The Anonymous Widower

Bridlington Station – 13th March 2019

I took these pictures as I passed through Bridlington station.

There is an interesting comparison to be made with Felixstowe station, that I know well.

  • Felixstowe only has one operational platform to Bridlington’s three.
  • Bridlington has twice the service and twice the passengers than Felixstowe.
  • Both are a walk of ten minutes or so from the actual town centre.
  • Both are Grade II Listed
  • The towns are of a similar population.

In Bridlington – March 13th 2019, I discussed how Felixstowe could be getting a four trains per hour tram-train service from Ipswich and how a similar service could benefit lots of towns, including Bridlington.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Could Hull Become A Tram-Train Terminal?

Hull Paragon station is a station on the edge of the City Centre.

On Wednesday, I arrived at the station on a train from Bridlington and was very hungry. I also needed a drink, so that I could take my medication.

Like most of the East Cost of England from Newcastle to Felixstowe, there is a shortage of gluten-free food in the stations.

So Hull joins a big club including Clacton, Felixstowe, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Middlesbrough.

Asking in the station, I found there was a Marks and Spencer in the City Centre, that was about a twenty minute walk.

So I walked it and luckily got the last gluten-free egg sandwich in East Yorkshire.

This map shows the City Centre of Hull and its relationship to the station.

The station is in the top-left hand corner and most of the shops, galleries and other buildings are in the middle.

You will also notice, that there is no small amount of space and quite a bit of water.

These pictures show the City Centre.

From what I have seen in other cities on the Continent, I think that a tram loop could be created in the city.

Tram-trains would be used, as they would need to run on both a tram network and National Rail tracks.

  • Tram-trains would arrive at an inbound platform in Hull station from the West and North.
  • They would stop in the station, so that passengers could change to and from buses and long distance trains.
  • They would then go through the station and take to a loop around the City Centre.
  • After stopping at perhaps half-a-dozen places, the tram-trains would reenter the station and stop in the outbound platform, before leaving the station.

I don’t know Hull or the travel habits of Hullensians, that well but these are a few thoughts.

The Tram-Trains

These would probably be similar to the Cardiff variant of the Class 399 tram-trains used in Sheffield’s tram-train extension to Rotherham.

The Cardiff tram-trains will be fitted with batteries to allow for a certain amount of catenary-free  street running.

I’m sure battery power would cope with the steepest hills in Hull City Centre.

The City Centre Loop

Loops like this are not very common in the UK, but there are two successful examples.

  • The Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool
  • The Heathrow Loop on the Piccadilly Line.

There were also numerous loops for merry-go-round trains, that used to deliver coal; to power stations.

This Google Map shows the enormous Drax power station, which has a capacity of nearly 4 GW.

Note.

  1. The loop on the West side, which trains use to deliver the biomass, that is now the main fuel for the station.
  2. Below the loop , there are extensive greenhouses, which use waste heat and carbon dioxide from the power station to grow salads.
  3. There is also a plant that makes building blocks from the waste ash on the site.

Power station do a lot more than just generate electricity.

Loops have several advantages.

  • The track needs is very simple and often single-track.
  • Signalling only needs to work in one direction.
  • They can handle a large number of trains.

Loops are particularly suited to trams, as they can have tight turning circles.

Main Line Electrification

Hull needs an economic boost and I believe that i the next ten years, the route between Hull and the East Coast Main Line will at least be partially-electrified.

Consider.

  • The distance between Hull and Selby by rail is thirty-one miles.
  • It is double-track.
  • It runs across fairly flat country.
  • The main problem would be the historic Selby swing bridge.
  • From my hrlicopter, it doesn’t look to be the most difficult line to electrify.

Partial-electrification with dead sections on the swing bridge and under any low bridges would be a solution. But it would need trains to be bi-mode or have battery power to jump the gaps.

Hull Trains and First TransPennine wouldn’t object.

Where Will The Tram Trains Go From Hull?

The largest tram-train network in the world is the the Karlruhe Stadtbahn.

The longest route is S4, which goes all the way to Öhringen, which is a distance of over fifty miles from Karlsruhe.

The lines are electrified, but technology moves on and ranges of fifty miles on batteries are being predicted by those who are designing trains, trams and tram-trains.

Distances and times from Hull include.

  • Beverley – 9 miles – 13 minutes
  • Bridlington – 32 miles – 50 minutes
  • Brough – 11 miles – 11 minutes
  • Doncaster – 42 miles – 68 minutes
  • Goole – 25 miles – 35 minutes
  • Scarborough – 53 miles – 87 minutes
  • Selby – 31 miles – 35 minutes
  • Sheffield – 60 miles – 113 minutes
  • York – 40 miles – 71 minutes

Note how slow the services are. Are they timed for Pacers?

I could see a two route strategy being developed.

This Google Map shows the KCOM Stadium which is about a mile out of Hull station.

The rail lines are as follows.

  • The line going North West goes to Beverley, Bridlington and Scarborough.
  • The line going South West goes to Brough, Goole, Selby and Doncaster.
  • The line going East goes to Hull station.

It should also be noted that in the South East corner of the map, part of Hull Hospital can be seen.

My initial plan would start by electrification of the line between Hull and Selby.

This would enable.the following.

  • Hull Trains to run their Class 802 trains between London and Hull on electric power. Desel power would still be needed between Hull and Beverley for one train per day in each direction.
  • First TransPennine to run their Class 802 trains between Liverpool and Hull on electric power. Diesel power would still be needed between Manchester and Selby.
  • Class 399 tram/trains could operate on the electrification between Hull and Selby.
  • Class 399 tram/trains could replenish their batteries using the electrification.

Fully-charged battery tram-trains would then have free-reign to explore, on any suitable track.

  • They could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to set down and pick up passengers.
  • They could run a second service to Beverley or Driffield on battery power.
  • They could run a third service to Goole on battery power from Gilberdyck.

Extra stops could be added at important locations, like the Hull Hospital and the KC Stadium.

Could there be a network with three routes.

  • Hull and Brough via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium, Hessle and Ferriby
  • Hull and Beverley via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium and Cottingham
  • Hull and Goole via Hull Hospital, KCom Stadium, Hessle, Ferriby, Brough, Broomfleet, Gilberdyke and Saltmashe

Some things ease getting a good route structure.

  • Known traffic patterns might show where to add extra stops.
  • There are two disused platforms at Brough station.
  • Brodlington has a convenient bay platform.

Others don’t.

  • There are no closed stations between Hull and Berverley, Brough and Goole.
  • Beverley and Goole stations don’t look to be good terminals.

I’m sure a good route structure can be created.

Service Frequency

Ideally all branches should have four trains per hour (tph) for a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

A reasonable two tram-trains per hour to Beverley, Brough and Goole, would produce the following services.

  • A six tph frequency through the City Centre.
  • Hull station, Hull Hospital and the KCom Stadium would have six tph service in both directions.
  • Because two routes go via Brough, all stations to Brough, would have a four tph service both directions.
  • All stations to Beverley or Bridlington would have a two tph service in both directions.

All services would be augmented by limited stop services from Hull to Doncaster, Leeds, London, Scarborough, Sheffield and York.

Construction Needed

The following works would need to be done.

  • Electrify Hull to Selby with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Build the tram-train loop in Hull City Centre.
  • Adjust platforms, so that they can provide at least good access between all tram-trains, trains and platforms.

Hopefully, this will be enough to allow the tram-trains to start operating.

How Many Tram-Trains Would Be Needed?

My rough calculations  show that a full service could be provided by between eight and ten tram-trains. The variation is because, the performance of the tram-trains will affect the numbers required.

Conclusion

I have only roughly sketched how a tram-train network based on a loop round Hull City Centre could be developed.

In my view for it to be viable, the first thing, that needs to be done is to electrify between Hull and Selby.

 

 

 

 

 

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Comparing Trams And Tram-Trains In Manchester And Sheffield

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I discussed how Class 399 tram-trains might be used on a route in the Manchester area.

This was my conclusion.

Could we see tram-trains running from Bury Bolton Street, Hebden Bridge, Rawtenstall and Rochdale into Manchester Victoria and then taking to the existing tram network?

If you’ve ever been to Karlsruhe, as I have to see the Class 399 tram-trains German cousins, you wouldn’t rule out anything.

That would include tram-train services to Blackburn, Buxton, Chester, Glossop, Hebden Bridge, Sheffield, Southport and Wigan.

So how do Manchester’s M4500 trams, Sheffield’s Supertrams compare to the Class 399 tram-train?

Body Construction

  • M4500 – Aluminium
  • Supertram – Steel
  • Class 399 – Lightweight Stainless Steel

Does the Class 399 use lightweight stainless steel to give enhanced crash protection and better corrosion resistance?

Sections, Doors and Length

  • M4500 – 2, 4 and 38.4 metres
  • Supertram – 3, 4 and 34.8 metres
  • Class 399 – 3, 4 and 37.2 metres

Capacity

  • M4500 – 60 or 66 seats, 149 standing, 209/215 maximum
  • Supertram – 86 seats, 155 standing, 241 maximum
  • Class 399 – 88 seats and 150 standing, 238 maximum

The M4500 is a bit less because it is a shorter vehicle with less standing space.

Entrance Height

  • M4500 – 0.98 metres
  • Supertram – 0.42 metres
  • Class 399 – .425 metres

The Supertram and the Class 399 have obviously been built to be able to use the same tram platforms in Sheffield.

Wikipedia says this about standard UK platform height.

The standard height for platforms is 915 mm with a margin of +0,-25 mm

But it would appear that the M4500 is not far from the UK standard height, but the Class 399 is 0.465 metres too low.

Consider.

  • The entrance height of a Greater Anglia Class 755 train, which is a bi-mode FLIRT is 0.96 metres.
  • On the South Wales Metro, variants of Class 399 tram/trains and Class 755 trains will share platforms.

So Stadler must have a nifty solution to overcome the platform height difference for these two trains, which is similar to that in Manchester between a Class 399 tram-train and an M4500.

If it’s on the tram-train, then Stadler have a solution, that will allow Class 399 tram-trains to run on the Manchester Metrolink.

The datasheet for the Class 399 tram-train says this about the suspension of the tram-train.

Smooth and silent operation with secondary air suspension and resilient wheels.

Secondary air suspension is not new on trains, as it certainly featured on British Rail Mark 3 coaches from the 1970s, which have a legendary smooth ride. It can still be seen between the bogie and the coach on many Bombardier trains, which trace their ancestry to British Rail designs.

The picture shows the bogie on a Class 378 train.

Note the air-suspension above the frame of the bogie.

Some cars use secondary air suspension with computers to control the amount of air in each rubber bag to improve the ride and road-holding.

Transport for London measure the pressure in the suspension and use this to calculate train loading. I described this application in Is This The Hippest Train Status Displays?

Could the air bags be pumped up to raise the train and and reduced in pressure to drop it a few centimetres?

There are certainly suspension engineers, in the automotive and motor-sport industries, who have relevant experience and could suggest a solution.

All this speculation is a bit like Lew Grasde’s quote on the film Raise the Titanic on which he lost a lot of money.

Raise The Titanic?  It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic!

Here it’s a bit of the reverse as if the tram-trains can be adjusted to the platform height, then hundreds of platforms don’t need to be rebuilt.

Suppose the platforms were built to fit an existing tram or train.

  • On the Manchester Metrolink the platforms would fit the M4500 trams.
  • On the Sheffield Supertram, the platforms would fit the Supertrams.
  • On the South Wales Metro, the platforms would fit the Welsh variant of the Class 755 train.

The Class 399 tram-trains running in Sheffield have their suspension adjusted on mnufacture and in the depot, so that there is level access between tram-train and platform.

Could the same tram-trains be adjusted so that they fit the Manchester Metrolink platforms, which are higher?

If they can, then Manchester has got a source of off-the-shelf tram-trains.

The picture shows a Class 399 tram-train at Rotherham Parkgate. Note the level access at the orange door in the foreground.

Manchester would need a different colour as Chelsea Blue wouldn’t be appropriate.

The intriguing idea, is can the same Class 399 tram-trains run in both Manchester and Sheffield, with the tram-train’s computer adjusting the ride height to suit the different height of platforms?

At present the answer is probably no, as if they could then there wouldn’t be dual-height platforms at Rotherham Central station.

Note the slopes down on both sides of the tracks from the high-level train platforms in the background, to the low-level tram platforms in the foreground.

It all depends on whether the suspension design is possible.

If it is, which I doubt, it would get round the bit problem of platforms on tram-train systems.

Weight

  • M4500 – 30.7 tonnes
  • Supertram – 46.5 tonnes
  • Class 399 – .66.1 tonnes

The Class 399 tram-train is a heavy beast so raising it by much might be difficult, as you changed from Sheffield to Manchester heights.

Operating Speed

  • M4500 – 80 kph
  • Supertram – 80 kph
  • Class 399 – .100 kph

Conclusion

I am convinced that just as Sheffield’s Supertram can work happily with Class 399 tram-trains, Stadler have ways and means of making Manchester Metrolink’s M4500 trams work with the tram-trains.

If the Class 399 tram-train is compatible with both tram networks, this will be a great advantage in designing new tram-train routes.

It would also mean that one day, a tram-train service could run from Cathedral in Sheffield to Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester via the Hope Valley Line.

I suspect that a lot of local services from the two cities will be run by tram-train services, that cross the cities.

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Rule Out Rail Link Says Glasgow Airport Boss

The title of this post, as the same as that of this article on the Evening Times.

Surely, the Airport must know best what passengers want!

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Tram-Trains At Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I speculated on how tram-trains from Rochdale, Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations might join the Manchester Metro Link at Manchester Victoria station.

I showed this Google Map of the lines at Manchester Victoria.

On my weekend trip to the North, I took these pictures yesterday from the Metrolink platforms at Manchester Victoria.

I can’t believe that it would be the most difficult track design project to allow tram-trains to swap between the rail and tram networks at this point.

The bigger problem, is probably to decide, where the tram-trains would go on the other side of Manchester.

On the other hand, they could use electrified rail lines to Bolton or Wigan North Western.

  • The performance and capacity of a Class 399 tram-train is very comparable to a Pacer.
  • Wigan North Western station has three South-facing bay platforms.

Manchester’s Metrolink designers are going to have a lot of fun.

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

I should declare an interest here of my teenage self, who spent some very boring summers in, what was then, the small coastal resort and dormitory town of Felixstowe.

There was only so many places you could cycle and as my school friends were all in London, I used to avoid going to Felixstowe if possible.

I can remember going from London to Felixstowe several times on the train.

I would cycle from our London house in Cockfosters to Liverpool Street station and put my bike in the guard’s van for the trip to Ipswich.

From Ipswich, I would ride the dozen or so miles along the A45 (now the A14) to Felixstowe.

I suspect, that I could have used, the two-car diesel shuttle from Ipswich to Felixstowe, but I never did.

Perhaps, it was because it was not the most frequent of services.

The frequency was certainly a lot less than the current hourly service.

A Tram-Train To Felixstowe

This report on the East West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

So how feasible is this proposal?

The Proposed Frequency

People travel between Ipswich and Felixstowe for several reasons.

  • It is an important dormitory town for Ipswich and increasingly for London,
  • The Port of Felixstowe is an important employer.
  • There is a large amount of leisure traffic between the two towns.

Currently, much of the travelling between Ipswich and Felixstowe is by car on an increasingly crowded A14.

Four tph seems an eminently sensible frequency.

Why Propose A Tram-Train?

If a train, like a Class 170 train or one of the new Class 755 trains were used for the route,  it would mean the following.

  • Four tph in the single platform at Felixstowe.
  • Four tph in a dedicated platform at Ipwich.
  • Four trains would be needed for the service.
  • An extra six tph using the route between Westerfield and Ipswich stations.

The stations should be able to cope, but I doubt that the extra trains could be fitted into a busy route with the following services.

  • Ipswich and Norwich
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft

If you add in the up to forty freight trains per day, that will use the route, something will have to give.

The Route Od The Tram-Train

It would appear that the plan is to replace the train, with a tram-train running on the streets of Ipswich.

This could be a possible route for street running.

  • Ipswich Station
  • Portman Road
  • Ipswich Town Centre
  • Ipswich Hospital

It would then join the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line in the area of Derby Road station or the retail parks on the East of Ipswich.

This Google Map shows Derby Road station and Ipswich Hospital.

Note.

  1. Ipswich Hospital is in the top-right of the map.
  2. Derby Road station is at the left side of the map in the middle.
  3. The Ipswich-Felkixstowe Line can be seen going South-Easterly across the map to the well-known St. Augustine’s roundabout.

A tram-train would have the following benefits.

  • It would link the town centres of Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • It would create a step-free link across Ipswich Town Centre to the all-important hospital.
  • Extra stations can be added where they are needed in Ipswich without decreasing capacity on the rail line.
  • It would surely encourage more people to use the trains from Ipswich station.

I suspect too, that Class 399 tram-trains could be used as they are in Sheffield and will be on the South Wales Metro.

Between Ipswich And Derby Road Stations

This extract is from the Wikipedia entry for the Felixstowe Branch Line.

The train now enters a section of double track through Derby Road station (6.10 miles (9.82 km) from Ipswich station by train, but only 1.5 miles on the map) where trains can pass.

It is very significant, that going through the houses between the two stations is a route that is shorter by eight-and-a-half miles.

Could it be that the time that would be saved by the shorter route is balanced by the slower progress of on-street running, which means that the current twenty-six minute journey time can be maintained?

Doubling Between Derby Road And Felixstowe

I’ll repeat what is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe.

Doubling of about a mile of the Felixstowe Branch to the West of Trimley is ongoing and doubling further to the West looks to be fairly easy from my helicopter.

But there is one major problem.

This Google Map shows, where the rail line goes over the Ipswich by-pass.

Note that provision has been made for a second track.

So hopefully, it won’t be much more expensive to add a second bridge and track, than to add points either side of the existing bridge.

There would be some extra bridge works between the A14 and Derby Road station, but doubling all the way from Derby Road station to Felixstowe doesn’t look to be the world’s most difficult railway engineering.

Extra Tram-Train Stops Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

There used to be an extra stop at Orwell station. It was little-used and closed in 1959.

Looking at the station, it is now a large private residence and I suspect there is no point in reopening, as there isn’t much housing in the area.

But there could be a case for a station at Futura Park, which is shown in this Google Map.

Lots of the usual out-of-town stops are there including a Waitrose and a John Lewis.

The railway runs to the South of the A1156 Felixstowe Road and there is surely the possibility of a station in this area.

There is also the possibility, that the tram-train could join and leave the Felixstowe Branch Line at this point, after and before street running to Ipswich station.

Would The Tram-Trains Go Walkabout In Felixstowe?

Felixstowe used to have two other stations; Felixstowe Pier and Felixstowe Beach. Both are now closed.

  • I can remember Felxstowe Beach station, as occasionally in the 1950s, we stayed nearby at the Cavendish Hotel.
  • Felixstowe Pier station was towards Landguard Fort and even served steam vessels going to Germany.

Both stations were served by trains reversing at the main station, which is impossible now as the chord has been removed.

This Google Map shows the current rail lines in Felixstowe.

The line to/from Ipswich splits into two in the top-left corner of the map.

  • The branch going East goes to Felixstowe station.
  • The branch going South used to serve the two other Felixstowe stations and now serves the Port of Felixstowe.

The missing chord is visible to the West of the playing fields of Felixstowe International College.

I would rate reinstatement of the chord as highly unlikely.

  • The only reason, the chord would be reinstated, would be if the Port of Felixstowe wanted to have a four tph passenger service.
  • The Port wouldn’t want to have all those extra movements on what is a busy and exclusive freight line.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t rule out extension into Felixstowe Town Centre.

This Google Map shows the Town Centre.

Note.

  1. The one-platform station is at the top of the map, behind a small Co-op supermarket and the Listed station buildings, which are now a small shopping centre.
  2. The High Street, which is part -pedestrianised leads down from the station to the top of the cliffs, where Bent Hill leads down to the sea-front.
  3. Halfway along is a triangular garden, where a local road splits off toward the Southern part of the sea-front and the Port.
  4. The pattern of retail shopping is changing and Marks and Spencer in the town will be closing soon.

My plan would be as follows.

  • Rebuild the Co-op supermarket to allow a single-track tram line to squeeze through to the High Street.
  • Trams would then continue down the High Street to the triangular garden.
  • A second platform face could be added at Felixstowe station to allow trams to pass and give flexibility.

Done properly, it could improve Felixstowe’s appeal as a leisure destination.

I also think, that as the extension is only short, the current Ipswich to Felixstowe timing could be maintained.

Future Services At Ipswich Station

Listing all the services proposed at Ipswich station gives the following.

  • 3 tph – London Liverpool Street and Norwich – Greater Anglia
  • 1 tph – Colchester and Peterborough – Greater Anglia – Replaces current Ipswich and Peterborough service.
  • 1 tph – Manningtree and Oxford via Cambridge – East West Rail – Replaces current Ipswich and Cambridge service
  • 1 tph – Ipswich and Lowestoft – Greater Anglia – Some services extend to London
  • 4 tph – ipswich and Felixstowe – Greater Anglia – Proposed tram-train service.

If the Felixstowe tram-train service were to terminate outside the station, as trams tend to do, there would only be a need for one bay platform at Ipswich, that would handle hourly Lowestoft services, that didn’t go to/from London.

Ipswich station would become more of a through station with the following through trains.

  • Five tph going between Manningtree and Stowmarket
  • Two tph between Manningtree and the proposed A14 Parkway station via Bury St. Edmunds.

This would all save the expense of rebuilding large parts of Ipswich station.

Although, there would be a certain amount of remodelling of the station forecourt to accommodate the tram-trains.

Conclusion

It is a classic application of tram-train technology and I’m sure that a good route can be devised between the two towns.

 

 

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

East West Rail Makes ‘Powerful Case’ For Direct Services From Ipswich And Norwich To Oxford

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A direct rail link between Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford could unlock £17.5bn for the East Anglia community, according to a case for investment from the East West Rail Consortium (EWRC).

A new report publishing by the consortium outlines the benefits of new East West rail services, including the creation of 120,000 jobs and connecting high-value economies with fast rail links.

This file on the East West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals.

Proposed Train Services

The East West Rail Consortium (EWRC) is proposing three phases of train services.

Initial Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Ipswich, with a good connection at Cambridge to/from Norwich.

The current Ipswich to Cambridge service will be extended from Cambridge to Oxford and Reading.

Intermediate stations between Cambridge and Reading would include.

  • Cambridge South for Addenbrookes Hospital
  • Sandy
  • Bedford
  • Milton Keynes
  • Bletchley
  • Bicester
  • Oxford
  • Didcot Parkway

Selective journey times would include.

  • Ipswich to Bedford – 1 hour 26 minutes
  • Ipswich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Ipswich to Oxford – 2 hours 19 minutes
  • Ipswich to Reading- 2 hours 43 minutes

At Cambridge, there would be a same- or cross-platform interchange with Greater Anglia’s forthcoming service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, which will replace the current service between Norwich and Cambridge before the end of 2020, when new Class 755 trains will have entered service.

Selective journey times would include.

  • Norwich to Bedford – 1 hour 22 minutes
  • Norwich to Milton Keynes – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • Norwich to Oxford – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Norwich to Reading- 2 hours 40 minutes

There would be a change of train at Cambridge station.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

Improved journey times could be provided by undertaking incremental linespeed enhancements between Cambridge and Ipswich/Norwich.

It doesn’t look like there will be too much disruption to train services, whilst the improvements are undertaken.

Interim Service Pattern

An hourly direct EWRC service to/from Norwich will be added to the Ipswich-Cambridge-Oxford-Reading service.

This will obviously mean that there will be two trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Oxford/Reading.,

But it will also mean.

  • Two tph between Norwich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bedford/Milton Keynes/Oxford/Reading.

One of the Ipswich/Norwich trains will be direct and one will require a change at Cambridge.

I would expect that good connections would be arranged at Norwich, so that Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft,and Sheringham had good coinnections to EWR.

Currently, East Anglia has two services to the Midlands/North

  • Liverpool and Norwich- 1 tph
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport – 1 tph

These will be changed to the following.

  • Liverpool and Norwich
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport
  • Liverpool and Stansted Airport
  • Birmingham and Norwich

All services would have a frequency of one train every two hours.

There would also be a cross-platform interchange at Peterborough between the two services, thus giving an hourly services on all four routes.

As Greater Anglia are planning to run an hourly Colchester to Peterborough service via Manningtree, Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, effectively this gives all these places an hourly service to Liverpool and Birmingham with a change at Peterborough.

The report recommends these infrastructure improvements.

  1. Additional platform capacity at Cambridge.
  2. Double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge.
  3. Signalling upgrades between Norwich and Brundall
  4. Signalling upgrades between between Ely and and Ely North Junction to reduce headways.
  5. Additional platform capacity at Norwich.
  6. Improved journey times and improved connections to/from Sheringham.

As with the initial service pattern, the infrastructure works with the exception of the double-tracking of Trowse Swing Bridge don’t seem to be major undertakings.

Long-Term Service Pattern

The long-term service pattern would be as follows.

  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Ipswich would be extended to Manningtree.
  • The hourly Reading/Oxford service to Norwich would be extended to Great Yarmouth.

There must be a good reason for not extending the Ipswich service to Colchester, as the Peterborough and Ipswich service will be extended to this terminal in 2020.

The report says this about infrastructure improvements.

A package of infrastructure enhancements across the region, building on those delivered for the interim phase.

It looks like nothing major will be undertaken.

Smaller Projects

The report details a series of smaller projects, that will be undertaken East of Cambridge. Many of these would be done even if East West Rail were not.

Chippenham Station

The report recommends building a new station at Chippenham Junction, which is to the East of Newmarket, close to the junction of the A11 and the A14 . The station is referred to in the report as A14 Parkway station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The A14 going across the top of the map.
  2. The junction between the A14 and the A11 in the top-right corner.
  3. The triangular Chippenham Junction, pointing North to Ely, South to Newmarket and East to Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich.

Having lived in that area for nearly thirty years, I believe that this is a much-needed station.

  • Stations in the area, with the exception of Cambridge North are short of car parking.
  • There would be two tph to/from Bury St. Edunds and Ipswich.
  • There would be one tph to Cambridge, Cambridge North, Cambridge South , Ely and Peterborough.

I suspect that there could be shuttle trains to provide extra services to Cambridge and Ely.

A shuttle train could run between A14 Parkway, Cambridge South, Ely and back to A14 Parkway, calling at all intermediate stations.

Double-Tracking

The report says that some single-track sections may need to be converted to double-track.

The major section of double-tracking would be between Coldhams Lane and Chippenham Junctions on the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line.

A new chord would be built at Colhams Lane Junction, so that trains could run between Ely and Bury St. Edmunds via Newmarket.

This Google Map shows the area.

 

Note.

  1. The Cambridge to Norwich line running North South at the left of the map.
  2. The curve of the Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line at the bottom of the map.
  3. The extensive open space of Coldhams Common.

I have a feeling that building the chord will be a difficult planning process.

Electrification

The report says that there could be some additional electrification.

Ely North Junction

The report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

Ely North Station

The report recommends building a new Ely North station, which would be about one-and-a-half miles from Ely station.

Existing Stations

The report says this about existing stations.

Expansion of Cambridge, Norwich, Reedham, Kings Lynn and Manningtree
stations with remodelling of the station throat layouts.

I don’t think any modifications will be that difficult.

Felixstowe Tram-Train

This was said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

I was rather surprised. But why not?

The tram-train could even go down to the sea-front.

I explore this more in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

Haughley Junction

Thr report recommends that this junction is grade separated.

This is one the most important projects to improve rail services in East Anglia.

Linespeed Increases To 100 mph

Greater Anglia’s fleet of Class 745, Class 755 and Class 720 trains are all 100 mph trains and the Great Eastern Main Line is a 100 mph route, all the way from London to Norwich.

It would seem that to improve services, that where possible linespeeds are increased to 100 mph.

  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich, currently has a linespeed of around 75-90 mph and is double-track and  fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Ipswich-Ely Line between Ely and Ipswich, has a linespeed of up to 75 mph, and is mainly double-track and fairly straight across flat countryside.
  • The Cambridge Branch of the Ipswich-Ely Line is mainly single track and would probably be more difficult to upgrade.

Knowing the lines and East Anglia well, I suspect that these lines could be substantially given a linespeed of 100 mph.

Stansted Airport Station – Additional Platform

Stansted Airport station needs more capacity and may require the doubling of the tunnel under the runway.

Warren Hill Tunnel

The report recommends that Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket is doubled and that from Coldham Lane Junction to Chippenham Junction is also doubled.

This Google Map shows  the Western portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road  across the top is Old Station Road.
  2. The dark shadow at right angles to the road is the cutting leading to the tunnel.
  3. There seems to be plenty of space to widen the cutting.

And this Google Map shows  the Eastern portal of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The road is the Bury Road.
  2. The cutting leading to the tunnel portal is in the top left of the picture.
  3. The actual portal appears to be under the Bury Road.

This page on the Newmarket Local History web site, gives details about railways in Newmarket. The site says that the tunnel is exactly a kilometre in length and built on a curve.

I can see that doing these tunnel works will not be without opposition from the Racing Industry at Newmarket.

I shall talk about this more later.

The Freight Locomotive Of The Future

Before discussing freight, I will describe the freight locomotive of the future.

Rail Operations Group have just ordered ten Class 93 locomotives from Stadler.

  • These are a tri-mode locomotive able to use electric, diesel or battery power.
  • They will probably be able to haul the heaviest freight train at 100 mph, using electric power.
  • They will be slower under diesel power, but they can use battery power for extra grunt.
  • They will also find applications in hauling 100 mph passenger trains on partially electrified lines.

Other manufacturers will follow Stadler in developing similar hybrid locomotives, which will haul larger freight trains faster and with less pollution, than the current generation of locomotives.

Freight

Part of the EWRC’s  freight plan  is to make it easier to get the massive number of freight trains between Felixstowe and the Midlands and the North.

This is an extract from the report.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included in the infrastructure requirements.

It is assumed that most freight would operate via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I indicated , these points earlier.

  • ,Building a chord across Coldhams Common will not go down well with the residents of Cambridge.
  • The plans for a double-track railway through Newmarket will not go down well with the Racing Industry.

I would also suspect that the logistics of building a second tunnel at Warren Hill, could be a nightmare, given the twenty-four hour nature of horse-racing.

So why have EWRC decided to route most freight trains through Newmarket?

Currently, freight trains going to/from Felixstowe use one of four routes.

  • They go via London and cross the city on the crowded North London or Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a cross-country route to Nuneaton, which is slow and has a notorious level crossing in the centre of Oakham.
  • They go to Peterborough and take a diversion route through Lincoln.
  • They go to Peterborough and up the East Coast Main Line, which is increasingly crowded.

None of these are perfect routes for freight trains.

Looking into the future, by the late 2020s, the following will have happened.

  • An increasing number of freight trains will be running to/from Felixstowe.
  • High Speed Two will have opened, which will release paths for freight trains on the electrified West Coast Main Line.
  • Hybrid Electric/diesel/battery freight locomotives  will be commonplace and hauling most long-distance inter-modal freight trains.
  • The East West Rail Link will have opened between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.

It appears to me, that there could be a plan to create extra routes for freight trains to/from Felixstowe, using the East West Rail Link.

  • Services between Felixstowe and West Coast Main Line destinations like Birmingham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, will use the East West Rail Link between the West Coast Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and Midland Main Line destinations like Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, will use the East West Rail Link between the Midland Main Line and Cambridge.
  • Services between Felixstowe and South Western and Western destinations like Bristol, Southampton and Wales, will use the East West Rail Link between the Great Western Main Line and Cambridge.

Services between Felixstowe and East Coast Main Line destinations like Doncaster, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle will still use the traditional route via Ely and Peterborough.

It seems to me, that as many as two freight trains in every hour in both directions will need to take the route between Felixstowe and the East West Rail Link through Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations.

This number of freight trains would make it essential, that there is a double-track railway from Chippenham Junction to Cambridge.

The Coldhams Chord also seems to be an important part of the plans of the EWRC.

This is to allow freight trains between Peterborough and Felixstowe to use the upgraded double-track route through Newmarket.

Once on the electrified Fen Line at Coldhams Junction, freight trains with a hybrid locomotive could use the electrification to Ely.

At Ely, the trains would then be able to take the Peterborough-Ely Line to continue on their way.

These points should be noted.

  • Currently freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough, have to cross the double-track Fen Line at Ely and it could be that operationally it would be easier, if they used the route via Coldhams Lane junction.
  • The level crossing at Ely station is being sorted.
  • The Fen Line between Cambridge and Ely is an electrified double-track and except at Waterbeach station, it would probably be relatively easy to add additional tracks.
  • Cambridge North station appears to have a double-track by-pass line for freight trains.
  • For some years, I’ve believed that the thirty miles of the Peterborough-Ely Line should be improved and electrified, as this would give a valuable electrified diversion route, if the East Coast Main Line were to be closed South of Peterborough.

So if a freight train were to be hauled by a hybrid locomotive, it would surely be able to use electrification between Peterborough and Coldhams Lane Junction.

The distance between Coldhams Lane Junction and Haughley Junction, where the electrification from Ipswich ends is forty miles. The terrain is also very undemanding.

I would be very surprised if in a few years, a powerful hybrid locomotive couldn’t haul the heaviest freight train on this route.

Conclusion

The East West Rail Link will have far reaching consequences for Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex.

  • Most towns and cities with perhaps a population of upwards of 30,000 will have a two trains per hour service to Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading.
  • Some services will be direct, but many will involve a same- or cross-platform change at a station like Cambridge, Ipswich or Norwich.
  • East Anglia will have much better hourly connections to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • There will be much improved capacity for freight trains to/from Felixstowe.

I feel very positive about what has been said.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hundred Mile City

I heard about The Hundred Mile City on the BBC London News

It will never happen!

  • Can you imagine all London Boroughs agreeing to it?
  • Negotiation would be like Brexit squared.
  • Armies of Nimbys and the Council For The Fossilisation Of England would have a field day.
  • Linear cities were proposed for Londonn to Southampton and Ipswich to Felixstowe in the 1960s.

On the other hand, as a child, I had dreams of a circular railway through where I lived in Cockfosters, as getting to Central London was fast, but getting to my friends and relatives in Edgware and Enfield was slow.

Note that the plans involve a circular monorail. Monorails are not very common, except at theme parks. That is an idea from well into the last century.

Today, we would use tram-trains, as they are so much more functional and easily extended.

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Could There Be A Tram-Train Connection At Reeve’s Corner?

A few day’s ago I took the tram from Croydon to IKEA. Coming back, I got off the tram at the Reeve’s Corner stop and took these pictures.

Note how close the trams are to the rail lines just to the West of West Croydon station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The road bridge appears in several of the pictures.
  2. The rail lines appear to have plenty of space to accomodate an updated layout.
  3. The Reeve’s Corner tram stop is only used by trams going to Croydon.
  4. The trams share a single-track section between Reeve’s Corner and Wandle Park tram stop.

The single-track layout must be a restriction on the number of trams that can run between Croydon and Wimbledon.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the layout of the tracks in the area.

This map shows why there is plenty of space, as there are the dotted-lines of the West Croydon to Wimbledon Line, which was closed in 1997 to be converted into the London Tramlink.

This Google Map shows the route between Wandle Park and Revve’s Corner and how it crosses the rail lines.

Note that Reeve’s Corner is just beyond the North-East corner of this map.

Third-Rail Tram-Trains And The London Tramlink

The London Tramlink was designed twenty years ago, well before we had modern tram-trains, like those that are running all over Karlsruhe and have just started services between Sheffield and Rotherham.

I believe that third-rail tram-trains, as I proposed in The Third-Rail Tram-Train, are a viable concept, if they only use third-rail electrification, when running as a train.

Why Create A Tram-Train Connection At Reeve’s Corner?

The obvious reason, is that it would allow tram-trains to run between Wimbledon and West Croydon stations.

To the East of West Croydon, they could go to places like the proposed Steatham Interchange or the existing Crystal Palace, Beckenham Junction or Bromley stations.

Conclusion

Creating a tram-train connection at Reeve’s Corner is one of a number of places, where the trams and South London’s third-rail network can be connected.

I believe that developing these connections could enable several useful routes.

  • Extra train and tram services to Beckenham Junction station.
  • Tram-trains to Bromley South station.
  • Extending the Bromley North Branch using tram-trains to Bromley South station, by street running through Bromley Town Centre.

Tram-trains could even serve Gatwick Airport and provide services around the wider Airport site.

 

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Tailpiece On The Sheffield To Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train

I took this picture at the Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

Note.

  1. The level step-free access between the Class 399 tram-train and the platform.
  2. The platform laid-out to help passengers and meet all regulations.
  3. The 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  4. The track continuing into a siding, which could be turned into a loop to extend the service to Doncaster.
  5. The well-placed safety fences.

It certainly appears that Network Rail have produced a professional design that works well and makes things easy for passengers.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment