The Anonymous Widower

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 report 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

New Greater Anglia Trains To Be Stored At Heritage Line

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

  • Greater Anglia are paying the Mid-Norfolk Railway, three million pounds to store the new trains.
  • The heritage railway will create new sidings and some double track.
  • It looks a good deal and both parties are quoted as being pleased with the deal.

I wonder, if this could be the start of something a lot bigger.

Norfolk County Council and other interests would like to create the Norfolk Orbital Railway to run National Rail services in a circular route starting and finishing at Norwich station and going via Cromer, Sheringham, Dereham and Wymondham stations.

It strikes me that the works proposed by the Mid-Norfolk Railway will improve the route to Dereham.

Dereham and Wymondham are towns with populations of just under nineteen thousand and fourteen thousand respectively and large numbers of residents of the area, commute to Norwich.

  • It could be that a direct service to Norwich might work!
  • Greater Anglia certainly have enough trains for a service of a few trains per day.
  • The infrastructure will be there by Spring 2019.

Given the closeness to Crown Point Depot, could Greater Anglia use the line for testing trains and training drivers?

There is also the problem of Trowse swing bridge, which is one of the biggest bottlenecks on the UK rail network.

Rebuilding is talked about, but it would probably mean services from the South into Norwich station would have to be stopped.

  • Trowse station lies just to the South of the bridge.
  • It was last used in 1986 as a te,temporary terminus during electrification.
  • According to Wikipedia, it could be reactivated.

Would sidings on the Mid-Norfolk Railway be useful for stabling trains, if the bridge was closed for rebuilding?

 

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Greater Anglia’s Ten Point Wish List

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Greater Anglia to lobby government for investment in 10-point upgrade plea.

So what do they want?

  1. Haughley Junction upgrade.
  2. Ely area upgrade.
  3. Ely to Soham track doubling
  4. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  5. Long loops at Colchester and Witham to allow fast trains to pass slow ones.
  6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford.
  8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.
  9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program.
  10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverspool Street station.

Should we call it ambitious, greedy or sensible?

1. Haughley Junction Upgrade

This has been requested for years, so I suspect it has been thought about for a long time.

But the new East Anglia Franchise has plans that will affect the traffic through Haughley Junction.

  • Three express trains per hour (tph) between Ipswich and Norwich – Up from 2 tph.
  • Two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds – Up from three trains per two hours.

To make matters worse, an increasing number of freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough will be going through the junction.

This Google Map shows the junction.

haughleyjunction

Note.

 

  • Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Ipswich are to the South.
  • There is a handy level crossing where station road crosses the tracks.
  • Diss and Norwich is to the North.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough are to the North West.

You could naively think, that around the junction is nothing but farmland and a few trees, but the owners of |Tiptree Fram probably have lived three for decades.

You are the driver of one of Greater Anglia’s new crack Stadler express electric multiple units scheduled to reach Norwich in ninety minutes from London

Going North, you have just stopped at Stowmarket station. But you can’t leave as Haughley Junction is blocked by one of the many long freight trains crossing the flat junction from the line to Peterborough to go South to Felixstowe.

So bang goes your schedule!

Going South, you have a similar problem, in that freight trains could delay progress, whilst they cross from the Peterborough Line.

Freight trains and passenger trains joining the Peterborough line from the South, would appear to not cause such a large problem, as they just turn left without crossing any lines.

In an ideal world, there probably needs to be a single-track flyover, so that trains from Peterborough to Stowmarket can cross the Norwich lines without delaying trains. A similar flyover at Hitchin cost £47million.

So it wouldn’t be cheap and would the locals fight the construction of such a structure in the midst of Suffolk countryside to benefit commuters from Norfolk?

A complete scheme would also add a loop line just to the West of Haugthley Junction, so that long freight trains could wait without getting in the way, until there was a suitable time to cross.

I suspect, that to keep costs down and avoid annoying the natives, all that will happen at Haughley Junction is a limited scheme so that trains can wait before crossing.

Over the last few years, Network Rail have developed some innovative junctions and crossings, so let’s hope that they come up with a scheme that’s efficient, affordable and can be built without closing either of the important routes through the area.

But whatever is done here will certainlt help Greater Anglia achieve their objective of three tph between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.

Knowing the area well, I suspect that there will also be an enormous fight over if Network Rail decided to close the level crossing shown on the map.

2. Ely Area Upgrade

I looked at this in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?

Whatever is proposed here will not be just a few millions and probably very disruptive to implement, but it is essential to acommodate the planned extra services through the area.

3. Ely To Soham Track Doubling

Upgrading this six miles of single track might appear to be easy across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, but the line does include a couple of level crossings and a couple of bridges.

This Google Map shows the ely end of the route at Ely Dock Junction.

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Ely Dock Junction And Hawk Bridge

Note the single-track Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse.

Luckily, a freight train derailed on the original single-track bridge and virtually demolished it. The new bridge may be only single-track, but provision was made for a second track.

A few times, I’ve passed Ely Dock Junction on a train or stood on the platform at Ely and seen a freight train waiting at the Dock Junction to pass through the spaghetti at Ely.

Double-tracking would mean waiting freight trains wouldn’t delay Eastbound services on the Ipswich to Ely Line.

But will a chord be built so services can go directly between Cambridge North station and the Ipswich line?

This could enable Colchester Peterborough services to take a route of Bury St. Edmunds-Cambridge North

The Google Map shows the site of the original Soham station.

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

The Site Of The Former Soham Station

Note that the line reverts back to double-track, just South of the former station site.

So will doubling of line include provision for building a new station at Soham, as Cambridgeshire Council have proposed?

You can certainly see, why Greater Anglia want this section of line to be doubled.

4. Trowse Swing Bridge Replacement

The Trowse Swing Bridge is a major bottleneck on the Great vEastern Main Line, as not only does it restrict operations into Norwich station, but it makes access to Crown Point Depot difficult.

It’s definitely the railway equivalent of having a single-lane section for both directions on a motorway.

In Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?, I proposed the following under An Affordable Alternative.

It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and  foot and cycle bridges.

As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.

Other bribes could be given to occasional users.

There will be many bridges to cross, before Trowse bridge is replaced with a modern structure, more suited to a modern railway.

Unless of course, the rusting and decrepit bridge decides to do the honourable thing and falls down of its own volition.

It’s probably too much to hope, that a freight train derails on the bridge, as one fortunately did on the Hawk Bridge at Ely.

5. Long Loops At Colchester And Witham

Colchester station is not a station that would win awards for efficiency.

This description of the platforms is from Wikipedia.

The “up” (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The “down” side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.

The new franchise has plans, that should make the station more efficient, but much busier.

  • Norwich to London trains will have a frequency of three tph.
  • A new one tph service will link Colchester and Peterborough, which would mean that Colchester to Stowmarket via Manningree and Ipswich would have a frequency of four tph.

But the interesting idea is to extend the service between Sudbury and Marks Tey stations to Colchester Town station via Colchester.

The  service between Sudbury and Colchester Town could be two tph, as the trains could pass each other between Colchester and Marks Tey, if the track allowed.

This Press Release from Network Rail is entitled More Reliable Railway For Essex As £100M+ Upgrade Is Completed.

This is said.

The last piece of the jigsaw included the commissioning of new ‘bi-directional’ signalling on the Great Eastern main line between Colchester and Marks Tey – meaning trains can now travel in both directions on both lines. This allows them to bypass problems should they occur and will improve flexibility and help reduce delays.

I have just flown my helicopter over the junction at Marks Tey and it looks like there is a short loop line of about a kilometre on the South side of the main line, which is connected by a series of crossovers to the \Gainsborough Line. On the other side of the main line, there would also appear to be a connection between the two lines.

So a train from Colchester Town could do the following.

  • Travel to Colchester station on the Sunshine Coast Line.
  • Stop in Platform 4 at Colchester station.
  • Travel on the main line towards Marks Tey.
  • Switch to the loop North of Marks Tey.
  • Cross over the main lines and enter the Gainsborough Line to stop in Marks Tey station.
  • Travel to Sudbury and back.
  • After stopping at Marks Tey station return via the main line to Colchester and then on to Colchester Town.

Currently, a train is scheduled to go from Colchester Town to Marks Tey in 13 minutes, with the round trip from Marks Tey to Sudbury taking about 45 minutes.

If the service between Colchester Town and Sudbury was to be two tph, the Marks Tey to Sudbury round trip must be under thirty minutes, so that only one train is on the branch line at a time.

The service is currently run using various trains like a Class 153 train, which have a top speed of 75 mph and acceleration to match, whereas the mosdern Class 170 train has a 100 mph capability. The Gainsborough Line also has a speed limit of just 50 mph.

So I suspect, that with some judicious engineering on the branch and modern trains, that a thirty minute round trip is possible, thus making two tph on the Gainsborough Line a distinct possibility.

All these service changes could simplify the pattern of trains through Colchester station.

  • Most trains stop in the station and continue on their journey.
  • Peterborough trains could use the bay platform 5 or a reversing siding to turn back.
  • The bay platform 6 could be used as a terminus for trains from London as now.

So will the tracks be arranged so that there is an avoiding line between the platforms just as there is at Ipswich station and used to be at Chelmsford station?

The certainly would appear to be enough space.

 

This picture illustrates the problems at Witham station.

A Long Freight Train At Witham

Note.

  • The freight train was going towards London and was slowly going through the station.
  • The two lines in the middle are the two main lines, where trains generally stop.
  • When the new Stadler and Aventra trains enter service in a couple of years, there will be more trains going through the station.
  • At times, trains could be separated by just a few minutes.
  • As these trains are designed expedite stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more trains doing a Touch-and-Go.

This article on the EssexLive web site is entitled Witham loop could happen by 2024 with added faster trains to Liverpool Street.

It says that the loop will be built North of Witham station and would allow faster trains to pass slower ones by 2024, but that Simon Burns MP will be pushing to have it built sooner.

This Google Map shows Witham station and the line to the North.

Witham Station

Note the Braintree Branch Line going off to the North-West.

It does appear that there would be space for the necessary extra tracks to create passing loops North of Witham station.

These would mean that passing wouldn’t have to be dome with the slower train blocking a slow platform.

It certainly looks as if that both loops will be beneficial to all train operators and passengers.

6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London

Given the following on the Great Eastern Main Line South of Colchester.

  • Increased numbers of trains.
  • Speeds of 100 mph and possibly more.
  • The need to do very fast stops and maintain headway of a few minutes.
  • The trains will be new.

I suspect that digital signalling will be a necessity to maintain the required service frequency.

7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford

There is certainly pressure for this service from the local Councils in the area.

Would it include the preliminary works from the upgrade of Angel Road station?

8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne

This is important both for Greater Anglia services to Stansted Airport and Cambridge and Crossrail 2.

I wrote about this in Crossrail 2 ‘Cannot Go Ahead’ Without Four-Tracking Of West Anglia Line.

But it will be a large and very disruptive project.

9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program

I have been held up so many times by level crossing incidents, this can’t happen to soon.

10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverpool Street station

I thought that this was going to happen, as soon as the Crossrail trains go into the tunnels.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia are not asking for the stars and it is a generally sensible wish list.

Possibly the most expensive projects are the following.

  1. Ely area upgrade.
  2. Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
  3. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
  4. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.

But some like the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line are not urgent, until Crossrail 2 gets an opening date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?

This Google Map shows Norwich station and the various rail lines that serve it.

Norwich Station And Approach Lines

Norwich Station And Approach Lines

All the lines come into the station from the East and they split soon after leaving the station, with lines to Cromer, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth taking the Eastern line, with trains to Ipswich and Cambridge taking the Southern line.

Between the two lines, lies Crown Point Traction and Rolling Stock Depot, which looks after much of Greater Anglia‘s rolling stock.

This Google Map shows the bridge at the South West corner of the depot, where the rail line to Ipswich and Cambridge, crosses the River Wensum.

Trowse Bridge

Trowse Bridge

Trowse Bridge is no ordinary bridge.

  • It is a single track swing bridge.
  • It was built in the 1980s, probably to a low cost design.
  • It is electrified by overhead conductor rail, rather than overhead wire.
  • It is mandated by an Act of Parliament to open for traffic on the river on demand.
  • It is rather unreliable.

It must be a nightmare for both Greater Anglia and Network Rail.

I wonder if this bridge has had effects on projects that are happening in East Anglia.

The New Depot At Brantham

A new depot is being built by Greater Anglia at Brantham, just North of Manningtree station. There are obviously, good reasons for this, but could the access over the Trowse Bridge to Crown Point be a factor.

It would certainly be easier for bi-mode Flirts working Lowestoft-Ipswich and Colchester-Peterborough to be based at Brantham rather than Crown Point. Wikipedia says this.

Scheduled to open in 2018, it will be the home depot for Greater Anglia’s new fleet of Class 745 and Class 755 Stadler Flirts.

Greater Anglia would be a very unusual company, if they didn’t have an efficient plan for the stabling and maintenance of their new trains.

Direct Yarmouth To Lowestoft Trains Via A Reinstated Reedham Chord

There used to be a direct Yarmouth to Lowestoft Line, but now it is possible to use the Wherry Lines, with a reverse at Reedham station.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

Could one of the reasons for looking at the the reinstatement of the Reedham Chord, be that it would allow diagrams for the trains working the branch lines to the East of Norwich and Ipswich to avoid the Trowse Bridge?

The Design Of The London To Norwich Trains

The current rakes of eight Mark 3 coaches hauled by Class 90 locomotives, that run the service between London to Norwich, only have one pantograph.

So does this mean there are operational problems with the train on the Trowse Bridge, as it does seem that the bridge owes a lot to Mr. Heath Robinson.

A long modern electric multiple unit, like say the Class 345 trains for Crossrail, often has two pantographs. This should be more reliable, if one should fail.

Consider.

  • The Class 745 trains, which have been ordered to replace current trains, will be somewhere around two hundred metres long.
  • These trains are Stadler Flirts, which in some cases have two pantographs.
  • Trowse bridge is less than thirty metres long.
  • The other passenger trains that will use bridge, will be bi-mode like the Class 755 trains or diesel.
  • On modern trains, pantograph control is automatic and fast.
  • Electrification gaps are common on third-rail systems.

Would two pantographs, allow the Class 745 trains to bridge an electrification gap on the bridge.

Suppose, the electrification was removed from the Trowse Bridge!

Would this and other improvements make it possible to simplify the bridge and improve reliability?

|Electric trains could use the following procedure to cross the bridge.

  • Trains could approach the bridge with the front pantograph lowered., drawing power from the rear one.
  • The train would cross the bridge and when the front pantograph was under the overhead wire on the other side, it would automatically raise and connect, lowering the rear pantograph appropriately.

Bi-mode trains would just use their diesel engines, swapping between modes automatically.

The Replacement Of The Bridge

Eventually, the bridge will have to be replaced, but surely a bridge without electrification would be easier to design and build. It could even be double-track to improve capacity into and out of Norwich.

I suspect that the long-term solution would be a double-track lifting bridge, similar to the Kingsferry Bridge in Kent. This was built in 1960 at a cost of £1.2million, which is £19.3million in today’s money.

When it is completed the Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme, will incorporate a similar lifting bridge which will carry a road and the Manchester Metrolink over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Both these schemes also incorporate roads, so the Trowse Bridge will be simpler.

I think there could be scope for an engineer or architect to design something special for this crossing.

The Affordable Alternative

It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and  foot and cycle bridges.

As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.

Other bribes could be given to occassional users.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments