The Anonymous Widower

£250m Bypass Will Destroy Woodland

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A four-mile bypass will be built partly in the South Downs National Park under a plan that conservation groups fear will set a precedent for development in other protected areas.

This map shows the route of the proposed bypass.

The route may be the best solution, but I believe we need to be more radical.

Overcrowded and inadequate roads exist all along the South Coast of England and in many other scenic places in the UK.

I think we need to develop a philosophy to solve the problems of roads in these crowded places.

Building a four-mile bypass at Arundel, may be needed, but we should do many other things to ease traffic congestion and improve transport capacity.

So what do I believe we should do?

We could introduce negative measures like road pricing or other restrictions, but I believe there are positive things we could do.

Broadband

You might think, what has broadband got to do with reducing the need to build roads.

I believe that as more houses and businesses get very high speed broadband, this will reduce the number of journeys taken.

Mobile Phone Coverage

I am not sure, what effect excellent mobile phone coverage will have on traffic, but it certainly will have one.

Cycling

We will all be cycling more and one of the consequences of excellent mobile phone coverage will be the growth of park-it-anywhere bike schemes like ofo and Mobike.

I think a few years time, many short distance journeys will be done by bicycle.

But expect some Luddite councils to legislate against ofo, Mobike and their ilk!

Rail

Fast forward five years and a train journey in an area like along the South Coast or in East Anglia or the West Country, will be very different.

  • Digital signalling will increase the capacity of all lines and mean that most stations will have at least four trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Digital signalling will also allow more routes.
  • Advances in train design will mean that journeys are faster.
  • Ticketing will use contactless bank cards or mobile phone payment systems.
  • Trains will be a much more comfortable and work-friendly experience, with wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Track layouts will be improved and level crossings will be removed., to allow trains to operate more efficiently.
  • Improved information on trains and stations.
  • The improved dwell times of modern trains, will allow new stations to be added without degrading services.

The biggest development along the South Coast, will be an improved service between Ashford and Portsmouth/Southampton/Bournemouth.

  • Existing tracks will be used, with the addition of short stretches of new track at possibly Brighton and Eastbourne.
  • Line speeds will be at least 100 mph.
  • Most stations will have a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph service.

There will also be other improved routes to and from London and Gatwick Airport for many of the coastal towns.

This improvement in rail services will be impossible with a rail company like Govia Thameslink Railway providing services.

  • They are more conservative, than the RMT.
  • They look after their core commuter traffic, at the expense of other passengers.
  • The franchise is just too big.

However, digital signalling will allow Open Access Operators to compete and create new services geared to customers needs.

Thameslink

The current Thameslink service will have the following characteristics, when it is completed in December 2019.

  • Twenty-four tph through London.
  • A well-designed track layout at Bermondsey that unlocks London’s North-South railway.
  • Services at a level of at least two tph to many stations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  • A set of uncomfortable Class 700 trains, designed by a moronic civil servant in the Department of Transport.

The major Thameslink upgrade was designed totally without vision and charisma.

However, the basics and possibilities are there to do the following.

  • Increase the frequency to thirty tph through the Central London core.
  • Increase the frequency on the Brighton Main Line through Gatwick, substantially, by using digital signalling.
  • Rebuild the trains, with what passengers need.
  • Add extra services all along the South Coast.
  • Develop a massive rail-air interchange station at Gatwick.

I believe that Gatwick could develop into the busiest station in the UK.

I also think, that anybody going between London and the South Coast, will have a frequency of at least four tph from their local station, using either a direct service or a single change at Gatwick.

Freight

This Google Map shows the A27 through Arundel.

Note the number of trucks on the roads.

Where are they going?

The bypass would get the trucks out of Arundel, but would it just encourage more to use the South Coast route as a bypass for the crowded M25?

We need a proper philosophy for freight in this country.

  • As much freight as possible should be by rail.
  • Trucks should be for short distance or specialist needs only.

Does Southampton Docks have good enough access to the UK rail network?

I think not, especially as it would be very difficult to increase freight traffic through Southampton Central station, due to the restriction of the double-track Southampton Tunnel.

Conclusion

There is a lot to do, before we spend £250million n a bypass.

 

 

 

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OLE Upgrades Complete At Anglia As Part Of £46m Transformation

The title of this article, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

I hope this is actually the case.

  • I’ve had enough of rail replacement buses, when trying to get to football at Ipswich on a Saturday.
  • For at least the last three years, I’ve probably seen more away matches, than those at Portman Road.
  • Three hours each way to Ipswich, effectively means, the only pleasurable thing you do is see the match.
  • This work has probably hit attendances at both Norwich and Ipswich.
  • I’ve renewed my season ticket fort next season, but if it is as thin on home matches as this one has been, it will be my last season of travel.

What puzzles me, is why can’t Network Rail adjust their work schedule, so that at least important matches like the two Derbies have trains?

But then you wouldn’t rate Network Rail highly for Project Management!

 

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Huge Outlay On Motorways Despite Reduction In Traffic

The title of this post, is the same as a small news item in The Times on Friday.

According to the Commission on Travel Demand, individuals used cars and other vehicles fourteen percent less than they did in 2002.

Reasons given include internet shopping, Netflix and flexible working.

They also say that many in their teens and early twenties shunning car ownership altogether.

There is a graph in the article, which shows that the reduction has been largest in Greater London. That seems to fit with my observations.

  • I’ve chatted to several youngsters , who have no intention of learning to drive for some years. It’s all just too costlyin the Capital and there are few places to park securely.
  • I’m also sure, that my road which is wide and has cars parked on both sides, is less crowded than when I moved here nearly ten years ago. Now, when I get a parcel delivery, there is always space for the van outside.
  • In Dalston, we have also benefited from the Overground and lots of new buses, although the frequency of the latter hasn’t increased.
  • I wouldn’t underestimate the fact that those of a certain age, like myself, get free public transport in Greater London.
  • There has also been a tremendous increase in the use of bicycles for commuting.

I don’t think that all parts of London have seen as much reduction as the North and East.

It always seems that traffic is busy, when I go to Chelsea, Westminster or the West End. But I don’t think we can stop, those with large 4x4s going to the local Waitrose and Harrods.

I also think, that Crossrail will reduce traffic across a whole swathe of London from Ealing to Ilford via Paddington, the West End and the City.

It will be a well-designed stylist railway with trains every few minutes.

According to the article, Metropolitan areas are also seeing a reduction in car use.

Although, they haven’t got as comprehensive, a public transport network as London, over the last ten years, several large metropolitan areas have improved public transport considerably.

Traffic also seems to have reduced slightly in what the report calls shire towns, resort and rural.

I would put this down to the three factors said earlier by the article; internet shopping, Netflix and flexible working.

The only places not showing a less significant decline is districts with industry and new towns.

But a lot of these have been built for car use.

Conclusion

It is a thought-provoking article.

Given that Greater London has shown the biggest decline in traffic and it has the most comprehensive public transport system in the UK, the question has to be asked if more money is spent on public transport, could it reduce the amount of money spent on the roads!

I would do the following.

  • Build more welcoming new stations with adequate parking like, Apperley Bridge , Bromsgrove, Cambridge North, IlkestonKenilworth, Kirkstall Forge and Maghull North.
  • Update some of the worst stations in the country to a modern standard.
  • Put more seats on busy routes.
  • Increase train frequency where possible.
  • Make certain everybody who wants to, can work flexibly from home.
  • Use more sophisticated and better managed home delivery systems.
  • Build HS2 as fast as possible.
  • Develop more rail-based freight solutions.
  • Make it possible to get to most Airports by public transport.

Hopefully, with local mayors and other devolved bodies, we’ll see more areas of the country taking the decisions they need.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Good Advice About The May 2018 Rail Timetable Changes

Several of the train operating companies don’t seem to have published their timetables, that will become current on May 20th, 2018.

I found this page on the Settle-Carlisle web site, which is entitled May 2018 Timetable.

This is said.

The current timetable for daily services on the Leeds-Settle-Appleby-Carlisle route ends on Saturday, 19 May.

To help you plan your journeys post 19 May, we have put train times on the timetable page.

This is the first major change to train times for many years with extra services and new train departure times.  Please check the new times applicable from 20 May carefully.

Printed timetables are not yet available.  We are working hard to get the Settle-Carlisle line guide and timetable ready so it is available before the timetable change.

Northern’s printed timetable may not be available until 1 June but we anticipate the Settle-Carlisle lineguide and timetable will be in stations, tourist information centres etc before the start of the new timetable.

This would appear to be good advice, that applies to all train operating companies.

It does seem that what is said on nationalrail.co.uk seems sensible.

Best of luck with your journeys on the 21st of May.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Hitachi Ships TransPennine Express’s First Class 802 From Japan

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

To my mind, the Japanese do some inefficient things when building trains.

  • It could be sensible to build the first of each different sub-fleet in Japan and ship it to the UK by sea, but what puzzles me is that the body shells are all built and painted in Japan and then shipped half-way round the world.
  • The shipping delay must make production difficult to plan and inefficient.
  • I would have thought they would have built a body plant somewhere in Europe.

CAF may send their trains by ship, but that is only a short sea crossing and because the Spanish rail gauge they can’t tow them through the Channel Tunnel, as the other European manufacturers do.

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

A Scoop For Train-Spotters

Various news sources are reporting that Kim Jong-Un’s visit to China was first noticed by train spotters.

This article on the Washington Post, says this.

The detective work started Monday when train spotters and North Korea watchers noticed two suspicious developments: tight security at the China-North Korea border and train delays across the northeast.

The article also says that a popular Chinese nickname for the North Korean dictator is Fatty the Third.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

New Passenger Rail Routes In The West Midlands

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come acrossseveral proposed rail route re-openings and improvement schemes in the West Midlands on Wikipedia.

Birmingham-Peterborough Line

The Birmingham-Peterborough Line is a major route between Birmingham and the East.

I am including it, as there are aspirations to add new stations at Castle Bromwich and Fort Parkway.

Between Birmingham and Nuneaton must be a candidate for in-fill electrification, especially as this section has two freight terminals.

Camp Hill Line

The reopening of the Camp Hill Line across Birmingham has been a long term ambition of the City Council for years.

The current status of the proposed development of the Camp Hill Line is given in Wikipedia under Future Plans.

This is the last part of that section.

In 2017, the newly elected Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street pledged to get work started on restoring services to the line by 2020. And officials were said to be investigating the business case for a fourth station at Balsall Heath (previously called Brighton Road) This would mean Lifford and Camp Hill would be the only stations not to be reopened.

In August 2017, West Midlands Trains announced plans as part of their franchise deal that the line would reopen by December 2019 as part of a £1 billion investment in the West Midlands. This included a new station at Moseley.

In February 2018, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said that the viaduct would not be needed, as Hereford to Birmingham New Street trains could be diverted along this line, meaning that extra capacity at Birmingham New Street was not required to open this line.

Note that the original completion date for this scheme was 2025 and it has now been moved forward to December 2019.

The current scheme seems to include the following.

  • Four new stations at Balsall Heath, Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell.
  • A possible connection into Birmingham Moor Street station.
  • Birmingham New Street to Worcester services would use the Camp Hill Line.

It seems that this scheme provides a rail service to a new part of the city and also releases capacity at Birmingham New Street. I think there’s some Brummie cunning at work and that a simpler scheme is being created, that could involve.

  • The new stations.
  • None or very little new electrification, track and signalling.
  • No connection to Moor Street station.
  • Services from Birmingham New Street to Kings Norton, Redditch and Bromsgrove using new Aventra trains running on batteries on the Camp Hill Line, which would call at all stations.
  • An improved Birmingham New Street to the new Worcester Parkway station using new CAF Civity diesel trains, along the Camp Hill Line.
  • Will CrossCountry’s Cardiff-Nottingham service be rerouted via the Camp Hill Line?

The New Street to Worcester services could be rerouted earlier, if it was necessary to squeeze more capacity out of New Street station.

Note that if all services stopped at Bromsgrove, when it gets its electric service on the Cross-City Line in May 2018, passengers for a lot of destinations, would surely change at Bromsgrove, rather than New Street!

Darlaston Loop

The reopening of the Darlaston Loop has been suggested by Andy Street, who is now Mayor of the West Midlands.

I suspect that this reopening fits within a larger overall scheme.

South Staffordshire Line

Network Rail and Midland Metro, both seem to have aspirations to run services on the South Staffordshire Line.

Re-opening Proposals in the Wikipedia entry gives full details of the proposals. Included are.

  • Freight trains on a single track.
  • Midland Metro on a single track with passing places.
  • National Rail services.
  • Tram-trains sharing with freight trains.

This is the last entry.

In September 2017, the new franchise operators, West Midlands Trains, plans to restore disused railway lines including the South Staffordshire Line which would be an extension of the existing Birmingham to Stourbridge Junction service which it plans to extend to Brierley Hill in the future.

On the Wikipedia entry for the Midland Metro, under Wednesbury and Merry Hill – Extension, this is said.

From Line 1 in Wednesbury, the Brierley Hill Extension (WBHE) would follow the disused South Staffordshire Line, through Tipton to the vicinity of the former Dudley Town station (which closed in 1964 and was later the site of a freightliner terminal), then on-street into Dudley town centre. It would leave Dudley alongside the Southern Bypass to access the railway corridor, leaving it at the approach to the Waterfront/Merry Hill area and Brierley Hill and then on to Stourbridge.

Centro has stated that the WBHE would provide 10 trams per hour, alternately serving Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Journey time from Brierley Hill to West Bromwich was stated as 31 minutes.

There are a lot of possibilities.

Various things might help in the design.

  • There is space for two tracks. It has been suggested that one is for trams and one for freight.
  • Midland Metro’s trams can run on battery power, so no electrification is required, if all other trains are diesel-powered.
  • Midland Metro’s trams and West Midlands Trains’s new diesel trains are both built by CAF, so are they compatible enough to share a track?
  • Modern signalling gets better and better.

I think we might see a very innovative plan for the use of this line.

Sutton Park Line

The Sutton Park Line is another line in the est Midlands area, that could be re-opened.

Re-opening in the Wikipedia entry gives full details of the proposals.

In February 2008 it was announced that Birmingham City Council, Network Rail and Centro were launching a feasibility study to assess the possibility of re-opening the line to passenger services. In January 2015 the line was put on hold for reopening to passenger trains. In April 2017, the proposals were being looked at again as part of a spin-off to the HS2 scheme. In December 2017, it has been proposed that the line could reopen as part of the Governments plans to reopen lines closed in the 1960s and later cuts by British Rail.

I would think, that one of the main reasons, this line is being reopened is that is connects several of the other suburban lines in Birmingham. It also allows freight trains to by-pass Birmingham New Street station.

Walsall-Wolverhampton Line

This is said about reopening a passenger service on the Walsall-Woverhampton Line in Wikipedia under Future Plans.

The West Midlands Combined Authority have announced their intention to restore a passenger service to the line by 2027, along with new stations at Willenhall and Darlaston James Bridge.

Note.

  1. At the present time, this route is for freight.
  2. It has had passenger services on and off for fifty years.
  3. It can be used as a diversion route around engineering works.

If a direct service were to be reinstated it would take just twelve minutes, as opposed to an hour via Birmingham New Street station.

It strikes me that this would be a simple route to upgrade.

Walsall and Wolverhampton stations are electrified.

The route is surely short enough to be handled by a battery-powered train.

Signalling is probably up-to-date.

There is also this report in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, which is entitled Spring Satement: £350m Housing Deal For The West Midlands, which says this.

The deal comes after ministers revealed plans to bring the line between the town and city back into use, including new railway stations at Willenhall and James Bridge, Darlaston.

Things seem to be happening on this route.

Possible New Stations

I’ll summarise the possible new and reopened stations.

Could a common design be created, so that the cost of stations is reduced?

Is There A Plan?

The West Midlands Combined Authority and the train operation company for the area; West Midlands Trains, seem at a first look, taken all the freight and disused routes and seeing how they can be linked into a network to the benefit of Birmingham.

But I think it is more than that!

The trains and trams are a varied fleet.

  • CAF Urbos trams. – Can be fitted powered with batteries
  • Bombardier Aventra trains in three- and five-car units. – Might be possible to be powered with batteries
  • CAF Civity diesel-multiple units in two- and four-car units.

Full details have not been given about the Aventras, but it could be that all trams and trains are capable of moving for perhaps a dozen miles under their own power. Obviously, the CAF Civitiies can go a lot further on diesel fuel.

I have some questions.

  • Could all these trains, mean that the lines can be added to the current network without installing too much electrification?
  • Is it only the South Staffordshire Line and the Darlaston Loop, where new track needs to be laid?
  • CAF are a company noted for innovation, who are opening a factory in Wales. Have they got a Spanish Surprise to help the WMCA create a world-class network?
  • Are architects and engineers working on a unique platform design, that all trains can share?
  • Could the Camp Hill Line and the Walsall-Wolverhampton Line have a passenger service, as soon as there are trains to run the service?

I wonder if there is a plan to bring in new routes continuously!

  • Electric trains  on the Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley station and to Bromsgrove station will be first in 2018.
  • Walsall and Wolverhampton using the Wallsall-Wolverhampton Line
  • New Street and Worcester using the Camp Hill Line.
  • New Street and Bromsgrove using new stations on the Camp Hill Line.
  • Coleshill Parkway tand Walsall using the Sutton Park Line.
  • Walsall and Stourbridge Junction using the South Staffordshire Line and diesel trains.
  • Wednesbury and Merry Hill using the South Staffordshire Line and trams.

Note.

  1. The early bonus of the new electrification.
  2. Walsall and Bromsgrove will develop into well-connected hubs.
  3. Euston and Walsall will be introduced by West Midlands Trains.
  4. As the network expands, new trains are delivered.
  5. Stations will be added continuously.
  6. All parts of Greater Birmingham will benefit.

Is this the way, Andy Street will market the network to his customers?

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swansea Bay Metro

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Swansea Bay Metro on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia outlines the project like this.

  • A new line from Baglan to Swansea station diverting the mainline from the current route via Neath, reducing journey times to Cardiff to 30 Minutes
  • The new Main Line would have stations at Swansea Bay Campus and SA1
  • Reopening of the current freight only Neath Valley Line to passengers with new stations at Jersey Marine, Neath Abbey, Neath (shown as Neath 2) and Aberdulais
  • A new line from Neath to Llansamlet Interchange via a new station at Llandarcy
  • New stations on the existing Swansea to Baglan at Llansamlet Interchange, Phoenix and Morfa
  • New stations at M4 J45, Morriston, M4 J46 and Pontlliw
  • A new station on Station Road.

It is a comprehensive project that would probably cost over a £1 billion.

This could just be the sort of project that Chris Grayling felt could be developed.

This study document from Professor Mark Barry gives more details of a possible proposal.

This map is included.

It certainly is a comprehensive project.

March 27, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

York-Beverley Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the York-Beverley Line on Wikipedia.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

Following the Government’s plans to reinstate lines closed in the 1960s which was announced in November 2017, it has been proposed that the line could reopen as a result.

The line runs between Bootham Junction on the York-Scarborough Line and Beverley Junction on the Hull-Scarborough Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the detailed route.

I only know the area as a visitor, but it would appear to be a valuable new connection.

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

The Heath Rail Link In Devon

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Heath Rail Link in Devon on Wikipedia.

This is said.

In January 2018, a new company, Heath Rail Link met with Network Rail to discuss plans and progress. During the meeting, Network Rail gave authorisation for Heath Rail Link to lease the line once funds were submitted for it.

I also found this article on Heritage Railway, which is entitled A Fourth Tourist Line In South Devon In 2020?.

Something is definitely happening, but will it lead to anything?

Will the line be a heritage railway or will it be run by something like a Class 230 train?

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