The Anonymous Widower

From Leeds To Rotherham

This was not what you would call a quality journey.

By train it took 56 minutes, which is about nine minutes longer than it would take in the average car according to various web sites.

There are also nine stops in another Cook’s Tour of Yorkshire.

It was also in a Class 142 train or Pacer.

The map clipped from Wikipedia shows the Wakefield Line, which is the route the train took.

These pictures were taken on the journey.

In this day and age for a journey of an hour a better train is needed, especially as the two end points are Leeds and Sheffield,where the two cities have a joint population of about 1.3 million.

The fastest trains between Leeds and Sheffield are run by CrossCountry and take forty minutes using the Wakefield Line.

As the fastest Rotherham Central to Sheffield trains take 14 minutes, I think it is reasonable to assume, that the right train could do Leeds to Rotherham Central in 26 minutes.

This route could become a Northern Connect route, run by new Class 195 trains.

As the route is electrified between Leeds and Fitzwilliam station, I wonder if this could be a route for a Class 319 Flex train.

Both trains are 100 mph units, as against the 75 mph of the Class 142 train, which probably defines the timetable.

From my observations, the route is not particularly arduous and I suspect that either train could do the journey in just over forty minutes, even with all the stops.

Certainly, the current service is truly dreadful and inadequate.

It appears that the overhead wires are going up for the tram-train to Sheffield. Or at least the gantries!

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shipley Station

Shipley station is one of the few triangular stations in the UK, as this Google Map shows.

As I passed through, I took these pictures.

It certainly, is a station, that needs more information and better sign[posting.

But mainly, it shows how building a station in a triangular junction is a complicated affair.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast At Saltaire

On my way back from Skipton station, I stopped off for breakfast at Saltaire.

I ate in Salts Diner and as you can see, I had a large gluten-free full-English breakfast with tea and juice for £9.95.

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Food, Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment

The Importance Of Speed On A Railway

I have just looked at the suburban services out of Waterloo and written Increasing Capacity On Waterloo Suburban Services.

In the Conclusion of that post I said this.

This calculation shows that you can sometimes replace a large number of 75 mph trains with a significantly smaller number of 100 mph units and still attain the same service frequency.

Effectively, the faster journey time, enables the train to go out and back on a route in a shorter time, which means that to do a given service need less trains.

If a service takes 35 minutes with eight stops in a 75 mph Class 156 train, this would mean to go out and back would take around 90 minutes, if it took 10 minutes for the driver to change ends.

So the 07:00 train, would be back at the start to run the 08:30 service.

To run two trains per hour (tph) would require three trains, starting their diagrams at 07:00, )7:30 and 08:00.

Suppose the 75 mph train is replaced by a faster modern 100 mph train, that can perform very quick stops at a station, due to powerful brakes and strong acceleration, which can save a minute at each stop.

The faster train might be able to do the complete out and back journey in under an hour, which would mean only two trains could run the same 2 tph service.

This would give the following benefits.

  • Passengers wold get a faster journey.
  • The operator would need one train less to run the same service.

There are also several smaller benefits to the operator, like less crew and smaller depots.

Since the turn of the century, increasingly, there has been efforts to squeeze more and more services onto rail lines.

In the following sections, I’ll discuss how various factors affect capacity.

Faster Trains

On a simple out-and-back route, the faster a train can get to the destination and back again, the better.

  • In the 1980s, suburban trains like a Class 455 train had a speed of 75 mph.
  • In the 2000s,  a train like a Class 377 train have a speed of 100 mph.
  • In the 2010s,  a modern train like a Class 387 train have a speed of 110 mph.

Trains are certainly getting faster.

Trains Stop Quickly At A Station

Train manufacturers are spending a lot of time, shaving seconds off the time it takes a train to do the following.

  • Brake from line speed.
  • Stop precisely in the station.
  • Drop off and board any passengers.
  • Accelerate back to line speed.

Techniques employed include.

  • Better brakes
  • Wide lobbies and doors
  • Fast door-opening systems.
  • Step-free train access
  • Fast acceleration.
  • Automation and better systems.
  • Staff on the platform from first to last train.

In the next few years, stops will get even quicker.

  • Regenerative braking using batteries to store energy on the train for a fast getaway, will also cut energy use.
  • CCTV systems for door opening and closing on the train, rather than the platform.
  • Automatic stopping of the train at the correct place, after the driver presses a stop button perhaps two hundred metres from the station.
  • Automatic acceleration of the train back to line speed.

Victoria Line trains have been using the last two since 1967.

Modelling And Analysis

We’ll also be seeing a lot more Modelling of systems and analysis of performance, to find how perhaps small amounts of investment can provide a better service.


Trains are going to get faster.


April 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | | 1 Comment

The New Hackney Wick Station Opened On Time

This morning and I was up early to catch the first train train from Dalston Kingsland station to the new Hackney Wick station.

The train was precisely on time at 06:23.

Note that the herd of mammoths, that I photographed on Thursday are still underneath the new embankment.


This is a previous picture from Thursday.

From the pictures it would appear that they have picked up the station subway and given it a twirl.

It has certainly been an impressive project to demolish a railway on an embankment, insert a new subway and then rebuild and reopen the embankment, all in four working days.

I feel that they got the project nmanagement spot-on for this project, witn not a minute of wasted time.

But the biggest factor was surely, that the only work they did with the electrification was switch it off at the start and switch it on and test it, at the finish. They also probably used the most careful digger and crane operators they could find!

I wonder, if we’ll be seeing similar robust construction techniques to create and rebuild stations in double-quick time!

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Class 319 Flex Train And A Railbaar

When I wrote Could There Be A Battery-Powered Class 319 Flex Train?, not much information had been published on the Railbaar, but a Railbaar could be another tool to use with a Class 319 Flex train.

This is a paragraph from the advance copy I have of Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 319 Flex train.

By way of an example, Porterbrook determined that the most arduous route would be Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, which has a steep gradient and multiple stops along its 25 mile route (8 miles of which is electrified). This analysis was included to give confidence that the Class 319 Flex would be comparable to existing Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology across a range of different routes, stopping patterns and gradients.

Elsewhere in the brochure, they say this.

A large battery option was shown to be heavy, would require a lot of space and have long recharge times.

On the other hand, they have stated that batteries could be used to augment diesel power.

Challenging Rail Lines Up Steep Gradients in the UK

Lines like the Buxton Line are not unusual in the UK. The following challenging.

  1. Bromsgrove to Barnt Green up the infamous Lickey Incline – non-stop
  2. Bolton to Blackburn up the Ribble Valley Line – 4 intermediate stops
  3. Blackburn to Clitheroe up the Ribble Valley Line – 3 intermediate stops
  4. Rose Grove to Colne up the East Lancashire Line – 5 intermediate stops
  5. Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple up the Tarka Line – 10 intermediate stops
  6. Plymouth to Gunnislake up the Tamar Valley Line – 7 intermediate stops
  7. Cardiff Central to Aberdate up the Aberdare Branch of the Methyr Line – 13 intermediate stops
  8. Cardiff Central to Ebbw Vale Town up the Ebbw Valley Railway – 5 intermediate stops
  9. Cardiff Central to Merthyr Tydfil up the Merthyr Line – 13 intermediate stops
  10. Cardiff Central to Rhymney up the Rhymney Line – 16 intermediate stops
  11. Cardiff Central to Treherbert up the Rhondda Line – 16 intermediate stops

Our Victorian engineers never let a steep gradient get in the way of where they wanted to build a railway.

Could These Lines Be Electrified?

Only the Lickey Incline (1) is currently being electrified. This is a description of the incline from Wikipedia.

The Lickey Incline, south of Birmingham, is the steepest sustained main-line railway incline in Great Britain. The climb is a gradient of 1 in 37.7 (2.65% or 26.5‰ or 1.52°) for a continuous distance of two miles (3.2 km)

Youtube has a great deal of modern and historic video of the Lickey Incline. Some recent footage shows freight trains climbing the incline with the assistance of a banking engine at the rear.

I doubt if the two lines in Devon (5 and 6) will ever be electrified, The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England will never allow overhead wiring gantries to despoil the landscape along the routes, some of which is in a National Park.

If the Class 319 Flex train does a good job with the three Lancashire Lines around Blackburn (2,3 and 4), the decision to electrify will be pushed a decade or more into the future. I could certainly see, Bombardier, Stadler and perhaps a couple of other companies building a train based on the experience with a Class 319 Flex train, as a replacement.

Politicians will decide whether the Cardiff Valley Lines (7 to 11) are electrified, but I have a feeling that someone somewhere will have a better alternative to full traditional electrification.

The Cardiff Valley Lines

Consider these facts about the rail service on the Cardiff Valley Lines

  • The lines are a vital lifeline to those that live in the South Wales Valleys.
  • The area is not without its attraction, for those who like to be in the hills.
  • Traffic on the lines varies throughout the day.
  • Traffic up the Valleys is highest in the evening commuting Peak and after a big sporting event in Cardiff.
  • Four-car trains are needed on the route.
  • The current diesel trains are elderly and unreliable.
  • There are plans to open new lines and stations and extend some of the existing lines further to the North.

But above all jobs and business and housing developments are needed in the Valleys.

An improved rail service could benefit a large number of people and interests.

The Class 319 Flex Train

The Class 319 Flex train started operational service  thirty years ago as a 100 mph express commuter train running on the Thameslink route from Bedford to Brighton.

It may be a comparatively old train, but it has the following characteristics.

  • It is based on the legendary Mark 3 coach, as used on the InterCity 125.
  • It is four-cars.
  • It is a dual-voltage train.
  • Two rail-proven MAN diesels and an ABB alternator provide electric power away from electrification.
  • It is a 100 mph train on an electrified main line.
  • It has a speed of around 90 mph on diesel power.
  • Drivers have told me, that the brakes are superb.
  • It has a good reputation for reliability.
  • It meets all the current disabled regulations.

But about all, like all Mark 3-based stock, it scrubs up well to any desired standard. In What Train Is This?, I showed the interior of a refurburbished thirty-year-old Class 150 train. Unrefurbished examples are typical of the stock that work the challenging lines.

Use Of A Railbaar With A Class 319 Flex Train

Porterbrook have said that the train’s electrical layout with a DC busbar connecting all xars, lends itself to adding a battery, which could be charged using the diesel power.

A typical layout of the Class 319 Flex train could be as follows.

  • DTOC – A driving car with a diesel engine/alternator set underneath.
  • PMOS – A motor car with a pantograph.
  • TOSL – A trailer car with a toilet.
  • DTOS – A driving car with a diesel engine/alternator set underneath.

I suspect that the battery would go under the TOSL.

The connection points for a Railbaar would be on the uncluttered roof of this car.

Railbaar would be a good add-on for a Class 319 Flex train, working an extension or branch line from an electrified line.

Possible Class 319 Flex Train Problems

The Class 319 train has two possible problems; the body is made of steel and the braking is not regenerative.

Despite being steel, their weight at 140 tonnes is lighter than many aluminium bodied trains, but they don’t have all the equipment like air-conditioning.

On the other hand, a similar train to a Class 319, survived the Oxshott Incident, where a 24-tonne cement mixer truck fell off a bridge onto the roof of the train.

Some Class 321 trains, which are similar to the Class 319 train, have been rebuilt with regenerative braking, so if that becomes a necessity for the Class 319 Flex train, I suspect an engineering solution is possible. Especially, as there is over a hundred Class 321 trains, which will be coming off-lease soon.

The Class 319 Flex Train And The Cardiff Valley Lines

There are eighty-six Class 319 trains, so there would be no problems finding a donor train to convert into a trial train for the Cardiff Valley Lines, if the Class 319 Flex train performs successfully on the Buxton Line.

  • On the Buxton Line, trains climb 150 metres in 15 kilometres from the electrified station at Hazel Grove to Buxton.
  • On the Merthyr Line, trains climb 168 metres in about 30 kilometres from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil.

So it looks like Buxton is steeper, but the Merthyr Line is longer.

I suspect that a Class 319 Flex train will go into service on a trial basis in South Wales, to test performance and customer reaction.

If nothing, it will help define the specification for the trains that can work the Cardiff Valley Lines.

Energy Needed To Raise A Train To Merthyr Tydfil

I will make these assumptions.

  • Merthyr Tydfil has an altitude of 179 metres.
  • Cardiff Central station has an altitude of 11 metres.
  • The train must be raised 168 metres
  • A Class 319 train has a weight of 140 tonnes.
  • A Class 319 train has a seated capacity of 319.
  • A suitable battery would weigh about 2 tonnes.

Raising an empty  four-car train similar to a Class 319 train, from Cardiff Central to Merthyr Tydfil will require 23,856,000 Kg-m or 65  KwH of energy.

Assuming a full load of 319 passengers at 80 Kg a time and that adds another 4,287,360 Kg-m or 12 KwH of energy.

My calculations are very rough.

The passengers get out at the top, so they are not energy that will be regenerated on the way down.

An Electrification Scheme For The Cardiff Valley Lines

The Cardiff Valley Lines were built with the main purpose of bringing coal from the valleys to the port of Cardiff for distribution and export by ship.

Now passengers are much more important, with commuting , leisure and tourism prominent.

Coming down is never a problem and a battery electric train with good brakes could handle a full load of passengers with few problems.

Going up is the problem, as the evening peak or a big rugby match in Cardiff can result in a full train having to be hauled up the valleys.

Similar problems are encountered on all the lines in my list to a certain extent, but without seeing the figures, I suspect the Cardiff Valley Lines are some of the most challenging.

Porterbrook have said, that they are not against using batteries on a Class 319 Flex train as a boost on difficult climbs.

So I think that a Class 319 Flex train fitted with an appropriate-sized battery could be a starting point.

But there is one big problem with a Class 319 Flex train. The Class 319 trains do not have regenerative braking, which could be used to charge the batteries on the way down from the valleys.

However, the very similar Class 321 train is being fitted with regenerative braking, so a possible Class 321 Flex train could charge the batteries on the way down.

When the train arrived in Cardiff, it could attach to a Railbaar to make sure that when it left to climb up into the valleys, the batteries were fully charged.

I think that in all these ramblings, there will be a solution, where all the various technologies come together in a bespoke solution.

  • Four-car train.
  • Electric drive.
  • 25 KVAC overhead to work electrified routes on the South Wales Main Line, at 100 mph.
  • Onboard rail-proven diesel engines and alternators, which would be used accordingly and probably automatically!
  • Two diesel power units would be used, so that one failure wouldn’t leave a stranded train.
  • Batteries with a capacity of around 100 KwH
  • Powerful regenerative braking
  • Railbaars in Cardiff and other low-altitude terminal stations, could be used if diesel charging can’t be used.
  • Well-driven trains to an energy efficient timetable.

Obviously, any electrification of the Cardiff ends of the routes would be welcome and less diesel-power would be needed.


Railbaar would be a good add-on for a Class 319 Flex train, working an extension or branch line from an electrified line.

A Class 319 Flex train with a battery and regenerative braking could be very useful on challenging routes like the Cardiff Valley Lines.

With these applications,  strategically placed Railbaars could add to the resilience and efficiency of the system.

The bespoke solution, that I have outlined, is very close to the specification of a Class 319 Flex train with a battery and regenerative braking.

I can’t wait to ride a Class 319 Flex train on a proving run to Merthyr Tydfil.






April 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lymington Branch Line

Whilst I was in Southampton, I took a look at the Lymington Branch Line from Brockenhurst station.

It runs through the typical New Forest landscape to the two stations of Lymington Town and Lymington Pier.

The Lymington Branch Line is only a short line of a few miles and it is run by a shuttle train every thirty minutes.

Running an increased frequency is probably not needed and would be difficult with the single-track, so the branch will probably continue to be run using the single Class 158 train or a Class 450 train at weekends.



April 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Southampton – A City Built For Cars

These pictures show Southampton as I walked between Southampton Central station and the Town Quay for the ferry to Hythe.

The last few pictures are when I walked back.

This Google Map shows the layout of Southampton

Note now the city sits between the two rivers; the Itchen in the East and the Test going to the West.

Crossing the Itchen is a modern Itchen Bridge, which was built in 1977, that takes the A3025 into and out of the City.

, To the East of the bridge two stations; Woolston and Sholing on the West Coastway Line can be seen.

From Woolston station, the West Coastway Line, curves Northwards and follows the East bank of the River Itchen through Bitterne station, which can be picked out at the top of the map, East of the River Itchen.

The West Coastway Line then joins the South Western Main Line at St. Denys station.

This Google Map shows Bitterne and St. Denys stations.

After going along the river for a short distance and passing Northam Depot, the line splits, as this Google Map shows.

One branch goes South past St. Mary’s stadium and the other turns West and takes Southampton Tunnel to Southampton Central station.

I wrote about the upgrading of Southampton Tunnel in Boxing Clever, where I said this about how the project was performed.

I particularly liked the way that the 1847 Southampton Tunnel  was made larger. Rather than use the traditional approach and closing the tunnel for two to three months, as they did when they upgraded Ipswich Tunnel, they did it a track at a time closing for only three weekends and over Christmas 2009, saving a year on the project.

It is my belief that we can save a lot of money on infrastructure projects, like roads, railways, hospitals ands schools by thinking things through with a great deal more innovation, enterprise and by borrowing good and proven ideas and methods from other countries and industries.

The Wikipedia entry for Southampton Tunnel, has a section called Tunnel Development, which says this about those works.

During the period Sunday 27 December 2009 to Sunday 3 January 2010, the tunnel closed for the track to be lowered to achieve W10 (freight container) route clearance. Previously, Hi Cube intermodal container traffic had to be carried on special low wagons with areas which could not be loaded, resulting in both traffic planning issues and lower train capacity. Additionally, all container trains were restricted to 20 mph when passing through the tunnel because of the limited clearances at the top edges of the loaded containers. Since rebuilding no speed or loading restrictions apply to the tunnel and container trains can travel at up to the line speed of 40 mph, the limit for the tunnel. The work meant containers could be transported more easily by rail from the Port of Southampton.

In some ways the Southampton Tunnel sums up the problems with the UK’s railways. The Victorian layout doesn’t really support the needs of modern transport. And especially freight transport!

The railways will have to live with the updated Southampton Tunnel, as I doubt there is an alternative route to get intermodal container traffic between Southampton Container Terminal and the rest of the UK.

will finish my East-West journey across Southampton by showing this Google Map, which shows Southampton Central station and the Docks that lie to its West.

Note Millbrook station to the North of the Docks. It doesn’t appear to be a very busy station.

I shall now return to the Itchen Bridge along the Waterfront.

Note the following can be seen on this map.

  • The Itchen Bridge
  • St. Mary’s Stadium
  • Southampton Central station.
  • Red Funnel Ferries on Town Quay
  • The Ocean Terminal.
  • The West Quay Shopping Centre

There are also vast areas of surface car parks.

A Metro For Southampton

Southampton is a city, where I believe that too much emphasis has been placed on access to the City by car.

But the skeleton of an urban railway is still there, as this map of the railway lines through Southampton shows.

To be fair, the chance may have been missed when the Itchen Bridge was built in 1977. I suspect thaty at that time in Germany for example, the bridge would have been future proofed for trams to be added at a later date.

But the thoughts at the time in the UK, were that trams were of the Past and not of the Present.

This Google Map, which shows the Itchen Bridge, with St. Mary’s Stadium on the West Bank and Woolston station on the East.

If you look at this map carefully, the rail corridor to the old Southampton Terminus station is still there and about two hundred metres North of the station, a train in South West trains livery can be seen. The line is obviously used for some purpose by Northam Depot.

If I look at various rail systems, I’ve seen all over the UK, it would appear that the following could be done.

Reopen The Rail Line To Southampton Terminus

The line from St. Denys station to Southampton Terminus station could be reopened with possible stations at Northam and St. Mary’s Stadium.

St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a cross-platform interchange between services going to and from Southampton Terminus and Central.

Run West Coastway Services To Southampton Terminus And London Waterloo Services To Southampton Central


  • The South Western Main Line is at capacity with freight and passenger services.
  • The West Coastway Line is less busy.

So why not run West Coastway services to Southampton Terminus?

Remodel St. Denys Station

St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a efficient cross-platform interchange .

  • Platform 1 – Services from Southampton Central to London
  • Platform 2 – Services to Southampton Central
  • Platform 3 – All services between the West Coastway and Southampton Terminus


  1. By making Platform 3 bi-directional, this means that trains using the West Coastway Line don’t have to cross the main line if they terminate at Southampton Terminus.
  2. Travellers going West would just walk across the platform, whereas those going East would use the bridge.
  3. Provision would be made to allow services to go between the West Coastway Line from and Southampton Central.
  4. Provision would be made to allow trains to access Northam Depot.

There is probably a better layout, but by careful design and the opening up of Southampton TerminusSouthampton would be given extra capacity.

A Cross-City Tram

Every time, I’ve gone to Soiuthampton, I’ve always seemed to walk halfway across the City.

Looking at the map, there must be scope for a tram route.

This article in the Romsey Advertiser is entitled Plans for multi-million pound tram project in Romsey are being investigated.

This is said about the route.

Phase one of the “Solent Metro” network would see trams run from Eastleigh past the airport, down to a new station at Southampton St Mary’s, on to an interchange at Royal Pier, then back up to Westquay and Southampton Central railway station.

The plan also envisages the network – which could be trams or a light railway – being extended west to Romsey and from there back to Eastleigh, and eastwards to Segensworth.

Southampton certainly needs something that connects the Waterfront to the West Quay Shopping Centre and Central station, hopefully with a good connection to St. Mary’s Stadium.


My preference would be for a tram-train system, where tram-trains started at places like Bournemouth, Eastleigh, Fareham, Fawley, Lymington, Portsmouth and Romsey as trains and then went walkabout as trams in the City Centre.

At the East, the tram trains would change mode in the vicinity of the old Southampton Terminus station and proceed to St. Mary’s and St. Denys stations as third-rail electrified trains

This Google Map shows the old Southampton Terminus station, which is now a casino.

The rail line goes North to St. Mary’s Stadium, Northam Depot and St. Denys station. To the South it goes as far as the Waterfront, where it finishes just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.

In the West they would need to join the South Western Main Line in the area of Southampton Central station.

The Google Map shows the area.

I’m sure that a more than adequate connection could be arranged after what I have seen in places like Karlsruhe.

There would of course be only one way for the the tram-trains to cross between Southampton Terminal and Southampton Central stations and that would be on battery power. I’m certain if Birmingham  do it across a City with much more of a gradient, as they intend, then Southampton could do it across the Waterfront.

Serving The Cruise Ships

The plan from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership detailed in the Romsey Advertiser mentions running the trams or light rail service to the Royal Pier, where they would reverse.

This Google Map shows the Ocean Terminal, with a handy cruise ship alongside.

Note how the rail line that runs down behind St. Mary’s stadium continues to the dockside, just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.

If tram-trains were working the routes around Southampton, they could all terminate by the Ocean Terminal and thus give cruise passengers access to tourist attractions like Bournemouth, The New Forest and Portsmouth, in addition to the whole of Southampton City Centre.

I’m sure those clever engineers from Stadler can come up with a third-rail version of a Class 399 tram-train, that had enough battery power to traverse across Southampton. Especially, if a charge station like a Railbaar was installed at the Ocean Terminal to charge waiting tram-trains.


The possibilities at Southampton to improve public transport in the City are endless.









April 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Borders Railway Extension Prospects Studied

This is the title of a news item on the BBC web site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A new study is to look at the possibility of extending the Borders Railway beyond Tweedbank to Carlisle.

Transport Scotland has announced it intends to award the contract to look at wider transport issues across the south of the country to Jacobs UK Ltd.

I have this belief, that it would be in everybody’s interest to see Carlisle developed as an interchange between all the lines meeting in the city.

In September 2015, I wrote If Manchester Victoria And Birmingham New Street Were The First Two Courses, Is Carlisle The Third?, which details how Network Rail are spending £14.7million to improve Carlisle station.

Rail Services From Carlisle

Carlisle has its fair share of touristic rail lines in addition to the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow and the South.

The Settle and Carlisle has recently been rebuilt and Northern are providing better services on all the English routes, they service.

What is missing is a connection to Edinburgh via the Borders Railway!

What would it do for Carlisle’s position as a tourist destination to have a connection to the Borders and the Scottish Capital?


In any discussion of rail services North of London, HS2 always makes an appearance. I reckon that the journey time from London to Carlisle will drop by at least thirty minutes, so will be under three hours.


I come to the conclusion, that extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle is not solely a Scottish project, but an English one as well!




April 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Along The Avocet Line

I took these pictures on a trip from Exeter to Exmouth and back on the Avocet Line.

These are my thoughts under various topics.


Exmouth reminded me of the seaside town, where I spent a fair bit of my childhood; Felixstowe.

  • They are both coastal towns.
  • Exmouth has the larger population of 34,400 to Felixstowe’s 23,000.
  • Both have adequate shopping centres, although Exmouth has a large Marks and Spencer Simply Food by the station.

I didn’t get to the beach.

The Starcross And Exmouth Ferry

There is a ferry between Starcross station and Exmouth, which seems to be well used.

Exmouth Station And The Train Service

Exmouth station was rebuilt in 1986 and it is a one-platform station with facilities and a large Marks and Spencer Simply Food.

The only problem is the trains themselves, as their frequency, which is generally two trains per hour, is acceptable.

But two Class 143 trains coupled together is inadequate, for a summer’s day when passengers have buggies, bicycles and lots of young children.

Monkerton Station

Monkerton station is a proposed new station on the Avocet Line, that would be built between Polsloe Bridge and Digby & Sowton.

The Seaside Special

Exmouth station and the Avocet Line powerfully makes the case for a Seaside Special train.

  • Four cars.
  • Independently-powered by diesel or perhaps batteries in the future.
  • A range of perhaps thirty miles.
  • Lots of space for buggies, bicycles and large suitcases.
  • Step-across access between platform and train.

I’m sure Greater Anglia and Great Western Railway, with help from other train operating companies could come up with workable specification.

Get the specification right and it might be the short distance commuter train, where a proportion of passengers want to bring bicycles.

With the current developments in train refurbishment, the new Class 319 Flex and Class 230 trains might be the place to start.




April 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment