The Anonymous Widower

The Relaxed Pace Of German Commuter Stations

I am at Buxtehade station on the outskirts of Hamburg and the area looks like it could be a suburb typical of those around big cities all over the world. But it is so relaxed compared to others I’ve visited.

Note.

  1. The diesel-hauled commuter service running under wires.
  2. No-one and the trains don’t seem to be in a hurry despite it being around nine in the morning.
  3. Trains seem to wait several minutes at each station.
  4. Staff were not to be seen.

In addition, there was absolutely no information about the hydrogen trains, that I could find.

 

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A New Country End Concourse At Paddington

Paddington is an annoying station. I’d come in to Paddington, on the Parliamentary service from South Ruislip station, that I wrote about in A Train Of My Own and I had to walk from platform 14 at the far end of the station to the front concourse and then go back again to get the Circle/Metropolitan Line trains to Moorgate for coming home.

There is a back stairs, but it is difficult to find and it would not be idea for passengers with heavy cases wanting the Circle/Metropolitan or a taxi.

When Crossrail opens, it will be easier, as I’ll just change at Reading and come straight through to Moorgate.

Or will it?

Reading will only have four trains per hour (tph) in the Peak and half that in the Off Peak.

It surely needs at least six tph all day and preferably all night as well!

This document on the Network Rail web site is entitled Open For Business and subtitled with this.

Opportunities for third parties to fund, finance or deliver improvements on Britain’s railways September 2018

One of the projects mentioned is entitled Paddington Station Country End Concourse. This is all that is said.

Provision of country-end concourse and platform extensions to reduce station congestion.

It should have these features.

  • Escalators and lifts to each pair of platforms at the station, including Crossrail and the Circle and Metropolitan Lines.
  • A short level walk to the taxis.
  • It should be wider than the bridge across all platforms at Reading station.
  • A massive Premier Inn or similar on top

And I want it now!

Not 2030, if I’m lucky.

The hotel will never happen, as high development will block the view of the Brunel’s station and the Nimbys will stop it.

But it should!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Freedoming – Hertford East Station

Getting to Hertford East station cost me £5.80.

Wikipedia says this about the station.

The station was listed in 1974 as a Grade II* listed building; in 1996 the buffer stop lights on platform one were separately listed in their own right.

Sadly, I didn’t photograph the buffer stops.

Capacity Of The Station

One of my reasons for going to Hertford East station was to look at the capacity of the station.

I always feel that a single platform can handle four trains per hour (tph), as this regularly happens on the Overground.

So Hertford East station should be able to handle at least four tph.

But unfortunately, there is a single platform station at Ware on the way to the West Anglia Main Line.

So this probably explains why Hertford East doesn’t have a four tph service to London.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains

Increasingly, we are seeing stations in the UK, where there is only two platforms and trains pass through the station without stopping at 125 mph.

If HS4Air is built, there will be several stations between Gatwick Airport and Ashford, where this will happen.

I must admit, that I don’t like being on a platform, where trains past through, so perhaps it is a personal thing.

With me it’s not just 125 mph trains, but freight trains as well.

But for reasons of safety, I think we could come up with a better design of station.

I shall use Penshurst station on the Redhill to Tonbridge Line as an example.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that it is very simple with a platform on each line.

Currently, it gets a single train per hour (tph) in both directions.

HS4Air would probably mean that at least another four tph, passed through the station at 125 mph.

Platform-edge doors would be a difficult and expensive solution, but why not make access to the platform only possible, when a train is stopping?

Looking at Penshurst station, this station also needs some more facilities, like a fully accessible footbridge.

The footbridge would be outside the secure area.

For slower passing trains and heavy freight trains, the use of wide platforms and rear access will suffice as these pictures from Hackney Wick station show.

If more stations were built to the rules used at Hackney Wick, the UK’s railways would probably be safer.

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Liverpool South Parkway Station Stands In For Lime Street

I went to Liverpool to see the new Maghull North station and a few other things in the Second City.

Liverpool Lime Street station is closed at the moment due to major works, so all London trains are going only as far as Liverpool South Parkway station.

These pictures show the station.

The station was coping well, as passengers from outside Liverpool ytansferred to Merseyrail to continue their journeys to the City Centre.

On my visit to Liverpool, I went first to Maghull North station, so I got a Southport train on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Sandhills station, where I changed trains.

There are not many cities in the UK, which have the luxury of an alternative terminus of the quality of Liverpool South Parkway station to stand in, when the main station has to be closed.

When we left for London, the train initially went towards Liverpool and then crossed over to the line to London, before coming back through the Liverpool South Parkway station.

This was because the station wasn’t designed for use as a terminus and there is no other way to get the train on the right line for Crewe and the South.

It would also appear from the pictures, that to cope with the length of the eleven-car Virgin Pendelinos, that a temporary platform extension has been built.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Additional Double Track In South Wales

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the additional double track on the South Wales Metro.

Additional double track will be needed in 15 locations to support increased Core Valley Lines (CVL) frequencies.

So where are these locations?

I shall start by listing all the single platform stations.

I have ignored the following.

  • Terminal stations.
  • Stations on the Coryton Line.

I have grouped them by branch.

Aberdare Branch

Merthyr Branch

Rhondda Line

Rhymney Line

These total up to fourteen stations.

As the Butetown Branch will be extended through Cardiff Bay station and this station will need a second platform, does this add up to the fifteen new sections of double-track?

How Difficult Will It Be To Add A Second Track At Stations?

Of the fifteen stations, those on the Aberdate, Merthyr and Rhondda will only see the Stadler Citylink Metro vehicles, which will be running to the same rules as trams.

So could it be that these stations will be arranged like this stop on the London Tramlink, which is typical of many tram stops throughout the UK, Europe and the world?

Note.

  • There is no bridge.
  • There is full step-free access.
  • The overhead wires are kept well out of thew way.

As most tram networks have done in the UK, they could design a modern suite of shelters, ticket machines, information displays, seats help points and other items.

I suspect that the platform height would be designed to fit both the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

The only stations that are served exclusively by the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and might be given an extra track are Pontlottyn and Brithdir stations at the Northern end of the Rhymney Line.

These stations only get four tph in both directions.

Do Many Stations Have Passing Freight Trains?

I never like to be on a platform, when a freight train goes through and it happens regularly at stations near me like Canonbury and Dalston Kingsland.

I looked on Real Time Trains and there don’t appear to be many such trains on the CVL

I suspect too, that they could use temporal separation, with any freight trains ruining, when the Metro is closed.

Conclusion

I do find it strange that the total number of one platform stations is the same as the number of locations, where the track will be doubled.

But surely, if all stations were on a double-track, this would give the maximum flexibility to run services.

If too, the stations could be built without footbridges to the standards of trams, then construction costs could be saved!

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oostende Station – 16th May 2018

I caught the train back to Brussels from the building site that is Oostende station.

I’v been to various stations in the last ten years or so, that are being rebuilt, including Berlin Hbf, Liverpool Lime Street. London Bridge and Stuttgart Hbf.

But not gave out the air that was shown at Oostende station.

  • Information was non-existent.
  • Floors were uneven and a hazard.
  • Safety seemed a bit random.
  • The toilets were tucked away from the station and run by a drogon, who demanded fees for something that looked very dubious.

It very much gave the impression that passengers were not very important.

Is this the best that Belgian Railways can do?

 

 

May 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Around Antwerp Station

I took these pictures of the magnificent Antwerp station in the evening light.

I certainly haven’t seen a better station in Belgium.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteers Transform Neglected Rail Station Gardens Into Welcoming Area

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Westmoreland Gazette.

In my travels I come across many stations, where volunteers make a difference.

Kents Bank station can be added to that list.

Many more stations need volunteers to do some community gardening and other work.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

New Heathrow Rail Link To Lead The Way For Future Transport Funding Schemes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release on the Department of Transport web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

In the past, I have talked about two privately-funded schemes for access from the South to Heathrow.

The Times is saying today, that it could be the second scheme.

But Heathrow can be such a money-earner, you do wonder if other schemes to serve the airport will be put forward.

How Would A Scheme Work In Practice?

A consortium consisting of engineering, financial and railway interests would put forward a scheme.

They would do the following.

  • Design the scheme and ensure it was acceptable to all stakeholders, including Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, local authorities, train operating companies, passengers, residents and in the case of Heathrow, the airport itself.
  • Raise the finance to build the scheme from appropriate institutions like insurance companies, banks and pension funds.
  • Build the scheme and get it approved by the appropriate companies, authorities and regulators.
  • Once the scheme is commissioned, trains using the scheme would pay appropriate track access charges, in the same way, that they do now, when they use Network Rail’s tracks.
  • Maintenance would be the responsibility of the consortium, that built the scheme.

In some ways the consortium functions like a mini-Network Rail, as it obeys all the same standards with regards to engineering and safety.

But.

  • The finance is not provided by taxpayers.
  • Any profits go to those, who conceived, built or financed the project.
  • Risks associated with the project are not borne by the Government or taxpayers.

If say in ten years time, the consortium goes bust, then I suspect that the assets would be bought on the cheap, by either Network Rail or another investor, who would learn from the original consortium’s mistakes.

Not that I think that will happen!

Has Anything Similar Been Done Before In The UK?

I think it is true to say, that various innovative ways have been found to fund railways in the UK.

The article from the Independent, which was written in 1992 is entitled Canary Wharf Banks Agree Funding For Jubilee Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The Government has always insisted that the scheme will not go ahead without private funding. In return for the financing, the banks are believed to be insisting that the Government chooses Canary Wharf as the site for the relocation of about 3,000 civil servants from the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport. It is also considering three other sites in the area.

So it looks like relocating three thousand civil servants got the Jubilee Line built!

Chiltern Railways have expanded by leaps and bounds over the years and some of their methods have been professional and innovative.

Project Evergreen with three phases has expanded and improved their passenger services.

This is an extract from the section of Wikipedia, that talks about the project.

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

I don’t know whether this relates to all of Project Evergreen or just one part.

This is also said.

Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.

It may all sound complicated, but Chiltern Railways is a train operating company that commuters don’t seem to complain about.

Could Any Other Schemes Be Funded Using The Department for Transport’s New Model?

Building the southern access into Heathrow Airport will be a large project costing more than a billion pounds.

But that doesn’t that all projects need to be that size!

I suspect, that the DfT’s model will be applied to some projects, as small as a hundred million pounds.

These are my thoughts on future projects, which I have split into various sections.

Airports

If a scheme like the Heathrow scheme  gets the go-ahead, then I think this could lead to other airport links being designed, funded and built using a similar model.

At present, Aberdeen, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool airports are looking to improve rail access and the DfT’s model may be a way to build some, if the demand is there.

Network Extensions

The proposed Heathrow Southern Railway is effectively a well-thought out extension to three networks; Crossrail, Heathrow Express and South Western Railway to all of their mutual benefit.

I doubt there’ll be such big extensions, but there are some useful ones being planned.

  • Bramley Line -The track-bed of this route is still there and connecting March to Wisbech could create a new commuter route for Cambridge.
  • Fawley Branch Line – This would provide a passenger service and serve new housing developmemts in Hythe and Fawley.
  • Ivanhoe Line – Proposals to improve this service in Leicestershire with new stations.
  • Merseyrail Northern Line Extensions – The £300 million extension to Skelmersdale is being planned and another from Ormskirk to Preston is proposed using battery trains.
  • North Downs Line – This line could be updated to provide an improbred Reading- Gatwick. Would it make a freight route for Minis from Oxford to the Channel Tunnel?
  • Skipton To Colne Reinstatement – This  project of just a dozen miles is high profile amongst Conservative politicians and would provide another route across the Pennines.
  • West London Orbital – This £264 million extension to the London Overground would create two new lines in North West London.

This is by no means a complete list, but it shows how many routes could benefit with reinstatement or improvement.

Electrification

Why shouldn’t electrification be privately funded, with the builders and investors getting their returns, through an electrification access charge, which would be similar to a track access charge.

I discuss possible electrification schemes in Charting An Electric Freight Future.

The linked article is mainly about freight, but I suspect there are examples, where some shortish stretches of electrification could be privately-funded.

If electrification experts identified the problems of the past few years and how to solve them, there must be a case to formulate a business that merged engineering, finance and construction, that was able to install electrification on time and on budget.

Depots

Greater Anglia has commissioned a new depot at Brampton on a design, finance and build basis and it’s not the only depot built this way.

But that is more traditional financing.

Stations

The financing of some stations has been extraordinarily innovative.

I suspect that that some deals will get even more so.

Some will even charge for passengers per day.

Conclusion

One of the reasons, I like the DfT’s proposal of mixing design, finance and build with a good helping of innovation, is that this closely follows the model that we used with Metier Management Systems, when we started the company in the 1970s, to develop our Project Management system called Artemis.

  • We designed the systems.
  • We financed the systems.
  • We installed the systems
  • We maintained the systems.
  • The customers wanted the systems.
  • Customers paid so much a month.

The cream on top was the lashings of innovation.

There might be a lot of extra finance flowing into UK railways!

 

 

 

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March 20, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment