The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Project Wareham – Complete The Link

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

A Visit To The Swanage Railway describes an enjoyable visit I made to the Swanage Railway, just after the first part of Project Wareham had been completed.

This was my conclusion in that post.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

This page on the Swanage Railway web site describes the project.

Completing Project Wareham

I can find very little on the Internet about what is proposed in the completion of this project.

So perhaps, the proposal is to start a project to see what could be developed on the Swanage Railway to the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors.

Hourly Trains

From a railway point of view, I suspect the most important thing, is to make it possible for an hourly train to connect from the Swanage Railway to the South Western Main Line.

This would enable the following.

  • Residents along the route to commute to or go shopping in Poole and Bournemouth.
  • Better public transport connections to the local councils at Dorchester and Warham.
  • Better visitor access to the Isle of Purbreck and especially the Swanage Railway.
  • Development of some possible housing and industrial sites.

There could be a lot of beneficiaries.

What Trains Would Be Used?

The Swanage Railway seem to be proposing running heritage diesel multiple units on connecting services. They have a Class 117 train and a Class 121 train, that were built around 1960, that have been fully-refurbished for the service.

These would be fine for the service and I suspect to cut emissions, they could be run on biodiesel.

I also think that if the service was successful, that more trains would be needed.

Consider.

  • The South Western Main Line is fully-electrified.
  • The Swanage Railway is only 5.5 miles long.
  • South Western Railway probably want to go to an all-electric fleet.
  • Battery electric train technology is improving rapidly.
  • South Western Railway will probably be running battery electric trains on other services in their network.

I believe that South Western Railway could connect Wareham and Swanage with a battery electric train charged on the main line.

I’m sure that Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens or Stadler, would be able to supply a suitable battery electric train to replace the company’s Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units.

Where Would The Trains Run?

Consider.

  • The obvious route is between Wareham and Swanage, but as I showed in A Visit To The Swanage Railway, the timings might not be friendly to an hourly shuttle.
  • Changing trains is something that discourages regular passengers.
  • I believe a service to Poole or Bournemouth may be more attractive to passengers.
  • Some passengers might even like the occasional service to London.

I can see an innovative timetable being developed containing elements like these.

  • One train per two hours (tp2h) between Swanage and Wareham, run by the Swanage Railway. using a heritage diesel multiple unit.
  • One tp2h between Swanage and Poole or Bournemouth via Wareham, run by South Western Railway, using a modern battery electric multiple unit.
  • Some services might extend past Bournemouth to Southampton or Salisbury.
  • Early morning and late night services between Swanage and Bournemouth.
  • At least one train per day in both directions between Swanage and London Waterloo.
  • Services would be seven days per week.

I believe that the more comprehensive the service, the more it will be used.

Conclusion

After my visit in November 2018, I said this.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I stand by what I said and feel that comprehensive services between Swanage and Wareham can be developed for the benefit of residents, travellers and train companies.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Visit To The Swanage Railway

Yesterday, I noticed this article on Railnews which was entitled National Rail Trains To Score Heritage First.

This was the first two paragraphs.

Scheduled National Rail trains will run on a heritage railway tomorrow for the first time.

South Western Railway is launching Saturday services to Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway, and Corfe Castle has been restored to the national stations database.

So I thought, I’d be on the first South Western Railway train on a scheduled service into Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway.

I caught the 08:25 train from London Waterloo to Weymouth and I alighted at Wareham station to catch the 11:12 train to Corfe Castle.

These pictures illustrate my trip.

I have various observations.

Costs

I came down from London, so I had to pay for that ticket, but train tickets to Swanage from Wareham cost me five pounds for the South Western Railway leg and ten pounds for steam haulage.

Operations

Everything was very professional and there seemed to be a high-level of communication and good humour between the staff of South Western Railway and the volunteers of the Swanage Railway.

Swanage Railway were operating a steam-hauled shuttle along their line between Norden and Swanage stations and as the pictures show, both companies were able to run their own services, without interrupting the other.

Does Swanage Need A Year Round Train Service?

After my father retired, my parents went to live in Felixstowe.

It certainly didn’t work for me, as it was not the sort of place, a late teenager, could amuse himself, especially as all my friends were in London. As we hadn’t sold the house in London, I was usually to be found there.

I don’t know Swanage and I don’t know what it is like to live there!

But I do remember a short film on the BBC program Tonight in the early 1960s.

They were talking about long-distance commuting and they used as an example, a guy, who had moved his family to Swanage and was leaving home very early in the morning to go back to London for his work.

He was very happy with the arrangement, but the last shot of the film was after the reporter had asked his two teenage daughters what they thought of it all. Their faces said it all and I can remember my mother made an acerbic comment.

I wonder what a year round hourly service would do for Swanage?

Felixstowe has a year-round hourly rail service to Ipswich, but then Felixstowe is over twice as large as Swanage.

On the other hand, Felixstowe also has a fast dual-carriageway road connecting it to the rest of East Anglia.

Providing An Hourly Service To Swanage

Unlike many rail schemes aiming to create a new branch line, a lot of infrastructure is already in place.

Track

Yesterday, the following services were running.

  • A roughly hourly steam service between Norden and Swanage stations, run by the Swanage Railway.
  • A two-hourly service diesel service between Wareham and Corfe Castle stations, run by South Western Railway.

The track, which is a mixture of single and double track, seemed to cope well.

Interestingly, there is a mothballed oil terminal at Furzebrook, which was used to export oil from the large field at Wytch Farm. It is connected to the Swanage Railway between Norden station and the South Western Main Line.

As development and exploitation of oil fields is a very unpredictable process, I suspect that the Northern section of the Swanage railway is kept in very good condition by Network Rail, just in case Furzebrook has to reopen.

Norden Station

Norden station is the Northernmost station on the Swanage Railway.

This Google Map shows the station.

The map clearly shows the single platform, the Purbreck Mineral and Mining Museum and the Swanage Railway Park & Ride.

The Wikipedia entry for Norden station, says this about the car park.

A large car park, provided by Purbeck District Council, allows the station to function as a park & ride facility for the tourist centres of Corfe Castle and Swanage

Could this car park, also be used by local residents wanting to commute to or go shopping in Poole or Bournemouth?

Corfe Castle Station

Corfe Castle station is a well-built station with two platforms and a footbridge, that is as good if not better than many rural stations.

Harman’s Cross Station

Harman’s Cross station is a two platform station, without a footbridge.

It appears from the Google Map of the area, that new houses are being built in Harman’s Cross.

Swanage Station

Swanage station is the terminus station with two platforms.

As the pictures show, the platform used by the steam train is long and would certainly take an eighty metre long train.

Operating As A Single-Track Branch Line

I suspect that on days, when the heritage railway is not in operation, that the Swanage Railway could be used as a single-track branch line.

So perhaps, a diesel multiple unit could run a passenger shuttle along the branch. Operation would be little different to any of several diesel-operated branch lines in the UK.

Surely, if the CAA can allow Loganair to use Barra Airport, which is a beach on the island of the same name, then the ORR must be able to write a sensible rule book, to allow an hourly passenger service between Wareham and Swanage.

This picture shows Zwickau Zentrum station in the centre of the German town of Zwickau.

It is the simplest station, I’ve ever seen in a town centre. The diesel multiple unit appears to come into the city under the following rules.

  • A sensible speed.
  • Orange lights flashing.
  • Two crew operation.

Effectively, the train service in Zwickau is run like a tram and even has an unusual three-rail track, that it shares with metre-gauge trams.

Note that as the Swanage Railway is a heritage railway, the speed limit is only 25 mph anyway.

As yesterday showed, South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway are able to operate a practical shared service on days, when the heritage railway is in operation.

Connecting To South Western Main Line Services

As was demonstrated yesterday by South Western Railway’s Class 159 train, operation between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations, is not the most difficult of operations.

Two things help.

  • The South Western Main Line is not the busiest of routes through Wareham station.
  • There is a cross-over to the West of the station.

These allowed the Class 159 train to use one of the through platforms to turnback.

Would this continue, if say the Swanage Railway wee to run an hourly shuttle between Corfe Castle and Wareham stations?

Look at this Google Map of Wareham station.

Is there space on the Northern side of the station to add a bay platform, to allow the shuttle to terminate in its own platform?

When I returned from Wareham to Waterloo, I just missed a train and I had to wait thirty minutes for the next train.

Looking at the Google Map of Poole station, there would appear to be a large amount of space around the station,

The Wikipedia entry for Poole station, also says this.

In 2004 proposals were drawn up for the current station buildings and footbridge to be replaced as part of redevelopment plans for the old goods yard. A hotel was to be built on the site of the current station building, however as of 2010 these plans have not progressed.

So would it be feasible at some time in the future to terminate a Swanage service in a bay platform in the much larger town of Poole?

There are certainly possibilities to use Poole or even Bournemouth stations as a terminus of a service to Swanage station, that would also increase the frequency on the South Western Main Line between Bournemouth and Weymouth.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Corfe Castle And Back?

Looking at yesterday’s figures on Real Time Trains, the following times were achieved yesterday.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Yesterday, the trains were waiting for a long time at Corfe Castle station, to fit with their two-hourly timetable and that of the steam trains on the other track.

If you add in sensible turnback times at Wareham and Corfe Castle, I doubt that a round trip could be done in an hour, making it difficult to run an hourly shuttle between the two stations.

How Long Would A Train Take To Go From Wareham To Swanage And Back?

Using yesterday’s figures and the quoted times for steam trains between Corfe Castle and Swanage stations, we get the following times.

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle – 21 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Swanage – 22 minutes
  • Swanage to Corge Castle – 20 minutes
  • Corfe Castle to Wareham – 26 minutes

Or a total of 89 minutes plus how long the turnround will be at Swanage station.

I have a feeling that timetabling an hourly service could be difficult.

What Rolling Stock Can Be Used?

If the trains travel for more than a few miles on the South Western Main Line, being able to use the third-rail electrification would be useful.

But they would also need to be self-powered on the Swanage Railway.

So perhaps, a bi-mode would be ideal.

As they have rather a heritage flavour, perhaps a Class 769 train would be ideal?

Conclusion

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

 

May 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Heritage Railways And Class 319 Flex Trains

Heritage Railways In The UK

Wikipedia introduces their Heritage Railway entry by saying this.

A heritage railway is a railway kept to carry living history rail traffic in order to re-create or preserve railway scenes of the past. Often heritage railways are old railway lines preserved in a state which depicts a certain period, or periods, in the history of railway systems.

But that doesn’t mean heritage railways in the UK are not run to the best professional standards.

The Class 319 Flex Train

The Class 319 Flex Train is an electro-diesel  version of the Class 319 Train, originally built in the 1980s to serve the Thameslink routes.

These trains are almost as old as the classic Range Rovers., but they have probably been looked after to much higher standards.

Some trains have recently undergone a light refurbishment and are now working electric services for Northern in North-West England.

Northern would run more of the trains, if Network Rail had been able to stick to their electrification timetable.

So Northern and the train rolling stock leasing company; Porterbrook have decided to create the electro-diesel version by installing two rail-proven MAN diesels and an ABB alternator. The train will be able to generate its own electricity and thus work lines without electrification.

I have seen an advance copy of the brochure and the train combines the 100 mph capability of the original trains with the ability to work the very stiff Buxton Line.

Porterbrook describe the train as a Go-Anywhere Solution.

Through Services Onto Heritage Lines

I don’t know how many heritage lines run services that are habitually used by commuters going to school, college or on business, but there have been and might still are be heritage lines where this happens.

The next sections give my thoughts on possible connections and services.

Severn Valley Railway

The Severn Valley Railway runs for a distance of 16 miles between Kidderminster Town and Brignorth stations.

At Kidderminster, there is a connection to the Birmingham to Worcester Line.

This Google Map shows the two adjoining Kidderminster stations.

There is a section called Other Operational Extensions in the Wikipedia entry for the Severn Valley Railway, where this is said.

The General Manager, Nick Ralls has confirmed that Chiltern Railways have approached the Severn Valley Railway with a view to extending a number of its peak-time Marylebone to Kidderminster services to Bewdley to alleviate road congestion in the Kidderminster/Stourport/Bewdley area. This has raised questions regarding car parking limitations near Bewdley station. Should this go ahead the distinction between a heritage railway and a contemporary railway operation would be blurred. In conjunction with this there have been suggestions for locating a Park and Ride facility near Foley Park Halt. Investigations are in-hand to construct a station to serve a conference centre and hotel to be located at the West Midlands Safari Park.

Consider.

  • According to Wikipedia, it is a future aspiration of Network Rail to electrify the entire Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line, as well as the Chiltern Main Line to London Marylebone.
  • If Chiltern Railways could run to Bewdley station, surely a Class 319 Flex train could run a service to the Severn Valley Railway from anywhere between Kidderminster and Birmingham.
  • If the electrification ever happens, a Class 319 Flex train could run under the wires to Kidderminster and then use diesel power to Bewdley or even Brignorth.

When does a heritage and tourist railway become a commuter route?

Swanage Railway

The Swanage Railway are working on  a connection to the main line at Wareham station.

This Google Map shows Wareham station in the North East corner, with the South Western Main Line running across the image.

Wareham Station And The Swanage Railway

Wareham Station And The Swanage Railway

In the South West corner of the map, a junction can be seen, where the Swanage Railway joins from the South.

As the Class 319 Flex train would probably be a train fully-certified to go on any line, where the Class 319 train can run, it could run from say Poole or Bournemouth stations to the terminus of the Swanage Railway at Swanage via the iconic Corfe Castle.

  • I think that Bournemouth station could turnback a local service to Swanage station.
  • The Class 319 Flex train would use the third-rail electrification on the main line.
  • On the main line, it would be a 100 mph train, just like the Class 444 trains working the line to Waterloo.
  • The train would use diesel power to Swanage.
  • I don’t think much new infrastructure would be needed, once the connection at Wareham is finished.Is a Class 319 train old enough to count as heritage? I suppose it’s fake with a couple of modern German diesels!

It could work as both a local train service and a tourist attraction.

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment