The Anonymous Widower

An Affordable Reinstatement Of The Stour Valley Railway

The Stour Valley Railway used to link Cambridge to Colchester. The section between Sudbury and Shelford stations was closed in 1967. The only portion remaining is the Gainsborough Line between Sudbury and Marks Tey stations.

So could the line be reopened in an affordable way using modern technology?

In Sudbury To Cambridge – D-Train, IPEMU Or Tram-Train?, I basked what would be the ideal rolling stock on a reopened Stour Valley Railway.

My conclusion was.

It is very much a case of who pays the money makes the choice.

Purists will want a double-track railway with fully manned stations, served by at least two-trains per hour. But they’re probably not paying!

There are plenty enough single-track, single-platform stations in the UK, that work safely and well. The Gainsborough Line, which would connect a restored Stour Valley Railway to the Great Eastern Main Line has the following characteristics, history and aspirations.

So why not extend a  railway across Suffolk, with these features.

  • Single-track throughout.
  • No traditional electrification
  • Single-platform stations.
  • Passing loops at Sudbury or Great Cornard and Haverhill.
  • In-cab wireless signalling, using ERTMS, as piloted on the Cambrian Line in Wales.
  • No level crossings.
  • No freight, except engineering trains.
  • Run under tramway rules.
  • Double-manned trains.
  • Services would be run by Aventras running on stored power.

It would be the ultimate modern railway connecting to one of the world’s most high-tech cities.

A Few Questions

These questions come to mind. If you have any others, let me know and I’ll answer them.

Could an Aventra Travel Between Marks Tey And Shelford Stations On Battery Power?

Both ends of the Stour Valley Railway connect to double-track main lines, which use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Current practice, always extends the electrification for a few hundred metres down a branch line and I would assume this would be done, so that a train running on stored energy, which was running short of power, could pull out onto the main line using the electrification.

Estimates of the distances of the sections of the line are as follows.

  • Marks Tey to Sudbury – 12 miles – From Gainborough Line details in Wikipedia.
  • Sudbury to Haverhill – 17 miles – From road distances
  • Haverhill to West Anglia Main Line – 14 miles – From road distances.

Which gives a total of forty-three miles.

These factors will help.

  • The terrain is not challenging.
  • The trains will be using regenerative braking at stops.
  • The trains have been optimised for low energy use.
  • The trains will enter the line with full batteries.

In An Exciting New Aventra, Bombardier are quoted as saying.

So plans were made for an Aventra that could run away from the wires, using batteries or other forms of energy storage. “We call it an independently powered EMU, but it’s effectively an EMU that you could put the pantograph down and it will run on the energy storage to a point say 50 miles away. There it can recharge by putting the pantograph back up briefly in a terminus before it comes back.

The prototype, which was based on a Class 379 train, that I rode in public service in January 2015, could happily travel along the eleven miles of the Mayflower Line. Even then the on-board engineer, that I spoke to, reckoned that longer distances were possible.

Two years on, I can’t believe that Bombardier have not achieved their objective of a train with on-board storage, that can reliably achieve a fifty mile range away from the wires.

In fact for reliable operation over fifty miles, they’d probably need a range of around seventy miles, just to make sure.

Could Charging Be Provided En Route?

Seville’s MetroCentro trams, which I described in Seville’s Elegant Trams, charge themselves at each stop.

I believe that there may be a very simple system, that could be used with Aventra trains.

The Aventras are dual-voltage trains, so could a short length of 750 VDC third rail be provided in some or all stations, which at most times is electrically dead. As is normal practice the rail would be on the side of the track away from the platform.

The sequence of operation would be as follows.

  • The train arrives in the station.
  • The second crew member gets out to supervise the passengers, as is normal practice.
  • The presence of the train, allows the third rail to be switched on.
  • The train connects using a third-rail shoe and charges the batteries.
  • When charging is complete, the third rail is switched off.
  • The second crew member checks all is ready and boards the train.
  • The train goes on its way with a full battery.

I’m sure that by careful design, a very safe system of charging the batteries can be developed.

  • The third rail can’t be switched on unless a train is in the platform.
  • The train would act as a massive safety guard for the third-rail.
  • The shoe could be on the middle car of a five-car train.
  • CCTV could monitor the third-rail at all times it is switched on.

I don’t think that all stations would have charging facilities, but just enough to ensure reliable operation of the trains.

How Would You Rescue A Failed Battery Train?

There are generally two ways, that failed trains are rescued.

  • In most cases, a second train attaches itself to the failed train and drags it out of moves it to a suitable siding out of the way.
  • Alternatively, a locomotive, often nicknamed a Thunderbird moves the train.

Would a battery train be able to shift the dead weight of a failed train?

It has been suggested to me, that Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which are bi-mode will be able to rescue a Class 720 train, which are Aventras.

Now that is probably the ideal solution.

If you are using battery trains on a route, you make sure that you have some bi-mode trains working a route nearby.

How Long Would Colchester To Cambridge Take With A Battery Train?

Currently, the fastest journey by train between Colchester and Cambridge, that I can find takes two hours twenty minutes with a change at Ipswich. The Internet gives a driving time of one hour twenty-two minutes.

So how long would a journey take on the Stour Valley Railway?

The following timings are achieved by electric trains on the part of the route that is electrified.

  • Marks Tey to Colchester – 7-8 minutes
  • Shelford to Cambridge – 7 minutes

With Marks Tey to Sudbury taking twenty minutes. I will assume that a modern train like an Aventra would save a couple of minutes per stop, but then there could be an extra station at Great Cornard.

So let’s leave the timing at twenty minutes.

Scaling this time up for the forty-three miles between Marks Tey and the West Anglia Main Line from the twelve miles between Msrks Tey and Sudbury gives a time of one hour twelve minutes for the centre section of the route without electrification.

Adding everything together gives one hour twenty-seven minutes for the complete  Colchester to Cambridge journey.

I suspect a few minutes could be saved by good driving and some extra electrification at the junctions.

This all adds up to a comfortable three-hour round trip between Colchester and Cambridge.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed To Work A Colchester To Cambridge Service?

The previous section would mean that to provide an hourly service between Cambridge and Colchester would require just three trains. A half-hourly service would require six trains.

Why Not Use Bi-Mode Trains?

It could be argued that everything a Class 720 Aventra train running on battery power could be done by a Stadler Class 755 bi-mode train.

Consider.

  • The track access charges and leasing costs may favour one train or the other.
  • Tha Class 720 train is probably better suited to gliding silently through the Suffolk countryside.
  • The Class 755 train would run on diesel for most of the journey. Not very green!
  • The five-car Class 720 train may be too big.

Abellio’s accountants and the Marketing Department will decide.

Costs And Benefits

The cost of building the railway between the West Anglia Main Line and Sudbury, is a bit like the old question, as to how long is a piece of string.

Much of the route is still visible in Google Maps and it could be rebuilt as single track with single platform stations, which is the style of the Gainsborough Line.

The picture shows Newcourt station on the Avocet Line in Devon.

There were originally stations between Shelford and Sudbury at the following places.

I don’t suspect all would be needed, but none except perhaps Haverhill and a rebuilt and/or moved Sufbury would be anything more than basic.

To show the level of costs, Newcourt station cost £4 million, when it opened in 2015.

I would estimate that a total cost of the single track and the required stations would be around £100-120 million.

At least, it would be unlikely, if new trains had to be purchased.

Putting value to the benefits is more difficult, but at least they can be listed.

  • Fast growing Haverhill will gain a high-capacity public transport link to Cambridge.
  • It would give Cambridge access to the housing and industrial sites, the |City needs.
  • An efficient route would be built between Cambridge and Colchester via Sudbury and Haverhill.
  • Haverhill and Sudbury get good direct links to Colchester and Ipswich.
  • Most of the locals would be pleased, as house prices would rise!!
  • All areas along the line get links to Addenbrook’s Hospital.
  • If you can’t drive in South Suffolk, it is a beautiful prison.

As to the last point, why do you think I moved to London?

Conclusion

Reinstatement of the Stour Valley Railway  would be the ultimate modern railway for one of the world’s most high-tech cities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Addenbrooke’s Train Station Has Got The Thumbs-Up From The Transport Secretary

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Cambridge News.

These are my thoughts.

Location

Cambridge South station, if they follow the convention of the name of the newly-opened Cambridge North station, has the ideal location.

  • It is South of the City of Cambridge in a similar position to how Cambridge North station is North of the City.
  • The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway could be diverted to serve the station.
  • Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus could be a short walk or a travelator ride away.
  • Addenbrooke’s bus station could be moved to be adjacent to the new train station.
  • Services between both Liverpool Street and Kings Cross stations and Cambridge would call.
  • There is space for a large car park for both train passengers and hospital patients and visitors.
  • In the future, trains on the East West Rail Link will be able to call.

The location would also allow trains or guided buses on a reopened Stour Valley Railway to call.

Trains

When Thameslink opens fully, it looks like the trains going through Cambridge South station could include.

  • 1 tph – CrossCountry – Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport.
  • 1 tph – Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport.
  • 2 tph – Greater Anglia – Liverpool Street to Cambridge/Cambridge North/Ely
  • 3 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Cambridge/Cambridge North
  • 1 tph – Great Northern – Kings Cross to Kings Lynn
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Brighton to Cambridge/Caambridge North
  • 2 tph – Thameslink – Maidstone East to Cambridge/Caambridge North

Note tph is trains per hour.

This totals to twelve tph. And that’s only for starters.

  • The East West Rail Link will surely add 2 tph to Oxford.
  • All these services to Kings Cross and St. Pancras must surely hit Greater Anglia’s Liverpool Street services. Will this mean they use some of their massive fleet of new trains to provide extra services to Liverpool Street and Stansted.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia serves the City, Stratford and connects to Crossrail, whereas Great Northern doesn’t!

The Stour Valley Railway

If Cambridge continues to be one of the most successful cities in the world, I can’t believe that the Stour Valley Railway won’t be reinstated as another route across East Anglia.

I discuss this proposal in detail in An Affordable Reinstatement Of The Stour Valley Railway.

I came to this conclusion.

Reinstatement of the Stour Valley Railway  would be the ultimate modern railway for one of the world’s most high-tech cities.

I think it will be built at some time.

Cost

The usual suspects will complain about Cambridge South station being another station in a city near London, that already has two stations.

This is said about the cost of Cambridge North station in Wikipedia.

On 19 August 2015, Cambridge City Council approved Network Rail’s new plans for the station, which were not substantially different from the original plans put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council in 2013. Following Network Rail’s intervention, the cost of the station was revised upwards to £44 million.

When first proposed by Cambridgeshire County Council in around 2007, at the cost was £15 million, with a benefit-cost ratio of 3.09.

So much for Network Rail’s costing systems.

Incidentally, Kirkstall |Forge station in Leeds, which is a two-platform station on an electrified line with full step-free access cost £16 million. So as Cambridge South will probably have an extra platform and lots of parking, I would reckon £25 million would cover the cost of building the station.

To put this sum in context, two Cambridge companies have recently been sold.

These two deals must have generated a lot of tax revenue.

Conclusion

A start on Cambridge South station should be made next week.

 

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambridge Should Have A Metro System Like Barcelona

This was the title on this article in the Cambridge News.

This map shows the proposition.

It is probably a reasonable aspiration for the city, but the plan proposed would be very expensive, as the proposer suggests a tunnel under Cambridge.

In Making Sense Of The New East Anglia Franchise, I had a section entitled A Cambridge Metro. Some of this post is an update of the previous one.

So what do we know is actually happening?

Cambridge’s £750Million City Deal

This article in the Cambridge News is entitled Three new train stations and £750m City Deal projects to fuel Cambridge public transport revolution.

These rail improvements are mentioned in the article.

  • New stations at Addenbrooke’s, Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn.
  • Cambridge to Kings Lynn service increase from one to two trains per hour (tph)
  • Two tph to Stansted.
  • March to Wisbech rail reinstatement.
  • Cambridge to Ipswich service increase to two tph
  • East Coast Main Line rail capacity improvements between Huntingdon and Peterborough
  • A new station at Alconbury on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Cambridge is bursting and needs more local transport systems and the City Deal and other funding recognises that!

Services Through Cambridge

Within a few years, all of these services will arrive at one or all of Cambridge, Cambridge North and the proposed Cambridge South stations.

  • Greater Anglia from Ipswich
  • Greater Anglia from Liverpool Street
  • Greater Anglia from Norwich
  • EastMidlands Trains and CrossCountry from Peterborough
  • Greater Anglia and CrossCountry from Stansted Airport
  • East West Rail Link from Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford
  • Great Northern from Kings Cross
  • Great Northern from King’s Lynn
  • Thameslink from Brighton
  • Thameslink from Maidstone East
  • Thameslink from St. Pancras

Cambridge is taking over the world. Or at least making it a much better place!

Cambridge Crossrail?

These services could be organised, so they ran more efficiently.

Consider.

  • Perhaps they could call at Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely stations in an appropriate order as they pass through the City in a North-South direction.
  • It might be better if services from the South were run back-to-back with services from the North.
  • Greater Anglia are already proposing a Norwich-Stansted Airport service.
  • Great Northern already run a King’s Lynn-Kings Cross service.
  • Cambridge has four bay platforms for terminating trains.
  • Cambridge North station  will have a South-facing bay platform.
  • Ely station has had a South-facing bay platform

I think it very likely that after a meeting in one of Cambridge’s excellent real ale hostelries, a very adequate core service can be developed through Cambridge.

Could this core service do for Cambridge, what other Cross-City services have done for Berlin, Birmingham, Leipzig, Liverpool, Newcastle and Paris?

On published plans the following will be running in a year or so, between Ely and the site of Cambridge South station.

  • 1 train per hour (tph) between Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • 1 tph between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn.

In addition Thameslink will have 2 tph between Cambridge North and Brighton via St. Pancras and London Bridge, so the three Cambridge stations could have a 5 tph connection.

The Bombardier Aventra

Greater Anglia have ordered 89 five-car and 22 ten-car Aventras and they obviously have plans to use them all efficiently.

The Aventra has a slightly unusual and innovative electrical layout.

This article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have improved the concept.

It looks like the length and capacity of a ten-car Aventra is equivalent to that of a twelve-car formation of Class 317Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

So on a rough estimate the Aventras are equivalent  to about 200 four-car units.

Currently Greater Anglia have 170 four-car electric trains, ignoring the Class 379 trains, which will be replaced by Stadler Flirts.

Greater Anglia appear to have increased the fleet by the equivalent of thirty four-car trains or another twenty five-car Aventras than they would need to replicate current services.

When you consider that for some of their routes, the faster and quicker-stopping Aventras, should provide current service with fewer trains, you wonder what Greater Anglia are going to do with these spare trains?

Bombardier’s concept of a pair of cars sharing the electrical components, that I indicated earlier, is a good one from an engineering point of view.

It shares the weight of heavy components and would allow a weighty high-capacity energy storage device to be easily installed, to give sufficient range to go between say Ely and Peterborough stations, which is a distance of just twenty-five miles.

In addition, suppose though the train was packaged in a passenger-friendly skin, that made it look more as much like a tram than a train!

You would have a train, that would be equally at home using the electrification on the 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line or running silently through the countryside at a leisurely 40-50 mph using onboard energy storage.

In the following sections, I’ll investigate how Aventras could expand the basic core service around Cambridge.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services

Where I live in Dalston in East London, the London Overground run services at what they call a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four trains per hour (tph).

Merseyrail use this frequency on some of their lines, as do Birmingham and Leeds.

This should be the aim for services to and from Cambridge.

Commuting Into Cambridge

Many travel into Cambridge every day for work.

  • The trains are crowded.
  • Many travel with bicycles.
  • The Cambridge Park-and-Ride is very busy.
  • It is not unknown for commuters to unfold their Brompton in a Park-and-Ride and cycle to work.
  • The City Centre seems grid-locked with traffic and walkers most of the day.

The conclusion is that extra capacity is needed.

Cambridge North Station

Cambridge North station will provide extra capacity in the North of the City and better access to the Science Park.

But extra thought will need to be put into services at the station.

Consider.

There are no plans for a direct service between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

  • There is only one tph to Norwich.
  • There is only one tph to Peterborough.
  • Will CrossCountry’s Birmingham to Stansted service stop at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations?

A chord at Ely Dock Junction would create a route between Suffolk and Cambridge North station.

Rail Lines Into Cambridge

In a few years,  these rail lines will bring passengers to Cambridge.

From the late 2020s, the lines will be joined by the East-West Rail Link..

The Guided Busway

Cambridge has spent a lot of money developing the Guided Busway.

One of the main reasons for developing the Southern section of the Guided Busway was to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the surrounding cluster of health-related companies and research establishments.

Now that Addenbrooke’s is getting a new Cambridge South station, will the  Guided Busway be less important?

Possibly, but the station will probably rule out any extension of the Busway at its Southern end.

The Guided Busway will also call at both Cambridge and Cambridge North stations. Surely, passengers who are using the busway to go North of Cambridge will change transport mode at Cambridge North station.

It looks to me, that when Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations are fully operational, that the busway’s main purpose will be to bring passengers to and from the two new stations.

Services Via The West Anglia Main Line

Services to London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport on the fully-electrified West Anglian Main Line, consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph semi-fast to Liverpool Street
  • 1 tph to Stansted Airport.

When Greater Anglia receive their Stadler Flirts, the operator will add a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

All except one of these services are fast services with limited stops and two will only go as far as Stansted Airport.

As the Aventras will be able to cruise at a fast speed and thus keep out of the way of the express Flirts, could we see some extra local services on the line, that will improve local journeys and connections to Bishops Stortford, Cambridge and Stansted Airport?

Commuting, shopping and leisure activities in Cambridge would certainly be easier if your local station had four tph.

Services Via The Cambridge And East Coast Main Lines

Services to London Kings Cross via the fully-electrified Cambridge  Line will consist of the current services.

  • 1 tph fast to London Kings Cross
  • 1 tph semi-fast to London Kings Cross

Thameslink will add the following services.

  • 2 tph to Brighton – Semi-fast stopping at  Royston, Baldock (peak only) Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage
  • 2 tph to Maidstone East – Stopping at  all stations.

These might replace the current semi-fast service to Kings Cross.

Stations like Letchworth Garden City, Baldock and Royston currently get two tph to Cambridge and will get four tph when Thameslink opens.

But surely a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph at a lot more stations, would pull more passengers out of the woodwork.

So why not run Aventras from Cambridge to a suitable station to improve the service?

There may be a problem with Greater Anglia running this service, as the Cambridge Line is Great Northern territory, but if that is the case, Great Northern should join the party around Cambridge.

Services To Bedford, Milton Keynes And Oxford

The East West Rail Link and Cambridge South station  could be delivered in the late 2020s.

I will deal with local services on this line later.

Services To Norwich

The one tph from Norwich to Cambridge will be replaced by a one tph Norwich to Stansted Airport service, so in practice those living in Cambridge will only notice a destination change and a new larger train.

North of Ely, the service will actually be two tph, as there is a one tph Norwich-Nottingham service.

This service pattern will be sufficient for a few years, but I can see a time, when there is a need for two tph on the Cambridge-Norwich route, with possibly one extended to Yarmouth.

This service frequency is not sufficient for a commuter route into Cambridge.

As an example, Thetford station has just two tph in each direction between Norwich and Ely, with only one tph going to Cambridge. Miss a train and wait an hour doesn’t attract customers!

The line is not electrified between Ely and Thetford, but the distance is only a small amount over twenty miles, which could be in out-and-back range for an Aventra running on onboard energy storage.

So an Aventra running using onboard power could probably run a four tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Cambridge as far as Thetford with the following stops to the North of Ely.

What would four tph in addition to the current two tph do to this area?

Services To Peterborough

Cambridge to Peterborough currently has only one tph, with three tph between Ely and Peterborough.

This means that Peterborough with all its connections to the North of England and Scotland, is not a particularly difficult journey, but a rather infrequent journey from Cambridge.

But it needs a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph from the two Cambridge stations.

The Ely-Peterborough Line is a major freight artery, but it is not electrified.

However, the section without electrification is just over twenty miles, so an Aventra with onboard storage could manage it with ease and charge the energy storage at both ends.

There are also just two stations on the line at March and Whittlesea.

So why not open a few more stations on the line and give them a decent four tph service between Cambridge and Peterborough?

This Google Map shows the location of the former Peterborough East station.

Surely, with everything going on in the area and need to develop more housing, a station is needed here.

Extension To Wisbech

The track already exists and if ever there was a town that needed a two tph rail link to Cambridge , it is Wisbech, which is less than ten miles from the main Ely-Peterborough Line. Even if the main line isn’t electrified, Wisbech is probably within range of 2020 battery technology from Ely.

The Service To Nottingham

East Midlands Train run a one tph service between Nottingham and Norwich.

Perhaps, as services from Cambridge develop, it might be better for this Nottingham service to terminate at Cambridge.

This would give Cambridge direct access to Nottingham and Leicester, but it would also give the service to Peterborough an increased frequency

If this were to be done, a second Cambridge-Norwich service should probably be added, to restore two tph to Norwich.

Services To Bury St. Edmunds And Ipswich

Network Rail have thought long and hard about what to do with services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough over the years.

Greater Anglia’s solution is to run the following services using bi-mode Flirts.

  • 1 tph from Ipswich to Cambridge
  • 1 tph from Colchester to Peterborough.

This will give the following.

  • Services quicker by a few minutes.
  • Two tph between Kennett, Bury St. Edmunds, Stowmarket and Ipswich.
  • More capacity.

But the service to Cambridge and Newmarket and Bury St. Edmunds is as now!

  • There is only one tph from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and all the other stations East of Kennett.
  • The service only goes to Cambridge and not Cambridge North or the proposed Cambridge South stations.
  • There is an alternative route with a change at Ely.

Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket need two tph to both Cambridge stations! And  they need that service now!

Currently trains from Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket take 79, 42 and 22 minutes respectively to get to Cambridge.

Cambridgeshire County Council also has plans to reopen Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton stations, which with the current trains would probably add five minutes to the current timings.

Could a new bi-mode Flirt go from Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour as opposed to the current one hour nineteen minutes?

  • Is the current timing based on a single-car 75 mph Class 153 train or a 100 mph Class 170 train, that works the route today?
  • The bi-mode Flirts could run on electricity from Ipswich to Haughley unction.
  • There are eight stops on the route, where a minute or two could be saved.
  • Step-free train access from the platform could be provided
  • Haughley Junction could be improved.
  • Wikipedia quotes the line-speed as 40-75 mph, which surely could be raised.
  • Fast turnbacks with a driver change could be performed at Cambridge and Ipswich.

It might just be possible to do Ipswich to Cambridge in an hour.

I can’t believe that this is not an aspiration of Greater Anglia.

It would give.

  • A headline-grabbing one hour trip between Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • ,Currently, Greater Anglia probably use two Class 170 trains on the route, so two trains could give a 2 tph service.
  • Ipswich to Bury St. Edmunds would get a three tph service.

But there would still be a need to change at Cambridge to get to Cambridge North and Cambridge South stations.

A Cambridge Eastern Metro

In the plans for the Cambridge region in the Cambridge News, these two points are made.

  • Reinstate the ‘Newmarket west curve’ to allow direct services to run between Ely and the new station at Soham to Newmarket and Cambridge.
  • Double tracking of railway line between Ely and Soham.

Obviously, these assume that there is a new station at Soham.

This Google Map shows the triangular junction on Newmarket Heath, where the Newmarket West Curve has been lifted.

 

The railway from Bury St. Edmunds splits into two, with one branch curving round the British Racing School and going North to Ely and the other curving South to go in a short tunnel under Newmarket to get to Newmarket station.

The reinstatement of the West Curve would enable a service to run between Ely and Cambridge stopping at the following stations.

  • Soham – New station
  • Fordham – New station
  • Newmarket
  • Dullingham
  • Fulbourn – New station
  • Cherry Hinton – New station

I have added another station at Fordham.

I estimate Ely to Newmarket will take 13 minutes making the journey time 35 minutes between Ely and Cambridge, as opposed to 16 minutes by the direct route.

This route could open up various route possibilities in addition to being a longer route between Ely and ambridge.

  • It certainly gives Newmarket a better service to Cambridge.
  • Services could terminate the other side of Ely at Kings Lynn, Peterborough, Thetford or Wisbech.
  • With reverses at Cambridge and Ely, a loop service would connect Newmarket and the East of Cambridge to Cambridge North station.
  • The loop service could be extended to Cambridge South station.

I’m sure Greater Anglia have better ideas based on how passengers travel.

A Rebuilt Newmarket Station

Network Rail had a plan to rebuild Newmarket station with an island platform to give interchange between Ely and Peterborough services via the Newmarket West Curve and those going East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Could a train going from Peterborough and Ely to Cambridge via Soham be timed to be in Newmarket station at the same time as one going from Cambridge to Ipswich?

Consider.

  • With two tph on both services in both directions, it would be an efficient way to improve services without buying lots of trains.
  • Perhaps one Ely service would go to Peterborough and the other to Thetford.
  • Ely and Ipswich would have a two extra services in each hour, with just a step across the platform at Newmarket.
  • Newmarket, Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton would have four tph to Cambridge.
  • Newmarket would have two tph to Ely.

There are a lot of possibilities.

Extension To Haverhill

There was a very good railway from the South of Cambridge to Haverhill and onto Sudbury, Marks Tey and |Colchester. But the last train ran on the Stour Valley Railway in 1967.

Greater Anglia have plans for the Eastern end of this route and it will be extended to Colchester Town station with probably two tph to Sudbury.

I suspect that Greater Anglia regret that British Rail closed this line fifty years ago, as two tph running between Colchester Town and Cambridge North stations via Colchester, Marks Tey, Sudbury, Haverhill, Cambridge South and Cambridge stations, wouldn’t be just a nice little earner, but quite a valuable gold-mine.

I believe that Greater Anglia will be running Colchester Town to Sudbury using Aventras with onboard energy storage, away from the overhead wires.

I also believe that by the time the line was extended from Sudbury to Cambridge South, that battery technology will have advanced enough to power a train from Marks Tey to Cambridge South.

Cambridge would gain a new route into the City, using the best that modern British technology can do!

An Aventra Between Marks Tey And Cambridge

After taking on a full load of electricity on the Great Eastern Main Line, a train would just trundle from Marks Tey to Sudbury, Haverhill and on to Cambridge.

  • The route would be nearly all single track.
  • There would be no need for any electrification.
  • Signalling would be conventional.
  • There would be no level crossings.
  • All stations would be single platform, with appropriate facilities.
  • A passing loop might be provided at perhaps Sudbury.
  • Trains might even run on the street in Haverhill, with perhaps three stops in the town.
  • When running on the street, the trains would obey the rules that street-running trams, do in places like Birmingham, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

It wouldn’t look like a conventional railway, but to the operator and the authorities that’s what it would be.

To anybody living or walking in the countryside, it would just be a silent electric vehicle passing at an appropriate speed.

As it’s going to work out of Cambridge, the interior would be geared to the needs of the bicycle-friendly city.

With a range of fifty miles on onboard energy storage, it would have no difficulty with these services.

  • The Cambridge Eastern Metro
  • Marks Tey To Cambridge Via Sudbury And Haverhill.
  • Ely To Thetford
  • Ely to Peterborough
  • Extension To Wisbech

Where else could these trains take the rail network in Cambridge?

Along The East West Rail Link

All the plans for the East West Rail Link are about long distance services services between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

But why if you have a 100 mph electrified railway between two important cities, should it not have a two or even four-train per hour stopping service between the cities.

Modern trains are able to execute a station stop so quickly compared to trains of twenty years ago, that having a stopping train on a main line, isn’t the liability, that it was even a few years ago.

So on the East West Rail Link between Cambridge and Bedford will we be seeing four tph, that stop at all stations in addition to the fast expresses?

In the map that introduced this post, a service to Cambourne is shown.

This Google Map shows the location of Cambourne to the West of Cambridge.

Cambourne is at the top of the map, just South of the A428 road.

The red arrow at the bottom right, indicates the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory,

The East West Rail Link passes to the North of the observatory, which used to use the old track bed, as a track for radio telescopes and then goes to the South of Cambourne.

Perhaps a single track branch line could be built.

Conclusion

A Metro in Cambridge will develop because of these factors

  • Cambridge needs to reach out to the hinterland, as it is growing fast.
  • A high-frequency cross-city line with three important stations in a row will happen.
  • Greater Anglia have bought a lot of five-car Aventras.
  • Aventras will be able to run using onboard energy storage.
  • A lot of the lines radiating from Cambridge have capacity for extra services and are electrified.

But the biggest factor will be that towns and cities around Cambridge will want part of the prosperity.

 

 

March 31, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Station At Great Cornard

I can’t find anything about a possible station at the village of Great Cornard.

This is a Google Map of the area.

greatcornard

Note Sudbury station at the top of the map from where the Gainsborough Line turns South along the course of the River Stour towards Bures and Marks Tey.

A single-platform station at Great Cornard would seem to be a feasible proposition from an engineering point of view.

It could provide a valuable commuter and leisure route to Colchester and London, especially, if as I suspect Greater Anglia will run trains between Sudbury and Colchester Town via Marks Tey and Colchester.

The train company are probably analysing various scenarios concerning a new station at Great Cornard.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Marks Tey Station And The Sudbury Branch

The Sudbury Branch or the Gainsborough Line, is one of those lines that abound all over the UK, to serve a major town stranded from the main line.

These pictures show my visit.

Note.

Incidentally, I was able to get to Sudbury from London for just £11.70, using my Freedom Pass to Shenfield and a ticket from there to Sudbury with my Senior Railcard.

The Future Of The Sudbury Branch

With the new franchise being awarded within a few weeks, I wonder what the plans are for Marks Tey station and the Sudbury Branch.

  • I can’t find anything about the building works at Marks Tey station.
  • The station certainly needs a proper bridge with lifts.
  • Marks Tey only has two trains per hour in each direction. Is that enough?
  • Trains are hourly between Marks Tey and Sudbury and for a weekday were fairly busy.
  • In an ideal world, trains would be twice an hour on the Sudbury Branch and would synchronise with trains on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The journey takes nineteen minutes between Sudbury and Marks Tey, which probably means that two trains are needed for a doubled frequency.

There is certainly a lot of potential for an improved service.

Two Trains Per Hour To Sudbury

The obvious way to achieve a two trains per hour service on the Sudbury Branch would be to use two trains. Although, this could be expensive as the line probably works currently under rules called One Train Working.

It would also need a passing loop on the single-track branch, two trains and two crews, so I think it could be discounted.

The line has a speed limit of 50 mph and it is not electrified. If the line was upgraded to increase this speed limit, it might be possible for a single train to shuttle twice between Marks Tey and Sudbury in an hour. Time could be saved, by using two drivers and changing them at Marks Tey. But the current time of nineteen minutes for the journey makes four trips in an hour impossible. It probably needs a time in the order of ten to thirteen minutes, which might be possible with a faster train after the track was upgraded to say 75 mph.

Electric trains accelerate faster and generally have shorter station dwell times, than the current Class 156 diesel trains.

So perhaps to electrify the line is an option, that would allow the desired service. But electrification of the line will be expensive and there will be a lot of opposition to having overhead gantries marching through the Suffolk countryside and on top of the Grade II Listed Chappel Viaduct.

An Aventra IPEMU To Sudbury

One solution that would work is to use something like a four-car Class 710 train, that are being built for the London Overground.

It would need to be an IPEMU, fitted with energy storage and there would probably need to be a short length of electrification in Platform 3 at Marks Tey station to charge the train after each trip to Sudbury.

A Suffolk Metro From Sudbury To Felixstowe

An alternative strategy may also be possible, which would require no new track, platforms or electrification.

The Felixstowe branch also needs new trains and could be run using a similar Aventra IPEMU from Ipswich.

So why not link the two services back-to-back to create a half-hourly service from Sudbury to Felixstowe, which called at the following stations?

  • Bures
  • Chappel and Wakes Colne
  • Marks Tey
  • Colchester
  • Manningtree
  • Ipswich
  • Westerfield
  • Derby Road
  • Trimley

The trains would charge their energy storage on the main line and the Felixstowe branch would not need a bay platform at Ipswich station.

The Sudbury and Felixstowe Branches are eleven and twelve miles long respectively, which means that if the trains charged their energy storage on the main line between Ipswich and Marks Tey, they would need to be able to do about twenty-five miles on their on-board energy storage, which is well within all estimates of the train’s range.

Currently, using three trains that would take 72 minutes of train time, but I suspect that time saved on the branches by an Aventra could make the trip in around an hour.

In Could Class 387 Trains Do Norwich In Ninety And Ipswich In Sixty?, I postulated that to achieve the Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty targets, all trains North of Colchester, must be capable of running at 110 mph, so they don’t slow the crack East Anglian Expresses down.

This rule would probably have to apply to the Felixstowe to Sudbury trains.

This would be one of those train services where most are winners.

  • Passengers on the two branch lines get a two trains per hour direct service to Ipswich, Manningtree and Colchester, run using modern four-car electric trains.
  • Passengers using stations between Marks Tey and Ipswich would have extra trains to Ipswich and Colchester.
  • The train operator replaces two ageing diesel multiple units, with two brand-new electric multiple units with an IPEMU-capability.
  • Network Rail would have no electrification to install and only minimal changes to make to infrastructure, such as some general track improvement and platform lengthening.
  • It would probably help time-keeping, if the long-promised dualling of part of the Felixstowe Branch were to be done.
  • There might even be a case for reopening disused stations at Bentley, Ardleigh and Orwell and perhaps creating a couple of new ones.

What I have proposed is pure speculation, but it could be the first line of the Suffolk Metro.

Incidentally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see four-car Aventra IPEMUs working the following routes for the new East Anglian Franchise.

  • Cambridge to Norwich.
  • Ipswich to Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough
  • March to Wisbech
  • Norwich to Cromer, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth.

The only line, which would be outside their capability would be Ipswich to Lowestoft, which is just a bit long. But the Aventras would release Class 170 trains to provide a high quality service on this line.

There are several reasons, why I think that IPEMUs might be used in East Anglia.

  • The tests of the IPEMU technology were carried out by Abellio Greater Anglia on the Harwich branch. The drivers must know how good the IPEMU technology really is.
  • East Anglia has several branch lines for which using IPEMU technology, is an affordable way of introducing electric trains.
  • Network Rail have an appalling record, when it comes to electrification.
  • What is the state of the electrification  on the Braintree, Southminster and Harwich branches? It might be more affordable instead of replacing dodgy wiring to use a train with IPEMU technology.
  • Quite a few of these branches have capacity problems, which a four-car electric train would solve.
  • The invitation to tender for the franchise included the following – “extra points will be awarded to bidders who include plans to trial new technologies in rolling stock”
  • Providing free wi-fi across the franchise is mandated. Does anybody fancy doing this in a Class 153 or Class 156 train?

The new franchise is supposed to be awarded before the 21st of July, this year.

It will be interesting to hear the winner’s plans.

Onward To Cambridge

It is just a pity, that the Stour Valley Railway from Sudbury to Cambridge via Haverhill was closed in the 1960s.

In Sudbury To Cambridge – D-Train, IPEMU Or Tram-Train?, I looked at the various options for reopening the whole line to create a new route from Ipswich and Colchester to Cambridge via Marks Tey, Sudbury and Haverhill.

As trains from Sudbury to Felixstowe will probably be Aventra IPEMUs with a main line capability, these trains would be used through to Cambridge, which is about fifty miles from Marks Tey.

I think this line will eventually be rebuilt.

  • This is the sort of project a devolved East Anglian Authority would back.
  • It creates alternative routes to London and Cambridge.
  • It joins up well with the East West Rail Link and the prtoposed station at Addenbrookes Hospital.
  • It provides another commuting route for Cambridge.
  • It puts Haverhill back on the rail map.
  • It would complete rail links from Suffolk’s County Town of Ipswich to all parts of the county

Who knows what routes will be unlocked by the reopening of the Stour Valley Railway?

 

 

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Sudbury To Cambridge – D-Train, IPEMU Or Tram-Train?

In D-Trains For East Anglia? I reported on how possible Anglia franchisees, were looking at using Vivarail D-Trains between Marks Tey and Sudbury on the Gainsborough Line.

So as someone, who lived by the disused line from Sudbury to Cambridge Line via Haverhill  for nearly twenty years, I have views on whether this route should be opened.

The Case For Reopening

After my stroke, for a year, I lived just North of Haverhill, in the middle of nowhere. The only way to get to say Cambridge, Ipswich or London, was to get a taxi to either Newmarket and get a train or Haverhill and get a bus.

As with many people, a station in Haverhill would have given me an alternative route, using a cheaper taxi!

But for many who live along the Stour Valley getting to Cambridge and its employment opportunities means the car or a bus.

Haverhill is now a town of 30,000 souls and when the line closed, the population was under a quarter of that figure.

So although the case for closure of the Stour Valley Railway in 1967, was strong, there is probably just as strong a case to provide a high-quality public transport system between Sudbury and Cambridge via Cavendish, Clare and Haverhill.

The Route Today

Much of the route is still there, although in places it has been built upon.

But I believe, as do others, that a single-track railway with passing places could be built between the West Anglia Main Line, just South of Shelford station to Sudbury station on the Gainsborough Line thst connects to the Great Eastern Main Line at Marks Tey station.

If the line is built mainly single-track, this would be more appropriate for an area of outstanding natural beauty and it would make it easier to squeeze the line into difficult places like the station at Sudbury, which is shown in this Google Map.

Sudbury Station

Sudbury Station

The route of the overgrown disused rail line, goes out towards the South-West.

The route of the line is still visible in the other major town on the line; Haverhill. It is shown on this Google Map.

The Railway Through Haverhill

The Railway Through Haverhill

The railway goes across the town from North-West to South-East. It does split with one branch going South over a massive brick viaduct and the other going East towards Clare, Cavendish and Long Melford.

Much of the line now is a footpath through the town, which I suspect could share the route with a single-track railway or tramway. Tesco’s probably wouldn’t mind if the station was just to the North of their massive car-park.

I suspect that all stations would be designed to be as simple as possible.

Several of those on the new Borders Railway like EskbankGalashiels,  Gorebridge and Newtongrange are well-designed single platforms and some have no means to cross the railway.

Stations like these would be practical and unobtrusive.

Possible Rolling Stock

Because of the limited nature of the track, which as I pointed out could possibly be mainly single track, I think that some types of rolling stock can be ruled out.

If say, the line was to be run using something like two or three-car Class 168 trains, there could be capacity, vibration and noise problems.

So I think we’re left with the following.

  • D-train or Class 230 trains
  • IPEMUs
  • Class 399 tram-trains

I shall now look at each in detail.

Class 230 Trains

Class 230 trains or D-trains have been talked about as possibilities for the Gainsborough Line and these conversions from London Underground D78 Stock could certainly travel easily between Marks Tey and Shelford, before going on to Cambridge.

Other than possible hostility to their origin and second-hand provenance, I can see other problems with these trains.

  • When running between Shelford and Cambridge, would they get in the way of faster trains to and from London and Stansted.
  • Would they have a noise and vibration problem, as they trundled through quiet villages?
  • Extending the service at either end to perhaps Colchester and Cambridge North might be difficult.
  • They would have a shorter life-span than the other options.

But we haven’t seen a Class 230 train in service yet.

IPEMUs

IPEMUs or battery-powered trains have only been seen briefly on UK railways and that was at Manningtree, where Bombardier and Network Rail ran the prototype in a successful trial in public service.

They are full size four-car electric trains and could run from Marks Tey to Shelford on batteries, charging up on the electrified main lines.

In addition they would have the following other advantages.

  • They have a high-capacity, with all the facilities that all types of passengers could want or need.
  • There could be no need to put up any overhead wires between Marks Tey and Shelford.
  • They would probably have a very low intrusion factor into the environment.
  • When they are on the main lines, they become normal trains, so there would be no disruption to other traffic.
  • They could also extend the service to between say Colchester and Cambridge North.

Perhaps the only disadvantage of IPEMUs, is that being full-sized trains, the railway might have to be fully-protected with fences.

Class 399 Tram-Trains

Class 399 tram-trains are the unusual one of the three. But in some ways they are the most versatile.

They are a three-car high-capacity 100% low-floor tram, very similar to those you see in Blackpool, Birmingham, Croydon or Nottingham. But in addition to being able to run using a tram 750 VDC overhead supply, they can also run as a train using the standard 25kVAC supply of the main line railway.

They combine the best characteristics of both means of transport.

In the next couple of years they will be trialled in Sheffield on an extension of the Sheffield Supertram to Rotherham.

For those that worry about the technology, several German cities have large systems of mixed trams, trains and tram-trains, so it is not by any means untried. Especially, as a Class 399 tram-train is a German standard tram-train, modified for our overhead voltage, which incidentally is much more standard, than the German’s 15kVAC.

The tram-train would start at Cambridge or Cambridge North stations and run as a tram to Shelford station, where it would become a tram running on the route of the Stour Valley Railway all the way to Sudbury, where it would continue along the Gainsborough Line to Marks Tey, where it could use the overhead wiring to go to Colchester if required.

A Class 399 tram-train would have advantages and disadvantages compared to say the IPEMU.

I’ll deal with the disadvantages first.

  • It is a three-car tram of slightly smaller capacity than the four-car IPEMU.
  • It would need to have a track electrified to 750 VDC using a simple overhead catenary.
  • They have tram interiors and no toilets.
  • They are slightly slower on train sections, than the IPEMU.

But it does have advantages too.

  • They are 100% low-floor vehicles, so have comprehensive step-free access.
  • Stops can be a very simple design without any expensive foot-bridges, lifts or long disabled ramps. Just like Croydon for example!
  • They are good sight-seeing vehicles for a beautiful part of the country
  • When the line allows it, they can get up to speeds of nearly 70 mph on a main line railway.
  • Tram-trains have all the flexibility and manoeuvrability of trams, so they can go off for a meander rather than a direct route, if necessary.
  • If used between Cambridge and Marks Tey,instead of going direct from Cambridge to Shelford, they could take a loop around the Addenbrooke’s site.
  • Or perhaps if they turned at Cambridge North, they could perhaps do a tour of the Science Park rather than a simple reverse.

It is a terrible pity that the Cambridge Guided Busway was designed before tram-trains became a viable alternative.

Conclusions

It is very much a case of who pays the money makes the choice.

  • The Class 230 train is a remanufactured train that doesn’t need any expensive electrification, but may have noise, vibration and performance issues.
  • The IPEMU is a brand-new train that doesn’t need any expensive electrification and has all the performance, comfort and facilities of any modern full-size electric train.
  • The Class 399 tram-train is also brand new, needs only simple electrification and infrastructure and has all the performance and flexibility of a tram coupled with many features of a full-size electric train.

If the choice was down to me, I would discount the Class 230 train, but only because the other two solutions are new and not remanufactured old ones, which will have to be replaced at some time.

So why not have the new IPEMUs or Class 399 tram-trains, both of which would probably give first-class service for a large number of years?

Both the new trains are types of trains, that will be common on the UK rail network, so as the knowledge base increases we’ll probably find ways of using them both to create very high-class public transport systems.

Choosing between the two new solutions is extremely difficult.

As neither has run in extended service on the UK rail network, I feel that for the moment I’ll duck that difficult choice.

As an aside, this analysis has proved to me, that the Cambridge Guided Busway may have been a good decision at the time based on the knowledge available, but with the arrival of IPEMUs and tram-trains, it is very much a technology that few will choose in the future.

 

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Better East-West Train Services Across Suffolk

The east-west train service across Suffolk is better than it was, but I’ve just read in a Network Rail study entitled Improving Connectivity, about a radical proposal to greatly improve services.

At present at Ipswich station, in addition to the main line services, there are hourly services to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, with a two-hourly service to Peterborough.

From a passenger point of view it is not good at times. In the past I have been irked by.

  • Trying to get between Newmarket and Felixstowe, which often means a not very short wait on Ipswich station.
  • The lack of a late night train back to Newmarket from Ipswich.
  • Bad connectivity between London services and the various branches.

It may be better now and some of the proposals in the latest franchise documents will certainly help.

One document I’ve read, talked about direct services between London and Lowestoft. When I moved to Suffolk in the 1970s, this route was served a couple of times a day.

But one proposal in the Network Rail study must be taken seriously.

The study proposes creating an island platform at an updated Newmarket station and running a direct service between Newmarket and Peterborough via Ely. The study describes the proposal like this.

To solve this dilemma,  The direct Ipswich to Peterborough service is replaced by a Newmarket to Peterborough service, running via a reinstated Warren Hill Junction – Snailwell Junction chord, as shown in Figure 3.2. A semi-fast Ipswich to Cambridge train connects into this service with a cross-platform connection at a reconstructed Newmarket station.

No services are duplicated and connections at Ipswich are simplified: the East Suffolk line arrival need only connect with the Cambridge train. This method of operation combines two markets on one train, achieving a 35 per cent reduction in train miles and halving the number of passenger train paths required on this busy freight corridor. In addition, Newmarket gains a direct service to Peterborough.

So one new short chord and a reconstructed Newmarket station, dramatically improve the passenger train services across Suffolk, whilst giving more much-needed space in the schedules for freight trains.

This map shows the area between Newmarket station and Warren Hill – Snailwell.

Newmarket's Railways, Racecourses and Training Grounds

Newmarket’s Railways, Racecourses and Training Grounds

Note that the line through Newmarket station goes in a tunnel under the training grounds of Warren Hill before turning to the East to connect to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich. The new chord would connect between the Newmarket to Bury Line and the Ely to Bury Line.

Hopefully, Network Rail has safeguarded the route and hasn’t sold the land to some, who would oppose the plan.

If I read Network Rail’s proposal correctly, there would be an hourly Newmarket to Peterborough service, which would provide a cross-platform interchange with an hourly semi-fast Ipswich to Cambridge service.

Given that Abellio Greater Anglia were part of the IPEMU tests between Manningtree and Harwich, I suspect that both the Peterborough to Newmarket and Ipswich to Cambridge services would be run with four-car IPEMUs.

In my view it is a very good starting plan, but it does raise a few questions and interesting possibilities.

  • IPEMUs would be faster than the current diesel trains and would also offer an increase in capacity.
  • Would IPEMUs take over the Cambridge to Norwich, Ipswich to Lowestoft and Ipswich to Felixstowe services?
  • Newmarket racecourse is an incredibly popular venue and the current Newmarket station has inadequate capacity for racegoers. More four-car IPEMU trains from Cambridge, Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough calling at the station can only increase total capacity.
  • As now, I suspect a shuttle bus will be provided, between station and racecourse.
  • A simple one-platform Newmarket Racecourse station could even be built on land owned by the Jockey Club on the single-line section of line to the West of the town, which would be about a kilometre walk from both racecourses.
  • Cambridgeshire County Council have had plans for a long time to reopen Soham station. This would be on the hourly Newmarket to Peterborough service, which would men that with one change you could be in Cambridge or Ipswich.
  • If Soham is worth reopening, why not reopen Fordham station.
  • How would the new station at Cambridge North fit in and affect services in the area?

I think that when and if the full proposals arrive, they will have some extra features.

An uprated service from Cambridge to Ipswich will require some reorganisation at Ipswich.

Over the last few years, freight traffic through Ipswich station has eased due to ther opening of the Bacon Factory Chord which allows diesel-hauled freight trains to go directly between the Felixstowe branch and the Midlands and North via Stowmarket.

The Newmarket reorganisation will also release extra paths through Ely and Peterborough and there could be scope for improving the efficiency of Ipswich station.

Given that services will arrive from and leave to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Felixstowe, every hour. Surely, a platform layout could be found, so that they all used the same part of the station and passengers just walked across.

Imagine the benefits to passengers if say you were going between Beccles and Peterborough and you just walked across between trains at Ipswich and Newmarket.

I suspect that Network Rail and Abellio have an excellent idea for Ipswich station, filed under Cunning Plans.

Would it also be worth improving patterns at Ely?

This Google Map is from Railways in Ely in Wikpedia.

Ely Lines

Ely Lines

It is complicated. These are my thoughts.

  • The layout would appear to work quite well now,but will it cope with Cambridge North station?
  • Cambridge North station will probably generate a lot of traffic and with some reorganisation, passengers might even be able to walk across or just wait for the next train at Cambridge or Ely, to be on their way.
  • But in some cases, changing will mean climbing over the bridge at Cambridge or using the subway at Ely.
  • Ely station should cope with any extra services on the lines to Ely and Norwich.
  • There is also the issue of a possible Wisbech branch at March.

So will we see changes to the track layout at Ely?

I think the answer is yes!

But upgrading Ely does throw up one important question.

When the Cambridge Guided Busway was built, I didn’t think it was the best solution, but I had no real idea what would have been best.

I now wonder, if the ideal transport system for the route of the Cambridge Busway has arrived in the form of the tram-train!

If you look at the route from Huntingdon through Cambridge to Addenbrookes, it’s very much linked to the railway lines through the city. Most of the extensions proposed for the busway could be performed by tram-trains in tram mode. One proposal from Huntingdon to Peterborough, is typical of many systems, I’ve seen in Germany.

But it is too late now to change that decision.

One thing though that surprises me, is the amount of undeveloped land there is on either side of the railway line, where the Cambridge North station is being built. It could be possible to create a a tram line to connect Cambridge North station to the Cambridge to Ipswich Line. Thus tram-trains could go from both Cambridge North and Cambridge stations to Newmarket and then on past Fordham and Soham to Ely, where with a short chord they could turn south to the Cambridge stations.

Obviously, a real route would be based on the proposed developments and passenger traffic, but there are a lot of possibilities to use tram-trains to serve the towns and villages around Cambridge from the existing heavy rail lines.

At the Southern end, how about Shelford to Haverhill and onto Sudbury to then take the Gainsborough Line to Marks Tey?

I suspect that a single-track tram with passing places could handle tram-trains on a route not far removed from the route of the old Stour Valley Railway.

A lot of serious thinking can be done!

October 25, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments