The Anonymous Widower

Does Anybody Recognise This Tunnel?

Someone sent me this picture and asked if I knew where it was.

I don’t But do I know a man or woman who does?

August 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport | | 5 Comments

Class 321 Renatus Trains At Wickford And On The Crouch Valley Line

This article on Rail Advent indicated that the platform extension at Wickford station had been completed, so that five-car Class 720 trains can work the Crouch Valley Line.

This morning I went to look at the progress and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 has been extended at the London end.
  2. The two trains working the branch were Class 321 Renatus trains.
  3. The stations on the branch seemed to have been spruced up.

I suspect Greater Anglia are expecting a lot more commuters and visitors.

  • But then the area is getting a lot more housing.
  • There are fast direct trains to and from London Liverpool Street on a railway with refurbished electrification.
  • Burnham-on-Crouch is one of the foremost yachting towns.
  • Remember the area is not far from Snowgoose Country.
  • The new Wallasea wetlands that were created with the tunnel spoil from Crossrail’s tunnels is not far away.

This Google map shows Burnham-on-Crouch and Wallasea Wetlands.

Note.

  1. Burnham-on-Crouch with its station in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Wallasea Wetlands are marked by the red arrow.

I don’t think it will be long before an appropriately-powered ferry is provided across the River Crouch.

I also have some thoughts.

The Class 321 Renatus Trains

The Class 321 Renatus trains may be a 2017 conversion of a 1990-built British Rail Class 321 train, but that doesn’t mean they are a cheap and nasty conversion.

So until all the Class 720 trains are in service, they are a more than adequate stand-in.

I was told that the Class 720 trains will be in service on the branch in September.

The Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is one of the great books of the Twentieth Century, written by the American; Paul Gallico.

This summary of the plot is from Wikipedia.

The Snow Goose is a simple, short written parable on the regenerative power of friendship and love, set against a backdrop of the horror of war. It documents the growth of a friendship between Philip Rhayader, an artist living a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse in the marshlands of Essex because of his disabilities, and a young local girl, Fritha. The snow goose, symbolic of both Rhayader (Gallico) and the world itself, wounded by gunshot and many miles from home, is found by Fritha and, as the human friendship blossoms, the bird is nursed back to flight, and revisits the lighthouse in its migration for several years. As Fritha grows up, Rhayader and his small sailboat eventually are lost in the Dunkirk evacuation, having saved several hundred men. The bird, which was with Rhayader, returns briefly to the grown Fritha on the marshes. She interprets this as Rhayader’s soul taking farewell of her (and realizes she had come to love him). Afterwards, a German pilot destroys Rhayader’s lighthouse and all of his work, except for one portrait Fritha saves after his death: a painting of her as Rhayader first saw her – a child, with the wounded snow goose in her arms.

It is not a book, you’d expect an American to write about the dark days of World War II in the UK.

But as Christopher Nolan showed in his film, Dunkirk was the battle in World War II, that stiffened up the sinews and summoned up the blood.

Wickford Station

The pictures show that Wickford station is being rebuilt.

I would think it needs a speed-free bridge.

 

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Step-Free Entrance At Euston Square Station

This map from cartometro.com shows the Underground Lines in the Euston station area.

Note.

  1. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  2. The Victoria Line is shown in light blue.
  3. The sub-surface lines are shown in yellow and mauve.
  4. The Northern and Victoria Lines are deep underneath the station, whereas the sub-surface lines are under Euston Road.

This Google Map shows the area and the positions of the station entrances.

Note.

  1. Warren Street station in the South West corner of the map at the Northern end of Tottenham Court Road.
  2. Euston Road running South-West to North-East across the map.
  3. University College Hospital is on the South side of Euston Road between Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.
  4. There is a subway under Euston Road almost in line with Gower Street, that gives access to the Western ends of the platforms at Euston Square station.
  5. There is a lift to the station from the South side of Euston Road on the Eastern side of Gower Street.
  6. The Western end of the platforms at Euston Square are probably just to the East of Gower Street.

The next road across Euston Road is Gordon Street, where the entrance to a new subway under Euston Road to Euston station will be located.

This Transport for London visualisation shows the entrance to the subway looking towards Euston station.

This diagram of the subway. is from Ian Visits,

Note the platforms at Euston Square station appear to be shown in red and end to the West of Gordon Street.

I took these pictures at the Eastern end of Euston Square station.

Note what look like bricked off areas at the end of the platforms for electrical and other gubbins. I suspect they could be removed to create more space.

Conclusion

I don’t think that connecting the platforms to the subway will be the most challenging of projects, if they can dig easily behind and over the walls of the Victorian tunnel and behind the platforms.

 

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

The Southbound Northern Line Platform At Bank Station

These pictures show the Southbound platform of the Northern Line at Bank station.

Can there be a Metro, U-bahn, Underground or subway platform anywhere with such bad design and worse decor?

  • There are no tiles or cladding on the walls.
  • You can see all the cast iron linings dating from the nineteenth century.
  • How do people get across the tracks to the passages in the wall?
  • But above all there are no adverts.

The state of this tunnel only tells a one-sided story.

Some metres to the West of the existing tunnel a new larger Southbound tunnel has been dug.

This map from Transport for London, shows the route of the new tunnell.

Note.

  1. The continuous black line of the existing Northbound line.
  2. The dotted black line of the new Southbound line.

This sentence from this article on IanVisits, which is entitled Bank Tube Station Upgrade Reaches Tunnelling Milestone, explains how the new tunnels were built.

Part of the tunnelling work saw the project team cut through deep-level piled foundations of one building, which required careful excavation and the installation of a new load-support system to support the existing foundations while still allowing a tunnel to pass through them.

According to Ian, 1300 metres of new tunnels have been constructed. All have been dug by fairly traditional methods, uding men, shovels and small diggers and other machines.

The space between the two running tunnels will become a wide concourse. This picture taken at Angel station, shows a wide platform that could be delivered at Bank station.

The old Southbound tunnel will be filled in to form the concourse. Those curious doors will become through passages to the escalators, lifts and the other platform.

 

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Manchester And Leeds Via The Centre Of Bradford

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Manchester and Leeds via the centre of Bradford.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the route.

Current And Proposed Timings Between Manchester And Leeds

These are the current typical timings between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

  • 55 minutes for 43 miles, which is an average speed of 47 mph.

With Northern Powerhouse Rail, a time of 25 minutes is the objective, which is an average speed of 103.2 mph.

  • As my helicopter flies it is just 35.7 miles, so a 25 minutes journey time would require an average speed of 85.7 mph.

It is obvious that a new much straighter line is needed with an operating speed of at least 100 mph.

One of the best 100 mph lines in the UK  is the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • It is generally only double-track.
  • The fastest services take 90 minutes for the 115 miles, which is an average speed of 77 mph.
  • It is a busy line with lots of suburban services closer to London and freight trains to and from Felixstowe.

But even a line built to the standard of the Great Eastern Main Line wouldn’t be good enough for Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes.

The mathematics tell me, that a new line is needed, built as straight as possible between Manchester and Leeds.

High Speed Two’s Approach To Manchester

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two as it approaches Manchester Piccadilly station.

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the South East corner, where it continues to Manchester Airport.
  • Purple is a tunnel portal.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Orange is a box structure

This Google Map shows a similar area.

Are High Speed Two serious about demolishing a large area of Manchester to the North and East of Manchester Piccadilly station?

  • It will cause massive disruption all over the centre of Manchester.
  • How many businesses will be ruined by this plan?
  • How many residents are there in the area?
  • How will trains from the new platforms at Piccadilly station continue to Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield?
  • Mrs. Merton could have said “Let’s all have a reverse!” And she’d have been joking!
  • You can’t go through the new platforms, as that would mean demolishing most of Manchester City Centre.

What High Speed Two are proposing is complete and utter rubbish!

In Whither HS2 And HS3?, which I wrote in May 2015, I said this.

I do think though that our designs for HS2 are rather dated and don’t take things that are happening or have happened into account.

Crossrail in London has shown that putting a large twin rail tunnel under a major city, is not the problem it once was. Crossrail have also been very innovative in creating stations with the minimum disturbance to existing infrastructure. As an example, the new Whitechapel station for Crossrail has also used a technique called uphill excavation, where you create escalator and lift shafts upwards from the tunnels, rather than traditionally from the surface, which is much more disruptive.

These techniques can revolutionise the construction of HS2.

Take cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, which have developed and are continually developing extensive local rail, tram and bus networks. So why are we in Birmingham still talking about creating an HS2 station at Curzon Street? Surely, we just dig a very deep pair of HS2 tunnels under the city and then uphill excavate into not only New Street, but Moor Street and Snow Hill as well. The tunnels would be only made as long as necessary, although the underground station could be very large. But it probably wouldn’t be much bigger than the enormous double-ended Liverpool Street/Moorgate station being created for Crossrail.

The great advantage of this method of construction is that you can continue to develop your network of local trains, trams and other transport links, untroubled by the construction of the new station deep below. Anybody, who thinks this is not possible, should spend half-an-hour walking around Whitechapel station, where the Hammersmith and City, District and East London Lines are passing untroubled over the giant hole and through the building site for the new station.

To some the example of Crossrail in London, would not be a good one, as Crossrail is years late. But the tunnelling under London and the excavations for the stations have gone well and were delivered on time.

In the related post, I went on to propose a double-ended underground station in Manchester with connections to both Piccadilly and Victoria stations. It could even have other connections to locations in the City Centre like Piccadilly Gardens.

There’s certainly space for a stylish entrance at the busy tram and bus interchange.

By applying the lessons learned in the building of Crossrail and other projects like Stuttgart 21, which I wrote about in Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, I’m sure that a massive underground station in Manchester could be built successfully, on time and on budget.

I am not alone in thinking this way. In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I write about a plan from world-class architects Weston Williamson, who designed the superb new London Bridge station.

This visualisation from Weston Williamson, shows their proposed station.

Note.

  1. In the visualisation, you are observing the station from the East.
  2. The existing railway lines into Piccadilly station are shown in red.
  3. Stockport and Manchester Airport are to the left, which is to the South.
  4. Note the dreaded Castlefield Corridor in red going off into the distance to Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.
  5. The new high speed lines are shown in blue.
  6. To the left they go to Manchester Airport and then on to London, Birmingham and the South, Warrington and Liverpool and Wigan, Preston, Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness, the North and Scotland.
  7. To the right, they go to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, and Sheffield, Doncaster and the East.
  8. Between it looks like  a low-level High Speed station with at least four tracks and six platforms.
  9. The Manchester Mretrolink is shown in yellow.
  10. The potential for over-site development is immense. If the Station Square Tower was residential, the penthouses would be some of the most desirable places to live in the North.

This station would enable improvements to rail services in the North and Scotland.

  • It would be a through station, to allow East to West services, like Liverpool and Hull.
  • Fewer services would have to reverse.
  • All services using the underground station, that went to the West would serve Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Liverpool and Edinburgh and Liverpool and Scarborough, would use the station and also call at Manchester Airport.
  • TransPennine services like Glasgow and Manchester Airport could be extended to Leeds and Hull.
  • TransPennine services would not need to use the overcrowded Castlefield Corridor.
  • All existing services to the main section of the existing Piccadilly station, could continue operation as now, during the construction and operation of the underground station. Some would eventually be replaced by high speed services using the underground station.

Manchester Airport would have one of the best train services of any airport in the world. It would certainly be on a par with Schiphol.

Careful alignment of the tunnels under Manchester, could also ease the building of the new line between Manchester and Leeds.

Huddersfield And Westtown (Dewsbury)

The only part of an upgraded TransPennine route between Manchester and Leeds, that is in the planning and design phase and visible to the public, is the upgrade between Huddersfield to Westtown (Dewsbury), which is described on this page of the Network Rail web site. This is the introductory paragraph.

We’re proposing an upgrade to a section of railway between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury) to deliver passenger benefits along the TransPennine railway.

Network Rail provide this very useful map.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route, which gives the major details of the upgrade.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project would be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line, but I have one problem with this project. – It doesn’t go anywhere near Bradford.

This Google Map shows Bradford, Leeds, Brighouse and Dewsbury.

Note.

  1. Bradford is in the North-West corner of the map, with the red arrow marking Bradford Royal Infirmary.
  2. Leeds is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Brighouse is in the South-West corner  of the map.
  4. The red arrow at the bottom of the map marks Dewsbury and District Hospital, with the towns of Morley and Dewsbury to the East.

The route Network rail are improving goes South-Westerly from Leeds and through both Morley and Leeds, before turning to the West and then going South to Huddersfield.

I am left with the conclusion, that Network Rail’s plans may do wonders for travel between Leeds and Huddersfield, but they don’t do anything for Bradford.

But the plans will have positive effects on travellers between Leeds and Manchester.

Eight Miles Of Electrification

Eight miles of electrification may not seem much, but to a Hitachi Regional Battery train, travelling at speed it is a few minutes to add some charge to the batteries, especially if the train stops at Dewsbury and/or Huddersfield stations.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification for the Hitachi Regional Battery train.

Note.

  1. It has a range of 90 km or 56 miles on battery power.
  2. It can travel at up to 100 mph on battery power.
  3. TransPennine’s Class 802 trains can be converted to Regional Battery trains, by simply swapping the diesel engines for battery packs.

If these trains fully-charged their batteries on the eight miles of electrification, they could do the following.

  • Going East they could easily reach Leeds, which is under ten miles from Dewsbury station. At a pinch they could even reach York, which is thirty-five miles from Dewsbury.
  • Going West they could reach Manchester, which is twenty-six miles from Huddersfield station. At a pinch, they could just about reach Liverpool, which is fifty-seven miles from Huddersfield.

Note that North of York and West of Manchester are both fully electrified.

This eight miles of electrification would enable the following.

  • Several of TransPennine Express services run by Class 802 trains to become all-electric services.
  • Other operators like Northern could use battery electric trains for stopping services along the route.
  • It might even enable some freight trains to run through the area, with hybrid power.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have chosen this section to electrify, so that it gives a lot of benefit to battery electric trains.

Will Services Be Faster Between Huddersfield And Leeds?

I estimate the the straightened track, the better acceleration of electric trains and other improvements would save up to perhaps ten minutes.

Timings between Manchester and Leeds, would probably be around 45 minutes, which is nowhere near Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of 25 minutes

The Problem Of Bradford

Bradford has two central stations; Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square. which have no connection between them.

This Google Map shows the two stations.

It is an area crowded with buildings between the two stations.

There is a Wikipedia entry called Bradford Crossrail, where this is said about the reasons for the two stations.

These stations were built in the nineteenth century by different railway companies with an individual, rather than a comprehensive plan for rail development in the city.

The Wikipedia entry also says this about Northern Powerhouse Rail and the city.

The Northern Powerhouse Rail project has also mooted a project to link Leeds and Manchester with a through route at Bradford. Whilst this would either involve a bypass line south of the city and a parkway station at Low Moor or a new route tunnelling through the city centre, neither option mentions connecting the lines from both north and south of the city together.

I will look at the two solutions to connect Northern Powerhouse Rail to the City.

Low Moor Station

The diagram shows the connections between Bradford Interchange, Bradford Low Moor, Huddersfield and Leeds stations.

It would appear that if a connection were to be made between Low Moor and New Pudsey stations. that could be a solution.

This Google Map shows where the lines to Huddersfield and Leeds join outside Bradford Interchange station.

Note,

  1. Bradford Interchange station is to the North.
  2. Bradford Low Moor station is to the South.
  3. New Pudsey station is to the East.

I suspect it would be possible to create a curve that allowed trains to go between  Bradford Low Moor and New Pudsey stations, but I doubt it would be a fast route.

A Bradford Tunnel

This would be the bold option, where all sorts of routes could be possible.

  • It could go under the City Centre in such a way, that it had pedestrian connections to both current stations and important places with a large number of visitors.
  • It could connect to Huddersfield in the West and Leeds in the East.
  • It might even loop under the City Centre, as the Wirral Line does under Liverpool.

A tunnel under the City, would be my preferred solution.

A Tunnel Between Manchester And Leeds

So far, various people or organisations have advocated the following tunnels on the route.

  • High Speed Two are proposing a tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre.
  • Weston Williamson are proposing a Manchester High Speed station underneath Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • A tunnel has been proposed to connect to Bradford City Centre.

I feel strongly, that a tunnel can be built under the Pennines to link Manchester and Leeds.

Rail Tunnels through the Pennines have been dug before, notably at Standedge, Totley and Woodhead.

I answered the question in detail in Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore? and this was the conclusion of that post.

I believe that my naïve analysis in this post shows that a TransPennine tunnel is possible.

But I believe that the right tunnel could have one big advantage.

Suppose it was built to handle the following.

    • A capacity of eighteen tph, which is the same as High Speed Two.
    • An operating speed of 140 mph or more. The Gotthard Base Tunnel has a maximum operating speed of 160 mph.
    • High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains.
    • The largest freight trains

It would be future proofed for longer than anybody could envisage.

There are also other smaller advantages.

    • It would by-pass a lot of difficult areas.
    • It would cause very little aural and visual disruption.
    • IIf it were designed with care, it would not affect the flora and fauna.
    • As with the Swiss tunnel, it could be dug level, which would save energy and allow trains to run faster.
    • It could be running twelve tph between Leeds and Manchester Airport via Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly.
    • Existing surface railways at the Eastern end could serve Cleethorpes, Darlington, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hull, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Scarborough, Sheffield and York
    • Existing surface railways at the Western end could serve Barrow, Blackpool, Carlisle, Chester, Glasgow, Liverpool. North Wales, Preston and Wigan.

It would be more like Thameslink for the North turned on its side, rather than Crossrail for the North.

Would such a TransPennine tunnel be realisable?

Consider.

  • 3D design software has improved tremendously over the last decade.
  • The Swiss have shown that these long tunnels can be built through solid rock.
  • There is plenty of space to put the tunnel.
  • It doesn’t have to be one continuous tunnel.
  • It might be possible to built it as a base tunnel, which would be low down and level between two valleys on either side of the Pennines.

I think there could be a lot of flexibility on how the tunnel would be designed and built.

Conclusion

A Manchester and Leeds tunnel via Bradford, could be one of the boldest projects ever undertaken in the UK.

I believe that we have the capabilities to build it.

Project Management Recommendations

This is a large project that will take several years.

  • But the Swiss have dug the Gotthard Base Tunnel of a similar size through solid rock in recent years.
  • It would be a political symbol to the North, that Government is serious about levelling up.
  • In thirty years or so, it won’t be found to have been built with inadequate capacity.

Other projects, such as the Huddersfield and Westtown Improvement wukk old the fort, whilst the tunnel is built.

 

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Tunnelling Complete At Bank Tube Station

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Infrastructure Intelligence.

This is the opening paragraph.

Tunnelling work at the project to modernise and expand Bank Underground station in London has been completed, marking a major milestone in the project. The tunnelling, which forms part of the programme to expand the size of the station by 40%, has seen more than 1.3km of tunnels constructed since May 2017.

I use Bank station regularly and it has been fully-functional during the tunnelling.

Hopefully, it will only in 2022.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

London’s First Two HS2 Tunnelling Machines Ordered

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

The title gives a description of the story, but the article reveals a lot of details about the tunnels for High Speed Two.

  • There will be ten tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in total for High Speed Two.
  • The main tunnels are 42 % larger than those for Crossrail.
  • There will be three pairs of tunnels under London; West Ruislip and Greenford (5 miles), Greenford and Old Oak Common (3.4 miles) and Old Oak Common and Euston (4.5 miles).
  • It looks like these first two machines will bore the two outer tunnels and that two extra TBMs will be ordered for Greenford and Old Oak Common.

There are also two excellent infographics.

  • The first shows the route of the tunnels.
  • The second shows the three pairs of tunnels and the directions, they will be bored.
  • The third also  discloses that the tunnels will be up to fifty metres deep.

There will also be a vent shaft at Greenford in Green Park Way, when the tunnel opens.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The A 4127 runs North-South across the map.
  2. The railways running across the map are Acton and Northolt Line and the Central Line, which serves Greenford station.
  3. The Greenford Branch Line goes South from a triangular junction.

The green site squeezed in between the industrial buildings and just to the North of the railways could be the site for the vent shaft.

This second map is a clip of High Speed Two’s map of the area.

The black line is the route of the High Speed Two tunnel.

  • It is to the North of the Central Line.
  • It looks to be close to the vacant site.

When High Speed One was built through Hackney, they bored the tunnels under the North London Line, so High Speed Two only seem to be repeating, what worked successfully.

These pictures show some of the ventilation shafts for High Speed One in East London.

Crossrail’s vent shafts are smaller in number and less obtrusive. There is one disguised in this building; Moor House.

I would hope that High Speed Two could improve further and create a useful building on top, that adds value to the area and doesn’t follow the utilitarian constructions of High Speed One.

Boring the Tunnels

According to the infographics, the three tunnels will be built in the following directions.

  • West Ruislip and Green Park Way – Towards Green Park Way
  • Green Park Way and Old Oak Common – Towards Green Park Way
  • Old Oak Way and Euston – Towards Euston.

These High Speed Two tunnels will be the fourth set of large tunnels to be bored under London in recent years after High Speed One, Crossrail and the Thames Tideway Scheme and I suspect there will be those , who will have worked on all four, at every level.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see some innovative use of the TBMs, so that they are reused if possible.
  • As four TBMs start at Old Oak Common and four finish at Green Park Way, I wonder if the planners have sequenced the insertion and extraction of the TBMs to make best use of the very expensive cranes needed.
  • Two TBMs will be inserted at West Ruislip, where there is a public golf course that must give plenty of space.
  • Two TBMs will be extracted a short distance to the North of Euston station. Again, there appears to be space.

I suspect experience from previous projects and good project planning has contributed to the design.

The Work Has Started At Green Park Way 

These pictures show the Greenford site on the 12th of October 2020.

These pictures were taken from a Central Line train.

The Tunnel Portal Works At West Ruislip Station

These pictures show the West Ruislip site on the 12th of October 2020.

Note.

  1. This is where High Speed Two will emerge from the tunnels from Euston.
  2. The first three pictures were taken from the bridge over the railway and show the Chiltern Main Line, Chiltern’s turnback siding and the High Speed Two site.
  3. There is no sign of works around the car park and the L-shaped care home on the station side of the road, so I would assume, that they will be unaffected by the tunnel.

This Google Map shows West Ruislip station.

Note.

  1. The Central Line terminating in West Ruislip station.
  2. The Chiltern Main Line passing through the station.
  3. The scar of the construction of High Speed Two alongside the Chiltern Main Line.

If you follow the Chiltern Main Line on Google Maps for a couple of miles, you can see the route of High Speed Two.

This second map is a clip of High Speed Two’s map of the area.

Note.

  1. The black line is the High Speed Two tunnel, that surfaces, where it changes colour.
  2. The L-shaped care home is still on the map, so it does appear the tunnel goes underneath.

It looks to me, that the bridge and Chiltern Trains going towards London, will offer good views of the tunnel works.

In the late 1950s, British Rail were increasing the number of tracks through Hadley Wood station, from two to four, by digging two extra tunnels.

I can remember my father taking me to see the works from Waggon Road or Wagon Road, which had and still had a few years ago, different names at either end.

 

 

October 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Innovation Must Go On

This is a snippet I found on this news round-up on Rail Business UK.

Network Rail has issued a request for information on innovative techniques for undertaking tunnel renewals and enlargement while minimising blockades. NR said it manages 693 tunnels that are typically 150 years old; these require different and increasing levels of maintenance and renewal, but the growth of traffic means there is less access for maintenance.

Someone in Network Rail has got the engineering envelopes out again and is doing their thinking at home under lockdown, rather than in a real ale hostelry.

Companies and other organisations, should use COVID-19 as an opportunity to innovate.

Imagine the unthinkable and the downright bonkers, so long as it’s legal!

Think loony! You know it makes sense!

 

April 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Consultation On The Cambridge Autonomous Metro

Issue 900 of Rail Magazine has an article called Have Your Say On Plans For Cambridge Metro Network.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority has launched a public consultation into outline plans for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM)

Under current proposals the CAM network would comprise a tunnelled section beneath Cambridge city centre, and four regional routes, radiating out towards St. Neots, Alconbury, Mildenhall and Haverhill.

This is a map clipped from the proposals.

Note.

Sections shown in green are tunnelled.

Sections shown in blue are on the surface.

Some sections would appear to reuse parts of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Rolling Stock

This picture from the consultation, shows possible rolling stock.

It could be a version of Van Hool’s ExquiCity BRT tram-bus, which is used is Belfast, Geneva, Metz and Parma – To name just four!

A hydrogen-powered version has also recently been introduced in Pau in France.

Could this be the version, that will be preferred for Cambridge?

  • It would be carbon and pollution free.
  • It could use exclusively green hydrogen, created from renewable electricity. Pau uses a hydrogen-generation system from ITM Power.
  • Would hydrogen-power encourage passengers to use the system?
  • It might borrow ideas from the Glider system in Belfast, which is diesel-electric powered.
  • Each Belfast Glider vehicle can hold 105 passengers.

A hydrogen-powered system would surely be ideal for working in the tunnels under Cambridge.

Tunnels

This article on the BBC is entitled Cambridge Metro: Engineer Says Underground Will Work.

In the article, Professor John Miles of Cambridge University says.

Britain was a world leader in boring small tunnels

It will be tight in the cramped city, but it should be possible.

Conclusion

Oxford will want one!

 

 

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Channel Islands To France Tunnel Would ‘Cost £5.6bn’

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

The tunnel would be built as follows.

  • Phase One would be a 28 km. rail tunnel between Jersey and Guernsey.
  • Phase Two would be a 32 km rail tunnel between Jersey and Normandy.
  • Both journey times would be around fifteen minutes.
  • The tunnels would take ten years to build.
  • It is claimed they would double the GDP of the islands in a decade.
  • The Governments of Guernsey and Jersey are supporting the idea.

One factor driving the idea, seems to be the ageing population of the Channel Islands, which means they will need a commuting population to provide services.

There is also an article on the Jersey Evening Post, which is entitled Jersey-Guernsey-France Tunnel Proposed, that gives a few more details of the proposals.

  • The tunnel will start in St Sampson’s in Guernsey and travel under Herm and Sark.
  • An artificial island would also be built between Sark and Jersey which could house a combined Channel Island’s airport, hospital, prison and university.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Route

This Google Map shows the Channel Islands.

Note.

  1. Herm is shown by the red arrow.
  2. Sark is llabelled as La Rade.
  3. The coast of the Cherbourg Peninsular is shown in the East.

From this map it appears that the distance of the two phases of construction would be similar.

Operating Speed

Both tunnels are proposed to be around twenty miles in length, so if the journey time is fifteen minutes, that means an average speed of eighty mph.

For comparison, the Channel Tunnel is just over thirty miles long and has a safety speed limit of 99 mph.

So it would appear that with good design, the timings are possible.

I also think that we could see speeds like these.

  • 200 kph (125 mph) on the surface in France.
  • At least 100 mph between France and Jersey.
  • 80 mph between Jersey and Guernsey, where there are three stops.

Timings of sub-forty-five minutes would be possible.

Single Or Double Track

I feel it would be possible to build each phase of the railway as a single-track tunnel, both of which would be paired with a service tunnel. There would be a double-track section in Jersey, so that trains could pass.

This would allow a four trains per hour (tph) service between Guernsey and France, with the services passing under Jersey.

This frequency would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

The article doesn’t say, whether a single or double track tunnel would be built.

As the tunnel would only be built once and probably never increased in capacity, the design must be right first time.

Tunnel Loading Gauge

Would the tunnel be built to take UK-sized trains or the bigger Continental-sized trains?

Consider.

  • The trains will probably terminate on the French side in a station.
  • The larger the tunnel, the more costly it would be to bore.
  • The tunnel would have to incorporate electrification.

I feel that the size of the tunnel will end up as a compromise between cost, convenience and compatibility with French railway standards.

Freight

Consider.

  • If the tunnel was the right diameter some freight could be transferred through the tunnel.
  • Parcels and smaller freight could also be carried on a shuttle train based on a passenger train.
  • A larger tunnel would increase the cost.
  • If freight were to be carried on the railway, then a freight terminal would be needed on the surface on Jersey and Guernsey where space is at a premium.
  • As less passengers would be using the ferries, this might mean money invested in new ferries between the islands and France and the UK for freight and road vehicles, would give a better return.

I think on balance, that building the rail link, so that it could handle freight trains, other than perhaps a parcel shuttle would not be a viable idea.

Rail Link Power Supply

I think there are two possible power sources for the trains on the rail link; electrification or battery.

Electrification would certainly be possible and would probably use the French (and UK!) system of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

As it is a tunnel, an overhead rail would probably be used as on Crossrail and other similar railways.

|As a battery range of eighty files would be needed for a round trip and hundred percent reliability would be desirable, I think it would be unlikely, that batteries would be the primary source of power.

But batteries could be fitted to handle regenerative braking and provide a back-up power source.

Connection To French Railways

The nearest French railway is the main Cherbourg and Paris railway, which is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead.

It would seem sensible to allow trains from the Channel Islands to terminate at Cherbourg.

  • It is a municipality of 80,000 people.
  • It is a major port.
  • It has a station with what looks to be a large capacity.
  • It has a rail service to Paris, where passengers can change for London.
  • There is probably space in Cherbourg station to incorporate a platform with passenger, freight and Immigration and Customs facilities.
  • Trains could probably run between Cherbourg and the Channel Islands Rail Link in less than thirty minutes.
  • France plans to start a TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg, which would have connections to Eurostar.
  • Cherbourg would probably be an ideal place for a depot.

It looks like that about thirty kilometres of new railway would be needed to connect the Channel Island tunnel to the Paris and Cherbourg Line.

Rail Link Signalling

As the trains would be running in France, the whole route would be signalled to the French standards, that are used on any shared track.

The Artificial Island

Consider.

  • The artificial island would contain an airport, a hospital, a prison a university and possibly other important facilities.
  • It would release land on Jersey and Guernsey for development.
  • It is not far from halfway between Guernsey and France.

I like this concept and I also think, that it could ease the construction of the railway.

A fair-sized site will be needed to insert the tunnel boring machines and deal with the spoil they bring to the surface.

I believe that using modern construction techniques, that creating the perimeter of the artificial island first and then boring the tunnels from the new land would be possible.

Tunnel spoil could be used to build up the island or taken away by ship for use elsewhere.

Electricity For The Channel Islands

Much of the electricity for the Channel Islands is produced by La Collette Power Station on Jersey, which is powered by fossil fuel and waste.

If as I believe the rail link would be built with a service tunnel, then would it not be better to import zero-carbon energy from France and distribute it to other islands, using an interconnector cable in the service tunnel?

My electrical engineering is basic from over fifty years ago, but I suspect that if the rail link used 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that the electrification could be used to supply the islands with power.

Hospital Access

There is no point in building a world-class hospital on the artificial island, if patients die because they take too long to get there.

Seriously-ill patients will take forever, if they have to go in an ambulance by ferry and although a helicopter is quick, these are too expensive, especially if you have to keep enough on standby to handle every eventuality.

But the artificial island is less than fifteen minutes from Jersey and Guernsey by train. As trains could be fifteen minutes apart, that means a patient could always be in hospital thirty minutes after being picked up.

But it would need the following.

  • A mini-A & E unit in all four stations, where patients could be triaged and admitted or treated, after being brought in by ambulance.
  • The ability to take a hospital trolley on all trains.
  • The ability to take a patient in a wheelchair on all trains.

I am pretty sure, that an efficient system can be devised.

The Stations

All the stations would be underground, including the terminal at St Sampson’s station on Guernsey.

  • Surface access would be by lifts, escalators and stairs.
  • Platform-edge doors would be fitted.
  • Al stations would be able to handle a hospital trolley.
  • Guernsey, Artificial Island and Jersey would probably have two platforms.
  • Other stations would probably only need a single bi-directional platform.
  • I doubt there would be a second station other than Cherbourg in France, as this would require Customs and Immigration.

I would also make the platforms long.

  • Crossrail’s platforms are over two hundred metres long and even London’s suburban platforms are often this length.
  • They could have separate sections for passengers and freight.
  • They would be difficult to extend in the future, so make them long enough for any possible future needs.

This would enable capacity increases to be made by just lengthening the trains.

The Trains

I have left the trains to last, as I wanted to lay out everything else first, so anything effecting the train design will have been covered.

  • An operating speed of 125 mph or 200 kph would be desirable to make maximum use of the infrastructure, especial in France.
  • The ability to run a round trip between Cherbourg and Guernsey in under two hours.
  • Trains could be either separate passenger and light freight versions or a combi version that could handle both passengers and light freight.
  • Trains could be built to a lower height than a typical French train, to allow for a smaller and more affordable tunnel to be bored.
  • A long-reach pantograph would be used to reach the higher French electrification.
  • All access between train and platform would be level for bags, bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.
  • All passenger trains must have the ability to take a hospital trolley, so urgent patients can be rushed to hospital.

My design would be based on a train like a Stadler Flirt, Bombadier Aventra or Siemens Desiro, built to a UK-loading gauge.

  • The train would have an ambulance car in the middle to get the best ride quality.
  • On one side of the ambulance car would be a passenger section and on the other side would be a light freight or parcel section.
  • Trains and stations would be designed together to minimise loading and unloading times.

I’m certain Stadler could build a version of the Class 745 train, that would fit the application.

TGVs To Cherbourg

The French have plans to run TGVs to Cherbourg, which will link up with Eurostar in Paris.

This will improve journey times to Cherbourg and then to the islands, if the Channel Islands rail link terminates in Cherbourg.

But I doubt TGVs would ever run to the Channel Islands.

  • It would need large tunnels that would cost a lot more.
  • TGVs would have to be designed to work with platform-edge doors.
  • It would be difficult to schedule four or more Channel Islands Rail Link trains per hour and the occasionally TGV through the tunnels.
  • Two tunnels would probably be needed.
  • TGVs are large trains and could need longer platforms in Jersey and Guernsey and other places they call.
  • TGVs would take several minutes to rurn round in Guernsey, whereas the Channel Islands Rail Link trains would turn in under five minutes.

There would probably only be a need for a couple of trains per day and a frequent shuttle to Cherbourg would give a much more customer-friendly service. Especially if the TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg was an hourly service.

Electric Airliners

A large proportion of the flights from Jersey and Guernsey airports would be suitable for electric airliners, which I’m certain will be flying before the earliest date the new combined Channel Islands Airport opened.

This would mean that to get to the Channel Islands from say Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, London or Rotterdam can be done faster in a zero-carbon electric airliner.

The Channel Islands could provide the necessary infrastructure for electric airliners and say all airlines must use them for services to the new airport.

What would it do for Channel Islands tourism to have the world’s first zero-carbon airport?

Surely, with the  Channel Islands Rail Link, the airport could be the preferred one for passengers in the area, wanting to travel to the UK and Ireland.

 

What’s In It For The French?

France will be a beneficiary of the project.

  • The French build tunnel boring machines.
  • The Channel Tunnel Rail Link will create job opportunities in the Cherbourg area.
  • If economic activity increases around Cherbourg, the case for the TGV to Cherbourg gets better.
  • The French get a new modern airport for the Cherbourg area.
  • The French could get an increased market for their nuclear electricity.

I can see the French liking this project.

Conclusion

I think the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a good idea and could transform the economy of the Channel Islands.

It will also be good for the surrounding area of France.

 

 

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 7 Comments