate of seventy minutes to the new station, there would still be a need for two platforms. Liverpool is just a little bit too far away from London.

In addition Northern Powerhouse rail is saying that it will be running six tph between Liverpool and Manchester.

It would be difficult to fit all the platforms needed into Lime Street station.

A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station

This Google Map shows Liverpool Lime Street station and the surrounding area.

Consider.

  • Lime Street station has a well-developed network of local rail lines going North, East, South and West under the Mersey, which are being updated with new trains and extra destinations.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station is a Grade II Listed building.
  • It is surrounded to the North and West with a cluster of historically and culturally important buildings including the Grade I Listed St. George’s Hall.
  • Close to and alongside the North and South sides of the station are buildings that few would mourn if they were demolished.
  • Between the station and the University of Liverpool to the East, there is a lot of land, that is mainly surface car parking and more low-grade buildings.

I think designing a High Speed station close to the current Lime Street station could be the sort of challenge many world-class architects will relish.

How Many Platforms And What Capacity Would Be Needed For A New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

We already know that the following High Speed services are planned.

  • Two tph between Liverpool and London.
  • Six tph between  Liverpool and Manchester and beyond.
  • Would extra services to Glasgow and Birmingham be needed?
  • There could also be long turnround times, which need extra platforms, as I indicated earlier.

It should also be noted that according to Wikipedia, Birmingham’s City Centre High Speed station; Birmingham Curzon Street station is being designed with seven platforms.

I could see an eighteen tph High Speed station with at least eight platforms.

  • Two platforms would be for London services
  • Three or four platforms would be for Manchester and beyond services
  • Two or three platforms would be for other and future services and service recovery.
  • All platforms would be able to accept maximum length High Speed Two trains.

The capacity of the station must be large enough for all future eventualities

I could envisage the following Northern Powerhouse Rail services, sometime in the future.

  • Four tph -Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester and Leeds
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle
  • Two tph -Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester

There could also be two tph to each of Birmingham, Glasgow and London.

The absolute limit between Liverpool and High Legh Junction would probably be eighteen tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.

I am assuming that the High Speed sections of Northern Powerhouse Rail will be built as near as possible to High Speed Two standards, as regards train capacity, track, electrification, signalling and stations.

How Would Trains Access The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station?

To the East of Lime Street station is the campus of Liverpool University. There are a large number of buildings and to make things more difficult there is a cathedral, a brand-new hospital (Hopefully!) and several Listed buildings.

There is also no obvious route for a new High Speed Railway into a new station close to the current Lime Street.

I feel that the only solution is to bore a tunnel to bring the High Speed Railway to the city-centre. from perhaps six miles to the East of the city.

  • The tunnels would be only for High Speed services.
  • I suspect the preferred route would include tunnelling under some existing rail lines or motorways.
  • This would mean that High Speed services would be unhindered by local traffic, when approaching or leaving Liverpool.
  • Speed would be at least 140 mph.

This is only following a similar philosophy to that used to bring High Speed One into St. Pancras under East London, where the tunnels are under the North London Line.

Would The New Liverpool City Centre High Speed Station Be On The Surface Or Underground?

Recently, two semi-underground stations linked to deep tunnels have been built in the UK; Stratford International and the Paddington station for Crossrail. Crossrail and London’s Northern Line Extension have also shown how stations, that are deep underground, can have large developments on top.

I know the area around the Lime Street station well and I have a strong three-dimensional sense and feel that there is a solution that could be developed.

The final solution would be one for architects, council planners, engineers , politicians and accountants.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester Piccadilly

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations is necessary.

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

This Google Map shows the tracks between Manchester Piccadilly station and Ardwick, where Siemens have a train care facility.

Note.

  1. If the tunnels emerged at Ardwick after passing under Manchester Piccadilly station, they would be pointing in more of less the right direction to emerge at Ardwick and continue on the way to Leeds, via the Huddersfield Line
  2. Under the earlier plan, I suspect the tunnels would go in a wide loop around South Manchester.

This tunnelled approach to new underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly has the following advantages.

  • High Speed services between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations would have their own dedicated High Speed line.
  • Much of the tunnelling to the East of Manchester Piccadilly station could be under existing railway infrastructure.
  • Through and terminal platforms as needed would be provided under the current Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Escalators and lifts would connect the underground platforms to local services and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • By choosing the right orientation for the tunnel and position for the underground platforms, it may be possible to have a second entrance to the  underground station from Piccadilly Gardens.
  • The current Manchester Piccadilly station would only need refurbishing, rather than a total rebuild.

Manchester would have the fastest conventional airport link in the world. Who needs Hyperloop or Maglev?

Would Any High Speed Services To And From London Terminate At Manchester?

If London and Manchester trains have a sub-seventy minute journey time, trains would need to wait for some minutes in a terminal platform. It is the Liverpool problem all over again.

  • These would need to be long enough for a full-length train.
  • They would be expensive to build, as they would be underground.

So I suspect that providing services to cities beyond Manchester would actually reduce the complication and cost of the underground station.

Services at the underground station at Manchester Piccadilly would be as follows.

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly
  • High Speed Two – Three tph between Manchester Piccadilly and London
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Six tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

Surely, this means that three tph must terminate in the underground platforms!

If trains emerge at Ardwick, they could also continue on the Hope Valley Line to Sheffield.

If two tph could go to Sheffield, this means that the service pattern through the underground platforms could be.

  • High Speed Two – Two tph between London and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly nd Leeds
  • High Speed Two – One tph between London and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Sheffield via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – Two tph between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadillyand Leeds
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – One tph between Liverpool and Sunderland via Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, York and Middlesbrough.

I have shown that it is possible to design a schedule, where no High Speed services need to terminate in Manchester Piccadilly station.

So all the underground station would need is two through platforms.

A turnback could be provided at Ardwick for service recovery.

Overall services from the underground stations would be as follows.

  • Two tph – Edinburgh
  • Four tph – Hull
  • Nine tph – Leeds
  • Six tph – Liverpool
  • Three tph – London
  • Nine tph – Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Middlesbrough
  • Two tph – Newcastle
  • Two tph – Sheffield
  • One tph – Sunderland
  • Five tph – York

This was only after a few minutes juggling. I’m sure a professional could be better.

The only reason to add bay platforms to the underground station would be, if high speed regional services like those at St. Pancras were to be run terminate in Manchester.

The through station concept also means that if demand was such, that Manchester needed four or more tph to or from London, Manchester is future-proofed.

Could Island Platforms Be Built At Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Airport High Speed Stations?

Some of London’s Jubilee Line stations, with the highest capacity like Canada Water, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster, have theor Jubilee Line platforms designed to the following rules.

  • Tracks perhaps twenty or thirty metres apart.
  • A wide concourse between the two platforms, so travellers and staff can freely circulate.
  • Escalators and lifts in the concourse..
  • Platform-edge doors for safety.

It is a very good starting point, but it could be taken further.

  • Step-free access between platform and train, through wide doors..
  • Large numbers of information displays.
  • Tickets would indicate the door number to use.
  • Toilets and kiosks
  • Lots of visible staff, rather than the North’s usually few invisible versions.

Everything would be geared to a quick and easy boarding and leaving the trains.

Liverpool And Manchester Timings To And From London

The High Speed Two entry on Wikipedia gives the following timings after Phase Two is completed.

  • London and Liverpool – One hour and thirty-six minutes
  • London and Manchester – One hour and eight minutes

The Liverpool timing is slower, as for these timings, it runs on 125 mph lines between Crewe and Liverpool with a possible stop at Runcorn.

I feel that the proposed route to a new station in Liverpool city centre will reduce the Liverpool timing.

  • There will be more running at 225 mph.
  • There will be no slow local traffic.
  • There will only be a stop at Warrington in a new purpose-built station.

I would not be surprised to see very similar sub-seventy minute times for both services.

It would dampen any rivalry between the two cities and if London and Wigan could be achieved in a similar time, it would surely ease train scheduling for the future operator of High Speed Two.

Liverpool And Manchester Journeys

I also suspect that nearly all Liverpool and Manchester passengers would use the High Speed services running between the city centres and Manchester Airport every ten minutes, which would take twenty-six minutes.

One estimate on the Internet says it takes fifty minutes to drive!

As both cities have extensive and interconnecting local rail, tram and bus networks, would this mean simplification of the other services between the two cities?

The Castlefield Corridor

Hopefully something will be done to sort out this route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.

  • I am very surprised that freight trains for Trafford Park Freight Terminal still use the Castlefield Corridor.
  • Will there still be a need to provide as many services to Manchester Airport, as surely passengers will use the High Speed route, which will be running every ten minutes and will probably be a escalator or lift away?
  • Would there be any need for long distance services to run through the route?
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and York would go via Northern Powerhouse Rail under Manchester Piccadilly and the City Centre.
  • Manchester Airport to Liverpool and Warrington would leave the Airport to the West and go direct.
  • Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Glasgow, and Preston would leave the airport to the West and would take the West Coast Main Line at High Legh.
  • Manchester Airport to Birmingham, and London would leave the airport to the West and would take High Speed Two at High Legh.

I think the Castlefield Corridor end up as a series of train or tram-train routes across Manchester.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line is a series of routes across Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line is a series of routes across Birmingham.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is a series of routes across Newcastle.
  • Thameslink is a series of routes across London.
  • The East London Line is a series of routes across East London.

Note that the last two routes, have been planned to handle in excess of 20 tph.

Why should the Castlefield Corridor routes be any different?

It’s just another cross-city line!

If there was a direct escalator and lift connection from Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station, the routes through the Castlefield Corridor would be a superb system connecting passengers to  High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The Future Of The West Coast Main Line

Consider.

  • It appears Crewe and Warrington will be by-passed by new High Speed tracks.
  • A new Warrington station with calls from High Speed Two services,  will have good rail links to Chester, East Liverpool, North Wales and West Manchester.
  • Wigan station is well-connected with commuter lines to Kirkby, Liverpool, Manchester and Southport, which would bring passengers to High Speed Two services stopping in the station.
  • Preston station will connect passengers from Blackpool and North West Lancashire to High Speed Two services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston converted into quadruple track all the way.

  • Two High Speed tracks with at least 140 mph running and only one stop at Wigan.
  • Two slow tracks for freight and local services, with stops as necessary.

Separation of High Speed services on 140 mph tracks with perhaps a capacity of at least fifteen tph, raises the possibility of using 140 mph electric multiple units running High Speed regional services.

  • Northern terminals could be Blackburn, Blackpool and Burnley.
  • Southern terminals could be Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Stoke.
  • Liverpool services would terminate in the new High Speed platforms.
  • Manchester services would call at Manchester Airport.
  • Manchester services would terminate in bay platforms in the underground High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly, with quick and easy access to the High Speed services.
  • All High Speed local services would call at Preston and Wigan.

Trains would have the following characteristics.

  • Capable of 140 mph running.
  • High capacity, quality interiors.
  • Step-free access between train and platform.
  • Able to use platform-edge door used by the High Speed trains.

Think of a modernised Class 195 train, used for high speed commuter services between St. Pancras and Kent.

If a battery-electric capability could be added, the towns and cities served could increase dramatically.

  • Northern terminals could be Barrow, Hebden Bridge and Windermere.
  • Southern terminals could be Chester.
  • Carlisle could be served using the Cumbria Coast Line via Barrow, Sellafield, Workington and Whitehaven.

I can see a large High Speed regional network developing around a 140 mph West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Preston.

North of Preston, the West Coast Main Line will become a double-track line with the passenger trains travelling at 140 mph.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

In Lord Adonis On Crossrail Of The North, I compared the current route between Leeds and Manchester with the Ipswich and Norwich route, that I know well.

  • Both routes are roughly the same length.
  • Ipswich and Norwich has a 100 mph line speed, with usually just two stops.
  • Manchester and Leeds has a much slower line speed, with umpteen stops.
  • The fastest trains between Manchester Victoria and Leeds take forty-nine minutes, with a stop at Huddersfield, and are just 1 train per hour (tph).
  • Norwich and Ipswich in a couple of years, will take 30 minutes at a frequency of 3 tph.

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Two alternative routes are proposed.

  • The black route would be created by upgrading the Huddersfield Line.
  • The yellow route would be a new route via Bradford.

The Transport for the North report says this about the Leeds-Manchester service.

  • There will be six tph.
  • The journey will take 25 minutes.

The next two sections give my thoughts on these options.

Upgrading The Huddersfield Line

It will be a tough ask to upgrade this line so that a twenty-five minute time can be achieved.

I suspect though, it wouldn’t have been suggested unless it were possible.

Manchester And Leeds Via Bradford Low Moor

The Transport for the North report indicates that this could be via Bradford Low Moor station.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

Upgrade Or Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds?

Obviously, the tunnel would take several years to bore.

So to get Northern Powerhouse Rail up and running, the Huddersfield Line would be upgraded first.

At a future time, the tunnel would be constructed.

Hopefully, it could be built, when the finance became available, without disrupting existing train services.

After the tunnel was built, there could be a division of services.

  • High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services would use the tunnel.
  • Stopping services would use the Classic route on the Huddersfield Line.

All passengers would get the service they need.

Freight would have an extra route, if it could use the High Speed tunnel.

High Speed Lines East Of Leeds

I’ll repeat the map I included earlier, which shows the route of High Speed Two and the  two Northern Powerhouse Rail routes to the East of Leeds.

The three Junctions labelled on the map are.

  1. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Leeds – North East services.
  2. Junction on High Speed Two Leeds spur to facilitate through services via existing Leeds station.
  3. Junction on High Speed Two mainline for Sheffield – Leeds services.

The two main Northern Powerhouse Rail routes East of Leeds are.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

Having ridden around these lines in the last few weeks, I believe that these routes could be  upgraded to a High Speed standard.

  • The East Coast Main Line is mainly four-track and could be capable of 140 mph running, with in-cab digital signalling.
  • An electrified link between Leeds and the East Coast Main Line has been promised for years.
  • Replace the Selby swing bridge and the line between Leeds and Hull could probably be upgraded to an electrified 125 mph line with 140 mph available with in-cab signalling.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report gives these proposed details of services East of Leeds.

  • Leeds and Newcastle -four tph in 58 minutes.
  • Leeds and Hull – two tph in 38 minutes

If all the lines East of Leeds were electrified, local services could be run by 140 mph electrical multiple units, likethose I proposed for Liverpool and Manchester High Speed regional services. These would not delay the High Speed services.

Liverpool and Hull Timings

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report doesn’t give a timing for this route across Northern England, but it does give the intermediate timings

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 25 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

This gives a time of 90 minutes between Liverpool and Hull, which compares with the current fastest time of 2:32 hours.

In addition, the frequency of the service would certainly be at least two tph and possibly as high as four tph.

Hull Station As A High Speed Terminal

Hull station has been earmarked for some time as an Eastern terminal for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

This Google Map shows the station.

The station is large, with six platforms, and would have no problem accommodating long High Speed Two trains.

Could using Hull station as a terminal for a London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull service be a sensible response to saving costs and reducing disruption in the building of High Speed Two to Leeds?

  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will need a High Speed link across or under the Pennines, but Leeds station is congested.
  • The new Junction 2 on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map, has been designed to allow services through Leeds station.
  • Leeds station probably would not be able to turn round a High Speed servicefrom London, without the previously planned substantial rebuilding.
  • Could the passengers at Leeds cope with all the disruption?
  • One extra High Speed service in both directions between Manchester and Hull every hour, could probably be accommodated using modern digital signalling.
  • The train might even split and join at Leeds to serve both Newcastle and Hull.

Using Hull as a terminal probably has other advantages.

  • There is probably space to add a stabling facility close to the station.
  • Upgrading the route between Hull and Selby, would speed-up London to Kings Cross services via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Electrification between Hull and Leeds would allow substantial improvement in local services around Hull.

If you look at the whole High Speed Two route between London and Hull via Manchester and Leeds, the route would be as follows.

  • High Speed Two between London and Crewe.
  • New High Speed railway between Crewe and Manchester via High Legh and Manchester Airport
  • New High Speed route across or under the Pennines to Leeds.
  • Upgraded line between Leeds and Hull.

I believe that it would be possible to run between London and Manchester at 225 mph and up to 140 mph on all the rest of the route.

Manchester Airport Connectivity

If High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are developed as laid out in the Transport for the North report, the following cities will be connected to Manchester Airport.

  • Birmingham – High Speed Two
  • Blackpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Bradford – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Carlisle – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Edinburgh – Northern Powerhouse Rail/East Coast Main Line
  • Glasgow – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Hull – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Leeds – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • London – High Speed Two
  • Newcastle -High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Preston – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Sheffield – Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Sunderland –  Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • York – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail

Manchester Airport will probably become the most important station in the North with High Speed connections to a large part of England and Scotland.

The Big Advantage Of Route Sharing

Suppose you have arrived in Manchester Airport and need to get home in Hull.

Because both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will run between the Airport and Hull, the frequency will be increased.

There could be the following services.

  • High Speed Two – 2 tph between London and Hull
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail – 2 tph between Liverpool and Hull

Giving a train every fifteen minutes.

High Speed East Coast Between London and Yorkshire, the North East Of England and Edinburgh

The East Coast Main Line is not mentioned in either of the articles, I have quoted in this post.

This line will see big changes in the next few years.

  • All services from East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and LNER and some services from TransPennine Express will be run by 140 mph-capable Class 800/801/802 trains.
  • ERTMS will be installed between London and Doncaster.
  • Extra tracks will be added in places.
  • Werrington Junction will be improved.

Large sections of the line will be capable of 140 mph running.

Currently, the fastest non-stop trains between London and Doncaster take a few minutes over ninety minutes. With 140 mph trains, I think the following times are easily possible.

  • London and Doncaster – 80 minutes
  • London and Hull  – A few minutes over two hours, running via Selby.
  • London and Leeds – A few minutes less than two hours, running on the Classic route.

For comparison High Speed Two is quoting 88 minutes for London Euston and Leeds, via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub.

I think we may have the making of a railway race between London and Leeds

  • London Kings Cross via Peterborough, Wakefield and Doncaster
  • London Euston via Birmingham and East Midlands Hub
  • London Euston via Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Bradford.

In addition, if the Leeds and Hull Line via Selby were to be upgraded to a High Speed route capable of running at up to  140 mph, I believe that by 2024 or 2025 could see London and Hull covered in under two hours.

The East Coast Main Line will be a High Speed Line in all but name.

The improvements and the 140 mph operating speed will create more capacity and I believe services from Kings Cross could be something like.

  • London and Bradford – Two tph
  • London and Edinburgh – Three or four tph – One or two tph via Leeds
  • London and Hull – Two tph
  • London and Leeds – Three or four tph
  • London and Lincoln – Two tph
  • London and Middlesbrough – Two tph
  • London and Newcastle – Four tph
  • London and Scarborough – One tph
  • London and Sunderland – Two tph
  • Leeds and Edinburgh – Two or three tph

Selective joining and splitting could be used to make better use of paths South of Doncaster.

I haven’t proven it, but my gut feeling for the numbers, is that LNER with their fleet of Azumas, will be capable of running a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

I suspect, that hey’ll have to buy a few more trains.

With the open access operators providing extra services, I suspect that there will be at least two tph between London Kings Cross and Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland.

It would be the ultimate High Speed service based on a route that was designed by Victorians.

To make the most of the East Coast Main Line improvements, the following Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements should be done.

  • Leeds to Hull
  • Leeds to the Northbound East Coast Main Line

I’ve already discussed the first, but the second would do the following.

  • Speed up services between Leeds and Newcastle and Scotland.
  • Allow LNER to run electric trains between London and Scotland via Leeds.
  • Create an electrified route between Neville Hill Depot and York.
  • Create an electrified diversion through Leeds for the East Coast Main Line

High Speed East Coast is on the way.

High Speed Services To Sheffield

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links in East Yorkshire.

I can remember, when the Master Cutler used to run to Sheffield via the East Coast Main Line in the 1960s.

Even if a train took thirty minutes to go between Sheffield and  Doncaster, it will still be a journey time of under two hours between London Kings Cross and Sheffield.

But note that on the map the route between Sheffield and Doncaster is shown as to be improved for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

If the route were to be electrified, it could give Sheffield and Rotherham a High Speed route to London Kings Cross.

The Classic route to Sheffield via the Midland Main Line is being upgraded.

  • It will be electrified as far North as Market Harborough.
  • Much of the route will have a 125 mph operating speed and perhaps 140 mph with in-cab signalling.
  • It  will share the 15.5 mile Northern section of the spur between High Speed Two and Sheffield, meaning it will be electrified between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield.

So when the new 125 mph bi-mode trains start running between St. Pancras and Sheffield, I would suspect that timings on this route could be below the two-hour mark.

Sheffield will get a much improved train service to and from the South.

Sheffield And Hull

The map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, shows a route between Sheffield and Hull via Doncaster as improved Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • It includes Sheffield and Doncaster, which could be improved to a High Speed electrified line.
  • Part of the route between Doncaster and Selby is  the East Coast Main Line, which should be able to sustain 140 mph running in a few years.
  • Selby and Hull, is another route to be improved by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning two tph in fifty minutes between Sheffield and Hull.

They could be 125 mph electric multiple units, which are a bit better than the current Pacers.

Some local services use a second route via Doncaster, Thorne, Goole, Gilberdyke and Brough.

Between Doncaster and Gilberdyke is not planned for improvement in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report, but at only twenty-five miles, it could easily be run by using 125 mph battery-electric trains, which would charge their batteries whilst running at both ends of the route.

  • I wonder if it would be best to electrify the Thorne/Goole first, to give diversion for trains between Doncaster and Hull, whilst the Selby Swing Bridge is electrified.
  • I have just read on this page of the Historic England web site, that the Selby Swing Bridge was Listed as Grade II ion the 23rd April 2015. So is this the reason why the electrification between Leeds and Hull has stalled?
  • An electrified Thorne/Google route, might be used for local trains, whilst expresses used the Selby route.
  • Selby has a couple of useful West-facing bay platforms.

There certainly seems to be some innovative Project Management at work

After all, train operators wouldn’t probably want to cut off one of their markets, whilst upgrading and electrification are underway.

Sheffield and Grimsby Via Doncaster and Scunthorpe

This route is shown on the Northern Powerhouse Rail map.

  • There is an hourly TransPennine Express service between Cleethorpes station and Manchester Airport via Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Sheffield.
  • There are a few sundry local services.
  • The route serves the important Port of Immingham.
  • A large renewable energy industry is developing in North Lincolnshire.
  • British Steel has just folded at Scunthorpe.

The route doesn’t really fit the Northern Powerhouse ideal and it has a totally inadequate passenger service.

Could this route be improved to provide better rail services to the area, that sometimes, the rest of the UK forgets?

  • Electrification might be needed to handle the heavy freight from Scunthorpe and Immingham.
  • Would an LNER service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes be welcomed?
  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport needs to at least be doubled in frequency.

With all the energy projects going on in North Lincolnshire, this area could become the Lincolnshire Powerhouse.

Sheffield And Leeds

Long-terms plans for traffic between these two cities will probably be by Junctions 2 and 3 on the map in the Northern Powerhouse Rail report.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail report, suggests that the trains will use High Speed Two and some infrastructure improvements and will run at a frequency of four tph and take 28 minutes.

This is a good service and compares well with what is planned between Ipswich and Norwich.

In the meantime, the main route is the Hallam Line, where trains take eighty minutes for the forty-five miles

Let’s hope Northern’s more powerful new Class 195 trains, bring the journey time under the hour.

Barnsley and Rotherham mustn’t be left out of the benefits of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Is this the beginning of Yorkshire Powerhouse Rail?

Sheffield And Manchester

The Northern Powerhouse Rail map has this route marked as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

As a lot of freight traffic is generated along the Hope Valley Line, which is the only route between the two cities, will this route be upgraded for a faster speed and greater capacity.

Will the Hope Valley Line be electrified?

  • At the Western end, it is electrified as far as far as Hazel Grove station.
  • At the Eastern end, High Speed Two will mean there will be electrification at Dore Junction.
  • The distance between Dore Junction and Hazel Grove station is about thirty miles.
  • My helicopter didn’t show that many bridges or level crossings.
  • There are three long tunnels on the route, which are a total of eight miles long. Depending on their condition, these could be easy or difficult to electrify.
  • Much of the electrification at the Western end looks in need of replacement.

This is one for the project engineers and accountants, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this route electrified.

High Speed Two Routes

From the map it appears that in addition to the current proposed routes for High Speed Two trains.

  • London-Birmingham-Liverpool (96 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester (68 mins from 128)
  • London-Birmingham-Wigan and then on the West Coast Main Line to Glasgow. (218 mins from 248)
  • London-Birmingham-East Midlands Hub-Sheffield-Leeds (82 mins from 132) and then on the East Coast Main Line to Newcastle 138 mins from 172)

Two new routes would be added via the new High Legh junctions.

  • London-Birmingham–Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull
  • London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Newcastle

In addition Liverpool would be served via the High Legh junctions.

This page on The Guardian is a useful guide to current and HS2 tomings, which I have used here.

My best estimates for the new layout are as follows.

London-Birmingham-Liverpool via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester via High Legh – 66 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds via High Legh – 92 mins

London-Birmingham-Manchester Airport-Manchester-Leeds-Hull via High Legh – 130 mins

Note.

  1. To avoid problems, Liverpool and Manchester will probably end up with the same scheduled times.
  2. I suspect that the High Legh route may save more time, than I have estimated.
  3. Any savings South of High Legh will benefit all routes.

As under the new proposals London and High Legh will be continuous High Speed line, with High Speed spurs to Liverpool, Manchester Airport and Manchester, it would appear that the proposals offer faster journey times to the area.

Building High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

There is an old Project Management phrase about

Getting All Your Ducks In A Row!

I think, that someone has been thinking hard as it appears the building of the second phase of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail together can offer a lot of benefits.

These are my thoughts on the project order.

Devise An Intelligent Electrification Philosophy

Transport for Wales and their contractors are devising an intelligent discontinuous electrification philosophy for the South Wales Metro.

The Hallam, Hope Valley and Huddersfield Lines will be tricky to improve and electrify.

  • They run through picturesque countryside.
  • There are a large number of overbridges and some level crossings..
  • There could be objections.
  • There are some long tunnels.
  • Access could be difficult.
  • Speed limits will need to be increased.

Every trick will need to be employed.

  • Instead of rebuilding overbridges, electrification  could be discontinuous as in South Wales.
  • Trains would have enough energy storage to bridge gaps in electrification.
  • Tunnels will be electrified using rails on the roof or as third-rail.
  • Intelligent fast-charging for trains with batteries will be deployed.

Less obtrusive electrification could also be used, as  I described in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Leeds And Sheffield Improvements

Leeds and Manchester is a difficult rail journey, but so is Leeds and Sheffield.

This route can be improved, by doing what I indicated earlier.

  • Complete the electrification.
  • Improve the track and signalling where necessary.
  • Build new stations at Barnsley Dearne Valley and Rotherham.
  • From 2022, East Midlands Railway should run at least one tph between St. Pancras and Leeds via Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Barnsley Dearne Valley and Wakefield Westgate.
  • Add extra trains between Sheffield and Leeds to give Northern Powerhouse Rail’s promised four tph in twenty-eight minutes

This would introduce competition and options for travel to and from Leeds.

Conclusion – This upgrade would bring large benefits to the area and should have the highest priority.

Lines East Of Leeds

These are the lines East of Leeds.

  • A connection to the East Coast Main Line for York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • An extension Eastwards to Hull.

These would not be the most expensive sub-project, but they would give the following benefits, when they are upgraded.

  • Electric trains between Hull and Leeds.
  • Electric trains between Hull and London.
  • Electric access to Neville Hill Depot from York and the North.
  • An electric diversion route for the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.
  • The ability to run electric trains between London and Newcastle/Edinburgh via Leeds.

Hull and Humberside will be big beneficiaries.

The trains that the train operators have ordered can run all the services.

Once ERTMS is installed on the East Coast Main Line, train travel between London and Hull could be under two hours.

Conclusion – These lines should be improved sooner rather than later.

Midland Main Line Between Clay Cross Junction And Sheffield

This section of track will be shared between High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line.

  • It is 15.5 miles long.
  • It will be electrified.
  • The only intermediate station is Chesterfield, which will need to be substantially rebuilt.
  • It will have a high line speed, perhaps even in excess of 140 mph.
  • Currently, the line carries about ten tph in both directions.

Completing this sub-project early would give benefits.

  • The bi-mode trains due to be introduced on the Midland Main Line in 2022, would benefit from the improved electrified line.
  • Timings on services between London and Sheffield would be reduced to under two hours.

An electrical supply for the electrification would have to be provided in Sheffield, which would be useful, if other electrification projects were to be started in the area.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later.

Electrification Of The Hope Valley Line

Work is already planned to upgrade capacity on the Hope Valley Line.

Having looked at several electrification projects in the last few years, it is my belief that delays can occur because of bad surveys and preparation work done too late and in great haste.

So why not do as much of this work, whilst the capacity is upgraded?

Electrification of what would be a well-surveyed and prepared railway, with an immaculate track, must be a lot easier to plan, install and deliver on time.

Conclusion – This line should be improved and electrified, sooner rather than later, especially as it could be a test project for other lines through the hills.

Improvement And Possible Electrification Of The Huddersfield Line

Improvement of this line could probably give a large benefit to services between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield.

  • Current services on the line would be speeded up.
  • More services could be possible.

On the down side, it is a busy route and improvement will be very difficult.

Conclusion – This important route should be improved as soon as possible.

Building The Liverpool And Manchester High Speed Line

This will be a large and complex project.

It will involve building the following.

  • Around thirty miles of new railway.
  • New platforms and/or stations in Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • A Tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Diversion of the West Coast Main Line through or around Crewe and Warrington.
  • Building of the two junctions at High Legh.
  • Connection to High Speed Two towards Birmingham and London.

It is my opinion, that the diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be opened at the same time as High Speed Two reaches Crewe, in 2027.

Conclusion -The diversion of the West Coast Main Line should be given priority, but the Liverpool and Manchester High Speed line can be done later.

Good Project Management Is Needed

I am sure, that Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two can work together to produce a schedule that delivers benefits in a steady stream.

They must be bold and not allow the politicians to derail the project or move it in an unsustainable direction, based on pressure from their constituents.

Conclusion

Linking the building of Phase Two of High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail would appear to be a sensible solution to expanding the economy of Northern England.

 

 

June 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Building New City-Centre Lines Instead Of Using Existing Network Inflates HS2 Cost By 15%

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

This is the first paragraph.

HS2’s second phase will cost more compared to similar overseas schemes because it relies on new dedicated high-speed lines into city-centre terminal stations at Manchester and Leeds rather than using the existing conventional railway.

As the review of the costs of HS2, that showed this, was done by PwC, I suspect the figures can be believed.

Over the last few years, we’ve redeveloped or extended several busy stations like Derby, Kings Cross, Liverpool Lime |Street, London Bridge, Manchester Victoria, Nottingham, Reading and St. Pancras.

I like Reading and London Bridge the best, as the large concourse crossing either over or under the tracks with lots of escalators and lifts, seems to work well  Liverpool Lime Street with a wide concourse at one end, seems to work well for a terminal station.

But St. Pancras is a mess for passengers and staff alike with effectively four stations in one one Victorian building.

It would have been better, if the station had been flattered and a new one built.

This approach is being taken at that 1960s monstrosity; Euston, which is being extended for HS2.

The four Northern stations in Phase 2 of HS2 are being treated differently.

  • Leeds is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms at right angles to the existing ones.
  • Liverpool Lime Street uses the existing approach and platforms have been extended for the new HS2 trains.
  • Manchester Piccadilly is getting a dedicated approach to new platforms alongside the existing ones.
  • Sheffield uses the existing approach and platforms will be extended for the new HS2 trains.

Liverpool Lime Street is already HS2-ready and can handle at least two normal expresses and one HS2 train in an hour.

The works were completed in a six-month blockade in the Summer of 2018.

I suspect Sheffield will be made HS2-ready, in a similar way.

Conclusion

Obviously, every station is different.

But Liverpool Lime Street has shown how it is possible to find an affordable, less disruptive approach to some stations.

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could A 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries Handle The Midland Main Line?

In Bombardier’s 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries, I investigated a pure electric train based on Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries.

It would have the following characteristics.

  • Electric power on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Appropriately-sized batteries.
  • 125 mph running, where possible on electrification and/or battery power.
  • Regenerative braking using the batteries.
  • Low energy interiors and systems.

It would be a train with efficiency levels higher than any train seen before.

It would also be zero-carbon at the point of delivery.

An Example 125 mph Train

I will use the same size and specification of train, that I used in Bombardier’s 125 Mph Electric Train With Batteries.

  • The train is five cars, with say four motored cars.
  • The empty train weighs close to 180 tonnes.
  • There are 430 passengers, with an average weight of 90 Kg each, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a total train weight of 218.7 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 200 kph or 125 mph.

Travelling at 200 kph, the train has an energy of 94.9 kWh.

I will also assume.

  • The train uses 15 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is eighty percent efficient.

I will now do a few calculations.

Kettering To Leicester

Suppose one of the proposed trains was running between St. Pancras and Leicester.

  • I’m assuming there are no stops.
  • In a year or two, it should be able to run as far as Kettering using the new and improved 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrification at Kettering with a full charge in the batteries.
  • The train would also pass Kettering as close to the line speed as possible.
  • Hopefully, the twenty-nine miles without electrification between Kettering and Leicester will have been updated to have the highest possible line speed, with many sections capable of supporting 125 mph running.

I can do a rough-and-ready calculation, as to how much energy has been expended between Kettering and Leicester.

  • Twenty-nine miles at 15 kWh per mile is 435 kWh.
  • The train has a kinetic energy of 94.9 kWh at 125 mph and twenty percent will be lost in stopping at Leicester, which is 19 kWh.

This means that a battery of at least 454 kWh will be needed to propel the train to Leicester.

Kettering To Sheffield

If the train went all the way without stopping between Kettering and Sheffield, the energy used would be much higher.

One hundred-and-one miles at 15 kWh is 1515 kWh.

So given that the train will be slowing and accelerating, we’re probably talking of a battery capacity of around 2000 kWh.

In our five-car example train, this is 400 kWh per car.

Kettering To Sheffield With Stops

The previous calculation shows what can be achieved, but we need a practical train service.

When I last went to Sheffield, the train stopped at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield.

I have built an Excel spreadsheet, that models this route and it shows that if the train has a battery capacity of 2,000 kWh, the train will get to Sheffield with 371 kWh left in the battery.

  • Increase the efficiency of the regenerative braking and the energy left is 425 kWh.
  • Reduce the train’s energy consumption to 12 kWh per mile and the energy left is 674 kWh.
  • Do both and the energy left is 728 kWh.

The message is clear; train manufacturers and their suppliers should use all efforts to improve the efficiencies of trains and all of their components.

  • Aerodynamics
  • \Weight savings
  • Bogie dynamics
  • Traction motors
  • Battery capacity and energy density
  • Low energy lighting and air-conditioning

No idea however wacky should be discarded.

Network Rail also has a part to play.

  • The track should have as a high a line speed as is practical.
  • Signalling and timetabling should be designed to minimise interactions with other services.

Adding all these together, I believe that in a few years, we could see a train, that will consume 10 kWh per mile and have a regenerative braking efficiency of ninety-five percent.

If this can be achieved then the train will have 960 kWh in the batteries when it arrives in Sheffield.

Sheffield To Kettering

There is no helpful stretch of electrification at the Sheffield end of the route, so I will assume that there is a method of charging the batteries at Sheffield.

Unsurprisingly, as the train is running the same total distance and making the same number of stops, if the train starts with a full battery at Sheffield, it arrives at Kettering with the same amount of energy in the battery, as on the Northbound-run to Sheffield.

An Interim Conclusion

I am led to the interim conclusion, that given the continued upward curve of technology and engineering, that it will be possible to run 125 mph electric trains with an appropriately-sized battery.

How Much Battery Capacity Can Be Installed In A Train?

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, where this is said.

Vivarail’s two-car battery units contains four 100 kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.

Consider.

  • Vivarail’s cars are 18.37 metres long.
  • Car length in a typical Aventra, like a Class 720 train, is 24 metres.
  • Aventras have been designed for batteries and supercapacitors, whereas the D78 trains, used as a base for the Class 230 train,were not.
  • Batteries and supercapacitors are getting better all the time.
  • Batteries and supercapacitors can probably be built to fit in unusually-shaped spaces.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aventras being able to take double the capacity of a Class 230 train under each car.

I wouldn’t rule out 2,000 kWh energy storage capacity on a five-car train, that was designed for batteries.

The actual size installed would depend on operator, weight, performance and cost.

My Excel spreadsheet shows that for reliable operation between Kettering and Sheffield, a battery of at least 1200 kWh is needed, with a very efficient train.

Charging Trains En-Route

I covered en-route charging fully in Charging Battery/Electric Trains En-Route.

I came to this conclusion.

I believe it is possible to design a charging system using proven third-rail technology and batteries or supercapacitors to transfer at least 200 kWh into a train’s batteries at each stop.

This means that a substantial top up can be given to the train’s batteries at stations equipped with a fast charging system.

An Astonishing Set Of Results

I use astonishing lightly, but I am very surprised.

I assumed the following.

  • The train uses 15 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is eighty percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 600 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 171 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 61 kWh in the energy storage.

Probably a bit tight for safety, but surprising nevertheless.

I then tried with the following.

  • The train uses 12 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is ninety percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 500 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 258 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 114 kWh in the energy storage.

It would appear that increasing the efficiency of the train gives a lot of the improvement.

Finally, I put everything, at what I feel are the most efficient settings.

  • The train uses 10 kWh per mile to maintain the required line speed and power the train’s systems.
  • Regenerative braking is ninety-five percent efficient.
  • The train is fitted with 500 kWh of energy storage.
  • At each of the six stations up to 200 kWh of energy can be transferred to the train.

Going North the train arrives in Sheffield with 325 kWh in the energy storage.

Going South the train arrives at Kettering with 210 kWh in the energy storage.

These sets of figures prove to me, that it is possible to design a 125 mph battery/electric hybrid train and a set of charging stations, that will make St. Pancras to Sheffield by electric train, a viable possibility without any more electrification.

Should The Train Be Fitted With A Means Of Charging The Batteries?

Why not?

Wires do go down and rest assured, a couple of battery/electric hybrids would get stuck!

So a small diesel or hydrogen generator to allow a train to limp a few miles might not be a bad idea.

Electrification Between Sheffield And Clay Cross On The Midland Main Line

In The UK’s New High Speed Line Being Built By Stealth, there is a sub-section with the same title as this sub-section.

This is the first part of that sub-section.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Grayling Asks HS2 To Prepare For Electrification Of 25km Midland Main Line Route.

If this electrification happens on the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Clay Cross, it will be another project in turning the line into a high speed route with a 200 kph operating speed, between London and Sheffield.

Currently, the electrified section of the line South of Bedford is being upgraded and the electrification and quadruple tracks are being extended to Glendon Junction, where the branch to Corby leaves the main line.

The proposed electrification will probably involve the following.

  • Upgrading the line to a higher speed of perhaps 225 kph, with provision to increase the speed of the line further.
  • Rebuilding of Chesterfield station in readiness for High Speed Two.
  • Full electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross.

Clay Cross is significant, as it is where the Midland Main Line splits into two Southbound routes.

Note.

  1. Some of the tunnel portals in the Derwent Valley are Listed.
  2. Trying to electrify the line through the World Heritage Site will be a legal and engineering nightmare.
  3. Network Rail has spent or is spending £250million on upgrading the Erewash Valley Line.
  4. High Speed Two will reach The East Midlands Hub station in 2032.

When High Speed Two, is extended North from the East Midlands Hub station, it will take a route roughly following the M1. A spur will link High Speed Two to the Erewash Valley line in the Clay Cross area, to enable services to Chesterfield and Sheffield.

But until High Speed Two is built North of the East Midlands Hub station, the Erewash Valley Line looks from my helicopter to be capable of supporting 200 kph services.

If this electrification is performed, it will transform the prospects for battery/electric hybrid trains between London and Sheffield.

  • Trains will have to run fifteen miles less on battery power.
  • Trains will arrive in both St. Pancras and Sheffield with batteries that are at least three-quarters full.
  • Returning the trains will fill them up on the electrification at the end of the line.
  • There will probably not be a need for charging systems at St. Pancras, Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I also think, that as the train could arrive in Sheffield with a full battery, there is the possibility of extending services past Sheffield to Barnsley, Huddersfield and cLeeds, if the operator felt it was a worthwhile service.

Nottingham

Nottingham is just eight miles from East Midlands Parkway station, which is less distance than Derby.

So if the battery/electric hybrid trains can reach Derby from Kettering on Battery power, with some help from charging at Leicester and Loughborough, the trains can reach Nottingham, where charging would be installed.

Conclusion

From my calculations, I’m sure that an efficient battery/electric hybrid train can handle all current services on the Midland Main Line, with third-rail charging at intermediate stations.

I do think though, that if Sheffield to Clay Cross Junction is electrified in preparation for High Speed Two, that it makes the design easier and the economics a lot better.

It would also give Sheffield a genuine sub-two hour service to London, which would only get better.

 

 

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Would Tram-Trains With A Battery Capability Do For The Sheffield Supertram?

I asked this question in a slightly different form in Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?, where I said this.

Sheffield could do a lot worse, than replace the Siemens-Duewag trams with Class 399 tram-trains. Especially, as the South Wales Metro, will be buying thirty-six similar vehicles with batteries.

What would tram-trains with a battery capability do for Sheffield, Rotherham and the neighbouring towns?

We don’t know much about Stadler’s proposed tram-trains for the South Wales Metro.

  • They look to be very similar externally to the Class 399 tram-trains.
  • They will be able to work using 25 KVAC electrification on the South Wales Main Line.
  • They will be able to work the two-mile long Butetown Branch Line on battery power.
  • Whether they will have a 750 VDC capability has not been said.

A tram-train with batteries would certainly offer other possibilities.

On my trip to Rotherham, I met a guy of about my age, who was a resident of Sheffield. He  was proud of the city’s trams and was trying out the tram-train for the first time.

He also suggested two possible extensions.

  • Royal Hallamshire Hospital
  • A tram-train to Doncaster.

There have also been plans at times to run tram-trains to Dore & Totley and Penistone stations.

So how would tram-trains with batteries help for these routes?

Royal Hallamshire Hospital

On this page of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals web site, this is said about getting to the hospital by tram.

Supertram does not serve the Northern General Hospital. It can be used to reach the Royal Hallamshire, Jessop Wing, Charles Clifford and Weston Park Hospitals, although please be aware that there is still a 10-15 minute uphill walk from the nearest stop (University). We would recommend that anyone who experiences difficulty walking long distances choose some alternative means of travelling to hospital.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The University tram stop is in the North-East corner of the map and is marked by a blue dot, marked with University of Sheffield.
  2. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is in the South-West corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the University of Sheffield tram stop and how the tram route turns East to go to and from the city centre.

If the terrain allows it, a short extension might be possible to be built to the West along Glossop Road.

  • As in Birmingham City Centre, the tram-trains could run on batteries, without any overhead wires.
  • Charging could be provided at the terminal station which could be a few minutes walk to the hospital.
  • The hospital and the university could be a good terminus for tram-trains from Rotherham and the East.

This is a typical extension, that is made easier and more affordable by the use of trams with a battery capability.

Connecting The Supertram To Heavy Rail

The Sheffield Supertram was designed before tram-trains existed, but even so there would seem to be several places, where the two systems could be connected.

The design of the Class 399 train-trams also makes the connections easier to design and build.

  • The tram-trains can take tight turns.
  • There are various innovative solutions, that allow the pantograph to ride from one electrification system to the other.
  • If the tram-trains have batteries, this helps the electrification system changeover.

As more tram-train systems are installed, the library of solutions will get larger.

Tram-Train To Doncaster

There is a two trains per hour (tph) Northern service that goes between Sheffield and Doncaster, stopping at Meadowhall, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Mexborough and Conisbrough.

  • One train continues to Hull and the other to Adwick.
  • The service takes forty minutes from Doncaster to Sheffield.
  • The service goes past the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.
  • The service takes about twenty minutes to go from Rotherham Parkgate to Doncaster, which is a distance of around 11.5 miles.

There is surely scope to extend the tram-train service to Doncaster to improve links between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster.

This Google Map shows the Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop.

Note how the tram-train stop is effectively a siding alongside the double-track Dearne Valley Line, that links Rotherham Central with Leeds and York. It also has a link to Doncaster via the short Swinton-Doncaster Line.

Space would appear to have been left to convert the line through the tram-train stop to a loop. With an additional cross-over at the Eastern end of the stop, it would be possible to extend the tram-train service beyond its current terminal.

I have a map, which shows that the routes to Doncaster and along the Dearne Valley Line to where it crosses the Leeds-Doncaster Line could be electrified in the early 2020s.

If this electrification is carried out, then the tram-train service could easily be extended to Doncaster.

On the other hand, as Rochester Parkgate to Doncaster is around 11.5 miles and the route will have 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends, would it be possible for a tram-train with batteries to bridge the gap in the electrification?

Comparing a three-section Class 399 tram-train with a two-car battery/electric Class 230 train shows that the two vehicles have similar lengths, weight and passenger capacities.

As Vivarail have managed to fit 400 kWh of batteries under a Class 230 train, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 200 kWh of batteries squeezed under a Class 399 tram-train.

So would 200 kWh of battery power be sufficient to take a Class 399 tram-train between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster?

It should be noted that the total power of a Class 399 tram-train is 870 kW, so it wouldn’t be possible if the tram-train was on full power all the time.

But.

  • The route is along the River Don and appears to be not very challenging.
  • Regenerative braking can be used at the three stops and any other stops due to red signals.
  • The initial acceleration at both ends could be accomplished under a short length of electrification.
  • The tram-trains will probably have been designed to use the lowest level of energy possible.
  • The tram-train could run in a low energy mode, when under battery power.

Stadler also know that handling a route like this on battery power would be an important sales feature all round the world.

Tram-Train To Dore & Totley

Running a tram-train service to Dore & Totley station in the South West of Sheffield seems to keep being mentioned.

When it was planned that HS2 was going to Meadowhall, this document was published. This was said about connecting Dore & Totley station to HS2.

Improved rail access to Meadowhall from south-west Sheffield could also be considered – for
example, a frequent service between Dore & Totley and Meadowhall could be included.

Proposed future transport schemes include the tram-train project; if successful, this could be extended to allow further interchange possibilities at the HS2 station.

But HS2 is now going to the main Sheffield station.

This will probably mean.

  • The route between Sheffield and Chesterfield will be upgraded and electrified, with I suspect extra tracks.
  • The electrified lines will pass through Dore & Totley station.
  • HS2 will need frequent connecting services from all over South Yorkshire into Sheffield station.

Dore & Totley and the stations on the Hope Valley service have a truly inadequate erratic hourly service to both Sheffield and Manchester.

There are two compatible solutions.

  • A four tph regional solution of a train between perhaps Hull and Manchester stopping at Doncaster, Rotherham Central, Sheffield and a few stations on the Hope Valley Line.
  • A higher frequency Sheffield solution of a train between perhaps Doncaster and the stations near to Sheffield on the Hope Valley Line.

The first service would be an advanced bi-mode train, whilst a tram-train with batteries could be ideal for the second

.Consider using a tram-train with batteries  on the second service.

  • It could use batteries on the Hope Valley Line to avoid electrification.
  • It would serve Sheffield and Meadowhall stations.
  • It could use heavy rail or tram routes in between the two major stations.
  • It could provide a high frequency service between the two major stations.

There are a lot of possibilities and the transport planners will know the best things to do, with respect to traffic.

Tram-Train To Penistone

In Riding The Penistone Line, I described a trip on the Penistone Line.

This was my conclusion.

Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train could easily climb the hill to Penistone to provide a perhaps two trains per hour service to Sheffield.

But the line would need to be electrified or hybrid diesel tram-trains, as in Chemnitz will need to be used.

So perhaps Northern‘s plan for the Northern Connect service, which would use more powerful Class 195 diesel multiple units, might be better suited to the Penistone Line.

I think the heavy rail solution will be used.

Conclusion

I think that tram-trains with batteries will find a few worthwhile uses in the wider Sheffield area.

 

October 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Class 399 Tram-Trains In Service

On my two day trip to Sheffield, I reckon that I saw six of the seven Class 399 tram-trains in service on the Supertram.

These pictures were taken on a quiet Saturday morning trip from the station to Herdings Park.


Current Service

Currently, the Class 399 tram-trams are running on the Purple Route from Cathedral to Herdings Park, which is generally tun at a frequency of  two trams per hour.

If you arrive in Sheffield station and don’t feel like walking up the hill, you take any of the trams from the  stop on the station side of the tracks.

But take a tram going to Cathedral and over the two and a bit days I was in Sheffield, it was always a Class 399 tram-train.


Comparison With Current Fleet

The Class 399 tram-trains and the existing Siemend-Duewag Supertram are surprisingly similar in several ways.

  • Both have three sections and four doors on either side.
  • The Siemens tram is 34.8 metres long, whereas the Class 399 is 37.2 metres long.
  • The Siemens tram weights 46.5 tonnes, whereas the Class 399 is a lot heavier at 66.1 tonnes.
  • The Siemens tram has installed power of 1108 kW, whereas the Class 399 has just 870 kW.
  • The Siemens tram has room for 86 sitting and 155 standing passengers, whereas the Class 399 has room for 88 and 150 respectively.
  • The seats and their arrangement are vaguely similar.
  • Neither tram has wi-fi.

The big  difference other than the tram-train capability and what that entails, is that the Class 399 tram-train is faster with a 100 kph top speed, as against the 80 kph of the Siemens tram.

Other differences are detailed in the next sub-sections.

Step-Free Access

Getting on and off both trams is step-free and I saw people in wheel-chairs on both vehicles. One was easily pushed into a Class 399.

These pictures show the steps inside the two trams.

There is only a single-step on the Class 399 tram-train, whereas the Siemens tram has more.

Neither tram is a hundred percent step-free.

Weight

Note that the weight of the Class 399 tram-train is more than that of the Siemens tram.

As the two vehicles are of a similar size, could this mean that any of the following causes the weight increase.

  • The electrical equipment needed to handle 15/25 KVAC power.
  • The weight of the two extra traction motors.
  • Strengthening for main line operation.

As someone, who has ridden for a few hours in both the Karlsruhe and Sheffield variants of the Citylink tram-train, they certainly don’t ride badly.

Performance

The current Siemens tram has 1108 kW of power and a weight of 46.5 tonnes, which gives an installed power/weight ratio of 23.8 kW/tonne.

The Class 399 tram-train has 870 kW of power and a weight of 66.1 tonnes, which gives an installed power/weight ratio of 13.1 kW/tonne.

So it would appear that the Class 399 tram-trains may not have the acceleration and hill-climbing capability of the Siemens trams.

However look at this data sheet on the Stadler Rail Espana web site for the Class 399 tram-train.

It clearly shows that the tram has four bogies and the text says that three are motored and one is a trailer. So this means that the central car is not a trailer and that power must be distributed along the tram, which probably puts the power to the rail in a more efficient way.

I did speak to a driver and he told me that on some of the hills the Siemens trams will strruggle with a full load, but the Class 399s can go up the hills at 40 mph.

The Class 399 tram-trains are very similar to the Stadler tram-trains in Karlsruhe, where the hills are much stiffer than Sheffield.

So it would appear that the layout of six smaller motors in a more modern vehicle probably does the trick.

Energy Efficiency

The question has to be asked if, as the Class 399 tram-trains have twenty-one percent less installed power, does this result in a saving of electricity use?


Comparison With Karlsruhe’s Tram-Trains

The Karlsruhe and Sheffield tram-trains are both variants of the Vossloh Citylink tram-train, that is now built by Stadler at Valencia in Spain.

The tram-trains in Karlruhe would appear to be very similar to the Class 399 tram-train, with a few small technical differences.

  • They work on 750 VDC and 15 KVAC overhead wires, whereas the Class 399 can work on 750 VDC and 25 KVAC.
  • As an electrical engineer, I wonder if the electrical systems are the same in both tram-trains and both can work 750 VDC and 15-25 KVAC, so they could work cross-border routes between say Germany and France.
  • They have couplers to work in multiple.
  • They have different passenger door arrangements.
  • The driver’s cab windows have different arrangement.

These pictures show Karlsruhe’s tram-trains.

Imagine these trams in Supertram colours on the streets of Sheffield.

Take a close look at picture 4.

You will notice that the Karlsruhe tram-trains have an obvious coupling and it can be assumed that they can work in ,multiple, although I don’t seem to have seen it happening.

Picture 4, also shows passengers apparently sitting in the back cab of the tram-train.

The fifth picture was taken from sitting inside the tram-train looking backwards, over the folded-down driver’s desk.

This feature wasn’t being used in Sheffield and this could be for one the following reasons.

  • The Class 399 tram-trains don’t have the feature installed.
  • There has been a Health and Safety decision.
  • It takes perhaps ten minutes to fold up the driver’s desk and this would slow the timetable.

It’s a pity , as this feature of German trams is very common and popular.


Comparison With Class 144 Train

The Class 399 tram-trains and Northern’s Class 144 train will share routes and on some routes the tram-trains may even take over from the Pacers.

So how do the two trains compare?

  • The Class 399 has room for 88 sitting and 150 standing passengers, whereas the Pacer has 99 seats in a two-car and 157 in a three-car train.
  • The Class 399 weighs 66.1 tonnes, whereas a two-car Pacer weighs 49.2 tonnes and a three-car weighs 72 .7 tonnes.
  • The Pacer has a toilet.
  • The Class 399 is air-conditioned, whereas the Pacer relioes on waste heat from the engine.
  • The Pacer is a 75 mph train, but seems to operate most of the time at 60 mph
  • The Class 399 has installed power of 870 kW, whereas the Pacer has just 336 kW.
  • The Pacer is thirty-year-old crap, that should have been strangled at birth, whereas the Clas 399 is a modern unit.

You could argue, that I’m being biased, as the tram-train can’t operate without electrification.

But it can!

Chemnitz or Karl Marz Stadt as the East Germans renamed it. also runs Stadler Citylink tram-trains, which are similar to the Class 399 tram-trains.

But the tram-trains in Chemnitz are different in that instead of being dual-voltage like Sheffield and Karlsruhe, they have a diesel-generator to power them away from the 750 VDC overhead wires.

This data sheet gives a few details of the Chemnitz Hybrid tram-train. The data sheet doesn’t specify the power of the diesel powerpack, but the much heavier Class 769 train uses two rail-proven MAN diesel engines of 390 kW each.

In this article on Rail News, which is entitled Penistone Line Is Chosen For £24m Tram Trains Trial, the original trial is described and 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 article was written in 2008 and hybrid Citylink tram-trains didn’t run in Chemnitz until 2016.

So the original proposal envisaged using hydrid diesel tram-trains.

Why not use them in Sheffield?


Operational Details

The Class 399 tram-trains have other features that became apparent on my observations.

Battery Use

Passing a Class 399 tram-train, I took this picture.

The Battery Point On A Class 399 Tram-Train

I hadn’t thought about it before, but batteries on a tram must have similar uses to those in any vehicle.

  • Starting up the vehicle.
  • Raising the pantograph, on an electric tram, train or locomotive.
  • Opening the powered doors.
  • Providing lighting and other important services in a power failure.
  • Being able to move the vehicle a short distance in case of a complete overhead power failure.
  • With a dual-voltage vehicle, it must be there in case the changeover isn’t successful.

But with a tram-train, battery operation surely opens up the possibility of changing between the tram and heavy rail lines using very simple track without electrification, points and cross-overs.

The driver would do the following.

  • Pan down on one network.
  • Use battery power to move perhaps fifty or a hundred metres to the other system.
  • Raise the pantograph on the other network.

Provided the driver obeys the rules and the signals, it should be a safe transfer.

Regenerative Braking

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Karlsruhe orders Vossloh tram-trains.

These tram-trains were the first of the Citylink family of tram-trains, of which the Class 399 tram-trains are a member.

This is said.

The three-section steel-bodied tram-trains will incorporate extensive crashworthiness design elements and provision for regenerative braking. Top speed will be 80 km/h, with the four bogies having pneumatic secondary suspension. The air-conditioned interior will have 104 seats cantilevered from the sides for easy cleaning.

How do the Citylink tram-trains handle the regenerative braking?

Two methods are possible.

  • They return the braking energy to the overhead wires.
  • They store it in their battery for reuse.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Supertram, there is a section called Overhead Wiring. This is said.

The contact wires are twin cadmium copper ones, twin wires being necessary because of the high installed power rating of the trams (1 megawatt). The regenerative braking on the tram feeds current back into the wires.

So any braking energy can be returned to the wires.

But as the Railway Gazette article dates from 2011, I wonder if the trams have been developed to use battery storage?

How Far Could The Tram-Train Go On Battery Power?

I’ll assume the following.

  • A New Routemaster bus battery of 75 kWh can be fitted to the Class 399.
  • Running on an easy track, the Class 399 could need  5 kWh for each car-mile.

This would give a range of five miles.

Note.

  1. The stiffer the route the smaller the range.
  2. Battery capacity should increase through the years.
  3. Battery cost should decrease through the years.
  4. Charging stations can be fitted at station stops.

The only certainties are that practical battery range will increase and battery cost will decrease.

Conclusions

These tram-trains have been well worth waiting for.

If I was in charge of the Sheffield Supertram and a decision was made to replace the original Siemens trams, I would think seriously about going to Stadler for a replacement fleet.

If the fleet was all Class 399 tram-trains, this could offer other savings.

  • The lower-power of the Class 399 tram-trains might cut electricity use.
  • Regenerative braking using onboard batteries saves electrification costs.
  • Would expensive twin cadmium copper contact wires still be needed?
  • One tram type would save costs in maintenance and staff training.

New must-have features like wi-fi and 4G boosters could be added, as the technology has now been developed, since the Siemens trams were built.

 

October 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments