The Anonymous Widower

Bath Spa Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures as I twice passed through Bath Spa station.

These are my thoughts.

Electrification Gantries On The Platforms

As somebody, whose eyesight is on the wane, I am not a lover of electrification, where the gantries are bolted to the platforms. These pictures show some installations of this type at Crouch Hill station.

Would electrification gantries like these, be appropriate in Bath Spa station?

Could Lightweight Electrification Gantries Be Placed Between The Tracks?

These pictures show the wide gap between the two tracks in Bath Spa station.

Could double-track lightweight structures, based on a design like this be placed between the tracks?

These structures are made out of laminated wood and are surely a possibility.

A Makeover For Bath Spa Station

If you look at much of the woodwork and paint in the fabric of the station, it appears tired and in need of refurbishment.

Whether the station is electrified or not, the station will need a high-class makeover.

Services Through Bath Spa Station

Three train companies run services through Bath Spa station.

There are also some freight services hauled by diesel locomotives.

Trains leave Bath Spa station using one of three routes via either.

Most trains seem to go via Bristol Temple Meads station.

  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Chippenham stations are 24.5 miles.
  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury stations are 28.5 miles.

Neither distance is that long.

An Alternative To Full Electrification

When I look at the distances between Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham and Westbury stations, they tell me that they are within the range of Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Notes for each station follow.

Bristol Temple Meads

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Bristol Temple Meads station could become a major hub for battery trains.

All local services and all passing longer distance services could be trains with a battery capability.

I write more about Britol Temnple Meads station as a battery train hub in Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020.

Chippenham

A train would leave Chippenham station with a full battery after charging on the fully-electrified route from London.

Chippenham and Weston-super-Mare would be in battery range with a charging facility at Weston-super-Mare station.

It should be noted that every extra mile of electrification past Chippenham, can be added to the distance electric trains with a battery capability can reach.

Westbury

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Salisbury – 24 miles.
  • Southampton – 49 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line, at Southampton Central station.
  • Weymouth – 53 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction.

Note.

  1. A return trip to Salisbury would be possible.
  2. Trains would need to have the capability to access 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  3. A few extra miles of electrification may make operation South from Westbury station easier, more reliable and allow more destinations to be included.

Westbury station could be a major hub for battery trains.

This Google Map shows Westbury station and the lines around it.

I would probably electrify a few miles either side of Westbury, so that passing trains could be in contact with the overhead wires for perhaps five to ten minutes and take a good long drink.

  • Electrification could be either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC overhead.
  • Newbury, where the electrification to London starts is 42 miles away and trains can pick it up at speed.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away and could be electrified to Exeter St. Davids.

Great Western Railway could run all their services between London Paddington and the South-West using Class 800 trains with a battery capability.

Conclusion

The prolitical, heritage and engineering problems of electrifying through Bath Spa station can be voided, by electrification and charging facilities at stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Westbury and Weston-super-Mare.

July 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

First, MTR Take Charge On South Western

The title of this post is the same as this article on RailNews.

Some points from the article.

  • The Class 707 trains are going because they are more expensive to lease.
  • 400 extra trains on Sundays.
  • Comprehensive refresh of all trains
  • All suburban trains will have toilets.
  • Southampton Central and Wimbledon stations to be updated.
  • Flexible tickets for part-time workers.
  • A new tariff for sixteen to eighteen year olds in full-time education.

Perhaps the most interesting point, was that they have decided to look at the future of the Island Line with the local Council.

A few thoughts on their plans.

Class 707 Trains

In An Exciting New Aventra, I commented on this article in Rail Engineer, with the same title.

I said this in my post.

The Most Affordable Train

The article describes how the train was designed to give the best whole life cost.

This sentence sums up the philosophy.

It’s actually about a 50/50 split between the whole life cost and the first capital cost. That makes it a bit more difficult because we’ve got be competitive on the first practical cost, but additionally we have to offer a really high availability, strong reliability, combined with much better energy consumption and less track damage.

As someone, who used to own a finance company, that leased trucks and other expensive equipment, the product described is the sort of product that leasing companies love.

That looks like a good reason to lease an Aventra.

More Trains On Sundays

All train companies seem to offer this.

All Suburban Trains Will Have Toilets

A lot of train companies seem to care about toilets, so is there a correlation between decent toilets and increased revenue?

Flexible Tickets For Part Time Workers

Do travellers get this in London? If so, extending it over the whole area must be logical!

16-18 Year Old Tickets

London does this!

Island Line

This is one of these routes, where someone will come up with an idea, that’s so Monty Python, it will work superbly!

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Trains Along The South Coast

I had lunch today with an old friend who lives near Bosham station in West Sussex.

They indicated that the train service along the South Coast to Brighton wasn’t the best.

So I thought, I’d have a bit of an explore on Wikipedia.

The route between Ashford International and Weymouth stations can be divided into four sections.

Weymouth To Southampton – The South Western Main Line

The South Western Main Line runs between Weymouth and Southampton Central stations.

  • There are twenty stations.
  • The operating speed is 100 mph.
  • The line is fully electrified.
  • The line is double-track, except for between Dorchester South and Moreton stations.
  • There would only appear to be one level crossing at Brockenhurst station.

it is a high quality electrified line, where a well-driven train can keep up a good time.

The fastest trains take an hour and twenty minutes between Weymouth and Southampton with nine stops.

Southampton To Brighton – The West Coastway Line

The West Coastway Line runs between Southampton Central and Brighton stations.

Following the line on Google Maps, the line could probably have an increased speed limit, but the problem is obvious in the number of level crossings.

Timings on the line are as follows.

  • Southampton Central to Brighton takes one hour forty-five minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Brighton takes one hour twenty minutes.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton takes forty minutes.

These times are for faster journeys without changes.

Brighton To Hastings – The East Coastway Line

The East Coastway Line runs between Brighton and Hastings stations

Fastest journeys between Brighton and Hastings take an hour.

Hastings To Ashford International – The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line runs between Hastings and Ashford International stations.

  • There are nine stations.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • There are several level crossings.

Fastest journeys between Ashford Internsational and Hastings take forty minutes.

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.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

Class 313 Trains

When I travel to the area I inevitably find that I’m travelling in a Class 313 train.

  • The trains entered service in 1976.
  • The trains are the oldest electric multiple units in service on the British mainland.
  • The trains are only three cars.
  • The trains have no toilets.
  • The trains have a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Their biggest problem, is that because the trains have such a poor performance, all routes on which they are likely to run have to be geared to a train running at 75 mph, that is not the quickest at executing a stop at a station.

It should be remembered that the time a train takes to stop at a station, unload and load passengers and then restart and accelerate to linespeed, is a major factor in determining the schedule on a route with a lot of stations.

Train manufacturers and operators have been doing a lot of work to reduce this time and a modern train could be almost a minute or even more quicker than a Class 313 train, at each stop.

Wikipedia says this about the introduction of the Class 313 trains, which replaced more modern and faster Class 377 trains.

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.

The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications including the BBC have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains with no lavatories in place of much newer units. These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

This report on the BBC gives more details.

The Major Problems Along The South Coast

Summarising the previous sections, the major problems on the route can be summarised.

  • The Class 313 trains with their poor performance are not fit for purpose.
  • The numerous level crossings significantly reduce the operating speed of the route.
  • The lack of electrification on the Marshlink Line is a serious obstacle to better London-Hsstings services via HS1.

I would also question, if there is sufficient capacity along the line, especially as there are now three Premier League clubs along its route.

In the following section, I shall detail what is proposed and a few extra actions, that I feel should be taken.

Improve The Marshlink Line

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 Southeastern  High-Speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

  1. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC
  2. Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC
  3. Use Class 802 electro-diesel trains
  4. Use Class 395 Or Class 801 trains With Batteries.

As to which option is chosen, Modern Railways says this.

The option to use a ‘hybrid’ electric/self-powered (diesel or battery) train is suggested as being a ‘more cost-effective way forward’, with linespeed improvements then delivered in an incremental way.

I examined the options in full detail in Options For High Speed To Hastings.

If the improvement was comprehensive, it would give the following advantages.

  • High-Speed services from St. Pancras to Hastings.
  • Journeys from Ashford International to Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth would be all electric and if desired could be without a change of train.
  • Better connectivity along the South Coast to Continental services at Ashford International station.
  • A secondary route from London to Brighton in case of closure of the Brighton Main Line.

If an off-the-shelf solution like Class 802 trains were to be used, the improvements could be delivered in a timely manner.

Remove As Many Level Crossings As Possible

Removal of level crossings is a sensitive issue, but from Southampton to Ashford International, they are a serious limit on the operating speed of the trains.

But it is not just the trains that suffer, but road traffic as well.

Consider Hampden Park station, where Wikipedia says this about the level crossing.

The level crossing at Hampden Park is thought to be one of the busiest in the country, with an average fourteen train movements an hour off-peak, and this can lead to significant traffic congestion on adjacent roads.

As some services actually cross it twice to call at Eastbourne station, this level crossing certainly needs to be eliminated.

Improved Stations

Several of the stations have been upgraded, but I believe that step-free access and longer platforms are needed at quite a few stations.

Brighton and Hove Albion are now one of three Premier League football teams along the South Coast and Falmer station needs to be improved, so that higher-capacity trains can serve the ground on match days.

The Plans Of South Western Railway

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways also gives details of the plans of the new South Western Railway franchise from December 2018.

This is said.

A direct service will link Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth, while there will be a second hourly semi-fast service between Portsmouth and Southampton offering a total of 29 additional services between the cities on Mondays to Saturdays.

Wikipedia also says that there will be another thirty five Monday to Saturday services between London and Portsmouth, with more on Sundays.

Services Between London And Portsmouth

Currently, on a typical day there are sixty-nine down services and seventy-one up services. So as thirty-five extra services are going to be provided, then that means there will be a twenty-five percent increase in services between London and Portsmouth.

So would this mean that London to Portsmouth has a frequency of five trains per hour (tph), as against three tph for Southampton?

As South Western Railway will be introducing additional Portsmouth to Weymouth services, will this mean that there will be two fast routes to London from Weymouth?

  • A direct train.
  • One with a change at Havant on to Portsmouth Direct Line services.

South Western Railway have certainly thought long and hard.

The Class 313 Trains Will Go To The Scrapyard

With all the fast 100 mph trains rushing between Ashford International and Brighton and Portsmouth and Weymouth, the Class 313 trains will be worse than inadequate and the best place for them will be the scrapyard.

I just wonder though if South Western Railway’s unwanted but new Class 707 trains could replace the Class 313 trains along parts of the South Coast.

  • They are 100 mph trains, probably with a good stopping performance, which could save a minute at every stop.
  • They are five-car units.
  • They have toilets.

As an illustration of the difference the new trains could make, the current Portsmouth to Brighton service takes around one hour twenty minutes with twenty stops.

A rough estimate indicates that Portsmouth to Brighton could be under an hour with new 100 mph trains.

The only problems would be that they couldn’t work a Marshlink Line without electrification and services along the South Coast are provided by three different companies.

Conclusion

A lot of improvement is possible in services along the South Coast.

Adjusting current timings for new trains with a better stopping performance could give the following sectional timings.

  • Ashford International to Hastings – 35 minutes
  • Hastings to Brighton – 60 minutes
  • Brighton to Portsmouth – 60 minutes
  • Portsmouth to Southampton – 35 minutes

I believe that an Ashford International to Southampton time of three hours is possible.

This is a similar time as going via London and using HS1.

 

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Reopening The Fawley Branch Line

The Fawley Branch Line is a freight-only branch line alongside Southampton Water in Hampshire.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Line, this is said.

On 16 June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies announced it was looking into the reopening of the railway as far as Hythe, with a possibility of a further extension to Fawley if agreement could be reached with Esso, which owns the land where Fawley railway station once stood.

A lot more detail is also given, which has these major points.

  • Reopening of all former stations along the line.
  • A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
  • A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.
  • Hourly train service.
  • Possible future electrification

The section to be reopened would be about seven miles in length.

This Google Map shows the area of the branch line.

Fawley Branch Line

Fawley Branch Line

It starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hsardley and Fawley.

Rolling Stock

The current proposals talk about using diesel trains, which would probably be Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

Given that Totton station is on the electrified South Western Main Line, other trains that can work on partly electrified lines may be able to work services on the Fawley Branch Line.

Class 319 Flex train could use electric power on the main line and diesel power on the branch.

Battery trains like an Aventra with onboard energy storage, could use electric power on the main line, where they would also charge the batteries. Batteries would then be used on the branch, with a possible top-up charge from something like a Railbaar at Hythe station.

A Trip To Hythe

To look at the Fawley Branch Line, whilst I was in Southampton, I took a trip on the ferry to Hythe and had a look round.

The Fawley Branch Line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.

This Google Map shows Hythe.

The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.

I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.

The Design Of The Line

This picture shows where the Fawley Branch Line joins the main line.

It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The quoted route from Fawley or Hythe via Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford to Romsey is only electrified between Totton and Eastleigh, as the Fawley Branch Line and the Eastleigh to Romsey Line are not electrified.

But it is an interesting route, as one of its effects will be to double the frequency of services between Eastleigh and Romsey, where it is probably needed to serve new housing.

I reckon that it would take about forty-five minutes to go from Fawley to Romsey or vice-versa.

It would also be a route for using some form of train with new technology.

  • A bi-mode train able to use third-rail electrification would be a possibility.
  • A Class 319 Flex train would manage the route with ease.
  • Perhaps, a battery train based on a third-rail multiple unit could make the route.

The battery train could be very suitable for the route, as an hourly service would need two trains, which would have around fifteen minutes to charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Current Status

Currently, the project is on hold, but given the location, where some very nice waterfront housing might be built, circumstances could change.

 

 

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 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