The Anonymous Widower

Is The Eastern Leg Of High Speed Two Under Threat?

This page on the High Speed Two web site is entitled HS2 Phase 2b Eastern Leg.

These are the opening three paragraphs.

Earlier this year the government made clear in its response to the Oakervee Review its commitment to Phase 2b of HS2, ensuring we boost capacity, improve connectivity between our regions and share prosperity.

As part of this, the government plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of the year, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will look at how to deliver HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and other rail programmes better and more effectively.

In the meantime, the government has asked HS2 Ltd to pause work on the Eastern Leg. We recognise that this causes uncertainty and our Eastern Leg community engagement teams remain in place to support you.

The page then says that the work on the Western Leg should proceed, with the aim of a Western Leg Bill in early 2022.

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, I showed that the current and future upgrades to the East Coast Main Line, required by the East Coast Main Line, Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Two, will greatly reduce the times on services from London Kings Cross to Doncaster, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

I said this on timings on the East Coast Main Line.

  • 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.

LNER’s Azuma cavalry will hold the fort for as long as is needed.

I’ll now look at how various stations, will be affected if the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is not built, until a couple of decades in the future.

Leeds

Current Long Distance Services At Leeds Station

Leeds station has the following long distance services in trains per hour (tph)

  • CrossCountry – 1
  • LNER – 2
  • TransPennine Express – 5

It is a bit thin compared to say Birmingham or Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail And Leeds

Northern Powerhouse Rail has plans for Leeds with these services to other Northern cities.

  • Hull – two tph in 38 minutes
  • Manchester – six tph in 25 minutes
  • Newcastle – four tph in 58 minutes
  • Sheffield – four tph in 28 minutes.

From what they have written, the following could also be possible.

  • Bradford – six tph in a few minutes
  • Liverpool – four or more tph in 51 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – four or more tph in 35 minutes

It is an ambitious plan.

High Speed Two And Leeds

High Speed Two is planning to run the following trains to Leeds in every hour.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 200 metre train
  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds via East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 200 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train
  • London Euston and Leeds via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and East Midlands Hub – 400 metre train

Timings will be as follows.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds – 49 minutes.
  • London Euston and Leeds – One hour and 21 minutes.

There will be about 1000 seats per hour between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds and 2500 seats per hour Between London Euston and Leeds.

High Speed Two And Leeds Via Manchester

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

This map shows Transport for the North’s ideas for connections in the West linking Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport, Warrington and Wigan.

A black line goes East from Manchester to link it to Leeds via Huddersfield and Bradford.

  • This is proposed as a route shared between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • High Speed Two are promising that London Euston and Manchester will be timed at one hour and eleven minutes.
  • London Euston and Manchester will have a frequency of three tph and will all be 400 metre High Speed Two Full Size trains, with about a thousand seats.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of a twenty-five minute journey time between Manchester and Leeds.

I would also build the Manchester and Leeds route with the following characteristics.

  • As a full-size tunnel capable of taking High Speed Two Full Size trains and the largest freight trains.
  • Intermediate and underground stations at Huddersfield and Bradford.
  • It could be built as a base tunnel, like the similarly-sized Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland.
  • The Swiss tunnel has a maximum operating speed for passenger trains of 125 mph.

If it can be built for a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time-scale, it could be a way of doing the following.

  • Creating a straight 150 mph plus route across the Pennines, with a capacity of 18 tph.
  • Running high-capacity fast trains between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester.
  • Running freight trains between the two sides of the Pennines.
  • Creating a high frequency route between Liverpool and Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester, Huddersfield and Bradford and Leeds.

The passenger service between Liverpool and Hull could be the world’s first high speed metro.

If the London Euston and Manchester trains, were to be extended to Leeds, London Euston and Leeds would take one hour and thirty-six minutes, which would only be fifteen minutes slower, than is promised for the route going via the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

London Kings Cross And Leeds

When the in-cab digital signalling is complete between London Kings Cross and Leeds, I am fairly confident that with a few other improvements and more zoom from the Azumas, that a London Kings Cross and Leeds time of one hour and fifty minutes will be possible.

But will two nine-car or pairs of five-car trains per hour (tph), be enough capacity? Especially, as pairs of five-car trains will split and join to serve a wider catchment area, which will harvest more passengers.

LNER will in a couple of years have an extra path every hour into Kings Cross.

I would feel that best use of this path would be to run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds and Newcastle.

  • Leeds and Newcastle could be the only intermediate stops.
  • Leeds would be the ideal place to change to Northern Powerhouse Rail for anywhere in the North of England.
  • My estimates, say it could run between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in around three-and-a-half hours.
  • It would run non-stop between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Leeds and Newcastle and Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It would increase capacity, between the four major destinations on the route; London Kings Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It could start running, once the digital signalling and current improvements to the East Coast Main Line are complete.

London St. Pancras And Leeds

I discussed, Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plan for Sheffield and Leeds in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds.

This could see the following new infrastructure.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station of the route shared by the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.
  • Electrification through Sheffield and on to Leeds, via the Wakefield Line
  • New stations for High Speed trains at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley.

I could see East Midlands Railway taking advantage of this route, with their new Class 810 trains and running a regular Leeds and St. Pancras service.

  • It would call at Wakefield Westgate, Barnsley Dearne Valley, Rotherham and Meadowhall. between Leeds and Sheffield stations.
  • It would take twenty-eight minutes between Leeds and Sheffield, if it met Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective.
  • Perhaps one of the two tph between London St. Pancras and Sheffield could be extended to Leeds.

As the current time between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, is a few minutes under two hours, I can see a time of comfortably under two-and-a-half hours between London St. Pancras and Leeds.

A Summary Of Journey Times Between London And Leeds

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Leeds.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester – One hour and thirty-six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and thirty minutes.
  • Midland Main Line – via Derby and Sheffield – Two hours and twenty minutes.

The direct High Speed Two route is the fastest., but others could be viable alternatives for some passengers.

Bradford

Consider.

  • Under current plans Bradford won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Bradford Forster Square and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.
  • The layout of the city and its two stations doesn’t give good connectivity.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could probably be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

But if Northern Powerhouse Rail goes for a tunnel between Manchester and Leeds with Bradford as an underground station, it could be served by High Speed Two services going between London Euston and Leeds via Manchester.

I would estimate that if London Euston and Leeds via Manchester took around one hour and thirty-six minutes, London Euston and Bradford could take around an hour-and-a-half.

Darlington

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Darlington.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and forty-nine minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and six minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and forty-nine minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Darlington.

Edinburgh

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Edinburgh.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Western Leg – Three hours and Forty minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Three hours and forty-eight minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Three hours and thirty minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Harrogate

Consider.

  • Under current plans Harrogate won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Harrogate and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Huddersfield

  • If Huddersfield is served by underground platforms beneath the current Huddersfield station, a lot of what I said for Bradford would apply to Huddersfield.
  • The timings would probably be around an-hour-and-a-half from London Euston.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Hull

Hull is an interesting destination.

  • Reaching Hull from the current High Speed Two network will need a change at Leeds or another station.
  • Using Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives on timings, London Euston and Hull via Manchester on High Speed Two, would be a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.
  • I strongly feel, that London Kings Cross and Hull via Selby could be reduced to below two hours.

Hull would also make a superb Eastern terminal station for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and a High Speed Two service from London via Manchester and Leeds.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Middlesbrough

Reaching Middlesbrough from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and twenty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Middlesbrough.

Newcastle

I can summarise my estimates, between London and Newcastle.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – Two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – Two hours and thirty-four minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – Two hours and sixteen minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Newcastle.

Nottingham

I will compare average speeds on the Midland Main Line between London St. Pancras and Nottingham and on the East Coast Main Line, between London Kings Cross and Leeds.

Currently.

  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham services, over the 126 mile route, take one hour and fifty minutes. which is an average speed of 69 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds services, over the 186 mile route, take two hours and thirteen minutes, which is an average speed of 94 mph.

Note.

  1. The two routes are of similar character and are fairly straight with large sections of 125 mph running and quadruple tracks.
  2. The East Coast Main Line to Leeds  is fully electrified, whereas the Midland Main Line is only partially electrified.
  3. Both routes have a small number of stops.
  4. In a few years time, services on both routes will be run by different members of the Hitachi AT-300 train family.

I don’t feel it would be unreasonable to assume that a London St. Pancras and Nottingham service could be run at an average speed of 94 mph, if the Midland Main Line were upgraded to the same standard as the East Coast Main Line.

This could mean a time of around one hour and twenty-one minutes between London St. Pancras and Nottingham, or a saving of twenty-nine minutes.

Is that possible?

  • The new Class 810 trains, will have four engines instead of the normal three for a five-car AT-300 train. Will they be able to be closer to the 125 mph line-speed on diesel power, where it is available on the Midland Main Line.
  • The trains will be able to use electrification between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • There have been hints, that more electrification may be installed on the Midland Main Line.
  • Hitachi have announced a battery electric version of the AT-300 train called a Regional Battery Train, where one or more of the diesel engines are replaced by battery packs.
  • The new trains will be ready to accept in-cab ERTMS digital signalling, so they could be able to run at up to 140 mph, if the track were to be upgraded.

I certainly feel, that substantial time savings could be possible between London St. Pancras and Nottingham.

Eighty-one minutes would be very convenient, as it would comfortably allow a three hour round trip, which would mean just six trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

Eighty-one minutes would not be the fifty-two minute service promised by High Speed Two!

But!

  • The new trains are planned to be introduced from 2023.
  • Who knows, when High Speed Two will arrive at the East Midlands Hub station?
  • They won’t need any new substantial infrastructure to replace the current trains.

I also suspect the new trains will have more seats, but, the capacity of the Class 810 train, has not been published.

Nottingham could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Grantham, which I estimate would take about one hour and twenty minutes.

Sheffield

A lot of what I said for Nottingham can be applied to Sheffield.

  • Currently, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services, over the 165 mile route, take two hours, which is an average speed of 82.5 mph.
  • High Speed Two is promising a journey time of one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • An average speed of 90 mph, would mean a journey time of one hour and fifty minutes.
  • This would allow a four hour round trip, which would mean just eight trains or more likely pairs of trains would be needed for the current two tph service.

It would be very convenient for the operator.

It looks like if pairs of trains were to be run on both the Nottingham and Sheffield routes, that twenty-eight trains would be needed to run both services.

This fits well with a fleet size of thirty-three trains.

The only caveat, is that to get the required journey times, it might be necessary to rebuild and electrify the tracks, between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.

  • These tracks will be shared with the future Sheffield Branch of High Speed Two.
  • It would only be 15.5 miles of double-track to rebuild and electrify.
  • It could be rebuilt to allow 140 mph running. Several minutes could be saved!

The electrification could allow Hitachi’s Regional Battery trains to be able to run the Sheffield service.

These trains would certainly be a way of avoiding the tricky electrification of the Derby and Clay Cross section of the route, which goes through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Sheffield could also be served by a high speed service from London Kings Cross via Doncaster, which I estimate would take about one hour and thirty minutes.

Skipton

Consider.

  • Under current plans Skipton won’t be getting any high speed service from High Speed Two.
  • The best it can get under current plans is several direct services per day, between Skipton and London Kings Cross in perhaps two hours.

Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield and Skipton could possibly  be served by trains to and from London Kings Cross that join and split at Leeds.

Sunderland

Reaching Sunderland from the proposed High Speed Two network will need a change at York or another station.

But a time of two hours and thirty minutes, should be possible using the East Coast Main Line via Doncaster.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle, will speed up East Coast Main Line services to Sunderland.

York

I can summarise my estimates, between London and York.

  • High Speed Two – Direct via Eastern Leg – One hour and twenty-four minutes.
  • High Speed Two – via Manchester and Leeds – One hour and forty-two minutes.
  • East Coast Main Line – via Doncaster – One hour and twenty-four minutes.

Improvements on the East Coast Main Line, needed to enable and speed-up High Speed Two services to York, Darlington and Newcastle; will speed up East Coast Main Line services to York.

I believe strongly, that York would be about as fast from London, by either of the direct routes, but both would serve different intermediate destinations.

Conclusion

My first conclusion is a surprising one, but the promised timings from High Speed Two and the current timings in the timetable make it clear.

To achieve the required timings for High Speed Two, major improvements must be made to existing track and these improvements will mean that existing services will be competitive with High Speed Two on time.

These improvements fall into this category.

  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, will make East Coast Main Line services to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle competitive with High Speed Two services.
  • Improving the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle, may also mean that London Kings Cross and Edinburgh will be faster than the High Speed Two service between London Euston and Edinburgh.
  • Electrifying the route shared between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, will speed up London St. Pancras and Sheffield services and make them more competitive with High Speed Two.

I suspect there may be similar mutual improvements on the Western leg of High Speed Two.

Other smaller conclusions from my analysis of the improvements include.

  • These improvements will create some extra capacity on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines, by removing bottlenecks and improving line speeds.
  • Electrification, even if it is only partial or discontinuous, will improve services on the Midland Main Line.
  • Some places like Harrogate, Middlesbrough and Skipton will never be served directly by High Speed Two, but are easily served by East Coast Main Line services from London Kings Cross.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail is very much part of the North-South capacity for England.
  • In-cab ERTMS signalling will play a large part in increasing capacity and line speeds.

Perhaps in our planning of High Speed Two, we should plan all the routes in the North and Midlands in a much more holistic way.

If we look at the capacity between London and the North, I feel that with the addition of Phase 1 of High Speed Two to Birmingham in 2029-2033 and hopefully Phase 2a soon afterwards, that Phase 2b will not be needed for reasons of speed and capacity until years later.

So, I would pause most construction of the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two until Phase 1 and Phase 2a are complete.

I would make exceptions for the following.

  • Improvements to the shared section of the East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, between York and Newcastle.
  • Building a high speed connection between Leeds and York for the use of Northern Powerhouse Rail and the East Coast Main Line.
  • Rebuilding and electrification of the shared section of the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two, between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield.
  • Improve and electrify the route between Sheffield and Leeds.

But I would continue with the design, as I feel that East of Leeds is very much sub-optimal at the present time.

The route of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two would be safeguarded.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Connecting Sheffield To HS2 And On To Leeds

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 connecting Sheffield to High Speed Two and on to Leeds.

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

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

  • The distance between the two stations is 39 miles
  • The current service takes around 40 minutes and has a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 58.5 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 28 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 84 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 84 mph, indicates to me that a fast route will be needed.

But given experience of 100 mph lines in other parts of the UK, 100 mph trains and infrastructure could make this demanding objective of twenty-eight minutes between Sheffield and Leeds a reality

Connecting Sheffield To High Speed Two

Sheffield is to be accessed from a branch off the Main High Speed Two route to Leeds.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of the Sheffield Branch, from where it branches North West from the main Eastern Leg of High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two will share with other services.
  3. The orange route goes North to Leeds, along the M1
  4. The blue route goes North to Chesterfield and Sheffield, after skirting to the East of Clay Cross.
  5. The orange route goes South to East Midlands Hub station.

This second map, shows where the Erewash Valley Line joins the Sheffield Branch near the village of Stonebroom.

Note.

  1. Red is an embankment.
  2. Yellow is a cutting.
  3. The Sheffield Branch goes North-West to Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Sheffield
  4. The Sheffield Branch goes South-East to East Midlands Hub station.
  5. The Sheffield Branch goes through Doe Hill Country Park.
  6. The Sheffield Branch runs alongside the existing Erewash Valley Line, which goes South to Langley Mill, Ilkeston and the Derby-Nottingham area.

The Sheffield Branch and the Erewash Valley Line appear to share a route, which continues round Clay Cross and is shown in this third map.

Note

  1. Doe Hill Country Park is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The dark line running North-South is the A61.
  3. Running to the West of the A61 is the Midland Main Line, which currently joins the Erewash Valley Line at Clay Cross North junction.

High Speed Two and the Midland Main Line will share a route and/or tracks from Clay Cross North junction to Sheffield.

This fourth map, shows where the combined route joins the Hope Valley Line to Manchester to the South West of Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield is to the North East.
  2. Chesterfield is to the South East,
  3. Totley junction is a large triangular junction, that connects to the Hope Valley Line.

These are some timings for various sections of the route.

  • Clay Cross North Junction and Chesterfield (current) – 4 minutes
  • Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield (current) – 17 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (current) – 13 minutes
  • Chesterfield and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 13 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (High Speed Two) – 16 minutes
  • East Midlands Hub and Sheffield (High Speed Two) – 27 minutes

As Class Cross North Junction and Sheffield are 15.5 miles, this means the section is run at an average speed of 53 mph.

Can I draw any conclusions from the maps and timings?

  • There would appear to be similar current and High Speed Two timings between Chesterfield and Sheffield.
  • The various junctions appear to be built for speed.

The Midland Main Line will be electrified from Clay Cross North Junction to Sheffield, so that High Speed Two trains can use the route.

What will be the characteristics of the tracks between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield?

  • Will it be just two tracks as it mainly is now or will it be a multi-track railway to separate the freight trains from the high speed trains?
  • Will it have a high enough maximum speed, so that East Midland Railway’s new Class 810 trains can go at their maximum speed of 140 mph?
  • Will it be capable of handling a frequency of 18 tph, which is the maximum frequency of High Speed Two?

Surely, it will be built to a full High Speed Two standard to future-proof the line.

Before finishing this section, I will answer a few questions.

Would It Be Possible For Class 810 Trains Fitted With Batteries To Run Between London St. Pancras And Sheffield?

East Midlands Railway’s new Class 810 trains could be fitted with batteries to become Regional Battery Trains with the specification, given in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. This would give the trains a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on batteries, if a number of diesel engines were exchanged for batteries.
  2. The trains would only be a few mph slower on batteries, than the current Hitachi trains on diesel.
  3. The Class 810 trains have four diesel engines. Is this to enable 125 mph running on diesel?

By perhaps replacing two diesel engines with batteries and using the remaining two diesel engines as range extenders or some other combination, I feel that Hitachi might be able to obtain a longer self-powered range for the train.

Consider.

  • Between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction will be fully-electrified and at 15.5 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • Between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough will be fully-electrified and at 83 miles, it will be long enough to fully-charge the batteries on the train.
  • The section between Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction is not electrified and is 66 miles.

I feel that Hitachi and their partner; Hyperdrive Innovation can design a battery electric Class 810 train, that can travel between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, without using a drop of diesel.

A great advantage of this approach, is that, as more electrification is added to the Midland Main Line, as it surely will be, the trains will be able to use the wires to reduce journey times.

I believe there are two sections on the Midland Main Line. where traditional electrification is less likely.

  • The bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station is low and would need to be rebuilt causing immense disruption to both road and rail in the city.
  • Between Derby and Alfreton is the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. Will electrification be fought by the heritage lobby?

Both sections may eventually be electrified at some far off date in the future.

Why Is There A Spur Of Electrification At Totley Junction?

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the Southern Leg of Totley Junction, where the Hope Valley Line joins the Midland Main Line.

Note that a short length of electrification is shown, between the Midland Main Line and a tunnel on the Southern leg.

This Google Map shows the same area.

Note, that the line disappears into a tunnel.

  1. In Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield, I indicated, that running battery electric trains between Manchester and Sheffield would be a possibility and could be a way of meeting Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objectives for the route.
  2. A short length of electrification might help battery electric trains turn out to go South.
  3. I don’t think any passenger trains ever go that way now, but I have seen articles and heard complaints from passengers, that want a better service between Derby and/or Nottingham and Manchester.
  4. It might also help with the decarbonisation of freight trains to and from the quarries.

I also suspect, that if building High Speed Two in Manchester temporarily reduced the capacity of Manchester Piccadilly station, trains could use the Hope Valley Line to get to the city, as they have done previously, with Project Rio.

Accessing The Infrastructure Depot At Staveley

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the location of the infrastructure depot at Staveley.

Note.

  1. Chesterfield is shown by the large blue dot.
  2. High Speed Two’s Sheffield Branch runs North from Chesterfield station.
  3. High Speed Two’s Eastern Leg runs down the Eastern side of the map.
  4. Two spurs from East and West go towards each other and would meet to the North of the town of Staveley.

The infrastructure depot will be located where they meet.

The route from the Sheffield Branch uses the Barrow Hill Line, which might be reopened as another passenger route between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

I wrote about this idea in Reinstatement Of The Barrow Hill Line Between Sheffield And Chesterfield.

If the line is being upgraded and electrified as far as Barrow Hill for the Infrastructure Depot, would it be worthwhile to create a new electrified route into Sheffield?

I also wrote in Could East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool And Norwich Service Avoid A Reverse At Sheffield By Using the Barrow Hill Line?, that the Barrow Hill Line might be an alternative route for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

When the railway routes in the area of the Infrastructure Depot are developed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some routes changed.

Between Sheffield And Meadowhall Stations

One of the original designs for High Speed Two had it calling at Meadowhall station.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two running across Sheffield.

Note.

  1. Sheffield station is the big Blue dot in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The M1 runs across the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The railway between Sheffield and Meadowhall stations already exists.
  4. Sheffield and Meadowhall stations are 3.5 miles apart and trains take seven minutes.

Is there any reason, why High Speed Two trains shouldn’t serve both Sheffield and Meadowhall stations, by just taking the existing line across the city?

Taking The Wakefield Line Towards Leeds

In extending to Meadowhall, High Speed Two’s route seems to be taking the current Wakefield Line.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Sheffield and Rotherham and then going towards Leeds.

Note.

  1. Orange indicates new High Speed Two track.
  2. Blue indicates track that High Speed Two shares with other lines.
  3. The Wakefield Line is shown in blue and has stations at Meadowhall, Swinton, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe.
  4. The main High Speed Two leg to Leeds is shown in orange.

It looks to me, that High Speed Two are aiming to provide a route, so that trains going to Sheffield can extend the journey to Leeds.

As Leeds will have three tph to and from London, why is this service being extended to Leeds?

I will explore a few reasons why in the next few sub-sections.

It’s Convenient For Running Trains

Consider.

  • High Speed Two are saying London and Sheffield will be one hour and twenty-seven minutes.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of Leeds and Sheffield in twenty-eight minutes.
  • One hour and fifty-five minutes could be a convenient time for a London and Leeds service, as it could be a four hour round trip.

But High Speed Two are saying London and Leeds will be one hour and twenty-one minutes.

It looks to me, that it is a convenient way to serve Meadowhall, Rotherham, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurscoe stations

High Speed Two Through Rotherham

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows High Speed Two passing through Rotherham to the North of the Parkgate Shopping Park.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is the bright blue line running North-East from the Western edge of the map.
  2. The grey blocks are the stores in the Shopping Park.
  3. The Rotherham Parkgate tram-train stop is marked.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

To the East of the Parkgate Shopping Park, is a large brownfield site, as this Google Map shows.

Could Rotherham have a station on the line North of this site?

  • The rail line running SW-NE across this map is drawn in blue on High Speed Two’s interactive map.
  • Rotherham Masborough station used to be in this area.

If High Speed Two is supposed to be a railway for all the people, or at least as many as possible, surely there should be a station in the town.

High Speed Two Through Bolton-upon-Dearne

In July 2019, I wrote a post called Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – A New Station At Barnsley Dearne Valley.

So have High Speed Two taken on this feature of the Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019, to add another station to their list of destinations?

Approach To Leeds

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, clearly shows route High Speed Two will take to approach Leeds from the South East.

Note.

  1. Leeds station is the blue dot in the North West corner of the map.
  2. High Speed Two is shown in orange and continues North to York, where it joins the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Wakefield is in the middle at the bottom of the map and is on the Wakefield Line and the current route for LNER’s expresses from London.

It looks to me, that Leeds and Sheffield will eventually end up with two faster routes between the two cities.

  • An upgraded Wakefield Line
  • A route based on the Southern section of the Wakefield Line and the Eastern leg of High Speed Two route to Leeds.

If High Speed Two’s trains are to be able to get across Sheffield and call at Sheffield, Meadowhall, Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley stations, then these conditions must be met.

  • The trains must be High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains or a train to a similar specification.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed to allow the two hundred metre long trains to call.
  • The Wakefield Line must be electrified between Sheffield and just North of Goldthorpe station, where it will be able to join the link to the Eastern leg of High Speed Two.

It would probably be sensible to electrify the Wakefield Line all the way to Fitzwilliam station, from where the line is electrified all the way to Leeds.

This would enable the following.

  • Electric trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield Westgate station.
  • Would Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of a twenty-eight minute journey be achieved?
  • East Midlands Railway could run their Class 810 trains between London St. Pancras and Leeds under electric power.
  • High Speed Two could serve Leeds before the Northern infrastructure of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two is complete.
  • High Speed Two could offer services to Wakefield, Barnsley and Rotherham via Sheffield.

I can see reasons for early upgrading of the Wakefield Line.

Conclusion

It appears that High Speed Two are planning an electrified route through Sheffield between Clay Cross North Junction on the Midland Main Line and Goldthorpe station on the Wakefield Line.

Once complete it would enable the following.

  • Rotherham and Barnsley to have direct electric services to and from the capital.
  • When East Midlands Railway introduce their new Class 810 trains, the electrification North of Clay Cross North Junction would mean faster services and less running on diesel power.
  • I believe these Class 810 trains could run between London and Sheffield, if their four diesel engines are replaced with batteries, which would power the trains between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough.
  • The electrification at Sheffield would allow battery electric trains to work between Manchester and Sheffield as I outlined in Northern Powerhouse Rail -Significant Upgrades And Journey Time Improvements To The Hope Valley Route Between Manchester And Sheffield.

I think it is a good plan.

Project Management Recommendations

It is my view that the following projects should be started as soon as possible.

  • Electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station.
  • Electrification of the Wakefield Line between Sheffield and Fitzwilliam stations.
  • Provision of new stations at Rotherham and Barnsley Dearne Valley on the Wakefield Line.

These projects could deliver worthwhile improvements in services in a couple of years, rather than the tens of years for High Speed Two.

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments