The Anonymous Widower

Do The Addresses Of Train Operating Companies Put People Off Writing?

I write the odd letter of complaint or praise to various companies, although I can’t remember writing one to a train operating company for some time.

I have a feeling it might have been to London Overground about something, but I do remember a reply, but what it was about, I have no idea.

In going through Chris Gibbs report on Govia Thameslink Railway, I asked myself, where their customer support is situated.

The page is comprehensive with the postal address being in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire.

So if you were complaining or praising something would you think that this disconnected address is in some anonymous Call Centre in Leicestershire and not bother?

I checked a few other companies.

  • Chiltern – Banbury
  • East Midlands Trains – Derby
  • Greater Anglia – Norwich
  • London Overground – Swiss Cottage

Incidentally, Great Western don’t say, but the address is Freepost GWR Customer Support.

I think the GWR approach is probably the most professional, as it means they can put the customer support in the most convenient place and if they should move it, the post will still get through.


July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

A Branch To Penicuik From The Borders Railway

I started this post as part of Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle, but as I research it more and talk to my correspondent in the Borders, I feel it needs to be a separate post.

There is an article in the Scotsman from 2013, which is entitled Borders rail link: £150m plan for Penicuik spur. This is the first paragraph.

A vital £150 million rail line connecting Penicuik to central Edinburgh could be reopened for the first time in half a century.

The article then gives a lot of favourable comments about the possibility of the link. My correspondent, grew up in the town and feels that a rail link is needed, especially, as when he was a boy, the town had three rail lines.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, this is a paragraph about a future branch to Penicuik.

In May 2013, it was reported that Heriot-Watt University had been asked by Midlothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on a 10-mile (16 km) rail link connecting Penicuik with the Borders Railway. At least 6 miles (9.7 km) of the new line would follow the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway, the alignment of which is generally intact between Millerhill and Straiton.

This proposal is not mentioned in the recent CBR report, which is entitled A Summary Case For A New Cross-Border Rail Link, that can be downloaded in PDF form from this location.

Newcraighall Station And Park-And-Ride

Newcraighall station will be North of where the proposed branch to Penicuik joins the Borders Railway.

This Google Map shows the station and the surrounding area.

Note the A1 and the convenient Park-and-Ride.

Wikipedia says this about Services from Newcraighall station.

Monday to Saturday daytimes there is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh and to Tweedbank, and an hourly evening and Sunday service. Four weekday morning peak services run beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy and a similar number run in the opposite direction in the evening. When the station was a terminus, many services ran through to/from the Fife Circle Line but this practice ended prior to the reopening of the full route to Tweedbank.

I believe that a Park-and-Ride of this size, location and probable importance needs at least four trains per hour (tph) all day.

Currently, two tph between Edinburgh and Tweedbank call at Newcraighall. As it takes two hours for a train to do the round trip, this means that four trains are needed to provide a two tph service.

Four tph all the way to Tweedbank would need eight trains, but due to limitations in the design of the Borders Railway would probably be very difficult to operate.

Terminating them at Newcraighall and perhaps running beyond Edinburgh to Fife is obviously a possibility, but Newcraighall station only has one bi-directional platform.

Two Trains Per Hour To Penicuik

Opening a branch to Penicuik and running two tph would give Newcraighall station and the Park-and-Ride the four tph train service it needs, when combined with the two tph along the Borders Railway.

The Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway

Wikipedia says the route would probably follow the route of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

  • Much of the route is visible on Google Maps.
  • The original line closed in the 1960s.
  • There were stations at Gilmerton, Loanhead, Roslin and Glencourse.
  • The major engineering feature of the line was a visduct over Bilston Glen.

Penicuik was served by a freight-only line.

Shawfair Station

It would appear that the Northbound and Southbound trains on the Borders Railway seem to call at Shawfair station around the same time.

This must make operation of the line much simpler and it probably meant that Newcraighall station only needed one platform.

This Google Map shows the Borders Railway passing through Shawfair station.

Note the disused track of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway crossing the Borders Railway at right-angles and then curving Northwards to the freight yard at Millerhill.

Trains could go via Millerhill, to join the Borders Railway South of Newcraighall station, but surely, it would be better if the branch to Penicuik, joined  the Borders Railway South of Shawfair station.

This would allow trains to and from Penicuik to pass at Shawfair station.

As trains to and from Tweedbank station seem to call between

  • XX:08 to XX:10
  • and XX 38 to XX:40

So  Penicuik trains could use times of perhaps .

  • XX:23 to XX:25
  • and XX 53 to XX:55

Which would mean a train would have thirty minutes to go from Shawfair to and from Penicuik.

The way Shawfair station is used also means the following for the Borders Railway.

  • A convenient spacing is imposed for trains to call at the single platform at Newcraighall station, as that is just four minutes towards Edinburgh.
  • Effectively, the Borders Railway to Tweedbank station runs a two tph service with two widely-seperated trains South of Shawfair station at any one time.
  • Two widely-separated  trains, South of Shawfair station enables the use of single-platform stations at all stations except Stow and Tweedbank.
  • Shawfair station is the only station with an expensive footbridge.

I also suspect that four tph is possible, with trains passing at Shawfair and Stow stations, perhaps with faster trains and improvements to the signalling.

By clever design and selective use of two-platform stations and double-track, it would appear that the engineers have designed an efficient affordable railway, that is mainly single track and has only one footbridge.

The Junction Of The Borders Railway And The Penicuik Branch

This Google Map shows where the track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway passes under the Borders Railway to the South of Shawfair station.

Note the old track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway running East-West across the bottom of the map.

The roads in the area don’t appear to have been built with a suitable space for a chord to connect.

But even so, I suspect it would be a practical proposition for a single-track chord to be built between the Borders Railway and the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

The only difficult construction would be crossing the A6106 road to the South-East of the roundabout.

A cross-over would be needed South of Shawfair station to allow Southbound trains to access the branch to Penicuik. But as there would only be no more than four tph South of Shawfair station, this wouldn’t be a large operational problem.

Single-Track To Penicuik

Wikipedia says that the proposed Penicuik branch is ten miles in length.

Surely, if it were a single-track branch, trains could go from Shawfair to Penicuik station and return within thirty minutes.


  • It would take five minutes for the driver to change ends at Penicuik
  • Two stops each way with a modern train could take a total of just five minutes.
  • The train would be the only one on the branch.
  • A well-designed line could have an operating speed of at least 75 mph and possibly 90 mph.

All this would mean that there would be ten minutes for each leg of the journey between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Should A Future Penicuik Branch Be Electrified?

Electrification of a future Penicuik Branch would not be difficult.

  • Electrification would need to be extended from Newcraighall station.
  • Electrification would be easier, if the branch were single-track with single-platform stations.
  • Electrification of a new railway must be easier than electrifying an existing line.

Electrifying between Newcraighall and Penicuik may give advantages.

  • There will be a fairly plentiful supply of cascaded electric trains, that could be suitable for the route.
  • Electrifying may allow electric trains to access the Millerhill TMD.
  • Electrifying would help in running bi-mode trains on the Borders Railway, if that were thought necessary.
  • Electrifying may save a few minutes between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Obviously, electrification would allow politicians to boast about their green credentials.

The only disadvantage of electrification is that some bridges may need to be raised.

Surely, if the ten-mile branch was well-designed as mostly single-track, perhaps with electrification, and run by modern trains, two tph would be possible, even with one or more intermediate stops.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Bi-Mode Trains?

A bi-mode train like a Class 319 Flex train could certainly work the route and as they have lots of power, they could probably achieve the Shawfair to Penicuik and return time of thirty minutes.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Battery Trains?

As it is only ten miles between Shawfair and Penicuik, I suspect that in the future,, trains with onboard energy storage will be able to work the branch.

Single-Platform Stations

If the future Penicuik Branch could be a single-track railway, where only  one train was on the branch at any one time, all stations could be built with a single-platform and no expensive footbridge, as most stations were built on the existing Borders Railway.

As five-cars seems to be becoming the new standard train length, I would build all platforms to accept five-car trains.,

A North-South Service Across Edinbugh

Peak Hour services link Tweedbank and Newcraighall  beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy.

There is obviously a need for a service in the Peak, but if there was a second Southern terminus at Penicuik would it be sensible that if a total of four tph were running from Newcraighall to Edinburgh, that a proportion cross the Forth.

Note that Cross-Forth services.

There are certainly lots of possibilities.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Tram-Trains?

The Germans would probably use tram-trains in a city the size of Edinburgh.

Compared to the tram networks in Nottingham and Birmingham, Edinburgh trams always strike me that it was a network designed without ambition and that doesn’t provide the maximum benefit to the largest number of residents and visitors.

If you look at Edinburgh Gateway station, it could have been modified to allow tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train to come from the Airport and then go straight onto the Fife Circle Line to South Gyle, Haymarket and Edinburgh stations.

At present this line is not electrified, but doing that is probably in Scotrail’s wish-list.

Once at Edinburgh station, the tram-trains could take any of the electrified routes to North Berwick, Dunbar or perhaps Penicuik.

Passengers would finally get a proper interchange between trains on the East Coast Main Line and the Edinburgh tram.

I also think that the Germans would run tram-trains on the Fife Circle Line and its proposed extension to Leven.

Currently, the frequency of trains on the Fife Circle Line is low and tram-trains could probably give a four tph service to all stations, if electrification was put in place.


I believe that it would be possible to open a single-track branch to Penicuik with single-platform stations and these objectives.

  • Provide a two tph service between Penicuik and Edinburgh.
  • Boost the service between the Park-and-Ride at Newcraighall and Edinburgh to four tph.
  • Provide an alternative Southern terminal for a North-South service across Edinburgh.

Electrification of the line might give operational advantages to Millerhill TMD, the Borders Railway and the branch itself.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle

Summary Case For A New Cross-Border Rail Link

This is the title of a report by the Campaign For Borders Rail (CBR) about extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

The report is in PDF form at this location.

It goes into detail about why they believe that the railway is worth building and the excellent report is recommended to anybody who wants to know more about the possible reasons for creating a rail service between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Hawick.

Before discussing the proposed route and the problems in detail, I will give my views on some general issues, that affect the design of the railway.

Single-Track Or Double-Track?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, there is a section entitled Infratructure Capability, which starts like this.

The line’s construction has been described as resembling a “basic railway” built to a tight budget and incorporating a number of cost-saving features. This is in contrast to the reopened Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link, which was built as a double-track electrified railway from the outset.

The section then says that dynamic passing loops were shortened, bridges were built single-track and there is a lack of a siding, which could make it difficult for a locomotive to recover a broken down train.

The railway was designed down to a cost, but these factors applied.

  • There were two tunnels at Bowshank and Torwoodlee, three major viaducts and several stations to be refurbished or built.
  • Despite the best efforts of forecasters, no-one had any clue as to how many passengers would use the line.

I think that in the design of the rest of the route the following factors will apply.

  • The engineers will have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight from rebuilding the first section and its successful operation.
  • The expected passenger traffic will be more easily forecast.
  • There are several viaducts.
  • There is the single-track Whitrope tunnel, which is over a kilometre long.
  • Recent developments in construction, rolling stock and signalling will help.
  • The CBR report suggests five stations at Melrose, St. Boswells, Hawick, Newcastleton and Longtown.
  • The CBR report suggests using the line for freight.
  • The CBR report suggests using the line as a diversion route.

But surely the biggest factor affecting the line will be the connection to Carlisle, as it will open up several possibilities.

  • Carlisle could become a very important hub for tourists.
  • Carlisle could become an even more important shopping and leisure centre.
  • Carlisle will be very important in the event of Scottish independence.
  • Carlisle could become a distribution centre and interchange for Anglo-Scottish road and rail freight.

So instead of just designing to a cost, when designing the second half of the Borders Railway, they will be building a railway, that maximises return from a line to handle a particular capacity.

Given some sections like the Whitrope tunnel are single-track and that in some places it could be difficult to squeeze a double-track through, I think we’ll see the some innovative use of single-track.

Electrification Or Self-Powered?

There is already some short sections of electrification on the original Waverley Route from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

  • Edinburgh to Newcrasighall – Just over five miles.
  • Longtown to Carlisle – Around twelve miles.

As electrifying the route could be difficult for engineering and environmental reasons, I suspect that like the first section of the Borders Railway, the route will generally be built without electrification.

Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the existing electrification, were to be extended for a few miles, if it gave operational advantages, if the line were to be run using bi-mode trains, perhaps if they were trains with onboard energy storage.

But as there is already a much faster fully-electrified route via Carstairs, they would have to be very good reasons to electrify more of the Borders Railway.

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of An Extended Borders Railway?

The current operating speed of the Borders Railway is 90 mph, so I would assume that at least this speed will apply to the whole line.

South of Hawick, there might be scope for slightly higher speeds, if the track-bed is profiled for modern trains.

What Trains Should Be Used?

Because of the electrification at both ends of the route, I would use bi-mode trains or perhaps ScotRail’s 2+4 or 2+5 High Speed Trains.

Looking at the specification of the economy bi-mode train; the Class 319 Flex train, it has the following characteristics.

  • Four-cars
  • Legendary Mark 3 coach ride.
  • 100 mph capability on overhead electrification.
  • 90 mph capability on diesel.
  • Toilets
  • The ability to change from diesel to electric at line speed.

The train can also be refurbished to any required standard, which as the trains are Mark 3 coach-based, means it could be to a very high standard.

I have no doubt, that a Class 319 Flex train or a new train to a similar specification would be an ideal train for the Extended Borders Railway.

As it appears that trains like bi-mode Class 800 and the new Class 720 trains might be able to work the route in the future and they are five-car, all platforms will have to be this length or the trains could use selective door-opening.

I know there is no bi-mode Class 720 train ordered at the moment, but the Aventras have been laid out in such a way, that I suspect they could be built as bi-modes.

Don’t discount the possibility, that the next generation of bi-mode trains will have onboard energy storage, regenerative braking and the ability to do perhaps thirty miles on stored energy.

Currently, trains take fifty-seven minutes to go from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and fifty-five minutes to return, and it looks like ScotRail uses four trains to provide two trains per hour (tph).

If you assume that the average speed of the journey to Carlisle is the same, then that gives a time of two hours forty minutes for Edinburgh to Carlisle. I suspect that with modern bi-mode trains with a 100 mph capability and better stopping performance, that a time of two hours thirty minutes will be possible.between Edinburgh and Carlisle,

But it has to be born in mind that much faster times between Edinburgh and Carlisle are currently achieved on the fully electrified route via Carstairs.

So train operators will have plenty of scope to provide a quality service between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

Will High Speed Trains Work The Extended Borders Railway?

Now there’s a though!

Network Rail will probably want the route to be available to the New Measurement Train, so that they can adequately check the track.

Effectively, the NMT is just a High Speed Train in a garish yellow, with lots of sophisticated test equipment on board instead of passengers.

So this will mean that ScotRail’s 2+4 or 2+5 High Speed Trains, will be able to work the route, subject to platforms being long enough.

What Level Of Passenger Service Will Be Provided On The Borders Railway?

Currently, there is generally a two tph service between Edinburgh and Tweedbank and I would feel that all stations on the line need at least this level of service.

But as a stopping service from Edinburgh to Carlisle will take well in excess of two hours, I don’t think we’ll be seeing that sort of service.

But don’t rule out a semi-fast train stopping at perhaps the important stations like Galashiels, Melrose, St. Boswells and Hawick.

Will Freight Trains Work The Extended Borders Railway?

The CBR report is suggesting that freight trains will work the route, to get timber from the Keilder Forest.

This and other specialist freight trains will certainly be possible.

On the other hand, I suspect it will be unlikely, that container trains will use the route between Edinburgh and Carlisle, as the other route via Carstairs is electrified and will surely be faster.

Anything more than the occasional specialist freight train would probably be very different to schedule on the route.

Will The Extended Borders Railway Be Used As A Diversion For The West Coast Main Line?

It would need to be designed for such use.

There should be no problem with freight trains provided the route can handle trains up to about eight hundred metres long. So there may need to be adjustment to some of the passing loops on the existing section from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

With passenger trains, if  the Borders Railway can handle five-car trains, then running a shuttle train between Edinburgh and Carlisle, using a bi-mode Class 800 train, wouldn’t be a problem.

It’s a good reason for making sure that HSTs can work the Extended Borders Railway.

Would the capacity at the Northern end, be able to handle more than the occasional diverted train?

But I question the need for the need for the route to have the capability

When Storm Frank damaged the viaduct at Lamington in December 2015, it effectively blocked the West Coast Main Line routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

There are four routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow from England.

  • The West Coast Main Line to Glasgow
  • The West Coast Main Line to Edinburgh
  • The East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh
  • The Glasgow South Western Line to Glasgow.

But in a couple of years, there should be big differences to 2015.

  • There will be a frequent high-capacity electric train route between Scotland’s two largest cities.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast will have a large number of Class 800 bi-mode trains, that could use the Glasgow South Western Line to get to Carlisle.
  • Scotrail will have a number of short-formation High Speed Trains, that will always get through somewhere.
  • Edinburgh to Newcastle and Manchester will have extra capacity.
  • Carlisle to Newcastle will have more capacity.

Network Rail have even future-proofed the Settle and Carlisle Line, which would enable Virgin Trains East Coast’s Class 800 trains to get to Leeds via Carstairs and Carlisle, in the event of closure of the East Coast Main Line.

I think any sane railway engineer would say that although it would be nice to be able to use the Extended Borders Railway as a diversion route, because of other developments, it wouldn’t be necessary.

Perhaps the following should be done instead of making the Extended Borders Railway a fully-functioning diversion route.

  • Increase the resilience of the current four routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and England.
  • Increase the capacity between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Carstairs.
  • Increase the capacity on the Glasgow South Western Line.

In the medium to long term, the Glasgow South Western Line should probably be electrified.

Extending The Borders Railway To Hawick

The CBR report revealed to me, something that I hadn’t realised. Newtown St. Boswells is the headquarters of the Scottish Borders Council.

Surely, this means that Newtown St. Boswells needs a rail connection to Edinburgh and good transport connections to the rest of the region.

This Google Map shows the area from the end of the Borders Railway at Tweedbank station to the two villages of Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells.


  1. Tweedbank station is in the North-West corner.
  2. Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells are in the South-East corner
  3. The route passes the Borders General Hospital and the town of Melrose.

A lot of the track-bed is still visible and this Google Map shows the villages of Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells in more detail.

It would appear that the old Waverley Route splits into two, just South of Newton St. Boswells with the Waverley Route going South to Hawick and  the Kelso Line going East to Kelso.

I have flown my virtual helicopter on the route from Tweedbank to Hawick and it would appear that the challenges of extending to Hawick are as follows.

  • Squeezing a double-track railway alongside the A6091 to the South of Melrose.
  • Crossing the A68 at Newton St. Boswells, where there may already be a road bridge over the track-bed.
  • Squeezing a double-track railway through Newtown St. Boswells.
  • The Ale Water Viaduct

There are also a few farm buildings and factories that may block the track-bed.

It would appear that extending the Borders Railway from the current Tweedbank station to a new station on the outskirts of Hawick, would not be the greatest of engineering problems, but it would link the railway to important stations at the following locations.

  • Borders General Hospital and/or Melrose
  • Newton St. Boswells
  • Hawick

Modern signalling might allow the efficient use of single-track railway, where it was needed for reasons of space.

Tweedbank, Melrose Or Hawick As An Interim Terminal For The Borders Railway

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, there is a section called Failure To Continue To Melrose. This is said.

The Scott Wilson Report did not consider extending the line beyond Tweedbank due to the increased capital and operating costs of continuing further without a corresponding increase in passenger demand. The Campaign for Borders Rail consider nevertheless that there would have been a strong case for reaching Melrose on the basis of the town’s role in Borders tourism.

I do wonder, if Scotrail wanted Tweedbank because of the following.

  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank takes around 55-57 minutes, so two tph can be achieved with four trains.
  • Edinburgh to Melrose would take just over the hour, so is very difficult to timetable and would need more trains.

If the current Edinburgh to Tweedbank time of around 55-57 minutes, is used to estimate a time for Hawick, you get something just over eighty minutes, which makes a three-hour round trip very feasible.

If two tph were to run between Edinburgh and Hawick, you’d need six trains.

Scotrail could have even said no to Melrose, as mathematically it’s all wrong and expensive for a train operator.

But Hawick is much better!

An Edinburgh To Hawick Passenger Service

I can’t help feeling that the mathematics of the route and response of the people of the Borders to their new Borders Railway, says very strongly, that the route of the initial Borders Railway should have been between Edinburgh and Hawick, with intermediate stops at Borders General Hospital/Melrose and Newtown St. Boswells.

Scotrail seem to be proposing three-car Class 170 trains for the current route, which would be ideal for Edinburgh to Hawick.

If these three-car trains, running at a frequency of two tph, should not prove to be enough, then four or even five-car trains could provide the extra capacity.

Could Kelso Be Linked To The Borders Railway?

Previously, I noted that a branch leads from St. Boswells to Kelso. From Kelso, it used to lead to the East Coast Main Line and also to Jedburgh and Coldsteam in the South.

It would appear that the line can’t be easily reinstated, as the route has been used for a new road, although much of the track-bed is unobstructed and easily spotted on Google Maps.

But it might be possible to create a branch to the outskirts of Kelso, if that were to be needed.

I suspect though, it would only be needed, if Kelso staged a major sporting event, like the Olympic or Commonwealth Games.

A Branch To Penicuik

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, this is a paragraph about a future branch to Penicuik.

In May 2013, it was reported that Heriot-Watt University had been asked by Midlothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on a 10-mile (16 km) rail link connecting Penicuik with the Borders Railway. At least 6 miles (9.7 km) of the new line would follow the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway, the alignment of which is generally intact between Millerhill and Straiton.

This proposal is not mentioned in the CBR report, so I have made it a separate post with a title of A Branch To Penicuik From The Borders Railway.

This was my conclusion

I believe that it would be possible to open a single-track branch to Penicuik with single-platform stations and these objectives.

  • Provide a two tph service between Penicuik and Edinburgh.
  • Boost the service between the Park-and-Ride at Newcraighall and Edinburgh to four tph.
  • Provide an alternative Southern terminal for a North-South service across Edinburgh.

Electrification of the line might give operational advantages to Millerhill TMD, the Borders Railway and the branch itself.

I very much think that the branch to Pencuik will be built..


This Google Map shows the centre of Hawick. Hawick station occupied what is now the site of the Teviotdale Leisure Centre.

After the station, the line crossed the River Teviot on a viaduct, to the East of the two bridges.

This entry for Hawick in Disused Stations, gives a lot more details on the station and says that the station site was cleared and the viaduct was demolished in the 1970s.

Getting the Borders Railway through Hawick would appear to be a very challenging engineering problem.

I suspect that Network Rail looked hard at the Waverley Route, when they were designing the current Borders Railway and decided that the cost would be too great if the railway was reconstructed through Hawick.

Incidentally, I can’t find any plans or speculation on the Internet about how to get the Borders Railway through the town.

So what do I think will happen?

Looking at maps of the area, it could be that an avoiding line swinging around the East of Hawick to pick up the line going South to England, might be possible, but the River Teviot meanders all over the place and gets in the way.

So perhaps the solution is to use a modern bow-spring bridge on the original route taken by the Victorians.

Certainly, bridge design has been on an upward curve for the last few years.

But then the good citizens of Hawick might not like to have a massive intruder in their midst.

If pushed, I would say the Borders Railway through Hawick will have the following characteristics.

  • Single-track through the town.
  • An elegant bridge over the Teviot.
  • A simple station in the town centre.
  • A Park-and-Ride station, to the North-East of the town with good access to the A698.
  • No freight trains, except Network Rail maintenance trains.

I think designed properly, services from both stations could be something like.

  • Two tph to Edinburgh stopping at all stations.
  • Two tph to Carlisle stopping at Newcastlton and Longtown.

This would mean that Hawick would also have a Park-and-Ride with a four tph service to the town centre.

But I’m sure that modern signalling and good driving can get four tph in each direction between two stations.

Both stations might have two bi-directional platforms on an island, with one face for through trains and the other for trains terminating in the station.

Hawick To Longtown

It does appear from my virtual helicopter, that a lot of the track-bed is intact South of the River Teviot in Hawick to Longtown on the other side of the Border.

The track-bed can be picked out and in many places it runs through gaps in the trees.

It doesn’t seem to be the most difficult of projects, with three obvious parts with possible difficulties.

It certainly looks to be one of the easier parts of the route of an Extended Borders Railway.

A Branch To Langholm

This article on the BBC is entitled Langholm station considered in Borders Railway extension study.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of Langholm station with respect to Newcastleton and Longtown stations.

Opening a station at Langholm is an idea, that could make it easier to provide a four tph service between Carlisle and Longtown, with two tph to each of Hawick and Langholm.

Transporting Timber By Rail

The CBR report says this about transporting timber by rail.

The huge forestry plantations across the border area, including Keilder, have reached maturity and provide a continuous supply of timber. Part of the output is taken by lorry to a Carlisle railhead for transport to English markets. A new railhead would allow loading closer to the forests, cutting environment impacts and road traffic, and extending the customer base.

It wouldn’t be the greatest additional cost to create a rail head, where timber could be loaded.

But any thoughts of reopening the Border Counties Railway to Keilder, should probably be discounted.

Longtown To Carlisle

In Enthusiasm For The Borders Railway In Carlisle, I talked about the English section of the route.

This was my conclusions about the section.

The CBR report, recommends a Park-and-Ride at Longtown and I wonder, if developments there might be the key to rebuilding the Waverley Route on a more economic basis.

A lot would depend on whether the Defence Munitions Centre at Longtown continues to be used, but the following could be built in the area.

  • The proposed Park-and-Ride.
  • A Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.
  • Distribution warehouses.
  • Factories that need lots of space and good rail and road access.

A lot would depend on what the locals want and whether Scotland became independent, for which the site must be ideally placed.

If the track-bed of the old Waverley Route is still present and can be used to Carlisle, this route could be developed as a rail route, which might have advantages.

  • It has its own route to Carlisle station with a separate bridge over the River Eden.
  • The West Coast Main Line bridge over the River Eden appears to be only double-track.
  • Would it improve timings to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh on the West Coast Main Line?
  • Could it be used as a diversion route for freight trains on the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle?
  • Extra stations could be opened on the route, that could improve connectivity in the City
  • There is probably few paths on the West Coast Main Lines for extra trains from Longtown and/or a reinstated Waverley Route to Edimburgh.

But would the extra cost be justified?

Done properly, as the CBR report says, improving the railways between Carlisle and a new Park-and-Ride at Longtown, would surely improve the Carlisle economy.

I very much feel that there are a great many advantages in improving the West Coast Main Line at the same time as the Waverley Route is rebuilt.

A Carlisle To Longtown Passenger Service

From Carlisle to Longtown, there could be a lot of passengers because of the employment opportunities and Park-and-Ride facilities and four tph will probably be needed for a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

There won’t be any shortage of trains that could stop at both Carlisle and Longtown as they could include these passing trains.

  • Two tph between Carlisle and Hawick
  • Two tph between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Carstairs.
  • Four tph between Carlisle and Glasgow.

If Langholm is served by a branch of the Borders Railway, this would be an ideal terminus for a two tph service to Carlisle, that stopped at all stations.

Longtown station could be a real engine of growth for the area and a superb Park-and-Ride for the city.

A Carlisle To Hawick Passenger Service

I think it is likely that Newcastleton station, which is the only proposed station between Longtown and Hawick, will not generate a lot of revenue.

  • Newcastleton is not that far from Longtown, so if you are going from the area to Edinburgh,you’d probably be more likely to go to a station with masses of parking and much faster trains to Edinburgh.
  • Similarly, if you were going to Carlisle, you’d probably drive to Longtown, unless you could walk or cycle to the station.
  • Some would question, whether a station is needed at Newcasstleton.

In the days of the Waverley Route, stations like Newcastleton weren’t very busy.

I think that this points to doing something like the following.

  • Make the operating speed of the line between Longtown and Hawick as fast as possible.
  • Design Newcastleton station, so that stops can be performed in as short a time as possible.
  • Run two tph between Carlisle and Hawick only stopping at Longtown and Newcastleton.

The service could terminate at either Hawick or Edinburgh.

If it was the latter, it would have an appropriate stopping pattern to the capital.

A Carlisle To Edinburgh Via Hawick Passenger Service

The Carlisle to Edinburgh service on the electrified line via Carstairs, running approximately every thirty minutes, has a journey time of an hour and twenty minutes.

Not only is it faster now, than the two hours and thirty minutes, I estimate a train will take via Hawick, but the following applies.

  • The service via Carstairs will get faster.
  • The service via Carstairs also calls at Haymarket station.
  • Services could stop at Longstow station with its Park-and-Ride.

So how many passengers between Carlisle and Edinburgh will take the slower Borders Railway?

I might be that the best use of trains, is to split the service at Hawick and run the following trains.

  • Two tph between Edinburgh and Hawick stopping at all stations.
  • Two tph between Hawick and Carlisle stopping at Newcastlton and Longtown.

Passengers between say Carlisle and Galashiels would change at Hawick.

There is certainly some serious thinking to do, as to what service to provide.

An Anglo-Scottish Project

The more, I seem to find positive English newspaper reports on the proposed extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle, the more I’m convinced that the project should be an Anglo-Sottish project.

The rebuilding of the Waverley Route between Edinburgh and Carlisle can be split into the following sections,

  1. Carlisle To Longtown – English – Totally within England.
  2. Tweedbank To St. Boswells – Scottish
  3. St. Boswells To Hawick – Scottish
  4. Hawick To Longtown – Anglo-Scottish
  5. The Line Through Hawick – Scottish

The sections would be done in the order shown.

  • Carlisle to Longtown is a major project in its own right, which would increase the capacity and speed trains through Carlisle on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Tweedbank To Hawick would give a much needed link to Edinburgh for Melrose, St. Boswells and Hawick.
  • Hawick To Longtown would connect Hawick to England.

Temporary stations might be provided on both sides of Hawick, They could be linked temporarily by a shuttle bus.

Only when everything else was complete would the link across Hawick be connected.


These are my conclusions about the project.

Two Conventional End Sections And A Very Tricky Hawick

I very much feel that the Extended Borders Railway will effectively be two very busy end sections, dominated by commuting, shopping and leisure  at Carlisle and |Edinburgh, with a very tricky centre section at Hawick.

The end sections and South from Hawick will be very conventional.

  • The Edinburgh end needs to be extended via the Borders General Hospital, Melrose and Newtown St. Boswell to a Park-and-Ride station at Hawick.
  • The Carlisle end needs to be remodelled both to creeate a decent service between Carlisle and Longtown and increase the capacity on the West Coast Main Line.
  • From Hawick to Longtown, there is one large viaduct and a long single-track tunnel that will need refurbishing.
  • There is probably a maximum of six new stations. to be built.

I suspect that good design will cut the building costs to a minimum.

One thing that is needed is an innovative solution for getting through or around Hawick.

My solution, probably won’t work, but I don’t care, as my mission is to inform and make people think of solutions that will.

Bi-Mode Trains

I also believe that services on the Borders Railway should be run by bi-mode trains, as the two ends of the route are electrified.

The next generation of b-mode trains will have onboard energy storage, which will be used to handle regenerative braking energy, thus making the trains more energy efficient and less dependent on diesel power.

Hawick Is A Better Terminal For The Borders Railway Than Tweedbank

It’s all in the mathematics, which say that Melrose is a non-starter.

Langholm Branch

As it helps increase frequency, where it’s needed between Carlisle and Longtown, it’s a good idea.

Few Passengers Will Go Between Carlisle And Edinburgh

Speed is everything and I can’t see many passengers between the two largest cities on the route, using the Extended Borders Railway instead of the traditional electrified route.

It will be so much slower and not as convenient.

The Southern Part Of The Route Is Mainly About England And Hawick

Carlisle to Longtown needs improvement to create employment, improve the West Coast Main Line and local rail routes in Carlisle.

Hawick will benefit, as it is on the route, but there are few people between Hawick and Carlisle, who will need the railway! And there’s only one station.

The CBR Report Says Nothing About HS2

HS2 will happen and the CBR report says nothing about it.

A Cut Down Project Might Be Better Value

It could be argued, that the following two separate projects would be better value.

An English project which improves the West Coast Main Line from Carlisle to Longtown. This would.

  • Create employment at the Defence Munitions Centre at Longtown.
  • Build a Park-and-Ride for Carlisle.
  • Improve the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle.
  • Get ready for HS2.

It might even create a commuter railway to Newcastleton and/or Langholm

A Scottish project that extends the current Borders Railway to Hawick. This would.

  • Build a Park-and-Ride station just outside Hawick, with good connections to the A698.
  • Build intermediate  stations at Borders General Hospital/Melrose and Newtown St. Boswells.
  • Expand Edinburgh’s commuter area.
  • Enable new housing around Newtown St. Boswells.

I also think that if the Borders Railway terminated at Hawick, the distance makes it easier for the train operator to provide a clock-face passenger service of two trains per hour.


June 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Scenic Rail In Britain

The Association Of Community Rail Partnerships have put all the scenic rail lines on one web site called Scenic Rail In Britain.

Links to  Heritage Line websites are also included.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access And Pricing?

In my view, certain city and town centres in the UK, have too many vehicles going through.

London certainly does!

But London has a plan to increase capacity on its Underground and Overground network.

  • Crossrail to increase E-W capacity – Opening by 2020.
  • Thameslink to increase N-S capacity  – Opening in 2018.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea to increase N-S capacity  – Opening by 2020.
  • The Northern Line will be split into two lines, after rebuilding Camden Town station – From 2025.
  • The New Tube for London to increase capacity on the Deep Tube Lines – From 2023.
  • The Sub-Surface Lines are being upgraded
  • New trains on the Overground from Liverpool Street – From 2018.
  • New trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line – From 2018.
  • Infrastructure on the Underground is being improved with more lifts, escalators, wi-fi and 4G access.
  • The Bakerloo Line is being extended – From 2028/2029.

In addition, there will be a lot of improvement to walking and cycling routes in the City Centre.

Crossing the City Centre will be the Magnificent Seven

Just these major services add up to a total of over three thousand cars an hour passing through the City Centre.


  1. The Northern Line counts as two lines, as once Camden Town station is rebuilt, it will be split.
  2. The other five lies are either new or have been substantially modernised.
  3. I have deliberately chosen end stations either in Zone 1 or Zone 2.
  4. The Central and Jubilee Lines can almost be considered subsidiary lines of Crossrail, running stopping services that call at a lot more stations.

And then there are the second level of unmodernised lines or ones just outside the City Centre.

  • The Bakerloo Line will be running at least the current twenty six-car trains per hour between Paddington station in the North and Elephant and Castle station in the South, via ten intermediate stations including Marylebone, Baker Street, Oxford Circus, Charing Cross and Waterloo.
  • The Circle Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour in a circle around Zone 1 and on a spur to Hammersmith station.
  • The District Line will be running at least eighteen seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Earl’s Court station in the West across the South of Zone 1, via fourteen intermediate stations including Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Charing Cross and Victoria.
  • The East London Line will be running at least twenty six-car trains between Shreditch High Street station in the North and Canada Water station in the South, via four intermediate stations including Whitechapel and Shadwell.
  • The Hammersmith and City Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Paddington station in the West across the North of Zone 1, via nine intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon, Kings Cross St. Pancras and Baker Street.
  • The Metropolitan Line will be running at least eleven eight-car trains per hour between Aldgate station in the East and Baker Street station in the West via seven intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon and Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern City Line will be running at least ten six-car trains between Highbury and Islington station in the North and Moorgate station in the South, via Essex Road station.
  • The Piccadilly Line will be running at least the current twenty-one six-car trains per hour between Finsbury Park station in the North and Earl’s Court station in the West, via fourteen intermediate stations including Holborn, Piccadilly Circus and Green Park.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be running at least eighteen six-car trains per hour between Waterloo and Bank stations.


  1. I have included some Overground and National Rail Lines in this group.
  2. These routes add approximately forty percent capacity to the City Centre routes.
  3. Don’t underestimate the Northern City Line.

All of these lines create an extensive network of lines in London’s City Centre.

London’s City Centre has the following problems.

  • Traffic congestion.
  • Virtually no available parking.
  • Limited parking for the disabled.
  • The air pollution is getting worse.
  • No space to put any new roads or parking spaces.
  • Safety for pedestrians and cyclists could be improved.

I return to half the question I asked in the title of this post.

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access?

I think the answer is yes, as get it better and travellers might be persuaded to abandon their cars further away from the City Centre.

These are a few things, I’d improve or change.

Enough Car Parking At Outlying Stations

This is not always the case. There should also be enough parking for the disabled.

Good Bus Routes At Outlying Stations

Outlying stations in London are better than most, but some stations need more and better bus routes with better information.

Get it right and it might mean that the need for more car parking is avoided.

Step-Free Access

All stations, platforms, lifts and trains must be suitable for a list of approved scooters, wheel-chairs and buggies.

Better  Interchanges

Some interchanges like Kings Cross St. Pancras, Green Park and Waterloo are designed for people, who like to walk down endless tunnels. Transport for London can do better as this picture from Bank station shows.

Some certainly need travelators and more escalators and lifts.

My particular least favourite station is Kings Cross St. Pancras, where I always go by bus and come home by taxi, as Underground to and from train, can be a real case of walking for miles.

It’s as if the station complex was designed by someone with a real sadistic streak.

I’m going to Chesterfield from St. Pancras on East Midlands Trains today and will get a bus to in front of the station and walk the length of the station to the platforms at the other end.

When Thameslink is fully open, everybody will be complaining about the lack of lift connections between Thameslink and the EMT platforms, which are on top of each other.

You can’t win with St. Pancras!

More Entrances And Exits At Stations

At Victoria and Shepherds Bush stations, new entrance/exits have been added, and the future Bank, Bond Street and Camden Town stations, will have multiple ways to get in and out.

In addition the massive Crossrail stations at Moorgate/Liverpool Street and Tottenham Court Road will be labyrinthine, with two or more entrances.

More Interchanges

This map from shows how the East London and Central Lines cross at Shoreditch High Street station.

This would be my choice for an extra interchange, as it would mean that I would get easy access to the Central Line after three stations from Dalston Junction station, which is my nearest access to trains.

And What About Pricing?

Crossrail and Thameslink could be railways with an unusual usage profile. I believe that outside of the Peak, the central sections of these two routes could have a much more relaxed feel with the ability to handle lots of passengers in the Off Peak. They will also be like express motorways taking the pressure off lines like the Central, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly in the City Centre.

So will this spare capacity, change passengers habits and attract more leisure travellers into the City Centre?

Get the access right and make the City Centre, easy to access from everywhere, with all stations step-free and especially in the City Centre itself, and couple this with the new capacity, I believe that we can reduce the traffic in the City Centre, by encouraging drivers to leave their vehicles further out.

Pricing of tickets could be the smart weapon to encourage this use of Park-and-Ride.

London’s ticketing system, which is based increasing on contactless bank cards collects masses of data about passengers movements and thus Transport for London know all the busy routes and stations.

The system works by logging your various journeys throughout the day and then charging the card overnight, applying any daily, weekly or monthly caps.

Very radical ideas could be applied to the ticketing rules.

For example, anybody who has come into the City Centre from the suburbs can have as many Zone 1 journeys in the day as they want.

So a couple of typical Essex Girls might leave their expensive wheels at Chadwell Heath and just tap in and out all day, as they travelled between Bond Street, Eastfield, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch and Westfield.

How much economic activity would this sort of behaviour generate?

Secondary Effects

If London can persuade anybody coming into the Centre, that the place for a vehicle is not in the Centre, then there will be secondary effects.

Air pollution levels will drop, especially if all taxis and commercial vehicles are zero-emission.

Bus numbers can be reduced, if the Underground is more convenient and free for short journeys in the City Centre.

If traffic in the centre drops, more and more journeys will be done on foot or a bicycle.


Would it also mean, that vehicles could be properly charged for coming into the Centre and checked.accordingly. Would this drop all forms of crime?

What About Other Cities?

Some towns and cities in the UK are developing city centre networks.

To be continued…


June 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Heathrow Plan To Build Third Runway – On Stilts Over M25

This is the title of an article in the Business section of the Sunday Times.

Apparently, three viaducts would be built over the M25, with a wide one for the runway and two narrower ones for the taxi-ways.

Sounds fine by me!

I also feel that the technique of using stilts could be applied to build new housing and commercial properties over roads and railways.

Look at all that space over some city centre stations!

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Sheffield

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the one rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Sheffield.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 38 minutes with a change at Sheffield. The two legs appear to take 33 and 52 minutes respectively with a thirteen minute wait at Sheffield station, which is a well-equipped station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and it’s still one train an hour and the journey takes two minutes over two hours.

Incidentally, the fastest trains to Manchester and Manchester Airport via Sheffield seem to be the same trains.

Improving the times on this route will not be easy.

  • Stops are minimal at only Chesterfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • The service uses the 90 mph Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
  • The only electrification is between Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Electrification from Sheffield to Stockport on the Hope Valley Line will be difficult because of the terrain and the countryside lobby.
  • Electrification from Derby to Sheffield will be difficult, as the line goes through a World Heritage Site.

The closure of the electrified Woodhead Line to passenger traffic in 1970, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks to be a crass decision of the highest order. I assume that, the great friend of the railways; Harold Wilson was in charge!


Going between Derby and Manchester by rail is a practical proposition, but it is a route, which would be difficult to improve.


June 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Travelling Along Peak Rail

Whilst at Matlock, I took a trip on Peak Rail to Rowsley South station.

The heritage line has a very professional feeling.

It makes me think that their aim to expand the railway to Bakewell, is feasible on an engineering basis, given enough money.

But it is the politics and other interests.

In Connecting The Powerhouses, I said this.

But there are possible problems.

  • The A6 has to be crossed.
  • One local landowner didn’t allow consultants access to the line for an inspection.
  • Severn Trent Water are digging a large pipe into the track-bed.

It sounds to me that everybody should find a good hostelry and thrash out a comprehensive co-operation agreement on the backs of engineering envelopes, fuelled by some excellent real ale.

The landowner lives between the current end of the line and Bakewell.

After my visit, I still feel optimistic, that the route can be restored.

It was talking to several local people, both on and off the Peak Rail train, who recalled times when they they would use the line for days out in Manchester, Derby and Nottingham. One guy had even used the line to go to Scotland with a change in Manchester.



June 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvement are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.


  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.


Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.


This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track


  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seems in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in speed.


Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.


The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.










May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cross City Rail Lines

This list of cross-city rail lines is for my own information.

The line must go from one side of the city to another, with at least one stop in the City or Town Centre.

United Kingdom



  • East Coastway and West Coastway – West-East through City Centre



Northern City Line and Waterloo and City Line go partly under the City Centre, but not across it.


May 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | | 5 Comments