The Anonymous Widower

Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?

In Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines, I laid out a list of rail lines that could be reopened by a future Conservative government.

Today, I’m going to Cirencester to have lunch with an old friend.

But, Cirencester does not have a rail connection, although there used to be a Cirencester branch line from Kemble station.

The Wikipedia entry says this under Future.

As of 2016, discussions have taken place regarding the potential of relaying 5km of track from Kemble station to the edge of Cirencester at Chesterton Halt.

In January 2019, the Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments)

It looks to me, the sort of rail reopening that fits with Boris’s list.

These are a few of my thoughts on the rebuilding.

The Connection At Kemble Station

This Google Map shows the connection at Kemble station.

It appears that connecting a new single-track branch line could be possible.

Crossing The A 429

This Google Map shows, where the A 429 and the Cirecenter Branch cross.

A bridge would be needed, as Network Rail doesn’t do level crossings on major roads.

Crossing Of Spratsgate Lane

This Google Map shows, where the Cirecester Branch crosses Spratsgate Lane as Cirencester is approached.

Would a bridge be needed?

Other Crossings

There are three other minor crossings on the route, between the two major ones I’ve mapped.

Approach To Cirencester

This Google Map shows the approach to Cirencester.

Could a rail track be squeezed in for a station?

Service Frequency

I would feel that, if the Cirencester Branch was reinstated as a single-track line, that a two tph service could be run between Swindon and Cirencester station with a stop at Kemble.

Extra Stations

The Golden Valley Line used to have two extra stations between Swindon and Kemble stations.

Minety & Ashton Keynes

Purton

If housing developments were to be proposed near these two locations or perhaps in other locations in Swindon, it would improve the financial case for a shuttle between Swindon and Cirencester stations.

Could Battery Trains Be Used?

The nearest electrification is fourteen miles away at Swindon station. An out-and-back trip on battery power should be possible.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I don’t see why not! They would also have advantages.

  • Bridges would be lighter and less intrusive.
  • The minor crossings could work under tramway rules.
  • They might be able to reach Cirencester Town Centre
  • The branch could be fitted with lightweight tramway electrification.
  • Extra stations at Minety & Ashton Keynes and Purton could be simpler designs.
  • Battery power could be used on sections of the route.

I very much feel that a tram-train solution would be possible, from my observations in Karlsruhe and Sheffield.

A Visit To Cirencester

I had an excellent lunch with my friend in Cirencester and I have some some observations.

Cirencester

I have seen towns like Cirencester so often and used to live near Bury St. Edmunds which is going in a similar direction.

  • A town that is worth a visit, but is overrun with cars and people driving around looking for somewhere to park.
  • It is a typical country town, that is unfit for the Twenty-First Century.
  • It will strangle itself with traffic.
  • At least through traffic can use a by-pass.
  • Is it the sort of place, where teenagers, that are too young to drive, or don’t have a car, get exceedingly bored?

Residents will move away and the shopping centre will see lower footfall.

The Bay Platform At Swindon Station

This picture shows the Western end of the bay plstform 2 at Swindon station.

Shuttle trains from Cheltenham and Kemble, usually call in this platform, with through trains stopping in either Platforms 1 and 3.

All platforms are fully electrified, with the electrification continuing about a hundred metres up the Golden Valley Line.

Kemble Station

These pictures show Kemble station.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of car-parking for a small station.
  2. How many of the cars parked at the station are commuters Between Cirencester and London?
  3. It is not a step-free station.
  4. The station, water tank and limestone bridge are all Grade two Listed.

It also looks like the Cirencester branch had its own platform.

Traffic On The Golden Valley Line

It appears that except for the occasional freight train, it is not a busy line.

Although one of the reasons for making it a full double track, was so it can be used as a diversion route, when the Severn Tunnel is closed.

Electrification Of The Golden Valley Line

The distance between Swindon and Cheltenham stations is a short distance over forty-three miles, with four intermediate stations, Listed structures and two tunnels.

Electrification has been considered and under Electrification Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

As of 2016 there are no plans to electrify the line.

At present trains from London are Class 802 trains, which are electric trains with onboard diesel engines for routes like this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

Train Frequency Between Paddington And Kemble

Trains on the Paddington and Cheltenham route, run every two hours and I just missed the 09:36, so I had to change at Swindon.

  • Cheltenham and Gloucester probably need at least an hourly service to and from London.
  • The current timetable effectively gives an hourly service, with the second service provided by a change at Swindon.
  • But it was a busy down-and-up interchange, and I wonder how many travellers miss the connection.

An hourly direct service from London would be so much more convenient.

Conclusion

With some clever and sympathetic engineering on the branch to handle the crossings, it could be a feasible reopening.

My Preference Would Be For A Tram-Train With Batteries

It would have the following characteristics.

  • Single-track branch from Kemble.
  • Kemble and Cirencester electrified with 750 VDC overhead.
  • Tram rules on the branch.
  • Trams as close to the centre of Cirencester as possible.
  • Two trams per hour between Swindon and Cirencester.
  • Trams would use batteries between Kemble and Swindon.
  • Batteries would be charged at Swindon station using the existing 25 KVAC overhead electrification and on the branch.
  • Extra stops where needed.

The route might even loop into Cirencester to provide a Park-and-Ride on the by-pass, that would serve the town and Kemble station.

The tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro would be able to run the service.

It would be an unobtrusive rural tram-train.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Boris Johnson is promising to revitalise “left behind” high streets through tax cuts for pubs and shops and reversing some of the Beeching rail cuts to branch lines.

The article gives a map of the lines and here is a list of them.

  • Newcastle and Ashington/Blyth.
  • Bristol and Portishead
  • Camp Hill Line
  • Willenhall and Darlaston
  • Thornton-Cleveleys and Fleetwood
  • Okehampton and Exeter
  • March and Wisbech
  • Uckfield and Lewes
  • A new station he building of a station at Skelmersdale.

I will suggest other possibilities and add them here.

There could be several!

The Technology Is With Us!

Anyone who follows railway technology, as I do, knows that technology coming on stream will ease the creation of these routes.

  • Modern digital in-cab signalling, as already used on Thameslink.
  • Battery-electric trains.
  • Innovative charging for battery-electric trains.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains.
  • Tram-trains
  • Automatic train control
  • Remote services in simple depots.
  • Better bridge-raising and other construction techniques.

Many of these new routes will be able to use a standard train.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blackpool Tramway Is Reaching Towards The Station

On Saturday, I went to Blackpool and rode the Blackpool Tramway to Fleetwood to see Ipswich play.

This Google Map shows the current walking route between Blackpool North station and the North Pier tram stop.

Note.

  1. The station is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. The North Pier tram stop is by the North Pier!
  3. The main tram route passes North-South across the map, close to the shore end of the pier.
  4. The walk is along Talbot Road.
  5. Close to the station is a branch of Wilko.

The new tram tracks will be laid along Talbot Road and these pictures show the current progress of the new tracks.

Note.

  1. The spur is twin-track.
  2. The first two and the last pictures appear to show the tram tracks going into Wilko.
  3. The tram tracks appear to share the road with other traffic.
  4. There is a full triangular junction where the spur meets the main North-South tramway.

A few extra facts and thoughts.

What About Wilko?

The Wilko store will either be demolished or modified and the space will be used by a tram stop.

  • It will be reached by an underpass from the station.
  • I suspect it will have two platforms.
  • One platform might be for trams to the North and the others for trams to the South.
  • There will probably be a few kiosks and small shops.

Done well and it would give passengers a good welcome.

The Track Layout

The track layout with the full triangular junction and a double-track to the station gives a lot of flexibility.

  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the North.
  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the South.
  • Trams could even come from the North, reverse in the station and go out to the South! Or vice-versa!

I also think it has been designed to be ready for expansion of the Blackpool Tramway.

A Tram Stop At Talbot Square

I have found a document on the Blackpool Council web site, that says this.

A tram stop on Talbot Square would be developed while road layouts are being examined so the new scheme would interfere as little as possible with drivers.

There is certainly enough space.

Could Tram-Trains Connect At Blackpool North Station To The Blackpool Tramway?

This Google Map shows Blackpool North station and the nearby Wilko.

I think it would be possible for tram-trains to come straight through the railway station and connect to the Blackpool Tramway.

  • I would suspect that a frequency of between four and six trains per hour (tph) would be possible.
  • The Tram-trains would have a battery capability with a range of perhaps twenty or thirty miles.
  • The tram-trains would obviously come from Preston.
  • But would they go on to Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Ormskirk, Southport and/or Todmorden.

The designs of the tracks, Blackpool North station and the proposed Blackpool North tram stop, would not seem to rule out the creation of a tram-train network with the Blackpool Tramway as the Western terminus.

Tram-Trains To The South

The new tram link at Blackpool North station will link the station to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and other attractions South of the North Pier.

To not annoy and discourage visitors, the frequency should be at least six tph or one tram every ten minutes. as little Harry and little Summer won’t late any longer!

Tram-trains to and from Preston and beyond, would have the following effects.

  • A lot of visitors wouldn’t have to change between train and tram.
  • They would reinforce the service between Blackpool North station and the Southern terminus at Starr Gate.
  • They might cut the number of cars needing to park in Blackpool.
  • Blackpool would become the only place in the world where you could see heritage trams, modern trams and tram-trains using the same system.

This tram-train link would surely improve the economy of Blackpool and the \Fylde Coast.

But the tram-trains don’t need to terminate at Starr Gate.

This Google Map shows the Blackpool Tramway’s Southern terminus and depot at Starr Gate and the nearby Squires Gate station.

Note.

  1. Starr Gate Depot on the West side of the map.
  2. The turning loop for the trams outside.
  3. Squires Gate station four hundred metres to the East.

I don’t think it would be difficult to connect the two rail systems.

  • Tram-trains would be able to more freely between the Blackpool Tramway and the South Fylde Line to Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations.
  • The route between Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations is electrified.
  • The length of the section without electrification between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over twelve miles.
  • The route West of Kirkham & Wesham station is single-track, but could probably be capable of handling more trains per hour, with some improvements like sections of double track.

I can’t see why tram-trains with a battery capability, which could be similar to those destined for the South Wales Metro, couldn’t run an extended service between Preston and the Blackpool Tramway.

  • Tram-trains would change systems at Blackpool North station and Squires Gate/Starr Gate.
  • Tram-trains would call at all stations and tramway stops in both directions.
  • A frequency of at least two tph in both directions would be my preference.
  • Tram-trains could easily handle the section without electrification on batteries charged on the existing electrification.
  • It would provide improved public transport links to the important golf course at Royal Lytham.

I also feel that running battery tram-trains on the South Fylde Line could be an affordable solution to improving public transport in the area.

Tram-Trains To The North

The same arguments that can be used to allow tram-trains to go South along the Blackpool Tramway, will also work, for allowing tram-trains to go to the North.

But there is no railway in good condition to create a loop, as can be done to the South.

Perhaps, two tram-trains per hour could go to Fleetwood Ferry tram stop and use the loop to return to Blackpool North station.

Fleetwood would regain a rail service to Preston, that appears to have been discontinued in the 1960s.

Reinstatement Of The Fleetwood Branch Line

The Association of Train Operating Companies has proposed the reopening of the Fleetwood Branch Line, which would connect Fleetwood with Poulton-le-Fylde on the electrified line to Blackpool North station.

The branch is also being developed for heritage purposes.

I do wonder though, that a tram-train solution, where tram-trains run between Preston and Fleetwood via Kirkham  & Wesham, Blackpool North and the Blsckpool Tramway, may give a higher return.

Obviously, a full study needs to be done.

Other Issues

On my trip to Fleetwood, two other issues were obvious.

A Distinct Lack Of Shelters

I took this picture, as I returned to the trams after the match.

At the time it was chucking it down!

Perhaps, they’d increase ridership, if passengers had some more shelter.

Bank Card Ticketing

I rarely carry cash these days, as I generally use contactless payments, for all payments under thirty pounds.

But on the Blackpool Tramway, you have to use cash!

That is so Nineteenth Century!

Conclusion

Blackpool Tramway can be built into a much more comprehensive and more customer-friendly tram and tram-train network.

 

 

 

 

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

Could Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains Run As Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink?

Look at the main dimensions of the Stadler Class 777 train destined for Merseyrail  and the current M5000 tram of the Manchester Metrolink. I have also added the dimensions of the Stadler Class 399 tram-train, that is running on the Sheffield Supertram network.

Class 777 train

  • Width – 2.82 metres
  • Height – 3.82 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.96 metres
  • Overall Length – 64.98 metres
  • Capacity – 190 seats and 302 standing – 492 total
  • Operating Speed – 75 mph

M5000

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.67 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.90 metres
  • Overall Length – 28.4 metres
  • Double Length – 56.8 ,metres
  • Capacity – 60 or 66 seats and 146 standing – 206 or 212 total
  • Operating Speed – 50 mph

Class 399 tram-train

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.72 metres
  • Floor Height – 0.425 metres
  • Overall Length – 37.2 metres
  • Capacity – 96 seats and 140 standing – 236  total
  • Operating Speed – 62 mph

Note.

  1. Vehicle width and height could probably be incorporated on the same track
  2. The floor heights of the Class 777 train and the M5000 are surprisingly close,
  3. The floor height of the low-floor Class 399 tram-train is lower and wouldn’t allow step-free access from platform to tram on the Metrolink network.
  4. A double M5000 and a Class 777 train have similar lengths.
  5. A double M5000 has 86% of the capacity of a Class 777 train.

A Class 777 train looks to be able to go anywhere that a double M5000 tram can go and be able to give the same quality of passenger access.

Can double M5000 trams use the whole of the Metrolink network?

Power Supply

Around Manchester and Liverpool there are the following types of electrification.

  • 25 KVAC overhead – Connecting major cities and on the West Coast Main Line.
  • 750 VDC overhead – Manchester Metrolink
  • 750 VDC third-rail – Merseyrail

In the future it is intended that Class 777 trains will be able to handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It should also be noted that Class 399 tram-trains, which are also built by Stadler can handle.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that Stadler can produce a Class 777 train, that could handle these voltages.

  • 25 KVAC overhead
  • 750 VDC overhead
  • 750 VDC third-rail

It’s all about the electrical systems on the train, but Stadler probably have the solutions in their boxes of tricks.

I very much feel it would possible for a version of a Class 777 train with an additional battery to do the following.

  • Run as a train on the Merseyrail network. using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Run as a train between Otmskirk and Preston using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Run as a train between Kirkby and Wigan using the battery.
  • Run as a double tram on the Manchester Metrolink using 750 VDC overhead.
  • Run as a tram-train to extend the Manchester Metrolink using a mixture of battery power and 25 KVAC overhead.

Class 777 trains might even be able to run on the Sheffield Supertram network. But they might be too long and would not be able to provide step-free access from platform to tram, without modification of trains and/or platforms.

Poasible Routes

Just about anywhere a Manchester Metrolink M5000 tram or a four-car electric or diesel multiple unit can run.

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first sentence.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage.

A five tonne battery will soon be able to have a capacity of 500 kWh, which should be able to give the train a range of fifty miles on battery power.

This would more than cover the thirty miles without electrification between Altrincham and Chester, where the battery could be recharged.

Conclusion

I am in no doubt that Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, could run as tram-trains on the Manchester Metrolink.

But then, Stadler don’t do ordinary and obvious!.

Why should they?

There must also be an advantage to Manchester Metrolink and Merseyrail, if they were using the same or similar vehicles for their public transport networks.

 

 

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Could Platforms 1 And 2 At Manchester Piccadilly Station Become A Tram-Train Terminal?

Tram-trains often pass through a city in the following manner.

  • They arrive in the city as trains and take to the tram system.
  • They use the tram system to go through the city centre,
  • At the other side of the city, they take to the rail lines and go to the final destination.

I took this picture in the main square in Kassel in Germany.

A continuous stream of trams and tram-trains pass through going across the city.

Isn’t it just like Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester? except that at present, they’re all trams on the Manchester Metrolink!

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I gave this quote from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

Currently, services to Hale, Gorton, Glossop and other places like Guide Bridge, Marple and New Mills Central come into low-numbered platforms in Manchester Piccadilly station.

The original plans for High Speed Two were rather unimaginative and probably very expensive, envisaged four High Speed platforms on the Northern side of the station.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I analyse the latest thinking on High Speed Two and I believe there is a chance, that Manchester Piccadilly will have underground through platforms deep underneath the current station.

These pictures show platforms 1 and 2 at Piccadilly station.

Currently, several of the lines that terminate in these two platforms are run by life-expired Pacers and they will be replaced by Class 195 trains.

But, as the quoted sentence shows, some of the routes into these platforms could be turned over to tram-train operation.

In Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop, I showed how it might be possible to connect the tram stop under Piccadilly station to the Glossop Line.

On the other hand the tram-trains might be able to run into these two platforms.

Conclusion

If Manchester acquires a few tram-trains, their rail and tram networks would appear to have lots of opportunities to use them efficiently.

It does also look, that it would be very advantageous, if the High Speed platforms could be through platforms underneath the main station.

  • Two well-designed through platforms would be able to handle a lot of trains and passengers.
  • The station could be refurbished, rather than demolished and rebuilt.
  • Fewer new platforms would be needed.

But above all updating the station would have a lower cost and would cause less disruption to all users.

 

 

 

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop

The Wikipedia entry for the Manchester Metrolink doesn’t say much about  Glossop, except that one of the original lines would have taken over the Glossop Line to Gorton, Glossop and Hadfield stations.

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Gorton and Glossop join the current Metrolink network at Piccadilly station?

Consider.

  • Glossop Line trains use the low-numbered platforms on the Northern side of Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Some plans have shown High Speed Two platforms on the save side of Piccadilly station.

Look at this Google Map of the Northern side of the station.

Note.

  1. Two trams crossing the green space to the North of the station.
  2. The area between the tram lines and the tracks going into Piccadilly station, appears to be mainly car parking and low-grade buildings.
  3. The tracks leading to Gorton and Glossop are on the Northern side of Piccadilly station.

These are a few pictures of the area.to the North of the station.

I feel it would be very feasible for tram-trains to connect the Glossop Line and the tram station underneath the main station.

In fact there would be no reason, why tram-trains shouldn’t continue to serve Manchester Piccadilly train station.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two’s terminals in Manchester is in a state of foux at the moment, so it might be preferable to just replace all Glossop Line services with tram-trains and use Manchester Piccadilly tram station.

Updating The Glossop Line

The Glossop Line is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, which looks to be one of the systems in worst condition in the UK along with the Crouch Valley Line in Essex.

It would probably need replacing, as the rust weevils holding it up, must be getting very tired.

To say that some stations look like they’ve seen better times, is an understatement.

Class 399 Tram-Trains For Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester are serious about tram-trains and I believe that their usefullness to the City could be explored by running the existing service between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop using a small fleet.

Conclusion

Extending the Manchester Metrolink to Gorton and Glossop using tram-trains appears to be very feasible.

In my view, it would have made a good trial route to prove the concept of tram-trains in the UK.

 

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 11 Comments

Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence

This article on the Manchester Evening News, sums up the extensions to the Manchester Metrolink like this.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

We all need more pithy sentences like this. Me included!

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Compelling Case’ Put Forward For £4bn Metro Network For Cambridgeshire

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

There is a “compelling case” for a metro scheme for Greater Cambridge after a feasibility report has claimed it could create 100,000 jobs and 60,000 new homes, but could cost £4bn.

The feasibility study was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), and mayor James Palmer declared there was a compelling case for the new regional transport network covering 88 miles.

Other details of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro include.

  • Turn-Up-and-Go service.
  • It would use trackless electric vehicles.
  • Across Cambridge in twelve minutes.
  • 7.5 miles of underground corridors under the City.
  • Cambourne, Haverhill, Huntingdon, Mildenhall, St. Ives, St. Neots and Waterbeach would be served.

I think that the route network is feasible and if any City in England can fund such a scheme it is Cambridge.

I can see the point about trackless electric vehicles, as illustrated by this picture.

It looks to me, that the track is just a road with a cycle track alongside.

But would it be better to use tram-trains and the Karlsruhe model?

  • This would enable the system to use the heavy rail tracks to Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, March, Newmarket and Wisbech.
  • Bury St. Edmunds certainly needs a frequent service to Cambridge.
  • East West Rail Consortium has a plan for a Parkway station on the A14, which needs a frequent connection to Cambridge.
  • The technology is proven.

Hopefully, tram-trains have been rejected for good reasons.

But does the proposed system fit well with the East-West Rail Link.

 

 

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

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 | , , | 1 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