The Anonymous Widower

The Mysterious Scotsman

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a Scot called Andrew, who wanted to talk to me about blogging and my blog in particular.

I said, on my next trip North, why don’t we meet at somewhere like Stirling, which I sometimes use as a base for trips. I wrote about the city as a base in this post called Stirling.

We met and had a pizza in the City and we talked about Stirling’s direct rail connections to London.

This morning, I was looking up Grand Union, who are a proposed open-access train company, who aim to be running a rail service between London Paddington and Wales, within the next few years using InterCity 225 trains.

And what did I find?

The company is also proposing to run a service between London and Scotland. In a London-Scotland section in the Wikipedia entry, this is said.

In August 2019, Grand Union lodged an application to operate three or four trains per day between London Euston and Stirling calling at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert with InterCity 225s from May 2021.

As I said in my meeting, I feel that a direct London and Stirling service could be invaluable.

  • Stirling has good rail connections to the rest of Scotland.
  • Stirling will be served by Scotrail’s upmarket Inter7City services.
  • The route is fully-electrified between London and Stirling.

I doubt the good burghers of Stirling would object.

I have a few comments.

The Route

The route is interesting, as it gives some new connectivity, that I’m sure will be welcomed by customers.

Milton Keynes

Consider.

  • Milton Keynes Central is a well-connected station.
  • It will get even better when the East-West Rail Link is opened in a few years.
  • Some journeys will be easier with a change at Milton Keynes, rather than in London.

Current services between Milton Keynes and Scotland, go via Birmingham.

Nuneaton

Nuneaton is becoming a busy hub station between Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester and must improve services along the West Coast Main Line to and from the North and Scotland.

Crewe, Preston And Carlisle

The new service will add connectivity to these important hubs.

Lockerbie

Lockerbie station only gets three trains per day in both directions.

If Grand Union stopped all their services, this would double the number of services calling at Lockerbie.

Motherwell, , Whifflet, Greenfaulds And Larbert

These stations should give good connectivity in South-East Glasgow, with links to Ayr in the West and Edinburgh in the East.

Stiring Station

In addition to good rail connectivity, Stirling station is not  far from the City Centre and has good facilities.

The Trains

Wikipedia says the services will be run by InterCity 225 trains.

I would assume they will be shortened to perhaps five to seven cars.

The Timings

Currently, the fastest train between Euston and Motherwell is the 17:30, which takes fours and fifteen minutes, with six stops.

As the proposed service would also take six stops between Euston and Motherwell, I would assume that Grand Union would be aiming for a similar time.

Looking at individual timings on the route the train would take between Motherwell snd Stirling via Whifflet, Coatbridge Central, Greenfaulds, Cumbernauld, Carmuirs Junction and Larbert, I am fairly certain that a train running with three scheduled stops could do the trip in around 38-42 minutes.

This is the summary of the times.

  • London Euston and Motherwell – four hours and fifteen minutes.
  • Motherwell and Stirling – 38-42 minutes.

Which would give a time between Euston and Stirling of around five hours.

This compares with the current best timings.

  • London Kings Cross and Stirling – five hours and eighteen minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – four hours and twenty minutes
  • London Euston and Glasgow – four hours and thirty minutes

So the new service would appear to give the following advantages.

  • A faster service between London and Stirling.
  • Faster services between London and Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.

This is in addition to the big advantage of three or four new direct services per day.

Services Between The South And Inverness With A Change At Stirling

Could this be one of the markets that Grand Union are looking to exploit?

Currently, there are two direct services between London and Inverness.

  • The daily direct daytime service takes eight hours and runs once a day.
  • The Sleeper takes even longer, but you do get an overnight rest.

So could a service between London and Stirling provide extra services?

Consider.

  • Currently, Scotrail’s services between Stirling and Inverness take just under three hours and run roughly two-hourly.
  • Network Rail are improving the Highland Main Line with passing loops and longer platforms to increase capacity and operating speeds.
  • Scotrail are introducing new better quality Inter7City trains on the route.
  • The new December 2019 timetable looks like services could be a few minutes faster.

I suspect, if the trains were appropriately timetabled, there could be extra services between Inverness and London Euston.

  • There would be a change of train at Stirling.
  • Timing could be around seven and a half hours.
  • Both trains would be high-quality ones.

I suspect that three new services with times of less than eight hours could be created bertween London and Inverness

The Glasgow By-Pass

If you want to go between Carlisle and Stirling, you will be recommended to take the following route.

  • Carlisle to Glasgow Central – Up to four trains per hour (tph)
  • Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street – Walk as I do or a bus.
  • Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling – three tph

The journey time is just over two and a half hours.

I estimate that Grand Union’s services could go between Carlisle and Stirling in around forty-five minutes less, without a change of train.

The route is also now fully-electrified between Stirling and Carlisle, so could this be used by other services.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed, there will be two tph to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, with I suspect the trains working as a pair South of Carstairs, where they will split and join.

I suspect that High Speed Two will take the lion’s share of passengers between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow, but the two services could work together.

  • It might be quicker to change at Preston to Grand Union, if you’re going to Stirling.
  • If Stirling to Aberdeen and/or Inverness were to be electrified, could classic-compatible High Speed Two trains go further North?
  • At the Southern end, places like Milton Keynes and Nuneaton will not be served by High Speed Two, but existing and Grand Union services could provide connections.
  • North of Crewe, it is planed that High Speed Two will run on an upgraded West Coast Main Line.

For reasons like this High Speed Two will need to be integrated with other services.

Conclusion

Grand Union will make services from London to Stirling and the Northern part of coitland netter and more competitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Design Crime – The Forthside Bridge In Stirling

I first wrote about the Forthside Bridge in Stirling in Stirling, when I thought it was impressive.

But on my second visit to the City, I realise that practically, it isn’t as good as you’d expect.

It’s biggest problem, is that it was not properly integrated with the station, the main road through the city and the shopping centre.

I was staying on the wrong side of the tracks and to get to my train, I needed to cross the bridge, enter the station and then walk back across the tracks on another bridge.

In a sensible station design the bridge in the station would lead to a second ticket gate on the other side. One guy told me, it used to and he thought about buying a flat on the other side, until the ticket gate was removed.

Note.

  • When I arrived on Friday night, I went to the Shopping Centre to buy a jumper at the Marks and Spencer there! It closed at 18:00. On a Frioday night! Ridiculous!
  • On Saturday, I went to Pizza Express at about 21:00. Staff probably outnumbered the patrons.
  • It was certainly a lot busier on the other side of the tracks.

So was one guy about eighteen right, when he said the bridge was all bullshit.

I’m nominating the Forthside Bridge in Stirling as a design crime.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Mystery Tours Of Glasgow

On Saturday, I was staying at Stirling near to the station and wanted to get to Glasgow to have a look at the closure of Queen Street station, for upgrading Queen Street Tunnel, platform lengthening and electrification work.

This article on Network Rail’s web site, which is entitled Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel upgrade, says this.

The work is starting just before the Easter bank holiday weekend, and lasting much longer, with a 20-week closure of the high-level Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel from Sunday 20 March to Monday 8 August so that the concrete slab track inside the tunnel can be renewed safely.

It’s the largest piece of engineering on the Edinburgh to Glasgow line since the railway was built. Renewing more than 1,800 metres of slab will mean 10,000 tonnes of existing concrete slab will be removed, as well as 4,000 metres of new rails laid, and more than 150 staff will be working on the project every day during the 140-day period.

A lot of other work will also be done at the same time.

So Network Rail and Scotrail have called up the spirit of Baldrick, and devised a cunning plan. This map shows the rail lines in the Glasgow area.

Glasgow Rail Lines

Glasgow Rail Lines

My route in from Stirling to the low-level platform at Queen Street was something like.

  • Larbert
  • Croy
  • Lenzie
  • Bishopbriggs
  • Springburn
  • Duke Street
  • Belgrove
  • High Street

Coming back from Glasgow Central, the route was something like.

  • Mount Vernon
  • Bargewddie
  • Kirkwood
  • Coatbridge Central
  • Cumbernauld

Although the train didn’t stop until Stirling.

These are some pictures taken on the Jouney into Glasgow

And these were taken on the way out.

It certainly seems there are more wayus of moving trains through Glasgow, than most other cities.

You almost wonder looking at these pictures and the routes that I took, that Network Rail and Scotrail have an alternative philosophy.

  • Most platforms seem to have been lengthened to at least eight cars, which mean they’ll handle two Class 385 trains coupled together.
  • Most of the lines through Glasgow seem to either be electrified or seem to be having wires installed.
  • It should be noted that the route I took back to Stirling, would also enable a service to be run from Carlisle to Perth via Motherwell, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld and Stirling.
  • Once, the TransPennine routes are electrified, Manchester to Edinburgh can go up the East Coast.
  • Are Network Rail going to apply some of the innovative interchange philosophy I wrote about in Better East-West Train Services Across Suffolk?

If electric trains can get everywhere and they are twice the capacity of the current diesel trains, then mathematics and scheduling rules, says you can get more trains through the system.

So could they be looking to increase the capacity of the two Glasgow stations and open up circular routes between them?

I don’t know the answer, but I do believe that when the EGIP program is complete, it will be interesting to see if more passengers are able to use the trains. What is being done is very different to previous proposals.

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Stirling

On my trip to Scotland, I spent two nights in the Premier Inn in Stirling, which unlike many budget hotels is close to the station. Access between Stirling station and the hotel was over the impressive Forthside bridge.

As Stirling has frequent trains to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and myriad places in between, the city could be an convenient place to stay depending on where you want to visit.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments