The Anonymous Widower

Northern Rail Apologises Over Disruption On Durham Coast Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Northern Echo.

These is the first two  paragraphs.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has invited Northern Rail executives and the Rail Minister to travel on the Durham Coast Line following “another weekend of rail chaos”.

As the football season kicked off and Seaham Food Festival attracted thousands of people, travellers were left angry and disappointed as they were unable to board overcrowded rail services at Horden and Seaham train stations.

The article then goes on to say that this has been an ongoing problem for several years.

I would have thought that to maximise revenue on any transport service, it is best to provide enough stagecoaches, charabancs, buses, trams or trains.

Could this business naivety be why the original Northern went bust?

What Should The Government Do?

As Northern is now run by the Government’s Operator Of Last Resort, it is up to the Government.

In Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, I report on an exchange between Boris Johnson and an MP in Prime Minister’s Questions.

These are my two main improvements.

Reopen Ferryhill Station And The Leamside and Stillington Lines To Create A New Route

Boris Johnson talked about reopening Ferryhill station, which could be key to opening up a second route between Teesside and Newcastle and Sunderland.

  • Ferryhill station would be on the East Coast Main Line and electrified to handle battery-electric trains.
  • Ferryhill terminal would be an ideal Southern terminal for a reopened Leamside Line, which most stakeholders seem in favour of, as it would take the pressure off the East Coast Main Line to the South of Newcastle and connect large areas to the rail network and in particular, the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Ferryhill station would be at the Northern end of the freight-only  Stillington Line, which runs South-Eastwards from the East Coast Main Line at Ferryhill to Stockton and Hartlepool or Middlesbrough.
  • A combination of the Leamside and Stillington Lines would open up a second route between the two conurbations.

It might also be possible to run a semi-fast York and Newcastle service via Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, Stockton, Ferryhill and the Leamside Line.

  • This service would only run on the East Coast Main Line, where there were four tracks to the South of Northallerton.
  • It could be run by a battery-electric train.
  • A battery-electric train could be charged at York, Ferryhill and Newcastle.

This article on the Northern Echo is entitled ‘Rapid’ Progress On Reopening Leamside Line, Connecting County Durham And Washington.

Things don’t seem to be standing still.

There would appear to be lots of scope for rail development between the Tyne and Wear in the North and the Tees in the South.

If the go-ahead is given by Government to develop the Leamside and Stillington Lines, the great thing is that construction of the new route will not affect anything on the important East Coast Main Line, as Network Rail would just be creating a railway by-pass around one of busiest sections of main line, that will be used by local and freight trains.

Two routes through the area, would certainly double the capacity, if both had an hourly train.

Battery-Electric Trains

I mentioned battery-electric trains as the rolling stock for a possible semi-fast service between York and Newcastle.

We are accumulating a large pile of surplus Class 350, 387 and 379 trains.

  • They are being replaced by modern units.
  • They were built within the last twenty years.
  • They are all high-quality four car trains.
  • They can all be modified for a 110 mph operating speed, so could venture on the East Coast Main Line if needed.

These trains have been mentioned several times as possibilities for conversion to battery-electric trains.

With a few strategically-placed charging systems, these would be ideal trains for services in the area.

Conclusion

It would be a great improvement for train services in the North-East.

My first step would be to convert the Hexham and Nunthorpe service via Newcastle, Sunderland, Seaham, Horden and Middlesbrough to battery-electric operation, by adding charging at Hexham and Nunthorpe stations.

Some are keen on hydrogen trains for this route, but these will have a longer gestation period.

I would also suspect that travellers in the North-East would prefer jam today, rather than possibly inferior jam sometime in the future.

Battery-electric trains based on the train classes I named would also be ideal for the Northumberland Line and the Salburn and Bishop Auckland service.

 

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Northern Echo.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A £34 million investment to reopen a North-East rail route that closed more than 50 years ago has been announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The funding, announced today, January 23, is to progress plans to reopen the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington, which closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.

The money will fund preparatory works, including land acquisition, detailed design work and early site works.

The general tone of the article and the tone of comments from interested parties is welcoming and generally positive.

The Northumberland Line

In the Wikipedia entry for the Blyth And Tyne Railway, there is a section, which is entitled 2019-Present: Revised Plans And The Northumberland Line Project, where this is said about the design of the Northumberland Line.

The revised proposals, released in July 2019, are reduced in scope from the plan considered in the 2016 GRIP 2 study and propose a four-phase project allowing a reduction in the initial cost of the scheme; the initial phase, at an estimated £90 million, would see the creation of new or reopened stations at Northumberland Park, Newsham, Bedlington and Ashington as well as some line-speed upgrades, extension of the double track section further to the south of Newsham, creation of turn-back facilities at Ashington and some level crossing upgrades or closures Two further stations, at Seaton Delaval and Blyth Bebside (formerly Blyth Park & Ride), and additional line-speed improvements are suggested for Phase 2 while Phases 3 and 4 would deliver further line-speed improvements (including signalling upgrades) and an additional passing-loop at Seaton Delaval respectively. Previously proposed stations at Seghill and Woodhorn appear to have been dropped from the scheme.

There is also a lot more detail in this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Beeching Reversed: Reopening Of The Northumberland Line.

These are a few of my thoughts, based on Wikiiedia, Google Maps and the Rail Engineer article.

The Current Tracks Between Newcastle and Ashington

I will now follow the route of the Northumberland Line in a series of maps from where it leaves the East Coast Main Line to Ashington.

Benton Junction

Benton Junction is where the Northumberland Line joins the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows Benton Junction

Note.

  1. The Tyne and Wear Metro (Metro) running East-West across the map.
  2. Benton Metro station towards the West of the map
  3. The fully-electrified East Coast Main Line (ECML) running  North-South down the map.
  4. The bridge at the bottom of the map, where the A191 crosses over the ECML, would need to be rebuilt to fit in any extra tracks.
  5. Manors station is the next station to the South on the ECML.
  6. Newcastle Central station is 4.3 miles to the South.
  7. Proctor and Gamble’s site to the East of the Junction.
  8. The Northumberland Line curves round the Proctor and Gamble site, connecting East and South.

This second Google Map shows the junction at the Southern point of the junction.

When the Northumberland Line closed to passenger trains in 1964, there were perhaps a dozen trains per day through this junction.

There are now 49, most of which are expresses on the ECML, so I suspect improvements are needed.

If the junction is remodelled, the single track section could be removed and perhaps Proctor & Gamble would like a station for their large workforce.

Single Track Alongside The Metro

After turning East after passing Proctor and Gamble, the Northumberland Line becomes single track and runs along the North side of the Metro.

This Google Map shows a section of the tracks.

It would appear that if required, there could be space to add an extra track.

Palmersville Station

The Northumberland Line then passes to the North of Palmersville Metro station, as this Google Map shows.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry for the station, indicates plans for connection between the Northumberland Line and the Metro.

Heading east from Palmersville, the route runs alongside a single-track line, which is used by freight services to and from North Blyth and Lynemouth. As of May 2020, proposals exist for the reinstatement of a passenger service over this route, as far as Ashington, as part of the Northumberland Line project. It is expected that additional platforms would be constructed at the nearby Northumberland Park station, in order to accommodate the new rail service, with a predicted September 2023 opening.

My only thought, is that a bi-directional platform could be created at this station, as a simple connection between the two Northumberland Line and the Metro.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is planned to be an interchange between the Northumberland Line and the Metro.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The two Metro tracks either side of an island platform.
  2. The single track of the Northumberland Line alongside.

There would appear to be space to the North of the Metro tracks to squeeze in two tracks, each with a platform for each.

But if the frequency on the Northumberland Line were only two trains per hour (tph), would the simplicity of a single Northumberland Line platform be worthwhile?

North From Northumberland Park

This Google Map shows the track layout to the North East of Northumberland Park station.

Note.

  1. Northumberland Park station is in the South West corner of the map.
  2. The double-tack of the Metro goes diagonally across the map to the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The Northumberland Line is a single-track line that breaks away to the North.

Would there be enough space to double-track the Northumberland Line through this area?

This 3D image from my virtual helicopter shows the bridge towards the top of the previous map.

It looks it would be a tight fit to put four tracks through this bridge or an expensive and disruptive rebuild.

As the Northumberland Line goes North from here, the engineering needed to add a second track would appear to get less challenging.

This image from my virtual helicopter, shows the Northumberland Line going under the A186.

At least this bridge seems to have been built large enough for all future options.

There would even be space for full double-tracking and a passing loop, where freight trains could wait for their slot to pass through.

Seghill Station

The line is single track until the site of the former Seghill station, which is shown in this Google Map.

 

The number of references to a station in the names are a bit of a giveaway.

  • According to Wikipedia, a new Seghill station was in the original plans.
  • It has since been dropped.

But there is still the problem of the level crossing.

As the original station was only a single platform, I do feel that following the example of some of the single platform stations like Newcourt in Devon, a single-platform station at Seghill could be a possibility in the future.

The current service at Newcourt station is two tph in both directions.

Onwards To Seaton Delaval Station

Seaton Delaval station is the first station proposed for reopening after Northumberland Park station and is shown in this image from my virtual helicopter.

Note that there is already a bridge over the railway line.

According to Wikipedia, the plans for Seaton Delaval station include.

  • Not building the station in the initial phase of the project.
  • Building the station at a later date.
  • Adding a passing loop.

Note that the original station had two platforms.

Newsham South Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Newsham South level crossing, which still has a signal box.

Note that just to the South of this crossing the track goes from single to double-track.

Newsham North Level Crossing

This Google Map shows the Newsham North level crossing, which is a very complicated affair.

At least the railway is double-track all the way through Newsham.

Newsham Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of the former Newsham station.

It was situated at the end of Seaton Avenue and Carlton Road, off South Newsham Road on the B1523. There was an extensive system of sidings at the station and The Railway Clearing House Handbook indicated that the station handled goods and livestock.

Wikipedia also says it was a junction station.

This Google Map shows Newsham and its two level crossings on the Northumberland Line.

Note.

  1. Newsham North level crossing is in the North-West corner of the map
  2. Newsham South level crossing is to the East of the roundabout in the South of the map.
  3. The red arrow indicates Seaton Avenue, which was close to the station.
  4. There appears to be green space to the North-East of the red arrow, which could have been the extensive system of sidings mentioned in Wikipedia.

This Google Map shows Seaton Avenue and Carlton Road linking the B1523 to the old station site.

It looks to me, that the original station location would have very difficult access for buses, cars, taxis and pedestrians.

Perhaps, the rebuilt station would be better placed by one of the level crossings.

I obviously don’t know the area, but is the Southern level crossing in the wrong place.

One of the most interesting train systems, that I have seen is in Zwickau in the former East Germany, where instead of buying more trams to connect to other towns and cities, they devised a train-tram system using standard diesel multiple units.

The Zwickau system is as step-free as anything you’ll find in Germany, but I’m sure Stadler, who are the masters of step-free access and a few innovative Geordies could do much better

Would it be possible to build two tram-style platforms, South of the Northern level crossings and run the trains through at a safe speed?

The electric trains would probably be battery-powered through the area.

Bebside Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of Bebside station.

The station was situated on the south side of Front Street on the A19. The goods shed was north of the level crossing and east of the running lines.

This Google Map shows the location of Bebside station.

Note.

  1. This map fits with Wikipedia.
  2. The double-track through Bebside station, appears to run between Newsham South level crossing and Ashington.

Wikipedia says this about a reopened station at Bebside.

The GRIP 2 study, which NCC received in October 2016, confirmed that the reintroduction of a frequent seven-day a week passenger service between Newcastle and Ashington was feasible and could provide economic benefits of £70 million with more than 380,000 people using the line each year by 2034. The study suggested that a new Blyth Park & Ride station should be constructed close to the site of Bebside station to serve Blyth due to its close proximity to the A189 dual carriageway.

There certainly appears to be space for the Park-and-Ride.

Could this station be one of the busiest and most profitable of the route?

If surveys show, that could be the case, would it be worthwhile to build this station first and possibly run a preview service to perhaps Northumberland Park station?

Over The River Blyth

Between Bebside and Bedlington, there is the Bedlington Railway Viaduct.

This Google Map shows the viaduct.

Note the amazing shadow.

This image was taken from my virtual helicopter looking from the East.

Note that the road in the foreground is the A189.

Bedlington Station

Wikipedia says this about the location of Bedlington station.

The station was situated on the north side of the level crossing on Station Road, west of the junction with Palace Road. Nearby was Bedlington Colliery.

This Google Map shows the location of Bedlington station.

Note.

  1. Some of the old station still exists.
  2. The route is double-track through the station.
  3. Although the original station only had one platform, there would appear to be space for a second.

On the other hand good design as at Galashiels, which has a slightly smaller population than Bedlington, has created a new station with only a single platform.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opened Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Galashiels station is designed to handle two tph in both directions.

Bedlington North Junction

This Google Map shows Bedlington North Junction.

Note.

  1. The double-track railway going West, quickly becomes a single track, which connects Bedlington to Morpeth.
  2. There is a full triangular junction at Morpeth, so that trains can go North or South on the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The double-track railway going North connects to Ashington.

There is also another level crossing, just to the North of the junction.

Connecting To North Blyth

About a mile North of Bedlington, there is a branch to North Blyth and the Port of Blyth.

This Google Map shows the junction.

Note.

  1. West Sleekburn junction is at the South.
  2. Marcheys House junction is at the North.
  3. Winning junction is at the East.

This Google Map shows the mouth of the River Blyth.

I can see some would find reasons to extend passenger services along the branch.

Over The River Wansbeck

I hadn’t expected what comes next.

This Google Map shows the crossing of the River Wansbeck, by the North Seaton Rail Viaduct.

This second image was taken from the East from my virtual helicopter.

Note.

  1. Marcheys House junction can be seen in the left of the second image.
  2. The bridge is double track.
  3. It is known as The Black Bridge.

As the viaduct will celebrate, its centenary sometime later in this decade, what better way to mark it, than reinstate the passenger service over the viaduct.

Through The Houses Into Ashington

This Google Map shows the route North from the bridge over the River Wansbeck into Ashington.

Note.

  1. The River Wansbeck is at the South of the Map.
  2. The railway is double track through the town.
  3. North Seaton station used to be about a third of the way up the map, where the A196 road crosses the railway.

This enlarged Google Map shows the site of station.

Note.

  1. The original station had two platforms.
  2. There is a level crossing where the railway crosses the road.

There doesn’t appear to be any plans to re-open North Seaton station.

There is another level crossing between the bridge and the original site of Ashington station.

Will these level crossings be a problem?

Ashington Station

This Google Map shows the original site of Ashington station.

Note.

  1. Station Road is a bit of a giveaway as to the location.
  2. The station would appear to have been in a cutting in a busy part of the town.
  3. Little of the original station seems to have survived.

It would appear that a station could be built here with a small amount of demolition.

But would it be big enough for all the possible plans for services to the North of Ashington.

This Google Map shows where the railway line when it emerges to the North of Station Road.

Note.

  1. The Northumberland Line curves round to the East to go to Lynemouth.
  2. It originally continued to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
  3. The area close to the line is a bus depot.
  4. There are several retail premises in the area.

Would it eventually be better to have an integrated transport interchange here?

Ashington To The Coast

This Google Map shows Ashington to the coast.

 

Note.

  1. The mothballed Alcan Smelter and Lynemouth power station are at the top of the map.
  2. The smelter and the power station are served by an extension of the Northumberland Line from Ashington, that is double-track for about half the way.
  3. Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on the coast and used to be served by a branch line from Ashington.

The route of the branch line can be picked out on this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The two branches used to divide by the Woodhorn Museum.
  2. Could a simple station be built to serve the museum and Wansbeck General Hospital.
  3. The branch to the smelter and the power station curves to the North.

The branch to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea station, takes a direct route to the coast.

I do think, that this extension from Ashington has possibilities.

I’ve even found this video of a freight train going to the smelter from the Port  of Blyth.

You don’t often see Class 55 locomotives or Deltics in action like this.

The State Of The Infrastructure

I’ve also found this video, which shows a cab ride from Blyth to the East Coast Main Line.

I can make the following observations. from the video.

  • There are wide margins in a lot of places so double-tracking could be possible.
  • The signalling is a mixture of semaphore and colour light signals.
  • There is work to do on some of the level crossings to make them safer.
  • The old platform is still visible at Bedlington station.
  • The bridge at Seaton Delaval is modern, but a double track, would be a tight fit.
  • The bridge where the B1322 crosses the tracks to the East of Northumberland Park station, looks like it would be little space for a fourth track.
  • The bridge taking the A186 over the Northumberland Line to the North of Northumberland Park station has been built with masses of space for extra tracks.
  • It would be difficult to fully double-track from Northumberland Park station to the East Coast Main Line.

Everything appears to be in generally good condition.

Length And Operating Speed Of The Route

Consider.

  • I estimate that the distance between Benton North Junction and Ashington is around nineteen miles. A round trip would therefore be under forty miles.
  • The Rail Engineer article says that the operating speed on the line will be increased to 65 mph.
  • I have found a freight train, that recently took 37 minutes to go between Benton North Junction and Ashington, which is an average speed of 31 mph.

I also estimate that the halfway point between Benton North Junction and Ashington is not far from the site of the possible Seaton Delaval station. Could this be why a passing loop has been proposed for the station?

The Frequency Of The Trains

Various sources like Wikipedia and media reports talk about the basic service being two tph or half-hourly.

Various average speeds Benton North Junction and Ashington give the following times for the journey.

  • 30 mph – 38 minutes
  • 40 mph – 28.5 minutes
  • 45 mph – 25 minutes
  • 50 mph – 22.8 minutes
  • 60 mph – 19 minutes

From these figures it looks to me, that a half-hourly service would certainly be possible with trains passing in a two-platform station with a passing loop at Seaton Delaval.

  • They would need to run at an average speed of 45 mph including stops.
  • This is a similar average speed to Ipswich and Cambridge, which has seven stops.
  • Modern step-free trains, as Stadler are building for the Metro, are designed for fast stops.
  • If the trains passed at Seaton Delaval at halfway, only one train would be North and South of that station at any time.

If only one train is on any section of the route at any one time, then single platform stations can be used, except at Seaton Delaval and Ashington.

There are a lot of people, who feel that train services like this should be four tph, as this gives a genuine Turn-Up-And-Go service.

Birmingham, London Overground, Merseyrail and other services use this frequency.

The Metro uses five tph, where possible.

Four tph would probably be possible with the passing loop at Seaton Delaval, as North of Newsham, the Northumberland Line is double-track, all the way to Ashington.

If the line is a success, I suspect there will be pressure to extend the passenger service to new stations at Lynemouth, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and perhaps other places.

Extra Northern destinations would help to create a viable four tph service between Newcastle and Ahington.

Rolling Stock

Consider.

  • As the trains will be running on a 65 mph route, trains capable of at least 90 mph would probably be needed.
  • The trains would run a short distance on the ECML, so perhaps electric trains, with at least a 100 mph capability would be needed, so they didn’t get in the way of the Azumas.
  • Pedicting ridership on a line like the Northumberland Line would be very much a Black Art and initial ideas will be wrong, so perhaps the initial trains should be three cars, with the capability of being easily lengthened to four cars. They must also be capable of working in pairs.
  • Electric traction is desirable, as it is zero-carbon at point of use, gives better acceleration and regenerative braking enables energy saving.
  • Ability to use a pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification would be useful.

Some would feel, that the same trains as the Metro should be used, but I can see services connecting across Newcastle using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification of the ECML.

The slower Metro trains would reduce the capacity of the ECML.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
  • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
  • They can work in pairs.
  • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
  • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
  • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
  • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi and Hyperdrive would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

These pictures show a ScotRail Class 385 train.

I think trains like these fitted with batteries, would do nicely.

There might need to be a charging station at Ashington to make sure the trains can get back to Benton North junction and the electrification.

Collateral Benefits Of Battery Electric Trains

I am one of a very small group of the general public, who have ridden in two different battery-electric trains in the UK.

It is my belief, that they have collateral benefits compared to other trains powered by electricity or diesel.

When I rode Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU, six years ago,  between Manningtree and Harwich, afterwards I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

I must admit, that on that day as I travelled to Manningtree, I had my doubts, that the train would perform, to a sufficient level to be able to replace an electric or diesel train in regular passenger service.

But this was a paragraph I wrote.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

This was my conclusion to the post.

Who’d have thought that such a rather unusual concept of a battery electric multiple unit would have so many possibilities?

I think I’ve seen the future and it just might work!

I think now, I might substitute will for might in the last sentence, with several manufacturers now offering battery-electric trains.

I very much feel my doubts before riding the train, were commonplace.

A year or so, after my ride, I met a lady on a train to Ipswich. She had been sceptical the train would work, but she had used the train to go to work every day for three months and was sorry, that it hadn’t been kept in service for longer.

I believe this scepticism and a natural human curiosity could lead to a serious increase in usage of the service, when compared to the predictions.

Did this mixture or curiosity and skepticism lead to the large turnout in Scotland to ride Vivarail’s battery-electric Class 230 train prototype, that I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway?

I will not be surprised, if in a couple of years, after battery-electric trains have been introduced on several routes, that train operators are reporting, unexpected increases in passenger numbers.

As I said, I have ridden in two battery electric train; a Class 379 and a Class 230.

One characteristic of both that is exceptional, is their low noise levels.

Even as an Electrical Engineer, I can’t explain it, but then all electric vehicles, I’ve ridden in are quieter than I would have expected.

Could it be, that the electrics don’t contain any mechanical components, that clank away? Or are pantographs noisier than I think they actually are?

Will these low noise levels, drive more people to travel on the trains?

Other factors like zero pollution, reliability and lack of unsightly wires could all be further collateral benefits.

I seriously believe, that battery electric trains could be a dream for a Marketing Man or Woman.

Signalling

Earlier I included a video of a train going from Blyth to Benton North junction.

One thing you notice in the video, is that much of the signalling is still outdated semaphore signalling and there are lots of signal boxes.

Network Rail have two main methods to modernise the signalling.

  • In Norfolk, they have used modular colour light signals.
  • On the Cambrian Line in Wales, they have used full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

As there will only be a limited amount of trains using the line and the ECML will be fitted with the digital signalling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the full digital signalling installed on the Northumberland Line.

Extra Northern Destinations

The obvious extra Northern destinations are Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and possibly Lynemouth.

It could all lead to a need for a passenger service to Newcastle via Ashington.

The other destination that could be served by a train on the Northumberland Line would be Morpeth station.

  • The track exists between Bedlington and Morpeth.
  • There used to be two intermediate stations between Bedlington and Morpeth, at Choppington and Hepscott.
  • There is an hourly service between Newcastle and Morpeth calling at Manors and Cramlington.
  • Manors station could be served by trains on the Northumberland Line, which pass through the station.

If Morpeth were to be served by the Northumberland Line, the problem would be that Cramlington would lose its service to and from Newcastle.

The Wikipedia entry for Cramlington station, says this about the station.

Northumberland County Council and the local rail users group SENRUG is campaigning to relocate the station to a new site 200 metres south of its present position, in order to better serve the town’s Manor Walks shopping centre, Westmorland Retail Park and main employment areas. The proposed site would also allow for the construction of a dedicated bus-rail interchange, a larger car park and serve several residential estates to the west built in the 1960s and 1970s.

That sounds a sensible, but cunning plan.

The simple way to give Cramlington an hourly service to Newcastle would be to have one tph of either CrossCountry, LNER or TransPennine Express stop at the station. But the companies might not want to introduce another stop.

Alternatively, the Morpeth train could continue South for a few minutes to a bay platform ar the new Cramlington station.

This Google Map shows Cramlington.

It looks like moving the station would be a good plan.

Future Traffic On The East Coast Main Line

The ECML between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed is a very busy double-track railway.

Over the next few years, it is likely the following will happen.

  • Digital in-cab ERTMS signalling will allow large sections of 140 mph running on the ECML.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh timings will drop to around three and a half hours. This timing was achieved by an InterCity 225 train in the 1980s.
  • Under four-hour timings will mean, passengers will switch to train from plane on the route.
  • Extra services will run between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • There will certainly be three tph and possibly four tph between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • Freight trains will be electric hauled at up to 120 mph.

It will be extremely difficult to fit the local services between Newcastle and Morpeth and Newcastle and Chathill into the traffic on the ECML.

The first improvement would be to run 110 mph battery electric trains between Carlisle and Morpeth and Chathill via Newcastle.

  • Many Morpeth and Newcastle trains are extended to Carlisle.
  • Carlisle and Newcastle id 61.5 miles, which with a small amount of electrification, would be within battery range.
  • Several services from Newcastle would be decarbonised.

To reduce the traffic on the ECML, these services could be rerouted via the Northumberland Line.

I suspect to Network Rail’s train planners, the Northumberland Line, is seen as a secondary route that can take the pressure from the ECML

Reopening The Northumberland Line In Sequence

My background is project management and I believe this project can be improved by good class project management.

I would do the project in this order.

Order A Fleet Of New Battery Electric Trains

These would have the following specification.

  • 100 mph or possible 110 mph on electrification on the ECML.
  • 100 mph on batteries, where the route allows.
  • 56 mile range on battery power.
  • Three- or four-cars
  • Ability to use digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

As I said earlier, the Hitachi specification for their Regional Battery Train based on a Class 385 train would be ideal, but other manufacturers would be capable of providing a suitable train.

Introduce The Trains Into Service

The trains would be introduced into service on the following routes from Newcastle.

  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Newcastle and Morpeth
  • Newcastle and Chathill

Note.

  1. There may need to be some extra electrification for the Newcastle and Carlisle service.
  2. Morpeth and Chathill would be served via the ECML.

Other routes from Newcastle could be possible.

Benefits would include.

  • Carlisle and Morpeth get electric train services from Newcastle.
  • Some services would be decarbonised.
  • The TOC would get feedback about the use of battery electric trains, in terms of passenger numbers and their comments.

Hopefully, the TOC would get information, that will help them plan future phases.

Test The Trains On The Northumberland Line

This would be for the following reasons.

  • To assess train performance.
  • Ascertain whether any changing would  be needed at Ashington.
  • Determine if any electrification would be needed to run any of the proposed services.

The TOC would continue to learn more.

Add A Single Platform On The Northumberland Line At Northumberland Park Station

Initially, I would only add a single platform at Northumberland Park station,

  • This would enable interchange between Northumberland Line and Metro services.
  • A temporary lift could be provided, as they were during the rebuilding of Abbey Wood station.
  • The extension to the station would be designed, so that all possible  future scenarios could be added later.

I would expect that the rebuilding of this station is on the critical path, so this should probably be performed early or in parallel with the introduction of the trains.

Benefits would include, the ability to start a shuttle service from the station to perhaps Carlisle via Manors and Newcastle.

Build A Single Platform Park-And-Ride Station At Bebside

I said earlier, that this Park-And-Ride station is important and it should be built early.

  • It is 6 miles from Ashington.
  • It is  4.5 miles from Cramlington.
  • It is proposed as a station for Blyth.
  • It is close to the A 189 dual carriageway.

It should be built early as a one-platform station with a large car park.

It would need a cross-over to turn back trains or the existing one at Bedlington could be used.

Reinstate A Single Platform Station At Bedlington

Bedlington station has some interesting remains.

  • There is a derelict platform on the Eastern (Up) track.
  • There are cross-overs to turnback trains.
  • There is a level crossing.

There is also a signal box with a signaller to keep order.

Start A Preview Service Between Newcastle and Bedlington

A preview service could be started once the following has been completed.

  • The track and signalling has passed all necessary inspections.
  • The trains have been certified for the route.
  • The interchange with the Metro has been completed at Northumberland Park station.
  • Either Bebside or Bedlington has been completed.
  • Drivers and other staff have been trained.

Starting a preview service should enable the future extensions of the service to be designed using some real passenger numbers and feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a Ferryhill station on the East Coast Main Line. It closed in 1967 and burnt down in 1969, before being demolished.

I first noted the station in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, after Boris promised it would be built in PMQs.

I then mentioned the station in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

Last night, I read this document from Railfuture, which talks about rail improvements in the North East and on the East Coast Main Line.

In the document, Ferryhill station is mentioned eighteen times.

Reopening Ferryhill station would appear to have support at all levels.

The Location Of Ferryhill Station

This Google Map shows the general area of the proposed Ferryhill station.

 

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is the village in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The lion-shaped quarry in the North-East is destined to become a landfill site.
  3. Below this is Thrislington Plantation, which is a National Nature Reserve.
  4. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village and the quarry.

South of the village the line splits, as is shown in detail in this second Google Map.

Note.

  • Ferryhill South junction by Denhamfields Garage, with the nearby Ferryhill Station Primary School
  • The line going South-East is the Stillington freight line to Teesside.
  • The other line going in a more Southerly direction is the electrified East Coast Main Line to Darlington and the South.
  • Between Ferryhill South junction and Tursdale Junction with the Leamside Line is a 2.5 mile four-track electrified railway.

I suspect the station could be any convenient location, to the North of the junction.

Railfuture have strong opinions on the station and feel it should be a Park-and-Ride station for the settlements in the former North Durham coalfield, with frequent services to Newcastle.

Current Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

These services currently pass the location of the proposed Ferryhill station.

  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington. Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh via Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  • CrossCountry – Southampton and Newcastle via Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham
  • TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  2. All trains call at York, Darlington and Newcastle.
  3. I have missed out some of the intermediate stations, where trains don’t call at least hourly.
  4. I have missed out stations South of Birmingham New Street.
  5. A few Northern Trains services pass through at Peak times or to go to and from depots.

I suspect some of these services could stop and to encourage commuters to Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to swap from car to train,

I also suspect that Ferryhill station needs a frequency of at least two tph and if possible four! Four tph would give a Turn-up-and-Go service to Darlington, Newcastle and York.

Planned And Possible Future Passenger Train Services Through Ferryhill

From various sources, these services are either planned or possible.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two are planning the following services, that will pass through.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub and York.
  • London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub, York and Darlington.

Note.

  1. All trains have a frequency of one tph.
  2. All trains call at York, East Midlands Hub, York and Newcastle.
  3. All trains will be 200 metres long.

I feel that Ferryhill station should have platforms long enough to accommodate these trains and other long trains, to future-proof the design and to cater for possible emergencies.

The longest trains on the route would probably be one of the following.

  • A pair of five-car Class 800 trains or similar, which would be 260 metres long.
  • A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible train, which would be 200 metres long.

Unless provision needed to be made for pairs of High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.

East Coast Trains

From next year, East Coast Trains, intend to run a five trains per day (tpd) service between London and Edinburgh via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

Note that in Thoughts On East Coast Trains, I said this service would stop at Durham, as that was said in Wikipedia at the time.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

Northern Powerhouse Rail has an objective to to run four tph between Leeds and Newcastle in 58 minutes.

At present there are only three tph on this route, two tph from TransPennine Express and one tph from CrossCountry. All three services stop at Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

I believe that the best way to provide the fourth service between Leeds and Newcastle would be to run a third LNER service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh, when upgrades to the East Coast Main Line give the train operating company another path.

  • The service would only stop en route at Leeds and Newcastle.
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Leeds to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Newcastle to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh to three tph
  • It would increase the frequency between London Leeds and Newcastle to four tph
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, in under two hours.

I believe that, when all the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line are complete, that such a service could match or even better High Speed Two’s time of three hours and forty-eight minutes between London and Edinburgh.

Ferryhill And Teesside Via The Stillington Freight Line

The Clarence Railway is described in this paragraph in its Wikipedia entry.

The Clarence Railway was an early railway company that operated in north-east England between 1833 and 1853. The railway was built to take coal from mines in County Durham to ports on the River Tees and was a competitor to the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). It suffered financial difficulty soon after it opened because traffic was low and the S&DR charged a high rate for transporting coal to the Clarence, and the company was managed by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners after July 1834.

But it has left behind a legacy of useful rail lines, that connect important factories, ports, towns, works on other railways on Teesside.

This Google Map shows the triangle between Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Note.

  1. Eaglescliffe station is in the South-West corner of the map and lines from the station lead to Darlington and Northallerton stations.
  2. Thornaby station is in the North-East corner of the map and connects to Middlesbrough station.
  3. Stockton station is at the North of the map.

Tracks connect the three stations.

This Google Map shows the connection between Thornaby and Stockton stations.

Note.

  1. Stockton station is at the North of the map.
  2. Thornaby station is at the East of the map.
  3. In the South-Western corner of the map is a triangular junction, that links Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees and Thornaby stations.

Currently, this triangular junction, allows trains to go between.

  • Middlesbrough and Newcastle via Thornaby, Stockton, Hartlepool and Sunderland.
  • Middlesbrough and Darlington via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.
  • Middlesbrough and Northallerton via Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.

But it could be even better.

This Google Map shows another triangular junction to the North of Stockton station.

Note.

  1. The Southern junction of the triangle leads to Stockton station and ultimately to Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Middlesbrough, Northallerton and Thornaby.
  2. The Eastern junction leads to Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle.

So where does the Western Junction lead to?

The railway is the Stillington Branch Line.

  • It leads to Ferryhill.
  • It is about ten miles long.
  • It is double-track.
  • There used to be intermediate stations at Radmarshall, Stillington and Sedgefield.

Looking at timings for trains on the various sections of the route gives.

  • Middlesbrough and Stockton – 11 minutes
  • Stockton and Ferryhill South Junction – 23 minutes
  • Ferryhill South Junction and Newcastle – 20 minutes

This gives a timing of 54 minutes compared with up to 78 minutes for the current service on the Durham Coast Line.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Providing Faster Journeys Teesside to Tyneside by running passenger services from
Middlesbrough, Thornaby and Stockton via the 10 mile Stillington freight only line and then via the
East Coast Main Line to Newcastle. Our aim is to reduce overall journey time on direct train
between Middlesbrough to Newcastle from 1 hour 15 minutes to 55 minutes and so open up many
additional job opportunities to the residents of both areas.

My calculations say that it should be possible, to run a useful service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, via the Stillington freight line.

  • The route is used regularly for freight trains and by LNER for what look to be testing or empty stock movements.
  • Will any station be built at Radmarshall, Stillington or Sedgefield?
  • I estimate that between Ferryhill South Junction and Middlesbrough, is about fifteen miles, so it might be possible to run a Middlesbrough and Newcastle service using battery electric trains, like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be charged on the East Coast Main Line.

Activating the route, doesn’t look to be the most expensive passenger reopening on the cards.

I suspect though, that if passenger services were to be run on the Stillington Line, that Ferryhill station, will need platforms on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.

Services could include.

  • Newcastle and Middlesbrough via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and Hartlepool via Ferryhill
  • Newcastle and York via Eaglescliffe and Ferryhill, with a reverse at Middlesbrough.

 

Note.

  1. The Northern terminus could be Ferryhill for some trains.
  2. Two tph between Stockton and Ferryhill would be a useful service.
  3. Would a Newcastle and Middlesbrough service call at the poorly-served Chester-le-Street station to improve services?

I also feel that as some of these services will be running on the East Coast Main Line between Ferryhill and Newcastle, it probably would be desirable for these services to be run by Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains, which would be capable of maintaining the maximum speed for the route, as all the other passenger services can at present!

Ferryhill And Tyneside Via The Leamside Line

The reopening of the Leamside Line is a high priority of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which I wrote about in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

In their document, Railfuture gives this as one of their campaigns.

Reopening the rail line from Ferryhill to Pelaw (the Leamside Line) with the aim of providing
services that will improve local connections and open new opportunities to people living in this part
of County Durham, as well as providing relief for congestion on the existing line through Durham.

This reopening has been talked about for years, so I suspect that Network Rail know the problems and at least have a rough estimate for what needs to be done and how much it will cost.

The Wikipedia entry for the Leamside Line has a section, which is entitled Proposed Re-Opening, Upgrade and Development, where this is the first paragraph.

Since the line’s closure in the early 1990s, a number of proposals to re-open the Leamside Line were put forward, including plans by AECOM, ATOC, Durham County Council, Railtrack and Tyne and Wear PTE. The line has been considered for a number of potential uses, including a regional suburban rail service linking Tyneside and Teesside, a diversionary freight route for the East Coast Main Line, and an extension to the Tyne and Wear Metro network.

Wikipedia also states that an application to the Restoring Your Railway Fund for money for a feasibility study was unsuccessful.

All that could change with the developments needed between Leeds and Newcastle for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • High Speed Two are planning to run at least three tph to and from Newcastle.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail are planning to run an extra service between Leeds and Newcastle.
  • LNER will have an extra path on the East Coast Main Line, that could be used through the area.

Using the Leamside Line as a diversion for freight and slower passenger trains would appear to be a possibility.

It could also be combined with the Stillington Line and Northallerton and Stockton to create a double-track diversion, alongside the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line between Northallerton and Newcastle.

Extending The Tyne And Wear Metro Along The Leamside Line

This has been talked about for some time.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro. there is a section, which is entitled Extension To Washington IAMP, where this is said.

There have been a number of proposals looking in to the possibility of re-opening the former Leamside Line to Washington, including a 2009 report from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), and a 2016 proposal from the North East Combined Authority (NECA), as well as the abandoned Project Orpheus programme, from the early 2000s. Most recently, proposals are being put forward to link the current network at Pelaw and South Hylton, with the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Washington, using part of the alignment of the former Leamside Line.

If the Tyne and Wear Metro were to be extended to the Southern end of the Leamside Line, Ferryhill station could be a Southern terminal.

  • There is space to create a line alongside the East Coast Main Line between Tursdale Junction, where it connects with the Leamside Line and Ferryhill station.
  • The new Tyne and Wear trains have been designed to share tracks with other trains on Network Rail tracks.
  • This would enable interchange between East Coast Main Line, Stillington Line and Metro services, without going North to Newcastle.

At the present time, all that would be needed would be for the Metro connection to be safeguarded.

Railfuture’s Campaigns In The North East

This is a tidying up of several improvements, which are campaigns of Railfuture, that are outlined in this document.

They will be covered in separate posts.

Conclusions

I can separate conclusions into sections.

The Design Of Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the design of Ferryhill station.

  • It should be built as a Park-and-Ride station.
  • It should have platforms long enough for any train that might stop at the station. I suspect this would be a pair of Class 800 trains, which would be 260 metres long.
  • Platforms should be on both the East Coast Main Line and the Stillington Line.
  • There should be safeguarding of a route, so that Metro trains could access the station from the Leamside Line.

As the station could be a Park-and-Ride station, I will assume the station will need good road access.

Train Services At Ferryhill Station

These are my conclusions about the services calling at Ferryhill station.

There should be four tph between Leeds and Newcastle, all of which would stop at York, Darlington, Ferryhill and Durham, with some services calling at Northallerton and Chester-le-Street.

There should also be less frequent services at Ferryhill to Scotland and London. Perhaps a frequency of around six tpd would be sufficient, as changes could be made at Leeds, Newcastle of York.

Two tph would probably be ideal for services on the Stillington Line to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

It would certainly be a busy and well-connected station.

 

December 13, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a direct line between Newcastle and Consett, which was the Derwent Valley Railway, which connected Consett to the Tyne Valley Line.

I would assume that the basis of the plan, is to reinstate this route and build a new station at Consett.

The Former Route

I will show the route starting from the Tyne Valley Line.

Connection To The Tyne Valley Line

This Google Map shows the MetroCentre with the Tyne Valley Line running along its North side.

Note.

  1. The River Tyne running along the North side of the map.
  2. MetroCentre station on the Tyne Valley Line is by the North-East corner of the MetroCentre.
  3. The River Derwent meanders its way to the River Tyne, to the West of the MetroCentre.
  4. The Derwent Valley Line used to come through this area to join the Tyne Valley Line.

I have a feeling that much of the route of the Derwent Valley Line lies under the new roads.

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Line, shows how, the line connected to the Tyne Valley Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Scotswood Railway Bridge is the dark-coloured bridge in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The Tyne Valley Line runs East-West across the map.
  3. Swalwell station must have been in the area of the junction on the A1.

As the old route appears to be blocked, another route must be found to connect to the Tyne Valley Line.

Perhaps there would be enough space to squeeze a railway line alongside the River Derwent.

Between Swalwell And Nine Arches Viaduct

The Nine Arches Viaduct is an iconic feature of the line. This image of the bridge was taken from a Google Map.

This second image shows it as a map.

 

Note that I have arranged the map, so that the path that uses the route of the Derwent Valley Line runs between the South-West and North-East corners of the map.

This third Google Map has the Nine Arches Viaduct in the South-West corner and Swalwell in the North-East corner.

Note the tadpole-shaped green space by the bridge.

Between Nine Arches Viaduct and Lintz Green

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. The Nine Arches Viaduct is in the North-East corner.
  2. Lintz Green is in the South West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Lintz Green and Rowlands Gill.

The History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Railway, explains why a more direct route wasn’t taken in this area.

Between Lintz Green And Ebchester

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

Lintz Green is at the Eastern edge of the map.

Ebchester is in the South-West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at High Westwood and Ebchester.

Between Ebchester and Consett

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. Ebchester is at the Northern edge of the map in the centre.
  2. Consett is in the South of the map.
  3. Shotley Bridge Hospital is an NHS hospital.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Consett.

Consett Station

A new station would have to be built in Consett.

Consett is a town of around 25,000 and is shown in this Google Map.

Note that the red arrow shows the rough location of the original station near Annfield Plain. The station and the tracks were demolished in the 1980s to make way for new roads.

How thinking on transport has changed in forty years!

Is This Route Feasible?

Google gives the distance between the Metrocentre and Consett as 11.5 miles and Wikipedia says that Consett is about 900 feet above sea level.

To put the altitude into perspective, this is higher than Merthyr Tydfil, but not as high as Buxton, so I feel that trains could ascend to Consett, as steam trains did in far-off Victorian days, when they carried over half a million passengers every year, according to Wikipedia.

I would say, that although restoring the route could be challenging, it would not be filed under Impossible.

These are a few other thoughts.

Would The Route Carry Freight?

If we’re talking about long freight trains with lots of containers or many trucks of coal, the answer is probably a negative.

But rail freight is changing, I can see many towns in the UK getting a high speed parcels service using modified electric multiple units.

  • Rail Operations Group and others are planning to experiment with this type of service.
  • With on-line shopping, 25,000 residents can generate a lot of deliveries and returns.
  • The average guy on the Consett omnibus, is getting more worried about carbon emissions.

But trains like these could fit in with the passenger service on the route and could even unload at a well-designed passenger terminal in Consett.

The route would also have to be able to take maintenance and construction trains, just like the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro do!

Would The Route Be Single- Or Double-Track?

Consider.

  • The original Victorian route was double-track.
  • The more trains on the route, the greater the need for a full double-track railway.
  • Would the Nine Arches Viaduct accommodate a double-track.
  • Single-track railways are easier to construct and more affordable.

Hopefully a serious study, will give an answer.

How Would Trains Go Between MetroCentre and Newcastle Stations?

Currently, there are three trains per hour (tph) between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations.

The Tyne and Wear Metro generally runs on the principle of five tph, so a one or two tph service between Consett and Newcastle would fit in well with the Tyne and Wear Metro, even if it was not their service.

This Google Map shows MetroCentre station.

Could a third platform be fitted here to run a shuttle service to Consett?

Trains between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations, go via Dunston station, Norwood Junction and the King Edward VII Bridge.

Note.

  1. Norwood Junction also allows trains to go between The Tyne Valley Line and the East Coast Main Line in both North and South directions.
  2. The comprehensive track layout to the South of Newcastle allows access to everywhere.

The Consett trains could even be run on a Back-to-Back basis to Ashington and Blyth, which is now being called the Northumberland Line in the media.

Would The Line Be Zero-Carbon?

I feel strongly, that all new or reopened railways should be zero-carbon.

But whether it should be electrified is another matter and depends on the rolling stock.

Battery Electric Trains To Consett

If the route to Consett is to be zero-carbon, then the obvious choice for the route are battery electric trains.

  • To run these successfully, there would probably need to be some electrification along the Tyne Valley Line, as far as the junction with the new Derwent Valley Line, so trains started the climb to Consett with full batteries.
  • If necessary, some parts of the Derwent Valley Line could be electrified, to assist the trains up the hill.
  • Coming down from Consett, they could use Newton’s friend, with regenerative braking charging the batteries.
  • Intriguingly, between MetroCentre and Hexham is under twenty miles, so why not run these services using similar battery electric trains.

I also think, that if the electrification were to be 25 KVAC, then it could enable battery electric trains like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train or CAF’s proposed battery-electric Class 331 train, to run between Newcastle and Carlisle stations.

The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains

I believe that the new trains being built by Stadler for the Tyne and Wear Metro, will be very similar to the Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

The Class 777 trains are known to have this features.

  • A capacity of 484 passengers.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • A weight of 99 tonnes.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A small battery to be used for hotel power, when there is no electrification.
  • Some will be fitted with batteries to allow route extension on unelectrified lines, like between Ormskirk and Preston, which is 15.3 miles.
  • In the future, they will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The new Tyne and Wear trains appear to be different to the Class 777 trains in the following ways.

  • A different length, with five cars instead of four.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC overhead instead of 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Longitudinal instead of transverse seating.

These facts should also be born in mind.

Stadler built the Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield, that can use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification from the same pantograph.

Parts of the Tyne and Wear Metro use tram-train operation under the Karlsruhe model, which is also used in Sheffield.

Could The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains Work Between Newcastle And Consett Stations?

I feel if the following conditions were to be met, that the Tyne And Wear Metro’s new trains, would be able to work the route.

  • Batteries with sufficient range to work the route were fitted.
  • Ability to use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Sufficient electrification were erected to power the train and charge the batteries on their journey between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.

It is my view, that the trains could be ideal for the route.

They could also work between Newcastle and Hexham, with slightly larger batteries than their Liverpool cousins.

What Size Batteries Would Be Needed For A Service To Consett?

I will do a calculation based on the Class 777 train figures.

  • The train weight is 99 tonnes.
  • Each of 484 passengers weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds up to 38.7 tonnes giving a train weight of 137.7 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives a value of 103 kWh to lift the full train the 900 feet to Consett.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The new Tyne and Wear Metro trains have five cars, so assuming 3 kWh per vehicle mile, would need the following energy to power the train to Consett.

5* 3 * 11.5 = 172.5 kWh

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 400 kWh battery on the train.

On the flat, it would do about twenty-seven miles, which would mean the train could provide a service between Newcastle and Hexham.

Incidentally, the distance between Newcastle and Ashington is under twenty five miles of which a couple of miles are electrified.

Conclusion

Newcastle and Consett would appear to be an ideal route to reopen.

It would require.

  • A dozen miles of new track. much of which would be on an dismantled alignment.
  • An appropriate number of new stations.
  • Some electrification between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.
  • A number of the new Stadler trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro to be fitted with batteries.

A service of one or two tph could be provided.

In addition, the following could be possible.

  • The Newcastle and Hexham service could be run by the same battery electric trains.
  • The Consett and Newcastle service could be run Back-to-Back with the proposed Newcastle and Ashington service.

This scheme has collateral benefits.

 

 

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line

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 significant upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and reopening of the Leamside Line.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Leeds and Newcastle Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Newcastle.

  • The distance between the two stations is 106 miles
  • The current service takes around 85 minutes and has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 75 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 58 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 110 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 110 mph, indicates to me that a faster route will be needed.

These are example average speeds on the East Coast Main Line.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster – 156 miles – 98 minutes – 95.5 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds – 186 miles – 133 minutes – 84 mph
  • London Kings Cross and York  – 188.5 miles – 140 minutes – 81 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 205.3 miles – 176 minutes – 70 mph
  • York and Newcastle – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph

I also predicted in Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, that with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling and other improvements, that both London Kings Cross and Leeds and York would be two-hour services, with Hull a two-and-a-half service.

  • London Kings Cross and Leeds in two hours would be an average speed of 93 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and York in two hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Hull in two-and-a-half hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.

I am fairly certain, that to achieve the required 110 mph average between Leeds and Newcastle to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of four tph in under an hour will need, at least the following.

  • Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling
  • Completion of the electrification between Leeds and York.
  • Ability to run at up to 140 mph in places.
  • Significant track upgrades.

It could also eliminate diesel traction on passenger services on the route.

High Speed Two’s Objective For The York and Newcastle Route

At the present time, High Speed Two is not planning to run any direct trains between Leeds and Newcastle, so I’ll look at its proposed service between York and Newcastle instead.

  • Current Service – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph
  • High Speed Two – 80 miles – 52 minutes – 92 mph

Note.

  1. High Speed Two will be running three tph between York and Newcastle.
  2. Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of 58 minutes for Leeds and Newcastle.

High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail do not not have incompatible ambitions.

Current Direct Leeds And Newcastle Services

These are the current direct Leeds and Newcastle services.

  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle.
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh

Timings appear to be between 81 and 91 minutes.

What Would A Leeds And Newcastle In Under An Hour Do For London Kings Cross And Edinburgh Timings?

This question has to be asked, as a 58 minute time between Leeds and Newcastle will mean that timings between York and Newcastle must reduce.

York And Newcastle at various average speeds give the following times.

  • 73 mph (current average) – 66 minutes
  • 80 mph – 60 minutes
  • 90 mph – 53 minutes
  • 92 mph – 52 minutes (High Speed Two promise)
  • 100 mph – 48 minutes
  • 110 mph – 44 minutes

If any speed over 90 mph can be averaged between York and Newcastle, this means that with a London and York time of under two hours the following times are possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle in under three hours. – High Speed Two are promising two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in under four hours. – High Speed Two are promising three hours and forty minutes.

Consider.

  • An InterCity 225 achieved a time of under three-and-a-half hours between London and Edinburgh. in 1991.
  • That record journey was at an average speed of 112 mph.
  • There must be opportunities for speed improvements North of Newcastle.
  • Train and signalling technology is improving.
  • High Speed Two is promising three hours and forty minutes between London and Edinburgh.

I can see a fascinating rivalry between trains on High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line, developing, about who can be faster between London and Edinburgh.

Current Projects Between Leeds And Newcastle

These projects are in planning or under way on the section of the East Coast Main Line between Leeds and Newcastle.

Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade

Phase 1 between London and Doncaster should have been completed, if the covids allowed and now work can be concentrated on Phase 2 to the North of Doncaster.

This page on the Network Rail web site describes the project. These paragraphs are the introduction to Phase 2.

Phase 2 of the project will involve the installation of feeder and substations along the route, capacity upgrades, new 132kv connection at Hambleton junction and upgrades to existing power supply connections.

The second phase of the project is currently in design stages and dates for carrying out the work are still being finalised.

Phase 2 will be delivering upgraded power to the East Coast Mainline railway between Bawtry and Edinburgh.

This project may not improve speeds on the railway, but it will certainly improve reliability and reduce the use of diesel power.

I do wonder, that as the reliability of the East Coast Main Line increases, this will reduce the need for the electric Class 801 trains, to have diesel engines for when the power supply fails.

It is known, that the Class 803 trains, that are under construction for East Coast Trains, will have only a small battery for emergency use.

A sensible weight saving would surely improve the acceleration and deceleration of the trains.

York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme

This page of the Network Rail web site, describes the project. These paragraphs introduce the project.

Our work between York and Church Fenton is in preparation for the Transpennine Upgrade, which will provide more capacity and faster journeys between Manchester Victoria and York, via Leeds and Huddersfield.

The five mile stretch between Church Fenton and Colton Junction – the major junction where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line towards York – sees over 100 trains each day, with up to one freight or passenger train passing through every five minutes. This is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the North.

The work will include.

  • Modernising the signalling.
  • Replacing about five miles of track between Holgate (York) and Colton Junction.
  • Completing the eleven miles of electrification between York and Church Fenton stations.

I estimate that when the project is completed, there will be only around thirteen miles of track without electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill TMD in Leeds.

The route between Church Fenton and Garforth stations, is shown in this map clipped from High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. York is just off the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Garforth is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Shown in orange is the new route of High Speed Two from East of Leeds towards York.
  4. Shown in blue is existing tracks, that will be used to take High Speed Two Trains to York and further North.
  5. The rail line running North-South on the edge of the map is the Selby Diversion, which opened in 1983 and  was built to avoid possible subsidence from the Selby coalfield.
  6. The pre-Selby Diversion route of the East Coast Main Line goes South from the join of the blue and orange sections of High Speed Two.
  7. At Church Fenton station, this route splits, with one route going West through Micklefield, East Garforth and Garforth stations to Neville Hill TMD and Leeds.
  8. The main road going North-South is the A1 (M).

It seems to me, that High Speed Two’s and Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plans in this area, are still being developed.

  • There has been no decision on the electrification between Church Fenton and Neville Hill TMD.
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and Hull?
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and York?
  • How do High Speed Two trains go between Leeds and York?

I suspect, when the full plans are published, it will answer a lot of questions.

Darlington Station Remodelling

A remodelling of Darlington station is under consideration.

I outlined this in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services.

This was my conclusion in the related article.

I think that this will happen.

    • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
    • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
    • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
    • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

It will create a major interchange, where high speed trains from High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail will do the following.

  • Approach at 140 mph or more.
  • Perform a controlled stop in the station.
  • Drop and pick-up passengers.
  • Accelerate back up to linespeed.

The station stop will be highly-automated and monitored by the driver.

One of the objectives would be to save time for all fast trains.

Capacity And Other Problems Between Leeds And Newcastle Listed In Wikipedia

These problems are listed in a section called Capacity Problems in the Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line.

The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and English Heritage?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

Use Of The Leamside Line

Wikipedia says this about capacity to the South of Newcastle.

South of Newcastle to Northallerton (which is also predominately double track), leading to proposals to reopen the Leamside line to passenger and freight traffic.

I could have included it in the previous section, but as it such a important topic, it probably deserves its own section.

Looking at maps, reopening is more than a a possibility. Especially, as reopening is proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail and mentioned in the title of this post.

I discussed the Leamside Line in detail in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, which I wrote in June this year.

These are some extra thoughts, that update the original post.

Ferryhill Station

I was prompted to write the related post, by something Boris Johnson said at PMQs and it was mainly about Ferryhill station.

In the latest copy of this document on the Government web site, which is entitled Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids, a new station at Ferryhill has been successful. Another bid in the same area to restore rail services between Consett and Newcastle has also been successful.

This map shows the East Coast Main Line as it goes North South between Durham and Darlington.

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is in the South-West of the map opposite the sand-pits in the South-East
  2. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village an d the sand-pits.
  3. Follow the railway North and you come to Tursdale, where there is a junction between the East Coast Main Line and the Leamside Line.
  4. The East Coast Main Line goes North-Westerly towards Durham and Newcastle.
  5. The Leamside Line goes North to Washington and Newcastle.
  6. There is also the Stillington Freight Line going South-Easterly to Sedgefield and Stockton from Ferryhill.

Could Ferryhill be a useful interchange to local services connecting to Newcastle, Sunderland and Washington in the North and Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton in the South?

The Leamside Line As An East Coast Main Line Diversion

I didn’t discuss using the line as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line in my original post, but if the infrastructure is to the required standard, I don’t see why it can’t take diverted traffic, even if it is also used for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

It should be remembered, that to create extra capacity on the East Coast Main Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, the route of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, was upgraded. I first wrote about this line six years ago in Project Managers Having Fun In The East and the route seems to be working well. It is now being augmented by the addition of the £200 million Werrington Dive Under. See Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018, for more details of this project, which will speed up all trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After the undoubted success of the upgrade  of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, surely the team responsible for it, should be given the task of devising a similar plan for the Leamside Line, to take pressure off the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Northallerton.

Sharing The Leamside Line

The Tyne and Wear Metro also has its eyes on the Leamside Line for an extension.

It should be noted that the Extension To Wearside, uses the Karlsruhe Model to allow the Metro trains to share with freight and other passenger trains.

The new Stadler trains will probably make this even easier, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reopened Leamside Line handling a varied assortment of trains of all types.

The Sunderland Example

Sunderland station is a station, which has both Metro and mainline services from the same platforms.

Could a station at Washington be built to similar principles, so that some long distance services to Newcastle used this station?

A Terminal Station On The Leamside Line

Newcastle station may be a Grade One Listed station, but it is built on a curve and would be a nightmare to expand with more platforms.

Sunderland station is already used as a terminal for London trains, so would it be sensible to provide a terminal at somewhere like Washington?

My Final Thought  On The Leamside Line

Reopen it!

A Few Random Final Thoughts

This post has got me thinking.

Newcastle Station Capacity

I have seen reports over the years that Newcastle station, is lacking in capacity.

  • There could be extra services, as High Speed Two is proposing two tph from London Euston stations and one tph from Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • There may be extra services because of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which has an objective of four tph from Leeds station.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Ashington and Blyth.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Consett.

Note.

  1. The first two services could use two hundred metre long trains.
  2. Some platforms can accept 234 metre long Class 800 trains.
  3. The last two services might use the Metro platforms.

As the station has twelve platforms, I feel with careful operation, that the station will have enough capacity.

This Google Map shows the station.

And this second Google Map shows the station, its position with relation to the Tyne and the lines rail routes to and from the station.

Note.

  1. Trains from the South arrive over the King Edward VII Bridge and enter Newcastle station from the West.
  2. Trains from England to Scotland go through the station from West to East and then go straight on and turn North for Berwick and Scotland.
  3. Next to the King Edward VII Bridge is the blue-coloured Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which takes the Tyne and Wear Metro across the Tyne, where it uses two platforms underneath Newcastle station.
  4. The next bridge is the High Level Bridge, which connects the East end of the station to the rail network, South of the Tyne. It connects to the Durham Coast Line to Teeside and the Leamside Line.

History has delivered Newcastle a comprehensive track layout through and around Newcastle station.

  • Services from the East can be run back-to-back with services from the West.
  • The Metro and its two underground platforms removes a lot of traffic from the main station.
  • There are seven through platforms, of which at least three are over two hundred metres long.
  • There are four West-facing bay platforms and one facing East.

But most intriguingly, it looks like it will be possible for trains to loop through the station from the South, by perhaps arriving over the King Edward VII bridge and leaving over the High Level bridge. Or they could go the other way.

Could this be why reoopening the Leamside Line is important?

LNER’s Extra Paths

The sentence, from an article entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways   indicates that more capacity will be available to LNER.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today.

I suspect that LNER could use the half path to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service to Hull.

  • Currently, London Kings Cross and Hull takes a few minutes under three hours.
  • Currently, Doncaster and Hull takes around 55 minutes.
  • I have estimated that once full digital in-cab signalling is operational, that London Kings Cross and Hull could take a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.

The full path to Hull could be shared with Hull Trains to provide an hourly service between London Kings Cross and Hull.

LNER could do something special with the full extra path.

Consider.

  • Some train operating companies have said, that they’ll be looking to attract customers from the budget airlines.
  • There could be a need for more capacity between London Kings Cross and all of Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • Faster services would be attractive to passengers.
  • York and Leeds will be fully electrified or trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the thirteen mile gap in the electrification.

A limited-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds could be an interesting addition.

  • The train would only stop at Leeds and possibly Newcastle.
  • One objective would be a time under three-and-a-half hours between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • What time could be achieved between London Kings Cross and Leeds?

It would certainly give High Speed Two a run for its money!

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

As I indicated in the previous section, LNER certainly have a path, that could be used to their advantage.

High Speed Two

The East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two have a lot in common.

  • The two routes will share tracks between a junction near Ulleskelf station and Newcastle station.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains could be based on Hitachi AT-300 train technology.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains would probably be able to run on the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross And Edinburgh.
  • Trains from both routes will share platforms at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle stations.
  • I would hope that the signalling systems on both routes are compatible.

From a project management point of view, this commonality means that in an ideal world the new route of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line should be planned together.

I believe there are still details on the design of the joint route, that have not been disclosed, or perhaps not even decided.

  • Will between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot be electrified?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and Hull stations?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and York stations?
  • Will High Speed Two connect Leeds and York stations?
  • What will be the operating speed of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • What will be the capacity in trains per hour of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • Will Newcastle station need an extra platform to handle three High Speed Two tph from London Euston

Two projects have been discussed in this post.

  • The unlocking of the bottleneck at Skelton Bridge.
  • The reopening of the Leamside Line.

I feel that these projects are important and will probably be needed for efficient operation of High Speed Two.

Other early projects could include.

  • Upgrading and electrification of the chosen route between Leeds and Hull,
  • Installation of the chosen system of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling on the route.
  • Electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot.

I would deliver these and other joint projects early, so that travellers see a positive benefit from High Speed Two before the main work has even started.

High Speed East Coast

I wonder what is the maximum speed of the Class 80x trains, that are the backbone of services on the East Coast Main Line.

Consider.

  • It is known, that with in-cab digital ERTMS  signalling, these trains will be capable of 140 mph, but could they go even faster.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains will be capable of 225 mph.
  • Will Hitachi’s offering for these trains, be based on the Class 80x trains?

I would think, that it is fairly likely, that the existing Class 80x trains could be updated to an operating speed in the range of 150-160 mph.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

The combined affect of both track and signalling improvements is illustrated by this simple calculation.

    • As Dalton-on-Tees is North of Doncaster, the route between Woolmer Green and Doncaster should be possible to be run at 140 mph
    • Woolmer Green and Doncaster stations are 132.1 miles apart.
    • Non-stop York and London Kings Cross trains are currently timed at 70 minutes between Doncaster and Woolmer Green stations.
    • This is an average speed of 113.2 mph.

If 140 mph could be maintained between Doncaster and Woolmer Green, the section of the journey would take 56.6 minutes, which is a saving of 13.4 minutes.

I can do this calculation for higher speeds.

  • 150 mph would take 52.8 minutes
  • 160 mph would take 49.5 minutes
  • 170 mph would take 46.6 minutes
  • 180 mph would take 44 minutes
  • 200 mph would take 39.6 minutes

Note.

  1. Eurostar’s latest Class 374 trains are capable of operating at 200 mph.
  2. A Class 395 train, which is closely related to the Class 80x trains, has attained a record speed of 157 mph.

There may be worthwhile time savings to be made, on some of the straighter sections of the East Coast Main Line.

Other improvements will also be needed.

Note, that I am assuming, that the Digswell Viaduct section would not be updated, as it would cause too much disruption.

I also believe that by using selective joining and splitting at Edinburgh, Leeds and perhaps Doncaster, Grantham, Newark or York, that a very comprehensive network of direct trains to and from London can be built from Grantham Northwards.

Beverley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Glasgow, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield, Skipton, Sunderland and Washington could all be served at an appropriate frequency.

  • Some like Bradford, Glasgow, Harrogate, Hull, Lincoln and Middlesbrough would have several trains per day.
  • Others might have a much more limited service.

What sort of timings will be possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be around an hour.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds could be around one hour and thirty minutes, using the current Doncaster and Leeds time, as against the one hour and twenty-one minutes for High Speed Two.
  • London Kings Cross and York could be around one hour and twenty-three minutes, using the current Doncaster and York time, as against the one hour and twenty-four minutes for High Speed Two.
  • Timings between York and Newcastle would be the same fifty-two minutes as High Speed Two, as the track will be the limitation for both services.
  • High Speed Two’s timing for York and Newcastle is given as fifty-two minutes, with York and Darlington as twenty-five minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Darlington could be around one hour and forty-nine minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle could be around two hours and sixteen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh would be under three-and-a-half hours, as against the proposed three hours and forty-eight minutes for High Speed Two.

High Speed East Coast would be a serious and viable alternative to High Speed Two for the Eastern side of England and Scotland.

Conclusion

This is an important joint project for Northern Powerhouse Rail, High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into several smaller projects..

  • Upgrade the power supply on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Finish the York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Remodel Darlington station.
  • Install of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling.
  • Complete the electrification between Neville Hill TMD and York.
  • Solve the problem of Skelton Bridge and its complicated track layout.
  • Reopen the Leamside Line.

Most of these projects are independent of each other and all would give early benefits to the East Coast Main Line.

When complete, we’ll see the following timing improvements.

  • Leeds and Newcastle will drop from 85 minutes to 56 minutes, with an increase in frequency from three to four tph.
  • York and Newcastle will drop from 57-66 minutes to 52 minutes.
  • There could be ten minutes savings on Edinburgh services.

Passengers and operators would welcome this group of projects being started early.

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Big Metro Fleet Upgrade That Could Make It ‘Easy’ To Finally Extend Train Services To New Areas

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Newcastle Chronicle.

This is the first paragraph.

Every train in Metro’s new fleet will be capable of running via an on-board battery, reducing the chance of major shutdowns and making it much cheaper to extend the network.

The fact that it is technically possible, is not a surprise as Stadler’s Class 777 trains for Merseyrail will be using battery power to extend routes. I would be very surprised if the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains and those for Merseyrail, didn’t have a lot of design in common.

But what is surprising, is that the Tyne and Wear Metro’s whole fleet will be fitted with batteries. This must be the first time in the UK, that a whole fleet of trains has been said to have batteries.

The Merseyrail trains will also have a dual voltage capability and will be able to be modified for running on 25 KVAC overhead electrification, as well as 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Will the Tyne and Wear trains be able to use 25 KVAC electrification? It could be useful in some places on the network and I’m sure, if there was a financial case for a service using existing 25 KVAC electrification, then some trains would be modified accordingly.

A Quick Comparison

This is a quick comparison between Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains and the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains.

  • Cars – 777 – 4 – T&W – 5
  • Operating Speed – 777 – 75 mph – T&W – 50 mph
  • Capacity – 484 – T&W – 600
  • Capacity Per Car – 121 – T&W – 125
  • In Service – 2022 (?) – T&W – 2024

They are not that different and it looks like the Tyne and Wear trains will be built after the Merseyrail trains.

Battery Running

The article says this about running on battery power.

He said the 16km off-wire running would allow for a new loop extending out from South Hylton, through Washington, connecting back to Pelaw.

He added that it would be “easy” to create new connections between existing Metro lines – potentially allowing for a new route through Silverlink and the Cobalt business park in North Tyneside, or a link-up from South Shields towards Sunderland.

Battery power would also solve the problem of running Metro trains on Network Rail lines, which is currently impossible because they operate at different voltages.

Mr Blagburn said: “You could remove the electrification from the complex parts of the route, say over historic structures or through tunnels.

Note.

  1. The range of sixteen kilometres or ten miles could be very useful.
  2. The trains appear to be designed to run on Network Rail tracks, as the current trains already do.
  3. The current trains use the Karlsruhe model to effectively work as tram-trains on shared tracks.

I actually believe that the new Tyne and Wear trains could be modified to run on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification, as Stadler’s Class 399 tram-trains do in Sheffield.

Conclusion

These trains are using all Stadler’s experience of trains and tram-trains from all over the world.

  • They will normally operate using 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • But Stadler have the technology to enable the trains for 25 KVAC overhead electrification, if required.
  • They have a range of ten miles on batteries.
  • Are the batteries charged by using the energy created by the regenerative braking?

These are not bog-standard trains!

But then neither are the trains built for Greater Anglia by Stadler!

 

 

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Sunderland Echo.

The article has this sub-title.

The Prime Minister has backed calls for a new railway station in County Durham which could also be linked to the Tyne and Wear Metro.

This all came out in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, where Boris said it was his ambition to see a line opened to the former Ferryhill station, which is nine miles South of Durham.

There has been talk of reopening the Leamside Line, as both a route for the Tyne and Wear Metro and as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

New Rolling Stock For The Tyne And Wear Metro

Stadler are building new rolling stock for the Tyne and Wear Metro, which will be dual-voltage.

  • Able to work on the Metro’s 1500 VDC.
  • Able to work on the national 25 KVAC.
  • In addition like Merseyrail’s closely-related Class 777 trains, they could have a battery capability.

Pelaw And The Leamside Line

The Leamside Line leaves the Durham Coast Line near to Pelaw station on the Metro.

This Google Map shows Pelaw station and the rail lines in the area.

Note.

  1. Pelaw station on the Western edge of the map marked by a blue M.
  2. The Durham Coast Line running East-West across the map.
  3. The tracks going North from the junction in the middle of the map are the Tyne and Wear Metro to South Shields station and a freight line to Jarrow.
  4. At the Eastern edge of the map, Pelaw Metro Junction can be seen, where the Metro and the Durham Coast Line join to continue through Sunderland to their respective terminals.
  5. The Leamside Line can be picked out running from the major junction in the middle to the South East corner of the map.

This second Google Map shows an enlarged view of the Pelaw Metro Junction.

It appears to be a flying junction of the highest class, despite being built in the days of cash-strapped British Rail. Note the two outside Metro lines with their electrification merging with the central Durham Coast Lines, that have no electrification.

  • The route is electrified using the Metro’s 1500 VDC overhead system from here until the Metro branches off to South Hylton station.
  • The Metro and the other trains through the area, use a version of the Karlsruhe model for the signalling, so effectively, the Metro is running as a tram-train.

When the Metro has received the new Stadler trains, it will be possible to electrify the Durham Coast Line at 25 KVAC, which would allow the following.

  • Metro trains could run all the way to Middlesbrough, using their dual-voltage capability.
  • Metro trains could also run directly into Newcastle station, using the Durham Coast Line.

Voltage changeover would take place in Pelaw station.

Pelaw And Washington

The route of the Leamside Line South from Pelaw to Washington is more or less intact, although it does look in need of tender loving case.

This Google Map shows the section through Follingsby, where there used to be a Freightliner terminal.

Note.

  1. The whole area, including a former opencast coal time, is being developed.
  2. Amazon are building a fulfilment centre on the site of the Freightliner terminal.
  3. The Leamside Line runs North-South through the complex road junction at the top of the map.

This second Google Map shows the area South of the previous one and shows the Leamside Line as it passes to the West of the Nissan plant at Sunderland.

Note.

  1. The Leamside Line runs down the Western side of the map.
  2. The Nissan plant to the East, with a sausage =shaped feature in the South-West corner of the site.
  3. North of the Nissan plant an area has been earmarked for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, which is currently the site of the NHS Nightingale Hospital NE.

It would appear discussions are underway to connect the Advanced Manufacturing Park to the Metro. But surely, with all the development alongside the line, there must be a need for perhaps three stations between Nissan and Prlaw.

This third Google Map shows Washington and its position with respect to the Nissan plant.

Note.

  1. The Nissan plant is to the North-East of this map and the sausage-shaped feature can just be seen.
  2. The Leamside Line goes North-South through the area and crosses the A1231 road, midway between the two complex junctions.
  3. The housing of the town of Washington in the South-West corner of the map.

There will surely be scope to put more than one station in the town of Washington, if the Leamside Line were to be reopened to passenger trains.

South From Washington

I will now continue South from Washington

The Victoria Viaduct

Going South from Washington, the Leamside Line has to cross the River Wear and it does that in spectacular fashion over the Grade II* Listed Victoria Viaduct.

This Google Map shows the crossing.

Note.

  1. Network Rail have maintained the viaduct since it was mothballed in 1991.
  2. It used to carry a double-track railway.
  3. The viaduct must have handled an occasional InterCity125.

I would be very surprised if a restored Victoria Viaduct couldn’t handle a five-car Class 800 train or similar.

Penshaw Station

The first station on the Leamside Line to the South of the viaduct, used to be Penshaw station.

This Google Map shows the village of Penshaw.

Note.

  1. Station Road curving around the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Leamside Line crossing this road and running North-South.

I would expect a station could be built there, without too much difficulty.

Fencehouses Station

The next station to the South was Fencehouses station.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

Note.

  1. The A1052 Road named Station Avenue North passing through the village.
  2. The former track of the railway passing North-South.
  3. According to Wikipedia, there used to be a level crossing at the station.

As with Penshaw station, I suspect a station could be built here fairly easily.

Leamside Station

The next station was Leamside station, which served the villages of Leamside and West Rainton.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The Leamside Line runs North-South in the middle of the map.
  2. Station Road can be picked out crossing the railway.
  3. Leamside is to the West of the Leamside Line.
  4. West Rainton is to the East of the Leamside Line.

It looks to be another station, that can be rebuilt without difficulty.

A Choice Of Routes At Belmont

The next station coming South on the Leamside Line used to be Belmont station.

This Google Map shows the site of the original station.

Note.

  1. The area is dominated by the two major roads; the A1(M) and the A690.
  2. In the vee of the roads, the Belmont Park-and-Ride site for Durham City is situated.
  3. The Leamside Line passes to the East of the Park-and-Ride.
  4. It appears that there is already a bridge to carry the Leamside Line over the A690.

There used to be a direct line between Belmont and Durham Gilesgate stations and the remains of the track-bed can be picked out, as it passes to the North of the Park-and-Ride.

There must surely be possibilities for some innovative thinking to connect Belmont, Durham, Newcastle and Washington.

But a simple station at the Park-And-Ride could be the best!

  • Travellers living along the Leamside Line could use the buses at the Park-and-Ride to get to Durham City.
  • The station would become a Parkway station for travellers going to Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Washington and anywhere on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

There would appear to be space for more parking, if that were to be needed.

An Alternative Direct Route Between the Leamside Line and the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the Leamside Line to the North of Belmont and the area to the West of the Line.

Note.

  1. The A1 (M) running North-South.
  2. The Leamside Line running North-South to the East of the motorway.
  3. The Grade II Listed Belmont Railway Viaduct marked by a blue arrow crossing the River Wear.

The remains of the trackbed of a railway can be picked out between the Leamside Line and the Belmont Railway Viaduct.

This second Google Map shows the area between the Belmont Railway Viaduct and the ECML.

Note.

  1. HM Prison Frankland at the top of the map.
  2. The ECML running down the West side of the map.
  3. The Belmont Railway Viaduct in the South-East corner of the map.

The trackbed between the ECML and the railway viaduct can be picked out.

Could The Line Over The Belmont Railway Viaduct Be Rebuilt To Create A Route Between Durham And Newcastle?

  • Looking, where the railway would need to cross the A1 (M), if appears that no provision was made for a underpass or bridge, when the motorway was built, so building one would be expensive and very disruptive.
  • Creating a flying junction to connect the new line to the ECML would be another expensive and disruptive project.
  • What is the condition of the Belmont Railway Viaduct?
  • Would it be better to build an interchange station at the Belmont Park-And-Ride?

I feel that it would be unlikely that this route will be rebuilt.

South From Belmont

I will now continue South from Belmont station.

Shincliffe Station

The next station going South was Shincliffe station.

This Google Map shows the village of Shincliffe.

Note.

  1. The A177 road running NW-SE across the map.
  2. The Leamside Line running SW-NE across the map.
  3. The original station was where was road and railway crossed.

The Leamside Line continues South to Tursdale Junction, where it joins the ECML.

This Google Map shows Tursdale Junction.

 

Note.

  1. Ferryhll is to the South.
  2. The ECML runs North to Durham and Newcastle in a slightly North-Westerly direction.
  3. The Leamside Line goes to Washington in a Northerly direction.

This second Google Map shows the ECML through Ferryhill.

Note.

  1. The sand quarries opposite the village, that are planned to be used for landfill.
  2. The ECML runs North-South between the village and the quarries.
  3. There are two railways going South from Ferryhill.
  4. The ECML goes South to Darlington, York and beyond.
  5. The Stillington Railway goes South-East to Stockton and Hartlepool.

The Campaign for Better Transport have given a high priority for reopening passenger services between Ferryhill and Stockton.

Thoughts On The Reopening Of Ferryhill Station

The closing of routes linking to Ferryhill station seems to have been almost a continuous process.

  • Coxhoe – 1902
  • Byers Green Branch beyond Spennymoor – 1939
  • Leamside Line – 1941
  • Spennymoor – 1952
  • Stockton – 1952
  • Harlepool – 1952

Beeching finally put the station out of its misery in 1963

But things are different now!

  • We need to build lots of new houses all over the country. And they need transport connections!
  • We need to cut our carbon emissions.
  • Roads are getting more crowded and we need to provide alternative reliable public transport.
  • We need to load our weapons against COVID-19.

I feel with detailed planning, a well-designed station at Ferryhill could be an asset to the North East.

These are a few thoughts.

The Leamside Line Will Be An Important Route

The route between Pelaw and Ferryhill stations will be just over twenty miles long.

  • It could be easily be run with the new Metro trains.
  • Trains could stop at perhaps seven or eight intermediate stations.
  • I estimate a journey could take about an hour.
  • South Hylton station supports at least four trains per hour (tph)
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Trains could stop at Belmont Park-and-Ride for a frequent bus service to Durham City.
  • Washington might be able to support two stations.

It would certainly be a service that would fit in with the philosophy of the Metro.

Would The Leamside Line Be Electrified?

Unless the Metro trains were to be fitted with batteries, it would need to be electrified.

Either 1500 VDC or 25 KVAC could be used!

If the Durham Coast Line and the Leamside Line were to both be electrified with 25 KVAC, the following would be possible.

  • Metro trains could go to Newcastle station.
  • Other electric trains could use the Leamside Line as a diversion.
  • Electric freight trains could use the Leamside Line.

On the other hand, the Leamside Line would be ideal for partial electrification.

  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains are to be fitted with batteries and these trains are closely-related to the Tyne and Wear Metro’s new trains.
  • Relaying new track on the existing track bed, is not going to be the expensive part of the project.
  • Electrification between Pelaw and Washington would be easy, using the 1500 VDC overhead system of the Metro.
  • There may be problems from the Heritage lobby, about electrification on the Victoria Viaduct.
  • Ferryhill station would be electrified as it is on the ECML.

Trains could run the sixteen or so miles between Washington and Ferryhill stations on battery power.

The Ferryhill And Hartlepool Line Could Be A Useful Passenger Route

The route between Ferryhill and Hartlepool stations will be around twenty miles long.

  • There could be new stations at Sedgefield, Stillington and Stockton.
  • The route is double-track throughout.
  • The route joins the Durham Coast Line at Billingham.
  • It must open up possibilities for business and leisure travel.

The Government and local politicians must see a future for the railways in the area, as Horden station, which is next to Hartlepool station, is reopening.

Perhaps, there are plans for a train to leave Newcastle and take this route.

  • Newcastle to Ferryhill via the Leamside Line.
  • Ferryhill to Hartlepool.
  • Hartlepool to Newcastle via the Durham Coast Line.

Running hourly, it would connect a lot of towns with unemployment to those, where jobs are being created.

Would The Ferryhill and Hartlepool Line Be Electrified?

This route would surely only be electrified, when other lines in the area were similarly enhanced.

Electrification would not be a bad idea.

  • It would allow the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to invade Teesside.
  • A Teesside Metro could be developed, that was electric-hauled, which would use the same trains as the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  • Some of the many freight trains starting or finishing in the area could be electric-hauled.
  • LNER and TransPennine Express could use their bi-mode trains in electric mode to Teesside.

There could be a zero-carbon alternative, as plans for hydrogen trains on Teesside seem well advanced, as I wrote about in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails.

Also in Northern’s Hydrogen Plans, I published this extract from an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

Northern has submitted planning documents, with the preferred site for a maintenance and fuelling facility understood to be at Lackenby. As hydrogen units would have a more limited operating range than DMUs (around 600 miles), they would likely need to return to the depot every night. Northern believes the routes radiating from Middlesbrough to Nunthorpe, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn are ideal candidates for the operation, as they are unlikely to be electrified and can be operated as a self contained network using hydrogen trains. A fleet of around a dozen Breeze units is planned, with the possibility they could also operate services to Whitby and on the Durham Coast Line to Newcastle. Planning documentation suggested the first hydrogen train would be ready for testing in June 2021, but this was based on construction of the depot facility beginning in January this year.

If they were to use these trains to Ferryhill, some extra stations would be needed.

Will Trains On The East Coast Main Line Stop At Ferryhill Station?

I can’t see why not!

Services between York and Newcastle call at the following stations.

  1. CrossCountry – Plymouth and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  2. CrossCountry – Reading and Newcastle calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  3. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington and Newcastle
  4. LNER – London and Edinburgh calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  5. TransPennine Express – Liverpool and Edinburgh calls at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle
  6. TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle calls at York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Newcastle

I suspect that with a small amount of adjustment two tph could call at Ferryhill

  • If train 3 stopped, this would give a connection to London and Edinburgh
  • If train 6 stopped, this would give a connection to Manchester Airport

For many stations, which could connect to Ferryhill station in the future, the station might offer the quickest and most convenient route for travellers.

Could Some Of The Old Branches From Ferryhill Be Reopened?

There were a lot of branches from the Ferryhill area to neighbouring villages, because of all the coal mines in the area.

So could some of these branches be reopened, if say there were housing or commercial developments.

This Google Map shows the ECL about a mile North of the site of Ferryhill station.

Note.

  1. The ECML going North-South just to the East of the centre of the map.
  2. Ferryhill station is to the South.
  3. On the Western side of the map, there is the remains of a triangular junction, which used to connect Byers Green and Spennymoor stations on the Byers Green Branch to Ferryhill.
  4. On the Eastern  side of the map, there is a scar, which was the trackbed to Cuxhoe station.

Both branches can be picked out on Google Maps. As can roads like Railway Terrace and Station Road!

Whether any of these branches are worth reopening, is one for the planners armed with future knowledge of developments and various statistics.

Did Boris Know More Than He Said?

I have listened to Prime Ministers Questions off and on, since the time of Mrs. Thatcher.

Not often, does any Prime Minister make a substantial statement in PMQs, as they rarely have all the facts at their fingertips and don’t want to be called to account later.

In response to a direct question from a local MP, about the opening of Ferryhill station, Boris after usual PMQ waffle, said this.

I will make sure that I add to that an ambition to come and see Ferryhill station launched with him.

As decisions on the Leamside Line and hydrogen trains for Teesside have been delayed for months or possibly years, I wondered, if the decision has recently been made.

  • If the plan had been discussed in Cabinet, Boris would surely have known more.
  • A government minister was also seen on the BBC News at Horden station having a look, last week.
  • The tone of the Sunderland Echo article is also very positive.

All that prompted me to write this post.

Conclusion

After looking at the Leamside Line and other railways in the North East, I think there is a lot that can be done to create a world-class local railway in the area.

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

Tyne And Wear Metro: Swiss Firm Stadler To Build New Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Swiss firm Stadler has won a £362m contract to build a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

And this is one of Stadler’s visualisations of the trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro (T & W).

Compare this with a Stadler picture of a Class 777 train, that will soon be appearing on Merseyrail in Liverpool.

They would appear to be two very similar trains.

  • The same headlights and stylised M on the front.
  • One pair of double passenger doors in the first car.
  • Both new trains are articulated with four sections.
  • Train widths are Merseyrail Old – 2.82 metres, T & W Old – 2.65 metres and Merseyrail New – 2.82 metres.
  • The Merseyrail trains have a 75 mph operating speed and the T & W trains have one of only 50 mph.

The T & W trains have a pantograph and overhead electrification and the Merseyrail trains use third-rail electrification.

More Details On The Tyne And Wear Trains

This page on the NEXUS web site is entitled Nexus Unveils £362m New Tyne And Wear Metro Trains.

This is two paragraphs.

The new trains will cut Metro’s high voltage power consumption by 30% while providing 15 times better reliability than the current fleet. Metro’s 36 million passengers will benefit from modern features including wifi, charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.

Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.

The size of the energy saving, indicates that the trains will probably be using regenerative braking.

As it has been disclosed that the new Merseyrail trains will have a small battery for depot movements, will this also be used to handle the regenerative braking.

More details of the trains will be disclosed in the coming months.

Merseyrail And The Tyne And Wear Metro Are Similar

I have ridden Merseyrail many times and the Tyne and Wear Metro perhaps five times and it is surprising how similar the two systems are.

  • They are partly in tunnel.
  • There are a range of stations, including both ancient and modern, simple and complex.
  • Merseyrail is powered by 750 VDC third rail electrification and T & W by 1500 VDC overhead electrification. The power electronics on the two fleets, won’t be that different.
  • Both operators have ambitions to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification to extend services.
  • Both operators have ambitions to extend services on lines, that currently have no electrification. Merseyrail want to go to Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham and T & W want to go to Blyth and Ashington along the Northumberland Line.

It is no surprise to me, that Merseyrail and T & W have chosen to use two versions of the same Stadler train.

Expansion Of The Networks

Both networks are ambitious  and it appears to me, that they have ordered a train, that could be used to expand their networks.

Merseyrail

Merseyrail have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Extension of the Northern Line from Ormskirk to Preston
  • Extension of the Northern Line from Hunts Cross to Warrington
  • Incorporation of the Borderlands Line from Bidston to Wrexham into the Wirral Line as a new branch.
  • A new branch of the Northern Line to Skelmersdale via the new station at Headbolt Lane.
  • Passenger services on the Canada Dock Branch.

Merseyrail now have the trains to handle this expansion.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

Note that Bidston and Wrexham is less than thirty miles of unelectrified line, so I suspect that the new trains can handle this range.

Other places within a similar range include.

  • Preston from Ormskirk
  • Wigan Wallgate from Kirkby
  • Manchester Oxford Road from Hunts Cross, via Warrington Central.
  • Chester from Liverpool Lime Street via Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby.

The four terminal stations all have existing bay platforms.

Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne And Wear Metro have proposed these expansions at various times.

  • Sunderland city centre to Doxford Park
  • South Shields to Sunderland
  • Washington, either via the disused Leamside line or a new route

But as the Government is funding a study into linking Blyth and Ashington to Newcastle, which I wrote about in £500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism, I wouldn’t be surprised that this route is developed.

A lot of my comments about expanding the Merseyrail network, can be applied to the T & W.

  • They may need to purchase a few extra trains.
  • Some charging points or electrification may be needed.

None of the proposed extensions seem particularly long and places like Blyth, Ashington and Washington should be able to be reached on battery power.

Tram-Train Operation

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail has a section called tram-trains.

Two possible routes are indicated.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to John Lennon Airport, using street-running from Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Kings Dock to Edge Hill

I have heard others mentioned.

The Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro also mentions street-running.

Stadler have extensive experience of trams and tram-trains and built the Class 399 tram-trains for the Sheffield Supertram.

Stadler also provided the trains for the unique tram-train system in the German town of Zwickau, where diesel multiples units share the tram tracks to access the town centre.

The picture shows the train at its stop in the centre.

I’m sure Stadler know how to enable street-running with the UK’s smaller trains.

Stadler’s trains, trams and tram trains also seem to have a high degree of articulation and seem to be able to take tight corners with ease.

The picture was taken inside a Class 399 tram-train, as it traversed the tight curve under the M1 motorway, where the tram and the train sections of the route to Rotherham join.

Looking at the pictures of the Class 777 trains, I feel they could be able to take tighter curves than most trains.

The Dead Elephant In The Room

Several local services on Merseyside and in the North East are run by Northern, which is now being taken over the Government.

The Department for Transport, hasn’t disclosed any plans yet, but it is likely that some routes could be handed to Merseyrail and the T & W.

There is a loose precedent for this happening. In North-East London the poorly performing Lea Valley Lines from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town were moved from Greater Anglia to London Overground in 2015. No-one feels they should be returned and there are rumours that more services in the area will move to the London Overground.

So what services could be moved?

Merseyrail

These diesel services could surely be moved to Merseyrail.

  • Omrskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road via Warrington Central – 27 miles

The distances are the length of track without electrification.

It could also be argued that Greater Manchester would get its share of the Northern routes, but I can envisage Class 777 trains or similar running the following routes.

  • Southport and Manchester Victoria – 27 miles
  • Kirkby and Manchester Victoria – 28 miles

As before, the distances are the length of track without electrification, but these could be reduced considerably with electrification from Salford Crescent to Wigan Wallgate.

It should be noted that Greater Manchester has ambitions to run tram-trains to Wigan Wallgate via various routes.

The demise of Northern probably allows these routes to be taken over by Greater Manchester.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton – 16 miles
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Hadfield/Glossop – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn – 14 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Clitheroe – 24 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Rochdale – 11 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 8 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Wigan Wallgate – 10 miles

Again, the distances are the length of track without electrification.

Buxton and Clitheroe could be difficult because of the gradients involved, but as in South Wales, bi-modes might be the solution if the routes were run back-to-back.

This simple analysis shows how Northern’s demise will ask questions all over the North.

Tyne And Wear Metro

These diesel services could surely be moved to the T & W.

  • Newcastle and Morpeth – Electrified
  • Newcastle and Chathill- Electrified

I also think, that these services could be restructured, if the Blyth and Ashington routes are developed for the T & W.

The trains could also reach to Hexham, which is just 22 miles from electrification.

Middlesbrough is probably too far, as the station is thirty five miles from the electrification at Sunderland.

But electrification of the Durham Coast Line would allow the T & W Metro to serve the new station at Howden and reach Middlesbrough and possibly Nunthorpe.

Conclusion

I can see both Merseyrail and the Tyne and Wear Metro significantly extending their networks in the next few years.

The new trains, with their batteries and dual-voltage capability are built for expansion.

Tram-train or street running will help.

Several important new areas are within battery range.

I can also see other cities using similar Stadler technology to create local Metros.

Manchester, Middlesbrough, Preston and Sheffield come to mind.

Using similar technology would surely allow joint services and sharing of knowledge and designs to enable cost savings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

£500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A government fund is to be launched later to restore historic railway lines closed more than 50 years ago under the so-called Beeching cuts.

The two initial grants are for studies about reopening the Northumberland Line to Blyth and Ashington in the North East and to Fleetwood to the North of Blackpool.

Blyth And Ashington

Consider.

  • The tracks already exist.
  • There may still be some freight traffic on the route.
  • Connections to the Tyne and Wear Metro appear possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro already shares tracks with other freight and passenger services.
  • New stations and probably new signalling will be needed.
  • The distance between the proposed Northern terminals and the connections with the Tyne and Wear Metro are under twenty miles, which could make battery operation easily possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is currently procuring a new fleet of trains.

I believe that these branches could be integrated into the Tyne and Wear Metro, providing that the new trains have the right specification.

Light rail vehicles like the Class 398 tram-trains being procured for the South Wales Metro should be able to run these services.

But other manufacturers might have better solutions!

Fleetwood Branch

This extension would need the following.

  • Restoration of the existing track between Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood.
  • One or more new stations.
  • Probable resignalling.

In a simple installation, there is probably space to put a bay platform in Poulton-le-Fylde station, so that a shuttle service could be run to Fleetwood.

But services could also be extended to Preston.

Blackpool though has other rail problems like what are they going to do with the Blackpool South Line.

I believe Blackpool could use similar solutions on both the Blackpool South and Fleetwood Lines to create a bigger solution for the whole of the area.

Conclusion

It looks to me that the government has started with two schemes that are possible and where the track still exists.

It is to be hoped that the two studies come up with easy-to-build and fundable schemes, which are the first of many.

January 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Protests After Claim That Hitachi Has Lost T&W Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

There have been protests in north east England after a report claimed that Hitachi has been ruled out of the three-way contest to build a £500 million fleet for Tyne & Wear Metro.

The other contenders are CAF and Stadler, and the source of the claims says ‘insiders’ at Nexus have been told that Hitachi will be ‘overlooked’.

It should be noted that the two other bidders have orders for similar trains in the pipeline.

CAF

In TfL Awards Contract For New DLR Fleet To Replace 30-year-old Trains , I wrote about how CAF had been awarded the contract for new trains for the Docklands Light Railway.

I also said this about the possibility of CAF being awarded the contract for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail, I indicated that as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the trains on the Docklands Light Railway, are of a similar height and width, it might be possible to use the same same car bodies on both trains.

So now that CAF have got the first order for the Docklands Light Railway, they must be in prime position to obtain the Tyne and Wear Metro order!

A second order would fit well with the first and could probably be built substantially in their South Wales factory.

Stadler

Stadler seem to be targeting the North, with new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail and Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield and bids in for tram-trains and and new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Their trains are both quirky, accessible and quality and built to fit niche markets like a glove.

Only Stadler would produce a replacement for a diesel multiple unit fleet with a bi-mode Class 755 train, with the engine in the middle, that is rumoured to be capable of running at 125 mph.

Note the full step-free access between train and platform, which is also a feature of the Merseyrail trains.

Does the Tyre and Wear Metro want to have access like this? It’s already got it with the existing trains, as this picture at South Shields station shows.

Stadler’s engineering in this area, would fit their philosophy

I first thought that Stadler would propose a version of their Class 399 tram-trains. for the Tyne and Wear Metro and wrote Comparing Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles With Tyne And Wear Metro’s Class 994 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

I am led to the conclusion, that a version of the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicle similar to those of the South Waes Metro, could be developed for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

My specification would include.

  • Length of two current Class 994 trains, which would be around 111 metres.
  • Walk through design with longitudinal seating.
  • Level access between platform and train at all stations.
  • A well-designed cab with large windows at each end.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at any voltage between 750 and 1500 VDC.
  • Ability to use overhead electrification at 25 KVAC.
  • Pantographs would handle all voltages.
  • A second pantograph might be provided for reasons of reliable operation.
  • Ability to use onboard battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would use the batteries on the vehicle.

Note.

  1. Many of these features are already in service in Germany, Spain or Sheffield.
  2. The train would be designed, so that no unnecessary platform lengthening is required.
  3. As in Cardiff, the specification would allow street-running in the future.
  4. Could battery range be sufficient to allow new routes to be developed without electrification?

I also feel that the specification should allow the new trains to work on the current network, whilst the current trains are still running.

But since I wrote that comparison in June 2018, Merseyrail’s new trains have started to be delivered and Liverpudlians have started to do what they do best; imagine!

The Tyne and Wear Metro has similar ambitions to expand the network and would a version of the Class 777 train fit those ambitions better?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi misses out, as the experience of the Docklands Light Railway or Merseyrail fed into the expansion of the Tyne and Wear Metro could be the clincher of the deal.

They would also be the first UK customer for the Hitachi trains.

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments