The Anonymous Widower

Options For High Speed To Hastings

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

Before I list the options, I’ll list a few facts and questions about the current service to Hastings, the various lines and stations.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows Ashford International station.

Note the Marshlink Line goes off the map to the East of the two small roundabouts at the bottom.

The biggest factor that needs to be considered is that some form flyover or dive-under may be needed so that trains can run between the Marshlink Line and the two platforms on the North side of the station, where Highspeed services to and from St. Pancras International call.

Will All Highspeed Services Using The Marshlink Line Stop At Ashford International Station?

Consider the following.

  • Passengers might like to go between places on the South Coast, like Hastings and Brighton, and Europe, by changing at Ashford International station
  • If a voltage change were needed, Ashford International station is already used for this purpose.

I would think it unlikely that services would not stop at Ashford International station.

Class 395 and Class 80x Trains

The Class 395 trains and the various forms of Class 800 trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

The Class 395 trains have the following features.

  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on DC Lines
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling.

The Class 800 and Class 802 trains have the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • 25 KVAC only.
  • 5- and 9-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1 (Stated in Modern Railways)
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling (assumed)

The only difference between Class 800 and Class 802 appears to be the size of the full tanks and manufacturing site.

I would think it unlikely, that Hitachi could not produce a Class 80x train with the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • 100 mph on DC Lines

The trains could even have a Class 395 style interior.

Looking at the Class 395 and Class 80x trains, I suspect that these trains could be built, so that they could automatically couple and uncouple with each other.

This coupling ability would be important.

  • Hastings and Thanet services could couple and uncouple at Ashford International.
  • Class 80x trains could be used instead of Class 395 trains for operational reasons.
  • It would make it easier to rescue a stalled train.

There is also this document on the IEP Trains web site, which is entitled Technical & Build Specifications Of The IEP Trains, contains a lot of useful information.

  • Five-car electro-diesel trains have three power units.
  • Nine-car electro-diesel trains have five power units.
  • Electric trains have a small generator that can be used to slowly move a train stranded by overhead power failure to a safe place for passengers to disembark.

Nothing is said about batteries, but Hitachi have run battery trains in Japan.

I would be very surprised, if the A-train family was not designed, so that it could incorporate batteries, when the technology has been sufficiently developed

The Current London  To Hastings Timings

Fastest timings I can find are as follows.

  • London Cannon Street to Hastings – 1 hour 48 minutes
  • London Charing Cross to Hastings – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • London St. Pancras to Hastings – 1 hour 36 minutes, which a change at Ashford International
  • London Victoria – 2 hours 1 minute.

I think the surprising time is the one with a change at Ashford International.

It takes 37 minutes between St. Pancras and Ashford International and 40 minutes from Ashford International to Hastings, but passengers are allowed nineteen minutes to change trains.

Could Timings On The Marshlink Line Be Improved?

The Marshlink Line has a maximum operating speed of just 60 mph, whereas the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton has an oiperating speed of 90 mph.

Other improvements are needed to improve the timings and oiperation of the line.

  • Removal of a couple of level crossings.
  • Provision of a passing loop at Rye.
  • Some platform lengthening to handle the longest trains that would use the line.

It doesn’t appear impossible to reduce St. Pancras to Hasting timings by several minutes.

Are More Class 395 Trains Needed For Other Routes?

I ask this question, as if they are, then surely a combined order for new trains  would be better value.

The Various Options

I shall now look at the various options mentioned in the article in turn.

Option 1 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC

This would cost between £250million and £500million.

It would allow the current Class 395 trains to work through to Hastings and as far as Brighton or even Southampton if required.

Voltage changeover would take place at a convenient station, such as Ore.

But how would various groups react to 25 KVAC catenary being strung up all over Romney Marsh?

Option 2 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC

This would cost between £100million and £250million.

As with Option 1, it could use the current Class 395 trains.

Option 3 – Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains

Class 802 trains could be an interesting option.

Consider.

  • According to the Modern Railways article, Class 802 trains would have the same 140 mph performance, as the Class 395 trains on HS1.
  • Both trains are Hitachi A trains.
  • Class 802 trains would run on diesel between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • Class 802 trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service to Hastings.
  • A crude estimate gives that one six-car Class 802 train would cost around £12.5million.

I think this option has a big advantage in that if it were possible to run twelve-car trains from St. Pancras to Brighton via Eastbourne, Hastings, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International stations, the route might offer valuable alternative routes.

Option 4 – Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

Either of Class 395 or Class 801 trains could probably be fitted with batteries with sufficient range to take the train between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • Both trains would have 140 mph performance on HS1.
  • Trains would run on batteries between Ashford International and Ore.
  • The Marshlink Line is not the most taxing of railways, with only six stops.
  • Trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • To ensure sufficient battery power to bridge Hastings to Ashford, trains could if necessary reverse at Seaford or Brighton.

As with Option 3, it has the advantage of providing an alternative London to Brighton service.

Conclusions

All options require the following to be done.

  • Create an efficient connection between HS1 and the Marshlink Line.
  • Improve the operating speed on the Marshlink Line.
  • Remove a couple of level crossings on the Marshlink Line.
  • Create a passing loop at Rye.
  • Perform some platform lengthening.

As Options 1 and 2 require electrification and cost more, I would feel they are unlikely to proceed.

The choice between Options 3 and 4 would depend on what Hitachi offer and what the required number of trains cost.

Option 3 based on a Class 802 train would definitely work and could probably be proven with a test run of one of the GWR or VTEC Class 800 prototypes.

But these Class 800/801/802 trains are designed so that the diesel engines can be removed, when they are no longer needed. So could Hitachi replace the diesel engine with a battery pack charged at either end of the route on the 25 KVAC of HS1 or the 750 VDC of the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.

 

 

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes

In writing The Electrical System Of A Class 319 Flex, I came to the conclusion, that the designers of the Class 319 Flex had taken great care that the train would perform to a high standard on lines with third-rail electrification..

There are three routes that could be given an improved service using a third-rail bi-mode train.

Ashford to Brighton on the Marshlink Line.

Oxted to Uckfield on the Oxted Line.

Reading to Tonbridge via Gatwick Airport on the North Downs Line.

Note.

  1. From Ashford, trains on the Marshlink Line could go to London, but probably not on High Speed 1.
  2. The East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton can accept eight-car trains, and is a 90 mph line, that has recently been resignalled.
  3. From Oxted on the Oxted Line trains could go to London.
  4. The Uckfield Branch has been updated to accept twelve-car trains.
  5. Tonbridge to Gatwick Airport was electrified as a Eurostar diversion route.

For operational reasons on the Uckfield Branch and along the South Coast, it would probably be a good idea, if the ability to run as eight- and twelve car formations was developed for the Class 319 Flex.

The South Coast Express

The East Coastway Line could be connected to the West Coastway Line to Southampton Central station with a reverse at Brighton.

At present because the Marshlink Line is not electrified and the two Coastway Lines are run independently, you can’t travel between stations on the West Coastway Line to any station on the East Coastway Line without changing trains at Brighton.

Consider creating a South Coast Express between Ashford and Southampton using bi-mode trains.

  • The Class 800 train, which is the only current bi-mode train, comes as a five-car train, but doesn’t have a dual voltage version, although its cousin the Class 395 train can work on third rail networks.
  • The Class 319 Flex train could do the whole route and would only need to use diesel power for twenty-six miles.
  • The speed limit along the two Coastway Lines could probably be upgraded to 100 mph.
  • A new Eastbourne Parkway station could be created on a reopened direct line between Polegate and Pevensey & Westham stations, to avoid all trains reversing at the current Eastbourne station and hence save time.
  • It would be a feeder railway to Thameslink services at Brighton and Eurostar services at Ashford.
  • Eight-car or even twelve-car formations could work through Falmer station on match days at The Amex.
  • Southampton have plans to develop the railway to serve St. Mary’s Stadium and the Waterfront, which could be part of an upgraded West Coastway Line.

Currently, with a change at Brighton, Southampton to Ashford takes three hours forty-seven minutes. With a 100 mph train on an updated 100 mph line, the service could surely be a lot faster.

If an hourly service was required, then you get this table of trains required to run the service against  the journey time between Ashford and Southampton.

  • Three hours needs six trains.
  • Two and a half hours needs five trains.
  • Two hours needs four trains.

Southern use more trains than that now to provide a slower service, with a change at Brighton.

West Of Basingstoke

The West of England Main Line is only electrified as far as Basingstoke station, which is just under fifty miles from London.

Distances from Basingtoke are approximately.

Could a Class 319 Flex carry enough fuel to serve this route?

I have seen an early copy of the brochure for a Class 319 Flex and Porterbook say that the train is designed to handle ten round trips from Hazel Grove to Buxton, which is a seventeen mile trip, where the steep gradients up are probably balanced by the coming down.

This would indicate that the Class 319 Flex could do a round trip without refuelling.

The route is currently worked by eleven two-car Class 158 trains and thirty three-car Class 159 trains and they take three and a half-hours for each hourly service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

The Class 319 Flex train has a comparable speed to the Class 158/159 trains on diesel and is ten mph faster, when running on electricity.

I don’t think that the trains would be used all the way to Exeter, as they are not really designed for a journey of that length, but there may be other places where they could be ideal.

  • Running between London Waterloo and Salisbury to increase the frequency, where they might save upwards of fifteen minutes between Basingstoke and Waterloo, as they are faster than the diesel Class 158/159s.
  • Running the hourly circular service from Salisbury to Chandlers Ford via Southampton, which has sections of electrified line, where they could replace Class 158/159s.
  • Existing lines like the Lymington Branch, where they could replace Class 158/159s
  •  Reopened lines like the Fawley Branch,  Ludgershall Branch and the Swanage Railway.
  • New services like Portsmouth Harbour to Salisbury via Southampton and Romsey.

It could be that some selective electrification like Southampton to Romsey could be very beneficial.

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will We See IPEMUs In Hastings?

I have just been pointed to this article in the Hastings Observer, which is entitled Hybrid trains alternative to electrifying 1066 country railway. This is said.

Battery-powered high-speed trains were proclaimed as the way to decrease rail journey times in 1066 country at a transport summit today (Friday, March 18).

Hybrid Javelin trains would eliminate the need to electrify the Marshlink but still reduce the time it takes to get to London, according to transport representatives at Sussex Coast College.

Network Rail’s senior strategic planner in the south east Paul Best explained how they are proposing an ‘incremental approach’ to electrifying the railway between Ashford and Bexhill.

He said they can increase speed limits in certain places but also look into using hybrid trains with a battery so they can be used on the normal track and electric line from St Pancras to Ashford, which would reduce journey times

So let’s look at this statement in detail. Note that I use Independently-Powered Electric Multiple Unit or IPEMU instead of battery trains.

I think it will be unlikely, that if this comes to pass, that the trains will be Class 395 trains, colloquially known as Javelins.

  • I don’t think Hitachi could deliver their made-in-Japan product for some time due to busy production schedules.
  • Hitachi have not disclosed any plans for a battery variant of a Class 395 train.
  • Paul Best of Network Rail isn’t reported as mentioning Javelins.

Hitachi may be able to deliver such a train in the future and I may be wrong about their capabilities.

I think if we see Paul Best’s hybrid trains working between St. Pancras and 1066 country, then there is only one proven train; an IPEMU or battery-powered version of the Class 387 train.

  • Soon, there could be several of the trains sitting in sidings or being built at Bombardier’s factory in Derby.
  • All or most of the Class 387 trains are owned by Porterbrook. Leasing companies are not charities and like their assets to sweat.
  • Bombardier and Network Rail demonstrated the IPEMU technology in public service over twelve months ago.
  • Class 387/2 trains destined for Gatwick Express have been extensively tested on the West Coast Main Line. Has their 200 kph capability been explored?
  • Southern, who have lots of experience of running Class 387 trains, are responsible for the services between Hastings and Ashford International.
  • Adding the required signalling and certifying the Class 387 trains for HS1, shouldn’t be a difficult problem.
  • Jumping the electrification gap of the Marshlink Line, is well within the capability of a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

The only problem I can see, is that they are only a 110 mph train as opposed to the 140 mph of the Class 395 train, when that train runs on HS1. So would this cause route planning problems? But then the line can accommodate slower freight trains.

But I did say the following in Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?, about an electrified service on the Marshlink Line.

Using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

It would appear that Network Rail are thinking along similar lines.

The High Speed Battery Train

Are Bombardier creating a genuine high speed train with a 200 kph capability and the ability to run for at least fifty miles on battery power.

  • Bombardier certainly have the experience to build a 200 kph train for the UK, in that both Class 221 trains and Class 222 trains were built by Bombardier.
  • If they had to settle for the 175 kph of the current Class 387 train, that wouldn’t be too serious a problem. Especially, if they could squeeze the extra 25 kph in a few years, with an upgrade.
  • Class 387 trains have been running on Thameslink since December 2014.
  • A lot of technology like LED lights, regenerative braking, efficient air-conditioning and automatic train control systems are available to make trains use less electricity.
  • The battery technology has been reported as going through extensive testing in Mannheim.

Without doubt Bombardier can produce a 175 kph (110 mph) train based on the Class 387 train and they could be able to stretch that to a 200 kph (125 mph) one!

That would be some train!

The IPEMU Market

If they can produce a high speed train with an onboard energy storage, it is not a speculative product without a market.

In addition to the Marshlink Line, all of these lines have a proportion of running at around 160 kph or over and then an extension, that is not electrified.

  • Liverpool Street to Lowestoft – This route is in the new Greater Anglia franchise.
  • Liverpool Street to Yarmouth via Cambridge, Ely and Norwich.
  • Liverpool Street to Peterborough via Cambridge.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Kings Cross to Grimsby, Hull and Lincoln.
  • Kings Cross to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster.
  • Blackpool to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line.
  • St. Pancras to Corby and Leicester
  • Euston to Barrow, Blackpool, Chester, Huddersfield and Shrewsbury
  • Paddington to Bedwyn, Henley, Marlowe, Newbury, Oxford and Windsor

In addition, there are some routes , which could be served, with some short stretches of electrification or a means of charging the train at the terminus.

  • Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury.
  • York to Scarborough
  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Carlisle to Newcastle.

And then there’s all the branch lines!

Conclusion

Could we be witnessing a rail revolution powered by batteries?

I certainly think we are and have thought so for some time.

Who’ve have thought that Network Rail would spill the beans in Hastings about a rather charming line across the Romney Marsh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?

This post is pure speculation on my part,which I’ve written to illustrate the capabilities of an IPEMU.

What is an IPEMU?

Many rail passengers in the UK, have ridden in one of Bombardier’s fairly ubiquitous Electrostar trains. Here’s a short list of some of the types and the services they run.

A Class 379 was used to create the IPEMU or Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit and a year ago, I rode this train in public service between Manningtree and Harwich.

A battery pack had been added to the four-car train, which was charged up, when the train is running on an electrified line; third rail or overhead and the energy can then be used to propel the train on a line without electrification.

I was told by the engineer sitting opposite me,monitoring train performance on a laptop, that this Class 379 IPEMU had the following characteristics.

  • A range of upwards of sixty miles on battery power.
  • Similar performance on battery or direct power.
  • Virtually identical driving experience.

I would also add that the passenger experience was virtually identical.

Network Rail and Bombardier have put a lot of time, effort and money into the IPEMU. They believe, that IPEMUs and their battery power will have the following applications.

  • Providing affordable electric services on branch lines or other lines that are difficult to electrify.
  • Moving trains around in depots and sidings that have not been electrified.
  • Train recovery and diversion, when the power fails.
  • Used in conjunction with regenerative braking, IPEMU technology saves electricity.

Obviously, Bombardier very much believe in the technology, as their new train; the Aventra has been designed to use energy storage.

IPEMU is an acronym, that will increasingly be used with trains.

The Class 387 Train

Southern, who operate a lot of services south of London are users of Class 387 trains.

The Class 387/1 trains will be replaced by Class 700 trains, as they arrive from Germany.

Unfortunately, due to the well-documented problems of Network Rail’s electrification, it looks like a lot of these twenty-nine trains could be put into storage.

I believe that some of these trains will be given an IPEMU capability to be used to provide electric train services on certain lines.

As they are closely related to the Class 379 train used for the prototype, I feel that most of the technical problems have been solved.

Along The South Coast From Southampton to Ashford

The South Coast from Southampton to Ashford is covered by two separate rail routes.

If you want to travel between say Hastings and Worthing, you will have to change trains at Brighton.

This usually means a wait of a few minutes and a change of platform.

Any sane person would believe that if a single train could run all the way from Southampton to Ashford, this would be better for many reasons.

  • The train company would probably need less trains.
  • Passengers wouldn’t have to change trains at Brighton.
  • There could probably be a simpler interchange between Coastway and Brighton Main Line services at Brighton station, which might release platform space.
  • Both Coastway routes are limited to speeds below 80 mph and are fairly straight, so perhaps with some improvements, faster services could be introduced.

Until recently, the only trains capable of going from Ashford to Southampton would have been diesel multiple units, but as the only part of the route that is not electrified is the Marshlink Line from Ore to Ashford, it would now be possible to run the service using an IPEMU variant of a Class 387 train.  The train would charge its on-board batteries between Southampton and Ore and at Ashford and then use battery power to bridge the gap of about thirty miles on the Marshlink Line.

As IPEMUs have a range of sixty miles, then it would seem that there should be few problems in running the trains between Ashford and Ore.

This approach has benefits.

  • The Class 387 train is an 110 mph electric train with regenerative braking, so services could be faster.
  • GTR has quite a few of the standard Class 387 trains in service, so the company and their drivers probably know them well.
  • GTR could say they have removed a number of diesel trains and they are a greener company.
  • Network Rail would only have to update the track and signalling of the Marshlink Line for four-car trains and wouldn’t need to electrify any of the route.

Currently, to go from Ashford to Southampton takes three hours forty-five minutes and it is quicker to go via St. Pancras and Waterloo. But with a 110 mph train and no changes, timings must be possible in the region of three hours.

I suspect that with some selected track improvements, a limited-stop service could be a real South Coast Express.

There certainly is some scope and I’ll detail each improvements on the main East and West Coastways separately,

The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line is not fully double-tracked, has several level crossings and a low speed limit, which if improved, would probably be welcomed.

The Marshlink Line Action Group web site has an extensive report about improving the line, of which this is an extract, from a report which discusses extending the Class 395 train service from Ashford to Hastings.

The basics of the project are substantially as presented last year with line speeds generally expected to be 60-90 mph from Ashford to Doleham and 40-60 mph onwards to Hastings. But the ongoing big question for NR (and of concern to MLAG from an environmental point of view and compatibility with rolling stock in the surrounding lines) is whether the power source would be third rail (as MLAG would prefer) or overhead. NR acknowledges the difficulty of overhead power along the Marsh with gantries having to be built on (obviously) marsh land and with the strong winds. Whichever, some 30 miles of track would need to be laid but, apparently, only about half a mile of dualled track to the west of Rye.

Incidentally, there has been talk about running Class 395 trains from St. Pancras to Eastbourne via HS1 to Ashford and the Marshlink Line. It would undoubtedly be a fast service, but it has some inherent disadvatages.

  • The Marshlink Line would need to be electrified, probably with 25KVAC overhead wires.
  • Some people might object to the wires across the marshes?
  • Would it need some extra Class 395 trains to be purchased?
  • Would it mean that one franchise was encroaching on the territory of another?

On the other hand, using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

However, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that as much dualled track was created, to maintain an efficient service on the line in the future.

The Willingdon Chord And Eastbourne

There has been talk about reinstating the Willingdon Chord, which could shorten the line by making it possible for trains to by-pass Eastbourne, But the locals fear, that Eastbourne would lose services.

However, surely some fast long-distance services along the South Coast could by-pass the town.

A skilled compiler of timetables could probable devise one for Eastbourne, that gave the town, faster and better services to Brighton, Southampton and London.

Lewes And The Wealden Line

It is an aspiration of many to reinstate the Wealden Line, as a new route to London to take pressure off the Brighton Main Line.

In Musical Trains In Sussex, I gave my reasons for believing that the Uckfield Branch could be run using Class 387 IPEMUs.

I also believe that if the Wealden Line is reinsatated that it will use the same type of train.

Obviously, Network Rail and Southern, will make sure that the Wealden Line project doesn’t conflict with a desire to run fast trains along the South Coast.

Hove Station

Hove station is a busy one with up to eight services an hour passing through in both directions, to and from Victoria and Gatwick Airport as well as Brighton.

There were aspirations that in the future to add the London Bridge to Littlehampton via Hove service to Thameslink. The service would use the Cliftonville Curve to access the Brighton Main Line, as it does now.

This would give all stations on the West Coastway Line between Hove and Littlehampton, two trains per hour through to London Bridge and beyond

Except for the Future Developments section in the Wikipedia entry for Hove station, I can’t find any more about this proposal.

The Arundel Chord

One piece of infrastructural that gets mentioned is a chord at Arundel that would connect the West Coastway Line to the Arun Valley Line between Angmering and Ford stations.

If it were to be built, it would create another route between Brighton and Three Bridges using the eastern part of the West Coastway and the Arun Valley Line.

Westward From Littlehampton

My only experience of the western end of the West Coastway line, was missing a train and having to wait an hour on a freezing and deserted Bosham station for the next train.

The service could probably benefit from a rethink.

Brighton

Brighton is the major interchange between the two Coastway services and the Brighton Main Line with its Gatwick Express, Victoria and Thameslink services.

Brighton station certainly needs improvement to cope with the large increase in capacity to the city, that Thameslink and its new Class 700 trains will bring.

Each twelve-car Class 700 train, will have a capacity approaching 1,800 passengers and there will be four of these trains to and from Central London and beyond every hour.

Obviously, the trains won’t be full at Brightpon and not all passengers will be walking to and from the station, so there needs to be better connections to buses and the two Coastway Lines.

At present, it takes a few minutes and a platform change to pass through Brighton if you’re going between services at the station.

  • Brighton Main Line, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services.
  • East Coastway services
  • West Coastway services.
  • Great Western Railway services to the West.

The platform layout at Brighton doesn’t look as if it was designed to make train services for passengers and train companies efficient.

So surely, if Coastway services could be linked, so that they came into the station, set down and picked up passengers before going out in the other direction, this would be a more efficient way to organise trains at the station.

It would also make the interchange between Coastway and Brighton Main Line services easier and hopefully, just a walk across a platform.

A reorganised Brighton could probably contribute several minutes to the savings in journey times along the Coastway.

This Google Map shows Brighton station and the two Coastway Lines coming into the station.

Brighton Station And The Coastways

Brighton Station And The Coastways

I don’t think it would be an affordable or even a sensible solution, to combine the two Coastways together north of Brighton station.

The Wivelsfield Alternative

But Network Rail have come up with an alternative solution, so that the two Coastways can be connected together.

Just sixteen kilometres north of Brighton is Wivelsfield station. It is possible to access the East Coastway Line just south of the station at Keymer Junction, which unfortunately is not grade-separated and probably needs to be to improve Eastbourne services from Victoria.

Wikipedia has a section on the future of Wivelsfield station, which says this.

In Autumn 2015 Network Rail released the Sussex Area Route Study, where two options for the proposed grade separation of Keymer Junction are detailed, both of which would transform the station dramatically. Option 1 is the minimal option and creates a new platform 0 on the west side of the station served by a 3rd track from the new flyover line from Lewes. Option 2 is much more ambitious and builds on option 1 by adding an additional 4th platform on the east side of the station as well, served by a 4th track on the line to Lewes. Whilst this would enable each line to the south to have a dedicated platform the primary benefit would be that the existing platforms could be used to turn back trains in either direction as needed without blocking the main lines.

As services can access the West Coastway Line through the Cliftonville Tunnel to Hove, which is a couple of miles north of Brighton station, it would appear that the two Coastways could be connected, with a reverse at Wivelsfield.

The route would be.

This is not a complete solution, as there would have to be a way to get to Brighton station, by probably changing at Lewes, Wivelsfield or Hove.

A Brighton Metro

In a trip to Brighton, I travelled to Seaford using the East Coastway and the Seaford Branch. Even on a Sunday morning in February, the three-car Class 313 train was pretty full, especially around the University of Sussex at Falmer station.

So could the half-hourly Brighton-Seaford service be extended to the west of the City to perhaps Hove, Littlehampton or even Bognor Regis?

It would surely generate its own traffic across the city, which could help to reduce Brighton’s bad traffic jams. Stations could be.

I think if you can sort out Brighton station or create the Wivelsfield alternative, you could run a four trains per hour stopping service across the city for as far as you want.

Perhaps the slower stopping trains would go via Brighton and the semi-fast services would go via Wivelsfield.

It’s a problem, that I suspect Network Rail have thought through fully!

Train Movements At Brighton

The only problem would be that the combined Coastway Line would need to cross the throat of the station, probably in a flat junction.

Say the Joint Coastway Line had the following services at Brighton.

  • 2-4 trains per hour between Seaford and Littlehampton/Bognor, that would stop at all stations including Brighton.
  • 2-4 trains per hour between Ashford International and Portsmouth Harbour and/or Southampton Central, that would stop at major stations only.

These would come into a platform or platforms on the Eastern side of the station, which would mean any train going to or coming from the West Coastway, would have to cross the Brighton Main Line to London.

The services to and from London after Thameslink is fully opened could be.

  • 3 trains per hour to Victoria.
  • 4 trains per hour on Thameslink

I’m no signalling expert, but I do feel that much more onerous train movements are coped with in stations like Manchester Piccadilly, Paddington and Waterloo.

Note the four trains per hour frequency on Thameslink (two from Cambridge and two from Bedford) Surely, if Coastway services are four trains per hour, then all services should have a pattern, so journeys like Seaford to Cambridge, involved just a walk across a platform at Brighton.

I’m sure some clever train scheduler can come up with an optimal pattern of changing trains at Brighton, especially if some trains used the alternative route via Wivelsfield.

But my feeling is that as Brighton is such an important station, that all Coastway services must either terminate or stop in the station.

At least there does not appear to be significant freight running on the Coastways.

Capacity At Brighton Station

The Thameslink Program and its Class 700 trains, will probably increase passengers through Brighton station.

Knowing the quality of Network Rail’s passenger transport modelling, I would not bet against Thameslink being so successful between London and Brighton, that additional services have to be added.

As the Thameslink trains will be new and they serve lots of destinations in London and beyond, I think it is a given, that passengers from places like Eastbourne and Worthing, might use Thameslink instead of their local direct route, changing at either Brighton or Gatwick Airport.

Conclusions

Improvement of the Coastways, is just one part of an evolving plan for rail and air services in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

As there are important lines in the area that are not electrified, I’m certain that IPEMUs will play a part in this development.

After all, the technology works and we will soon have lots of Class 387 trains sitting in sidings.

 

February 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment