The Anonymous Widower

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.

 

November 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 13 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

Engineers Want Tunnel Of Love Under Irish Sea To Unite UK

The title of this post is the same as this article on the Sunday Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The UK really could become a United Kingdom, according to top engineers who propose linking Britain and Northern Ireland with a high-speed rail tunnel under the Irish Sea.

The possibility of such a tunnel, is all down to improvements in tunnelling techniques.

  • Tunnelling speeds have increased by three times in the last thirty years and could double in the next ten.
  • Future tunnel boring machine would line the tunnel using cement mixed with the rock debris.
  • It should also be remembered, that once built, tunnels don’t suffer from the weather.

Behind the plan are the Institution of Civil Engineers and the British Tunnelling Society.

The report is also suggesting these tunnels.

  • To the Isle of Wight
  • Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff
  • Under the Humber

As to the Irish tunnel, the article discuses these routes.

Anglesey and Dublin

It would be fifty miles and an engineering possibility. But would it be too sensitive politically, so soon after Brexit.

Stranraer and Larne

Possible, but there are reportedly a million tonnes of World War Two bombs dumped in the area and a lot of connecting railways would need to be built.

North of Liverpool And South Of Belfast via The Isle Of Man

This sounds crazy and would involve nearly a hundred miles of twin tunnels.

  • But it is the preferred route!
  • Could the tunnelling conditions be excellent?
  • It appears the North of the Isle of Man is flat farming country.
  • The article gives tunnelling costs at £80million per mile, so it would be an £8billion pound project.
  • It could be easily linked to the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two at several places.
  • It could carry freight as well!

It is going to be very interesting to read the report.

Conclusion

Have the engineers been watching The Great Escape too often?

Possibly, but engineering is the science of the possible and politics is dreams of the impossible.

 

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 6 Comments

HS2 Way Out In Front In Tunnel Design For High-Speed Rail

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

The article describes how Arup and Birmingham University are using physical and computer modelling to obtain the ultimate profiles of both tunnel portal and train nose to both increase train performance and reduce train noise as the trains enter tunnels.

They are even using a huge shed at the former British Rail Research Centre in Derby!

The biggest problem, is that there are aerodynamic effects, as the trains enter the tunnels at very high speeds, which result in what are inevitably called sonic booms, that disturb the local residents.

Because the new trains and tunnel portals are being developed together, there must be a greater chance, they will meet the objectives.

Collateral Benefits

Get the design right and there will be other benefits.

Lower Power In The Cruise

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I said this.

I have found this on this page on the RailUKForums web site.

A 130m Electric IEP Unit on a journey from Kings Cross to Newcastle under the conditions defined in Annex B shall consume no more than 4600kWh.

This is a Class 801 train.

  • It has five cars.
  • Kings Cross to Newcastle is 268.6 miles.
  • Most of this journey will be at 125 mph.
  • The trains have regenerative braking.
  • I don’t know how many stops are included

This gives a usage figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

This figure is not exceptional and I suspect that good design of the train’s nose will reduce it, especially as the design speed of High Speed Two will be 360 kph or 224 mph.

Reduced Noise

Stand on a Crossrail platform at say Southall or West Drayton stations and listen to the Class 801 trains passing.

They are only doing about 100 mph and they are certainly not quiet! Noise comes from a variety of sources including aerodynamics, overhead wires and running gear.

Could the nose and profile of high speed trains also be designed to minimise noise, when cruising at high speeds?

Reduced Pantograph Noise

Travelling at up to 360 kph, pantograph noise could be a serious problem.

The only way to cut it down, would be to lower the pantograph in sensitive areas and run the train on battery power.

But if the trains energy consumption could be cut to a much lower level, it might be possible for the cruise to be maintained on battery power alone.

Consider a journey between Euston and Birmingham.

  • The train would accelerate away from Euston and go in a tunnel to Old Oak Common.
  • Batteries could be charged whilst waiting at Euston and in the run to Old Oak Common.
  • Accelerating away from Old Oak Common would bring the train to 360 kph as fast as possible.
  • It would now cruise virtually all the way to Birmingham Interchange at 360 kph.
  • At the appropriate moment the pantograph would be lowered and the train would use the kinetic energy to coast into Birmingham Interchange.
  • There would probably be enough energy in the batteries to take the train into Birmingham Curzon Street station after the stop at Birmingham Interchange.

One technology that will massively improve is the raising and lowering of the pantograph at speed.

So could we see much of the long non-stop intermediate section being run on batteries with the pantograph down. If power is needed, it would raise to power the train directly. If the raising and lowering was efficient, then it might be able to use the pantograph only in tunnels.

Could It Be Possible To Dispence With Wires Outside Of Tunnels?

Probably not on the first phase of High Speed Two, but consider.

  • High Speed Two is designed to have a lot of tunnels.
  • Arup and Birmingham may come up with even better aerodynamic designs.
  • Pantograph raising and lowering will get faster and extremely reliable.
  • Battery technology will hold more electricity for a given weight and volume.
  • Dispensing with visible wires could reduce the problems of getting planning permissions.
  • Noise and visible intrision will be reduced.

I believe there will come a time, when high speed railways could be built without visible overhead electrification.

The only places, where electrification would be used would be in tunnels and stations.

Are There Any Other Applications Of This Research?

These are a few thoughts.

Hitachi Trains For The Midland Main Line

I’m suspicious, that the research or similar research elsewhere, might have already produced a very handy result!

In an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, more details of the new Hitachi bi-mode trains for East Midlands Railway (EMR) are given.

This is said.

The first train is required to be available for testing in December 2021 with service entry between April and December 2022.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises. They will have 24 metre vehicles (rather than 26 metres), a slightly different nose to the ‘800s’ and ‘802s’, and will have four diesel engines rather than three.

Could the new nose have been designed partly in Birmingham?

Consider.

  • Hitachi’s bi-modes for EMR InterCity could be running at up to 225 kph in a few years.
  • The Midland Main Line between Derby and Chesterfield goes through a number of tunnels in a World Heritage Site.
  • Hitachi have collaborated with UK research teams before, including on the Hyabusa.
  • Hitachi and Bombardier are submitting a joint bid for High Speed Two trains, which is based in Birmingham.

It should be noted that when the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened in 1964 between Tokyo and Osaka average speed was 210 kph.

So are Hitachi aiming to provide EMR InterCity with almost Shinkansen speeds on a typical UK main line?

Arup and Birmingham University, certainly have the capability to design the perfect nose for such a project.

Aventras

Did the research team also help Bombardier with the aerodynamics of the Aventra?

I’m pretty certain, that somebody did, as these trains seem to have a very low noise signature, as they go past.

Talgo

Tsalgo are building a research centre at Chesterfield.

Will they be tapping in to all the rail research in the Midlands?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that there is some world-class research going on in Birmingham and we’ll all benefit!

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could We Bore A Double-Track Railway With A Tunnel Boring Machine?

There is one inevitability about construction projects.

As buildings get taller, foundations get deeper, structures get heavier, machines like cranes get bigger and more able to lift heavy loads.

I remember how in the 1970s, a project manager was eulogising about how the latest floating cranes that could lift 4,000 tonnes wee revolutionising the construction of oil platforms in the North Sea.

Crossrail may be a railway under London, where people think the tunnels are massive.

This page on the Crossrail web site describes the tunnels.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

But they are not the largest tunnels under London.

The Thames Tunnel, built by the Brunels, opened in 1843.

  • It is eleven metres wide.
  • It is six metres high.
  • It carries the double track railway of the East London Line, which runs Class 378 trains, which are very much a typical British loading gauge.

There is also the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which is being dug to be a 7.2 wide circular tunnel.

And then there’s Bertha!

This description is from Wikipedia.

Bertha was a 57.5-foot-diameter (17.5 m) tunnel boring machine built specifically for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel project in Seattle.[1] It was made by Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works in Osaka, Japan, and the machine’s assembly was completed in Seattle in June 2013. Tunnel boring began on July 30, 2013, with the machine originally scheduled to complete the tunnel in December 2015.

It looks like London’s tunnels should be considered small.

Cross section areas of various tunnels are.

  • Thames Tuideway Tunnel – 40.7 square metres.
  • Thames Tunnel – 66 square metres
  • Seattle Tunnel – 240 square metres.
  • 8 metre circular tunnel – 50.3 square metres
  • 10 metre circular tunnel – 78.6 square metres
  • 12 metre circular tunnel – 113 square metres

The Seattle Tunnel shows what is possible today.

I am led to the obvious conclusion.

It would be possible to build a tunnel to take a full-size double-track UK railway using a tunnel boring machine.

Whether you would want to is another matter, as two single tunnels may be more affordable and better operationally.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Will HS2 And Northern Powerhouse Rail Go For The Big Bore?

Different Versions Of This Post

The original post was published on the 25th August 2019.

It has been updated on the 21st November 2020 to reflect changes made to High Speed Two (HS2).

The Merging Of High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail

It looks to me that there will be increasing links and merging between High Speed Two (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

This report on the Transport for the North web site, is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Proposals and possibilities include.

  • NPR will have a Western terminal at a new station in Liverpool City Centre.
  • HS2 trains would access Liverpool and Manchester via a junction between HS2 and NPR at High Legh.
  • There will be six trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport.
  • The route between Manchester and Manchester Airport is planned to be in tunnel.
  • There will be six tph between Manchester and Leeds.

In addition, Boris has made positive noises about a high speed line between Manchester and Leeds being of a high priority.

So will the planners go for the logical solution of a High Speed tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds?

  • There could be a theoretical capacity of perhaps 18 tph, which is the design capacity of High Speed Two.
  • Speeds of up to 125 mph or more could be possible. The Gottard Base Tunnel has an operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.
  • Stations could be at Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly/Piccadilly Gardens/Victoria, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds.
  • West of Manchester Airport, the route appears easier and the tunnel would emerge close to the airport. Jigh Speed Two is planning that the tunnel emeges just to the North of the Airport and that the station is below ground level.
  • East of Leeds the tunnel would join up with existing routes to Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle and York.

I believe such a tunnel could be built without disrupting existing rail services and passengers. Remember building Crossrail’s tunnels was an almost invisible process.

It would result in two rail systems across Northern England.

  • Upgraded Classic Rail Routes
  • The Big Bore

My thoughts on the two systems follow.

Upgraded Classic Rail Routes

This could include improvements such as these,

  • Extra passing loops.
  • Selective electrification
  • Improved stations
  • Comprehensive in-cab digital signalling
  • More paths for passenger and freight trains.

Which could be applied to routes, such as these.

In addition, there could be the reopening of some closed or freight routes to passenger trains.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route.

It is a comprehensive upgrade that includes.

  • 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.

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Hope Valley Line Improvements, I talked about planned improvements to the Hope Valley Line, which should begin in the next couple of years.

These improvements are given in detail under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Hope Valley Line.

The Hope Valley Improvements will cost in the region of tens of millions of pounds and Wikipedia sums up the benefits like this.

These changes to allow three fast trains, a stopping train and freight trains each hour were also supported in a Transport for the North investment report in 2019, together with “further interventions” for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.

It seems like good value to me!

So could we see other Multi-million and billion pound projects created to improve the classic routes across the Pennines?

Projects would be fully planned and the costs and benefits would then be assessed and calculated.

Then it would be up to the Project Managers to devise the optimal structure and order in which to carry out all the projects.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following techniques used.

  • Discontinuous electrification to avoid bridge reconstruction.
  • Intelligent, hybrid diesel/electric/battery trains from Bombardier, Hitachi or Stadler, capable of 125 mph running and changing mode at speed.
  • Modular digital signalling
  • Factory built stations and step-free bridges.
  • Removal of all level crossings.
  • All stations updated for step-free access between train and platform.

The objectives would be as follows.

  • More paths, where needed.
  • Faster line speed.
  • Less running on diesel.
  • Fast station stops.

Hopefully, the upgrading could be done without too much disruption.

Remember though, that disruption to existing users during a project, is most likely down to bad project management.

The Big Bore

The Central Core tunnel of Crossrail between Royal Oak and East London, was virtually a separate project before Crossrail’s stations and much of other infrastructure was built.

I believe that digging the tunnel first gave a big advantage, in that it could be constructed as an independent project, provided that the logistics of delivering the components and removing the junk was done efficiently.

But it did mean that travellers wouldn’t see any benefits until the project was almost complete.

HS2 and NPR are different in that they also envisage upgrading these routes.

  • The Huddersfield Line
  • The Chat Moss Line
  • The Calder Valley Line
  • The Hope Valley Line
  • The Dearne Valley Line
  • The Selby Line
  • The Midland Main Line North Of Clay Cross

Only the Huddersfield Line is directly affected by the Big Bore.

Effectively, the Big Bore will provide a by-pass route for passenger trains between Leeds and West of Manchester Airport, to take the fast trains of HS2 and NPR underneath the congested classic lines.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North I said this about a tunnel between Leeds and Manchester.

To get a twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester with a ten minute frequency, which I believe is the minimum service the two cities deserve, would be like passing a whole herd of camels through the eye of a single needle.

The Swiss, who lets face it have higher hills, than we have in Northern England would create a new route mainly in tunnel between the two cities, with perhaps an underground station beneath the current Grade I Listed; Huddersfield station.

The transport for the North report suggests Bradford Low Moor station, as an intermediate station, so why not Bradford Low Moor and Huddersfield stations?

Note that the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened a couple of years ago, deep under the Alps, is about the same length as a Leeds and Manchester tunnel, and cost around eight billion pounds.

It would be expensive, but like Crossrail in London, the tunnel would have big advantages.

  • It could be built without disrupting current rail and road networks.
  • It would have a capacity of up to thirty tph in both directions.
  • Unlike Crossrail, it could handle freight trains.
  • It would unlock and join the railway systems to the East and West.

I believe, it would be a massive leap forward for transport in the North of England.

It would be a very big project and probably one of the longest rail tunnels in the world.

Comparison With The Gotthard Base Tunnel

But surely, if a small and rich nation like Switzerland can build the Gotthard Base Tunnel, then we have the resources to build the Big Bore between Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Consider these facts about the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

  • It is two single track bores.
  • Each bore has a track length of around 57 kilometres or 35 miles.
  • The tunnel may be deep, but it is direct and level.
  • The maximum speed is 250 kph or 160 mph.
  • The operational speed for passenger trains is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • The operational speed for freight is 100 kph or 62 mph.
  • It can take the largest freight trains.

To make numbers even more impressive it is joined to the shorter Ceneri Base Tunnel, to provide an even longer route.

Manchester Airport And Leeds Direct

Now consider Manchester Airport and Leeds.

  • The current rail distance is 56 miles.
  • There are stops at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.
  • Journey time is eighty minutes.

But the direct distance is only 68 kilometres or forty-three miles.

Surely if the Swiss can blast and dig two 57 km. single-track rail tunnels through solid rock, we can go eleven kilometres further with all the recent experience of tunnelling around the world.

The lengths of the various legs would be as follows.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 14 km.
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 35 km.
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 17 km.
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km

Trains running on the various legs at 200 kph, which is the cruising speed of a 1970s-built InterCity 125, could take the following times for the various legs.

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester – 4.2 minutes
  • Manchester and Huddersfield – 10.5 minutes
  • Huddersfield and Bradford – 5.1 minutes
  • Bradford and Leeds – 13 km – 3.9 minutes

Leeds and Manchester Airport would be under thirty minutes apart, even allowing two minutes each for the three stops.

Looking at NPR between Liverpool and Hull, times could be as follows.

  • Liverpool and Manchester – 26 minutes
  • Manchester and Leeds – 20 minutes
  • Leeds and Hull – 38 minutes

Or a Coast-to-Coast time of under ninety minutes.

Train Frequencies

HS2 is being designed to handle eighteen tph, although slower intensive railways in the UK can handle up to twenty-four tph.

At the current time or certainly in a few years time, the theoretical maximum frequency through the Big Bore should be between these two figures. I will assume at least eighteen tph in this post.

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report talks about the following frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Manchester via Manchester Airport – Six tph.
  • Manchester and Leeds – Six tph
  • Leeds and Hull – Two tph

This is all so lacking in ambition. It is like building a new high capacity road and only allowing those with status to use the road.

If Leeds and Manchester Airport can handle eighteen tph, why not use some of it to create an Express Metro under the Pennines?

To me, if the Big Bore is built, nothing short of twelve tph or a train every five minutes is acceptable, at Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds stations.

The extension to Hull could be reduced to perhaps six tph, but with the upgrading of the Hull and Leeds Line to perhaps 140 mph, I’d be bold and create a true TransPennine Express;

Hull and Liverpool every five minutes would be the ultimate Marketing Man’s dream.

The Underground Stations

Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all be through stations deep underground.

  • They would be connected to the surface by lifts and escalators.
  • Some entrances to the stations would connect to existing stations and others might emerge in City squares like Manchester’s P:iccadilly Gardens.
  • Most stations would be just two platforms, as all trains would pass through on either side of a large underground concourse.
  • Bay platforms could be added as required.
  • All stations would have platform edge doors.
  • Passengers would be able to reverse direction by just walking across the concourse.

Stations would build on the lessons learned from Crossrail. But then NPR is closer to Crossrail than a Classic High Speed Line.

Weston Williamson’s Vision For Manchester Piccadilly Station

I wrote about this in The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’.

I believe that this is the way to create an underground station.

The Terminal Stations

The two main terminal stations for NPR and trains running through the Big Bore would be the proposed High Speed station at Liverpool and the existing Hull station.

But one other terminal station is being created; Edinburgh.

I have been going to Edinburgh station to and from England for perhaps thirty years and the capacity of the station has constantly increased.

Recent developments are extended Platforms 5 and 6, that can take the longest LNER trains.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that with the application of digital signalling, that there is capacity for at least eight tph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

There would certainly be capacity for at least two tph between Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

In the East the other possibilities for terminals are Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

  • I would discount Newcastle, as it lacks capacity and its location would make it difficult to add more.
  • Doncaster has good connectivity and space, but do Leeds and Hull offer similar connectivity?

So that leaves Hull, Edinburgh and York, as the only Eastern terminals.

In the West, there is probably a need to connect to the Northern section of the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Glasgow Central is probably the obvious terminal, but it would need an extra connection at the junction of HS2, NPR and WCML at High Legh.

If necessary Preston could be used, as it has space and lots of connectivity.

Tunnel Size

As Manchester will be served by High Speed Two’s Full-Size trains from Birmingham and London, both Manchester stations will need to be built to accept these trains.

I feel that the whole tunnel between Manchester Airport and Leeds, should be built to the High Speed Two size, so that it can accept the largest possible passenger and freight trains, in the future.

Integration Of HS2 and NPR

The At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail report is proposing this and it looks that the following HS2 services could be possible between Euston and Manchester.

  • Two tph – Euston and Hull via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds
  • Two tph – Euston and Edinburgh via Old Oak Common, Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

Note.

  1. Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would all have four tph to and from London, by the Western arm of HS2’s Y.
  2. If in addition there were two tph between Liverpool and Hull and Liverpool and Edinburgh, this would mean four tph from the Big Bore of NPR to both Hull and Edinburgh.
  3. None of these core services need to terminate in the Big Bore.

I very much feel that integrating HS2 and NPR is the way to go.

Could We See A High Speed Northern Metro?

If we assume that the Big Bore could handle the HS2 frequency of at least eighteen tph, then it would be possible to create a high speed service across the Pennines with the following Metro-like frequencies.

  • Liverpool and Hull – 4 tph
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Hull – 2 tph
  • London Euston and Edinburgh – 2 tph

This would result in the following frequencies

  • Liverpool – 6 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • London Euston – 4 tph
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph
  • Manchester – 12 tph
  • Huddersfield – 12 tph
  • Bradford – 12 tph
  • Leeds – 12 tph
  • Hull – 8 tph
  • York – 4 tph
  • Newcastle – 4 tph
  • Edinburgh – 4 tph

What would these frequencies do for train travel in the North of England?

Freight

The Gotthard Base Tunnel has been designed so that both freight and passenger trains can use the route.

There is a need for extra freight capacity across the country and I wonder if freight trains could use the Big Bore.

I estimate that the Big Bore would be 68 kilometres if bored straight and level between West of Manchester Airport and Leeds.

Lets assume it is seventy kilometres or 43.5 miles.

So times, through the tunnel at various average speeds would be.

  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 110 mph – 23.7 minutes
  • 100 mph – 26.1 minutes
  • 90 mph – 29 minutes
  • 80 mph – 32.6 minutes
  • 62 mph (Gotthard Base Tunnel speed for freight) – 42 minutes.

Could it be mandated that freight trains can use the tunnel, if they could maintain a particular speed?

Consider.

  • A 125 mph train with stops at Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds would probably take thirty minutes to transit the tunnel.
  • A freight train running at 90 mph would take more or less the same time.
  • Fifteen tph would mean a train every four minutes.
  • Automatic control of all trains in the tunnel would be a possibility. It appears to work on the much more complicated Thameslink.

I think with the following conditions, one or even two freight trains per hour, in addition to the passenger trains, can pass through the Big Bore in each direction.

  • The locomotives have the performance of at least the Class 93 locomotive, which is currently being built.
  • Freight trains can be hauled through at a minimum speed, which could be between 90 and 110 mph.
  • The passenger trains and train and platform staff work together to produce very short station dwell times.
  • All passenger trains are identical.
  • Station platforms are designed so that passengers can leave and enter the trains rapidly.

It will be a Big Bore with a capacity to match!

What About Sheffield?

I haven’t forgotten Sheffield, but I think it could be linked across the Pennines by another route.

Under the upgrades for Northern Powerhouse Rail, it is proposed that services between Sheffield and Leeds become 4 tph in 25 minutes along the Dearne Valley Line.

Does Boris Know More Than He Lets On?

The headline on the front cover of Issue 885 of Rail Magazine is Boris Backs New Pennine Railway.

There is also a sub-heading of PM commits to Leeds-Manchester line.

Boris didn’t apply any substance to the speech, except to say that it will be funded.

Conclusion

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 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.

 

 

August 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments