The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Restoration Of A Daily Train Service On The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

The Restoration Of A Daily Train Service On The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is one of the projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The route starts at Keighley station, which is shown in this Google Map.

Keighley station is effectively a double station.

The basic plan appears to be to run daily passenger services on the heritage railway between Keighley and Oxenhope via Haworth.

But there is a lot more than meets the eye.

Commuter Use

The Wikipedia entry of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway has a section called Commuter Use, where this is said.

On weekends – in particular Saturday mornings, local residents who live in Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth and Ingrow catch the early morning diesel service to Keighley, returning later on steam hauled services. During the weekday outside of the summer months, locals instead use the local bus services.

It then says that studies have been done to investigate the railway’s use as a commuter route.

Heritage Use

There are attractions in the area to attract everybody.

In addition to the major centres of Leeds and Bradford, these stations are worth a visit for the sites they serve.

Haworth for the Brontes

Saltaire for the World Heritage Site of Salts Mill and the Hockneys.

Skipton for the Settle and Carlisle Railway.

LNER To Skipton

LNER run a single daily service to Skipton, that calls at Keighley and Shipley and it is rumoured on Wikipedia, that they would like to run more services.

My feeling, is that the company wants to run pairs of five-car Class 800 or Class 801 trains to Leeds, where they will split and go on to places like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton.

Skipton And Colne

This project appears to be a favourite of Governments, as I suspect it solves problems across the North. I last wrote about it in May this year in Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer.

Short Breaks In Yorkshire

Is Yprkshire and Leeds and Bradford in particular, making a bit for the short break market?

It all fits!

What Needs To Be Added To The Keighley And Worth Valley Railway?

If the railway is going to run a regular commuter or tourist service on the route between Keighley and Oxenhope, the following issues must be covered.

Rolling Stock

The railway has an extensive collection of rolling stock, which include a couple of diesel multiple units, that should be able to handle the service.

I would think, that if they wanted something more modern with a heritage feel, that a battery electric version of one of Vivarail’s Class 230 trains would fit the bill.

Stations

The stations on the railway seem to be in good condition, but I’m sure to handle commuters for Leeds and Bradford, there may be some updating required.

Ticketing

There must be through ticketing.

Conclusion

I don’t feel that this would be the most expensive of schemes, as the major expense of an interchange station between the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the Airedale Line is already built.

 

 

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has confirmed that investigations have been commissioned into the proposed reinstatement of the 19·3 km Colne – Skipton ‘missing link’ connecting east Lancashire and west Yorkshire.

Investigations will look into.

  • Capital costs
  • Passenger demand forecasts
  • Service options.
  • Gauge enhancement measures necessary to increase rail freight capacity on TransPennine routes including between Accrington and Todmorden stations.
  • Proposals for a rail freight terminal on the site of the demolished Huncoat power station near Accrington.

This sounds more than a simple proposal to reopen the route between Skipton and Colne stations.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Rail Route Between Preston And Skipton

The rail route between Preston on the West Coast Main Line and Skipton can be summarised as follows.

  • Preston and Rose Grove via Huncoat – double-track – electrification at Preston
  • Rose Grove and Colne – single-track
  • Colne and Skipton – to be reinstated – electrification at Skipton

Colne and Skipton might not be the easiest route to reinstate, as a dual carriageway has been built across the route to the North of Colne station.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Double-Track All The Way?

Consider.

  • The new section between Skipton and Colne could be built with single or double tracks.
  • The section between Rose Grove and Colne stations was built as a double-track and singled in 1971. British Rail’s accountants strike again!
  • The single-track section includes the Bank Top Viaduct, in the centre of Burnley.
  • Trains currently take twenty-one minutes between Rose Grove and Colne stations.

This picture shows Bank Top Viaduct.

I think the viaduct could be key to whether the route is double-track all the way.

  • If the redoubling can be performed at a reasonable cost, then that will be the way to go, as it might be possible to squeeze up to three trains per hour (tph) between Skipton and Rose Grove via Colne.
  • If on the other hand, doubling is too difficult or expensive, I estimate that no more than two tph would be possible.

For both solutions, there will need to be double track or a long passing loop, between Skipton and Colne.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Electrified?

Consider.

  •  Preston is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Skipton is a fully-electrified station with electric trains to and from Leeds.
  • Full electrification would create an electrified route between Leeds and Blackpool, Liverpool and Preston.
  • It could be a useful diversion route for electric passenger trains across the Pennines, when their are engineering works on the Huddersfield Line or due to the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Electrification of the route, would allow electric haulage of freight trains to and from the proposed Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  • Electrification of the Calder Valley Line between Preston and Leeds is always being proposed.
  • Electrication of Bank Top Viaduct could be tricky!

It should also be noted that this article on Rail Magazine was published on May 12th, 2020 and is entitled Electrification Key to Decarbonisation – Government. Views in Government about electrification have changed, so this might affect the decision to electrify the route.

The power is already there at both ends and electrification systems with low visual intrusion could be used.

On the other hand, some might consider electrification of the route inappropriate.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Partially Electrified?

Consider.

  • I estimate that the distance between Preston and Skipton will be 41 miles.
  • If Blackpool North station were the final destination, there would be 34 miles (2 x 17) to charge the batteries.
  • If Liverpool Lime Street station were the final destination, there would be 70 miles (2 x 35) to charge the batteries.
  • If Leeds station were the final destination, there would be 52 miles (2 x 26) to charge the batteries.
  • Manufacturers’ estimates of distances, indicate that battery electric trains could cover up to 65 miles on battery power.

As both ends of the route are electrified and trains would run extra miles under the wires, it would seem likely that a battery electric train could run between Preston and Skipton, without needing a charge en route.

Drax Group And Colne And Skipton Reinstatement

Drax power station uses Flue Gas Desulphurisation. Wikipedia says this about the process at Drax.

All six units are served by an independent wet limestone-gypsum flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) plant, which was installed between 1988 and 1996. This diverts gases from the boilers and passes them through a limestone slurry, which removes at least 90% of the sulphur dioxide (SO2). This is equivalent to removing over 250,000 tonnes of SO2 each year. The process requires 10,000 tonnes of limestone a week, sourced from Tunstead Quarry in Derbyshire. A byproduct of the process is gypsum, with 15,000 tonnes produced each week. This goes to be used in the manufacture of plasterboard. The gypsum is sold exclusively to British Gypsum, and it is transported by rail to their plant at Kirkby Thore (on the Settle-Carlisle Line).

The gypsum trains go through Skipton to access the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Drax power station is part-fuelled with biomass, which comes from all over the place including the United States via the Port of Liverpool.

It is no surprise that Drax Group are in favour of the Colne and Skipton reinstatement, as it would give them a new route between Drax and the Port of Liverpool.

This press release from Drax Group gives more details including this paragraph.

It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain at Drax, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station in North Yorkshire – reducing journey times from the Port of Liverpool to less than three hours, a journey which can take up to nine hours at the moment.

Trains will avoid the busy Huddersfield Line and Manchester Victoria station.

Drax’s statement would appear to be a powerful reason to reinstate Colne and Skipton.

These smart new or refurbished wagons, used by Drax to move woodchip should be much faster than the typical 20-30 mph freight speed of TransPennine routes.

This page on the Drax web site, is entitled This train isn’t like any other in the UK, and it gives more details about the wagons.

  • They were custom-designed and built in the last few years.
  • The roofs open automatically for loading.
  • A twenty-five wagon train can be loaded in 37 minutes.
  • A full train can carry between 1,700 and 1,800 tonnes of biomass.
  • Each train can unload in forty minutes.
  • They are the largest wagons on UK railways by a margin of 30 %.
  • Each wagon is nineteen metres long and can carry over seventy tonnes of biomass.
  • Approximately 14 trains per day arrive at Drax, bringing 20,000 tonnes of biomass.

I suspect to minimise journey times, Drax would like to see a fully electrified route between Preston and Skipton and a new double-track route between Colne and Skipton.

The Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal

This Google Map shows the position of the former Huncoat power station.

Note.

  1. Hapton station in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Huncoat station in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The East Lancashire Line running between the two stations.
  4. The M65 running across the top of the map.
  5. The A56 or Accrington bypass running North-South from the motorway junction at the top of the map.

Huncoat power station appears to have been in the South West corner of the rough-looking area, South of the M65 and the railway and West of the A56.

There is no Wikipedia entry for the demolished power station, but this page on The View From The North has some details and pictures.

It does appear to be a well connected site for a Rail Freight Terminal.

  • There could be a direct connection to the motorway network.
  • There is space for a connection with the East Lancashire Line, that would allow trains to access the interchange from both directions.
  • Trains could go West to the Port of Liverpool and the West Coast Main Line via Preston.
  • Trains could go East to Leeds and Yorkshire and on to the East Coast ports of Felixstowe, Hull, Immingham and Teesport.
  • If the East Lancashire Line were to be electrified, electric haulage could be used.

The Rail Freight Terminal could be bigger than a hundred hectares.

Gauge Enhancement On TransPennine Routes Including Between Accrington And Todmorden

Consider

  • Most freight trains passing through Hebden Bridge station  use the route via Rochdale and Todmorden to get to and from Liverpool and the West.
  • Few if any use the East Lancashire Line via Accrington.
  • Some passenger trains do take the Accrington route.
  • There are five tunnels between Accrington and the Todmorden Curve.
  • The building of the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal, must mean that trains between the Rail Freight Terminal and Leeds and the East would need to use the Calder Valley Line as far as the Todmorden Curve. or the East Lancashire Line to Colne for the new route.

As freight trains rarely seem to use the East Lancashire Line to the East of Accrington could it be that this section of track needs gauge enhancement?

But if this gauge enhancement were to be completed, that could give two routes between Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal and the East, for the largest freight trains.

Thoughts On The Project Management

It would appear that there are a series of sub-projects to be done.

  1. Perform gauge enhancement and route improvement on the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne. This would include any doubling of the route, if that were to be done.
  2. Start building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  3. Start building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  4. Finish building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  5. Start passenger and freight services between Skipton and Colne.
  6. Finish building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  7. Perform gauge enhancement on the Calder Valley Line between Accrington and Todmorden.

My objectives would be.

  • Open the Skipton and Colne route as a TransPennine diversion, as early as possible.
  • Upgrade the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne with minimum disruption.
  • Open the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal as early as possible.
  • Create multiple freight routes to and from Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.

Electrification would be a future aspiration.

Whither Drax?

Drax Gtroup and their flagship power station have a major environmental problem in that the power station is a large emitter of carbon dioxide.

They also run a lot of diesel locomotive hauled trains carrying biomass, fly ash, gypsum, limestone and other materials to and from Drax power station, which is on the Drax branch of the Pontefract Line.

  • The Pontefract Line was built to serve the coalfields in the area.
  • It runs between Leeds and Hull via Pontefract and Goole.
  • It is not electrified, but it connects to the electrification at Leeds.
  • In the East is has good connections to Cleethorpes, Goole, Grimsby, Hull and Immingham.
  • The Port of Immingham is a major port, that is used by Drax to import biomass, which is hauled to the power station by diesel locomotives.
  • The route between Drax and Immingham has been improved recently, by the addition of the North Doncaster chord.
  • High Speed Two will run alongside the Pontefract Line on its approach to Leeds.
  • Freight trains between Drax and Skipton use an electrified diversion South of Leeds via Armley, that avoids the need for freight trains to pass through Leeds station.

I can see that in a more favourable climate for electrification, that electrification of the Pontefract Line would be recommended.

Given, the environmental record of Drax, which is both good and bad, I would suspect they would like to see electrification of the Pontefract Line, as it would create a lower carbon route for biomass trains between Immingham and the power station.

A New Electrified TransPennine Route For Passengers And Freight

I sense that a grander plan might exist behind all my thoughts.

If the following routes were to be electrified.

  • Preston and Skipton
  • The Pontefract Line between Leeds and Hull.
  • Knottingley and Immingham via Thorne

Hull and Liverpool would be connected for passenger electric trains and Liverpool and Immingham would be connected for freight.

Drax could also be on an electrified branch and they could say, they were hauling all their trains using renewable electricity. Marketing and environment are always important

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

LNER Expands To Huddersfield

This press release from LNER is entitled LNER Announces Direct Services Between Huddersfield And London.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

LNER is proud to announce new Azuma services will be introduced between Huddersfield and London King’s Cross from Monday 18 May 2020.

The daily weekday service in each direction will be LNER’s first direct link between the West Yorkshire market town and the capital.

They will also connect nearby Dewsbury directly with London King’s Cross, after more than a generation of no direct services between Huddersfield and London.

The timetable will be as follows.

The new southbound service will depart from Huddersfield at 05:50 and Dewsbury at 06:01. The Azuma service will arrive in Leeds at 06:16, where it will couple to another five-car Azuma to form the 06:40 Leeds to London King’s Cross service, which will arrive in the capital at 08:51 on weekdays.

The evening northbound service will depart from London King’s Cross at 18:03 and will be formed of two five-car Azuma trains, which will split in Leeds, with one train continuing to Skipton and the other to Dewsbury, arriving at 20:45 and then Huddersfield at 20:58.

Joining and splitting is definitely being brought to Yorkshire by LNER.

I wonder, if there will be a London to Huddersfield service in the reverse direction in a few months.

March 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Skipton Station

Skipton station is more than just the terminus of the Airedale Line from Leeds and Bradford Forster Square stations.

It is the Eastern gateway to the iconic Settle and Carlisle Railway, that after suffering temporary closures in 2015-16 because of Storm Desmond and some of the most challenging reconstruction in recent years, the line is now ready to play its part as one of England’s most memorable tourist attractions.

These pictures show the station and the lines towards Settle.

But Skipton and its station can get more important.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the station, these improvements are mentioned.

More Virgin Services To London

Virgin Train’s new Class 800/801 trains are more flexible than the current trains working to Leeds.

I think we will see two five car trains joining together to form ten-car trains, as this will make better use of the capacity of the railway.

So could a five-car train from Skipton connect with a five-car train from Harrogate and become a ten-car train from Leeds to London?

I suspect the answer is yes, despite the fact that the Harrogate Line is not electrified.

More Capacity On The Airedale Line

This is needed and could be by allowing six instead of four car trains or increased frequencies.

The length increase to six-cars would be necessary for the Class 800/801 to run to Skipton.

More Trains To Carlisle Via Settle

After all the money spent on this line, I can see the line made to work hard to pay back the cost.

More Trains To Morecambe via Lancaster

If one line gets more trains, why not the other?

It also needs better trains than the Class 150 train, I saw going to Morecambe.

Skipton To Colne

SELRAP have been lobbying to reopen the rail link between Skipton and Colne.

There are problems with reopening the line, especially around Colne.

But I think it is one of those projects, that if that keen hill-walker and Prime Minister; Theresa May said go, it would happen.

It certainly, isn’t a crazy project.

 

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

From Bradford To Skipton

I took the train from Bradford Forster Square station to Skipton station.

It is a route on which there are interesting things to see,

Saltaire

Everything must come second to the World Heritage Site at Saltaire.

Shipley Station

Shipley station is an unusual concept in that the station is built in the middle of a triangular junction.

This Google Map shows the station

It has five platforms and four lifts.

Keighley Station

Keighley station is the  interchange with the Keithley and Worth Valley Railway, which is a heritage railway running steam and vintage diesel trains.

There is a section called Commuter Use in the Wikipedia entry for the Keithley and Worth Valley Railway.

This is said.

As a privately owned heritage railway, the line does not specifically serve commuters; however, a study by Ove Arup & Partners funded by Metro looked at the feasibility of a daily commuter service between Oxenhope and Keighley in 2009.[16] After the first stage of the study was released, Metro stated concerns about a lack of funding and available rolling stock, meaning that services are unlikely to run in the short to medium term

Given that we live in an era of innovative rolling stock, why not run a battery train between Keithley and Haworth?

 

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

Kirkstall Forge Station

Kirkstall Forge station has recently reopened, after being closed in 1905.

It is certainly an impressive new station and one of the best new stations I’ve seen.

There are certainly some nice touches.

  • A covered bridge with glass sides to give good views.
  • Nice finishes.
  • I liked the crash barriers and seats made out of steel, to emphasise the station’s history.
  • The Braille signs on the handrails. Something I first saw in Italy and wrote about in A Nice Touch On The Milan Underground.

At present, it doesn’t seem that busy and trains are not very numerous, but as the development gets underway in the area and the car parks fill up, this station could get very busy.

Some of the trains are going to and from Skipton, on the Airedale Line. If you read the Future section for that station’s Wikipedia entry, you get the impression that lots of things will happen at Skipton.

  • Direct London trains to Skipton are on the cards and a stop at Kirkstall Forge would be ideal for West Leeds and those that live on the Wharfedale Line to Ilkley, which also call at Kirkstall Forge.
  • But surely, Skipton is one of those places that is a jumping off point for the Pennines and also the Settle-Carlisle Line.
  • In addition, if plans to connect Skipton to Colne to connect Lancashire and Yorkshire through the Pennines come to fruition, Kirkstall Force could be the station, where passengers drive to get their train to the other side.

I don’t think you can accuse Network Rail and Metro of building a station at Kirkstall Forge, that doesn’t have future proofing.

It will be interesting to go in perhaps five years and see how this station has developed.

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments