The Anonymous Widower

Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.

Note.

  1. The single-platform Bow Street station cost £8 million.
  2. The single-platform Soham station cost nearly £22 million, but it has a bridge.
  3. Reopening the Okehampton branch and refurbishing Okehampton station cost £40 million.

I think costs will be very tight.

Possible Train Services

This is said in the article about the train service on the branch.

While third rail electrification was originally proposed, this idea has been discarded in favour of self-powered trains on the branch, such as battery-operated trains. Possible destinations include Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet for interchange with trains going to London, or extension of London to Dartford or Gravesend services over the branch, using hybrid third-rail/battery trains.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail will be using battery-electric trains to provide services to the new Headbolt Lane station, as permission was not available for extending the existing third-rail track.
  • Electrification would probably cost more than providing a charging system at Hoo station.
  • Turning the trains at Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet could be difficult and a new bay platform would probably break the budget.
  • Both Dartford and Gravesend have two trains per hour (tph), that could be extended to the new Hoo station.
  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • There are also half-a-dozen level crossings on the route, which I doubt the anti-thord rail brigade would not want to be electrified.
  • The Dartford services have a possible advantage in that they stop at Abbey Wood station for Crossrail.
  • It may be easier to run services through Gravesend station, if the terminating service from Charing Cross were to be extended to Hoo station.
  • A two tph service between London Charing Cross and Hoo stations, with intermediate stops at at least London Bridge, Lewisham, Abbey Wood and Dartford would probably be desirable.

I feel that the most affordable way to run trains to Hoo station will probably be to use battery-electric trains, which are extended from Gravesend.

It may even be possible to run trains to Hoo station without the need of a charging system at the station, which would further reduce the cost of infrastructure.

Possible Trains

Consider.

  • According to Wikipedia, stopping Gravesend services are now run by Class 376, Class 465, Class 466 and Class 707 trains.
  • Real Time Trains indicate that Gravesend services are run by pathed for 90 mph trains.
  • Class 376, Class 465 and Class 466 trains are only 75 mph trains.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains and only entered service in 2017.

I wonder, if Siemens designed these trains to be able to run on battery power, as several of their other trains can use batteries, as can their New Tube for London.

In Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London, I said this.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled London Underground Deep Tube Upgrade.

This is an extract.

More speculatively, there might be a means to independently power a train to the next station, possibly using the auxiliary battery, in the event of traction power loss.

Batteries in the New Tube for London would have other applications.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Moving trains in sidings and depots with no electrification.

It should be born in mind, that battery capacity for a given weight of battery will increase before the first New Tube for London runs on the Piccadilly line around 2023.

A battery-electric train with a range of fifteen miles and regenerative braking to battery would probably be able to handle a return trip to Hoo station.

An Update In The July 2022 Edition Of Modern Railways

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

Note that Steve White is Managing Director of Southeastern.

I’ll go along with what he says!

Conclusion

I believe that a well-designed simple station and branch line could be possible within the budget.

A battery-electric upgrade to Class 707 trains could be a solution.

But the trains could be very similar to those needed for Uckfield and to extend electric services in Scotland.

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Soham Station – 14th December 2021

I visited the new Soham station today.

I took four trains in total.

  • The 11:12 from King’s Cross, which arrived at  Ely at 12:23
  • The 12:31 from Ely, which arrived at  Soham at 12:39
  • The 12:51 from Soham, which arrived at  Ely at 12:59
  • The 13:18 from Ely, which arrived at King’s Cross at 14:33

The outward journey took  87 minutes, with the return taking 102 minutes.

I took these pictures at Soham station.

Note.

  1. The train is a three-car Class 755 train.
  2. There is only a single platform.
  3. There are dropped kerbs everywhere on the walking routes.
  4. There is plenty of car parking.
  5. There are disabled car parking spaces.
  6. There is a circular turning area in front of the station, which forms a high-capacity Kiss-and-Ride, with space for a couple of buses.
  7. The track towards Ely is single-track
  8. The track towards Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich is double-track.
  9. The bridge is ready for a second platform, should it be needed and/or installed.
  10. The station is unmanned.

These are some further thoughts.

Is Soham The Ultimate Step-Free Station?

Consider

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains are level with the platform, as they have gap fillers.
  • Walking from the car parking to the train is step-free.
  • There are lots of dropped kerbs and tactile pavements.

I suspect it is one of the few stations in the UK, where if you arrive on foot or by car or bus, that there is no step to the train.

This document on Network Rail says this about the footbridge.

A stepped footbridge across the railway to connect to an existing public right of way, designed for future installation of lifts if a second platform is constructed.

It looks like Network Rail have all eventualities covered.

The Station Has Adequate Parking

This picture from the gallery shows the parking to the South of the station.

The Network Rail document says that the car park can accommodate 50 vehicles and has four spaces for blue badge holders.

But looking at this picture, there could be space for more parking.

The Station Is Well-Connected To The Road System

This Google Map shows the town of Soham.

Note.

  1. Soham has a by-pass around the Eastern side of the town.
  2. The railway passes to the West side of the town.
  3. The station is marked by the small blue dot to the left of the word Soham in the middle.
  4. The old road goes through the centre of the town.
  5. Soham is a town of nearly eleven thousand people.
  6. I suspect the town is fairly flat and many will walk or cycle to the station.

Hopefully, the station will attract a lot of passengers.

Does The Station Need A Second Platform?

Network Rail have shown with the Borders Railway and the Avocet Line, that two trains per hour (tph) can be run reliably on a line with sections of single-track and some stations with only one platform.

One of the problems with a second platform at Soham, would be that lifts would be needed for many to cross the track.

It is not the cost that is the problem, but lifts do not have a hundred percent reliability.

Would installing lifts mean providing staff at the station?

I think, that unless the station attracts a lot of passengers, the second platform will never be built.

Would A Second Track Be Provided At Soham Station?

This is a different question, with possibly a different answer.

A large number of freight trains pass through Soham station each day and to increase their number Network Rail have proposed double-tracking the route between Soham and Ely.

As Soham and Ely are just over five miles apart, I wonder if Network Rail are thinking of putting a freight loop through Soham station, that continues to Ely.

These pictures show a long freight train waiting in the freight loop at Ely station before proceeding to Peterborough and the West.

I think that this loop is bi-directional.

Could the new freight loop be built, so that the following happens?

  • The freight loop starts to the South of Soham station.
  • The freight loop connects to the freight loop at Ely station.
  • All passenger trains use the current single-track.
  • All freight trains use the freight loop.
  • Both tracks would be bi-directional.
  • Freight trains don’t pass through the current platform at Soham station.

It stood be noted that passenger  and freight trains take less than ten minutes between Ely and Soham stations.

As both freight and passenger trains would have their own tracks, I suspect that a total of at least four passenger tph and four freight tph would be able to pass between Soham and Ely.

The A14 Parkway Station

I wrote this section originally in Soham Station Aims For December 2021 Opening, but it still applies.

The A14 Parkway station is a proposal from the East West Railway.

  • It would be just to the East of Chippenham junction and would be served by both Greater Anglia’s services between Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • It would also be close to the major road junction, where the A11 and the A14 meet.
  • It would be a Park-and-Ride station.

I believe it could be a major factor in cutting road mileage in East Anglia, as drivers going to Cambridge from Ipswich, Norwich, a large area of North-East East Anglia and North Essex could find that using the A14 Parkway station an easier and faster route. But the A14 Parkway would need a frequent service to the soon-to-be-three main Cambridge stations.

A Soham and Cambridge service could reverse at the A14 Parkway station or by careful timetabling, passengers would be able to change trains in a minute or two.

A Cambridge And Soham Service

I do wonder, if Cambridge could benefit from a triangular metro.

The three points of the triangle would be A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The three legs would have the following stations.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – Newmarket, Dullingham, Six Mile Bottom *, Fulbourne *, Cherry Hinton * and Cambridge
  • Cambridge South and Ely – Cambridge, Cambridge North and Waterbeach
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – Soham and Fordham *

Note.

  1. Stations marked with an asterisk (*) are possible new stations.
  2. The basic frequency would be one tph.
  3. Trains would reverse at A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The triangular nature of the service may mean that to avoid the driver constantly changing ends, that automation and video technology may allow driving from either end of the train.

These existing services would fit in with the triangular service.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough via A14 Parkway, Soham and Ely
  • Ipswich and Cambridge via A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Dullingham
  • Wisbech and Cambridge via Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.

Note.

  1. All services would probably be one tph.
  2. Some services currently terminating at Cambridge, may be extended to Cambridge South.
  3. There will be other services from East West Railway.

The frequencies on the various legs would be as follows.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – 2 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Cambridge South and Ely – 5 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – 2 tph

The route between A14 Parkway and Cambridge would need to be improved, but this is planned by East West Railway.

Would It Be Possible To Commute From Soham To London?

My timings of around ninety minutes are probably well within the endurance of the average commuter.

Conclusion

Soham station is not your run-of-the-mill rural station.

 

December 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soham Station Aims For December 2021 Opening

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Soham Set To Benefit From New Station After 56 years Without.

Work only started on Soham station earlier this year, so this paragraph is a bit of a surprise.

The completion of the work means that from December, Greater Anglia’s Ipswich to Peterborough service will finally be able to stop at Soham once more, better connecting the population.

The work referred to is changes to the signalling to allow services to call at the new Soham station.

It certainly appears that the station is being built at a canter!

I have some thoughts on the station.

Station Location

This Google Map shows the town of Soham.

Note.

  1. The railway between Ely and Ipswich running North-South at the Western edge of the map.
  2. Station Road connecting the town centre to the railway.
  3. Looking at the map to a large scale, it certainly appears that construction has started, as dark green portacabins and red and white barriers ae visible.

This Network Rail visualisation shows the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The visualisation is looking to the East.
  2. Ely and Peterborough are to the left.
  3. Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich are to the right.
  4. The footbridge is wide enough to cross a double-track, although the route is currently only single-track at this point.
  5. There is just a single platform on the town side of the track.

It appears to be a simple design, that possibly could speed the construction.

Station Design

This Network Rail visualisation is a closer view of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The turning circle and the carpark on the town (Eastern) side of the station can be clearly seen.
  2. The single platform will be 100 metres long and will be able to accommodate a four-car Class 755 train, which is 80.7 metres long.
  3. It appears that there is a concrete wall at the back of the platform. Is this to protect passengers from the sometimes-biting winds of the Fens or the swirling air currents generated by passing freight trains.

The station and footbridge are future proofed for a possible second platform and lifts.

Services

Currently, Greater Anglia runs a train between Ipswich and Peterborough every two hours, although this was promised to be doubled in frequency at some time in the future.

Times to various stations are as follows.

  • Ipswich – 48 minutes
  • Bury St. Edmunds – 19 minutes
  • Ely – 9 minutes
  • Peterborough – 50 minutes

These times are from Real Time Trains, which already acknowledges the station.

Note that to get to the important city of Cambridge passengers will need to change at either Bury St. Edmunds or Ely.

In the future there are two ways that the connection between Soham and Cambridge can be improved.

Reinstatement Of The Warren Hill Junction and Snailwell Junction Chord

This Google Map shows the layout, where the Ely and Ipswich Line and the Cambridge Branch Line join to the North of Newmarket in a triangular junction.

Note.

  1. The A14 runs across the top of the map.
  2. The Ely and Ipswich Line runs in a curve to the South of the A14 and the British Racing School.
  3. The former Snailwell junction was to the South of the British Racing School and was the Northern point of the triangular junction.
  4. Chippenham junction is the Eastern point of the triangular junction and is where the Ely and Cambridge lines join.
  5. The former Warren Hill junction was at the South close to the stables of Godolphin and John Gosden and was the Southern point of the triangular junction. From Warren Hill junction the railway runs through the Warren Hill tunnel to Newmarket station and ultimately to Cambridge.

If the chord were to be reinstated between Snailwell and Warren Hill junctions, it would be possible to run an hourly service between Soham and Cambridge via Dullingham and Newmarket.

The A14 Parkway Station

The A14 Parkway station is a proposal from the East West Railway.

  • It would be just to the East of Chippenham junction and would be served by both Greater Anglia’s services between Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • It would also be close to the major road junction, where the A11 and the A14 meet.
  • It would be a Park-and-Ride station.

I believe it could be a major factor in cutting road mileage in East Anglia, as drivers going to Cambridge from Ipswich, Norwich, a large area of North-East East Anglia and North Essex could find that using the A14 Parkway station an easier and faster route. But the A14 Parkway would need a frequent service to the soon-to-be-three main Cambridge stations.

A Soham and Cambridge service could reverse at the A14 Parkway station or by careful timetabling, passengers would be able to change trains in a minute or two.

Two Trains Per Hour Between Newmarket and Cambridge

An hourly service between Soham and Cambridge would add an invaluable second hourly service between Newmarket and Cambridge.

It would also fit in with the regular proposals to reopen stations at Six Mile Bottom, Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton.

 

August 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plan Submitted For £18.6 Million Station At Soham

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

The new Soham station appears to be simple.

  • A single 102 metre long platform, that will be able to handle a four-car Class 755 train.
  • A car-park. Fifty spaces is mentioned on Wikipedia.
  • Trains on Greater Anglia‘s two-hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough service will call. This service is planned to go hourly, with some services extended to Colchester.
  • The picture in the article shows a bridge.
  • Opening could be in Spring 2022.

I’ve read somewhere that the station will have provision for adding a second platform.

  • Looking at the maps of the railway through Soham, it is double-track at the Southern end of the village and single-track at the Northern end.
  • The single track section, which reaches as far as Ely, will possibly be doubled before 2030.
  • East West Rail are also proposing a new A14 Parkway station at Chippenham Junction, which is close to both the A14 and the A11. I wrote about this in East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford.
  • The Mayor of Cambridge has plans for a direct service between the new Soham station and Cambridge.

It’ll all be happening in this part of East Anglia. Most is driven by the expansion and success of Cambridge.

It’s all a bit different to the dark days of the Second World War, when the town suffered from the Soham Rail Disaster.

Will there be a memorial at the new station?

A14 Parkway Station

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the section of East West Rail to the East of Cambridge.

The report recommends building a new station at Chippenham Junction, which is to the East of Newmarket, close to the junction of the A11 and the A14 . The station is referred to in the report as A14 Parkway station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The A14 going across the top of the map.
  2. The junction between the A14 and the A11 in the top-right corner.
  3. The triangular Chippenham Junction, pointing North to Ely, South to Newmarket and East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Having lived in that area for nearly thirty years, I believe that this is a much-needed station.

  • Stations in the area, with the exception of Cambridge North are short of car parking.
  • There would be two trains per hour (tph) to/from Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.
  • There would be one tph to Cambridge, Cambridge North, Cambridge South , Ely, Peterborough and the new Soham station.

I suspect that there could be shuttle trains to provide extra services to Cambridge and Ely.

A shuttle train could run between A14 Parkway, Cambridge South, Ely, Soham and back to A14 Parkway.

  • The service might be arranged so that trains reverse at Cambridge South, Ely and A14 Parkway stations.
  • As an alternative trains could reverse at Bury St. Edmunds instead of A14 Parkway.
  • Trains would call at all intermediate stations.

I believe that if the A14 Parkway station were to be built, that there would be no need to rebuild the Western track of Chippenham Junction to enable services between Cambridge and Soham via Newmarket.

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

New Station In Soham Revealed With Network Rail To Unveil Design Proposals At Public Meetings

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

Rebuilding of Soham station has been talked about for years and it now looks like it is finally on its way.

This is a significant paragraph.

The early design work for the new station would allow for a second platform and footbridge to be constructed and a second track added as part of a future project.

I think this means, that doubling the route between Kennett and Ely stations will be done after Soham station is rebuilt.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 2 Comments

Greater Anglia’s Ten Point Wish List

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Greater Anglia to lobby government for investment in 10-point upgrade plea.

So what do they want?

  1. Haughley Junction upgrade.
  2. Ely area upgrade.
  3. Ely to Soham track doubling
  4. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  5. Long loops at Colchester and Witham to allow fast trains to pass slow ones.
  6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford.
  8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.
  9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program.
  10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverspool Street station.

Should we call it ambitious, greedy or sensible?

1. Haughley Junction Upgrade

This has been requested for years, so I suspect it has been thought about for a long time.

But the new East Anglia Franchise has plans that will affect the traffic through Haughley Junction.

  • Three express trains per hour (tph) between Ipswich and Norwich – Up from 2 tph.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds – Up from three trains per two hours.

To make matters worse, an increasing number of freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough will be going through the junction.

This Google Map shows the junction.

haughleyjunction

Note.

 

  • Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Ipswich are to the South.
  • There is a handy level crossing where station road crosses the tracks.
  • Diss and Norwich is to the North.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough are to the North West.

You could naively think, that around the junction is nothing but farmland and a few trees, but the owners of |Tiptree Fram probably have lived three for decades.

You are the driver of one of Greater Anglia’s new crack Stadler express electric multiple units scheduled to reach Norwich in ninety minutes from London

Going North, you have just stopped at Stowmarket station. But you can’t leave as Haughley Junction is blocked by one of the many long freight trains crossing the flat junction from the line to Peterborough to go South to Felixstowe.

So bang goes your schedule!

Going South, you have a similar problem, in that freight trains could delay progress, whilst they cross from the Peterborough Line.

Freight trains and passenger trains joining the Peterborough line from the South, would appear to not cause such a large problem, as they just turn left without crossing any lines.

In an ideal world, there probably needs to be a single-track flyover, so that trains from Peterborough to Stowmarket can cross the Norwich lines without delaying trains. A similar flyover at Hitchin cost £47million.

So it wouldn’t be cheap and would the locals fight the construction of such a structure in the midst of Suffolk countryside to benefit commuters from Norfolk?

A complete scheme would also add a loop line just to the West of Haugthley Junction, so that long freight trains could wait without getting in the way, until there was a suitable time to cross.

I suspect, that to keep costs down and avoid annoying the natives, all that will happen at Haughley Junction is a limited scheme so that trains can wait before crossing.

Over the last few years, Network Rail have developed some innovative junctions and crossings, so let’s hope that they come up with a scheme that’s efficient, affordable and can be built without closing either of the important routes through the area.

But whatever is done here will certainlt help Greater Anglia achieve their objective of three tph between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

Knowing the area well, I suspect that there will also be an enormous fight over if Network Rail decided to close the level crossing shown on the map.

2. Ely Area Upgrade

I looked at this in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

Whatever is proposed here will not be just a few millions and probably very disruptive to implement, but it is essential to acommodate the planned extra services through the area.

3. Ely To Soham Track Doubling

Upgrading this six miles of single track might appear to be easy across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, but the line does include a couple of level crossings and a couple of bridges.

This Google Map shows the ely end of the route at Ely Dock Junction.

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Note the single-track Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse.

Luckily, a freight train derailed on the original single-track bridge and virtually demolished it. The new bridge may be only single-track, but provision was made for a second track.

A few times, I’ve passed Ely Dock Junction on a train or stood on the platform at Ely and seen a freight train waiting at the Dock Junction to pass through the spaghetti at Ely.

Double-tracking would mean waiting freight trains wouldn’t delay Eastbound services on the Ipswich to Ely Line.

But will a chord be built so services can go directly between Cambridge North station and the Ipswich line?

This could enable Colchester Peterborough services to take a route of Bury St. Edmunds-Cambridge North

The Google Map shows the site of the original Soham station.

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

Note that the line reverts back to double-track, just South of the former station site.

So will doubling of line include provision for building a new station at Soham, as Cambridgeshire Council have proposed?

You can certainly see, why Greater Anglia want this section of line to be doubled.

4. Trowse Swing Bridge Replacement

The Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on the Great vEastern Main Line, as not only does it restrict operations into Norwich station, but it makes access to Crown Point Depot difficult.

It’s definitely the railway equivalent of having a single-lane section for both directions on a motorway.

In Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?, I proposed the following under An Affordable Alternative.

It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and  foot and cycle bridges.

As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.

Other bribes could be given to occasional users.

There will be many bridges to cross, before Trowse bridge is replaced with a modern structure, more suited to a modern railway.

Unless of course, the rusting and decrepit bridge decides to do the honourable thing and falls down of its own volition.

It’s probably too much to hope, that a freight train derails on the bridge, as one fortunately did on the Hawk Bridge at Ely.

5. Long Loops At Colchester And Witham

Colchester station is not a station that would win awards for efficiency.

This description of the platforms is from Wikipedia.

The “up” (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The “down” side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.

The new franchise has plans, that should make the station more efficient, but much busier.

  • Norwich to London trains will have a frequency of three tph.
  • A new one tph service will link Colchester and Peterborough, which would mean that Colchester to Stowmarket via Manningree and Ipswich would have a frequency of four tph.

But the interesting idea is to extend the service between Sudbury and Marks Tey stations to Colchester Town station via Colchester.

The  service between Sudbury and Colchester Town could be two tph, as the trains could pass each other between Colchester and Marks Tey, if the track allowed.

This Press Release from Network Rail is entitled More Reliable Railway For Essex As £100M+ Upgrade Is Completed.

This is said.

The last piece of the jigsaw included the commissioning of new ‘bi-directional’ signalling on the Great Eastern main line between Colchester and Marks Tey – meaning trains can now travel in both directions on both lines. This allows them to bypass problems should they occur and will improve flexibility and help reduce delays.

I have just flown my helicopter over the junction at Marks Tey and it looks like there is a short loop line of about a kilometre on the South side of the main line, which is connected by a series of crossovers to the \Gainsborough Line. On the other side of the main line, there would also appear to be a connection between the two lines.

So a train from Colchester Town could do the following.

  • Travel to Colchester station on the Sunshine Coast Line.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Colchester station.
  • Travel on the main line towards Marks Tey.
  • Switch to the loop North of Marks Tey.
  • Cross over the main lines and enter the Gainsborough Line to stop in Marks Tey station.
  • Travel to Sudbury and back.
  • After stopping at Marks Tey station return via the main line to Colchester and then on to Colchester Town.

Currently, a train is scheduled to go from Colchester Town to Marks Tey in 13 minutes, with the round trip from Marks Tey to Sudbury taking about 45 minutes.

If the service between Colchester Town and Sudbury was to be two tph, the Marks Tey to Sudbury round trip must be under thirty minutes, so that only one train is on the branch line at a time.

The service is currently run using various trains like a Class 153 train, which have a top speed of 75 mph and acceleration to match, whereas the mosdern Class 170 train has a 100 mph capability. The Gainsborough Line also has a speed limit of just 50 mph.

So I suspect, that with some judicious engineering on the branch and modern trains, that a thirty minute round trip is possible, thus making two tph on the Gainsborough Line a distinct possibility.

All these service changes could simplify the pattern of trains through Colchester station.

  • Most trains stop in the station and continue on their journey.
  • Peterborough trains could use the bay platform 5 or a reversing siding to turn back.
  • The bay platform 6 could be used as a terminus for trains from London as now.

So will the tracks be arranged so that there is an avoiding line between the platforms just as there is at Ipswich station and used to be at Chelmsford station?

The certainly would appear to be enough space.

 

This picture illustrates the problems at Witham station.

A Long Freight Train At Witham

Note.

  • The freight train was going towards London and was slowly going through the station.
  • The two lines in the middle are the two main lines, where trains generally stop.
  • When the new Stadler and Aventra trains enter service in a couple of years, there will be more trains going through the station.
  • At times, trains could be separated by just a few minutes.
  • As these trains are designed expedite stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more trains doing a Touch-and-Go.

This article on the EssexLive web site is entitled Witham loop could happen by 2024 with added faster trains to Liverpool Street.

It says that the loop will be built North of Witham station and would allow faster trains to pass slower ones by 2024, but that Simon Burns MP will be pushing to have it built sooner.

This Google Map shows Witham station and the line to the North.

Witham Station

Note the Braintree Branch Line going off to the North-West.

It does appear that there would be space for the necessary extra tracks to create passing loops North of Witham station.

These would mean that passing wouldn’t have to be dome with the slower train blocking a slow platform.

It certainly looks as if that both loops will be beneficial to all train operators and passengers.

6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London

Given the following on the Great Eastern Main Line South of Colchester.

  • Increased numbers of trains.
  • Speeds of 100 mph and possibly more.
  • The need to do very fast stops and maintain headway of a few minutes.
  • The trains will be new.

I suspect that digital signalling will be a necessity to maintain the required service frequency.

7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford

There is certainly pressure for this service from the local Councils in the area.

Would it include the preliminary works from the upgrade of Angel Road station?

8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne

This is important both for Greater Anglia services to Stansted Airport and Cambridge and Crossrail 2.

I wrote about this in Crossrail 2 ‘Cannot Go Ahead’ Without Four-Tracking Of West Anglia Line.

But it will be a large and very disruptive project.

9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program

I have been held up so many times by level crossing incidents, this can’t happen to soon.

10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverpool Street station

I thought that this was going to happen, as soon as the Crossrail trains go into the tunnels.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia are not asking for the stars and it is a generally sensible wish list.

Possibly the most expensive projects are the following.

  1. Ely area upgrade.
  2. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  3. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  4. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.

But some like the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line are not urgent, until Crossrail 2 gets an opening date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment