The Anonymous Widower

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

In How Will Chiltern Railways Serve Old Oak Common?, I looked at the possibilities of how Chiltern Main Line services will use the Old Oak Common station complex as an additional London terminus to ease the overcrowding at Marylebone station.

In Will Crossrail Go Up The West Coast Main Line?, I looked at why the extension of Crossrail to Milton Keynes was announced and then cancelled as it was thought to be bad value for money.

But is the general principle of extending Crossrail from Old Oak Common onto a new branch or branches a good idea?

Crossrail Revenue And Profit

If you’re running any railway, you get the highest revenue by running as many trains as you can and making sure that they are full with passengers all the time.

The Central Section of Crossrail between Stratford and Paddington stations will be very heavily used, as it will have to handle the following passenger flows.

  • Passengers from the Abbey Wood Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from Heathrow going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Reading Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Shenfield Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Liverpool Street going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Paddington going to and from Central London

In addition it will also be used as an extra Underground line in Central London

The Central Section will be a cash cow for the Crossrail operator!

The various branches to and from Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, may well be less heavily used, but will probably see a different type of passenger to the Central Section, who might need more space and hopefully a seat.

The Class 345 Trains

The Class 345 trains have been designed for efficiency and flexibility.

  • I believe that each car is a separate one-car electric train with its own function.
  • Most cars will be motored to distribute traction and braking forces along the train.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battery in each car to handle regenerative braking.
  • Cars are joined together to make a train of an appropriate length.
  • Initially, the trains are starting at seven cars, but will go to nine cars and possibly ten.
  • The interiors have been designed to satisfy both needs of a long distance commuter train and a London Underground train.

The operator will be able to configure the trains as new routes are added and passenger levels change.

Comparing Crossrail And The Victoria Line

It is worthwhile to compare the Central Section of Crossrail with the Victoria Line.

Crossrail’s Central Section has the following characteristics.

  • Twenty-four trains per hour  (tph) in both directions
  • Automatic train operation (ATO)
  • Full-size trains of up to ten carriages long
  • Platform-edge doors
  • Large stations with lots of wide platforms and passages.
  • Double-ended stations ay Liverpool Street-Moorgate, Barbican-Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.
  • Step-free access
  • Easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

Whereas the Victoria Line has the following characteristics.

  • Thirty-six tph in both directions
  • Automatic train operation
  • Tube-size trains of six carriages
  • Small stations with lots of narrow platforms and passages
  • Some step-free access
  • Some easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

The two lines show a difference in design, very much in keeping with their construction dates.

One comparison is surprising.

Crossrail is planned to run twenty-four tph through the Central Section, but if Dear Old Vicky can manage 36 tph on a line built in the 1960s with generally cramped stations, surely Crossrail with the benefit of some of the best modern design can do a bit more.

I’ve read that Crossrail could handle thirty tph, but then we wondered in the 1960s at the Victoria Line’s fast trains and high frequency in the twenties between Seven Sisters and Brixton. And look at the old girl now!

Dear Old Vicky is second in frequency to parts of the Moscow Metro, which run a train every 95 seconds, as opposed to the 100 seconds of the Victoria.

I suspect that grates with the engineers of the London Underground, as no-one likes being second.

A few years ago, the engineers thought 33 tph between Brixton and Seven Sisters was the limit but now there is 36 tph all the way along the line.

So will we see further improvements to the Victoria Line like these?

  • A loop at Brixton via Herne Hill station to turn trains at the Southern end of the line.
  • Higher capacity stations at Oxford Circus, Euston, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Highbury and Islington, Finsbury Park and Walthamstow Central.
  • Air-conditioned, walk-through articulated trains
  • Full step-free access at all stations and platforms
  • Improved train control software
  • Improved methods of working

These and other improvements will push the frequency towards the magic forty tph.

Do I think that forty tph is achievable on a line built in the 1960s?

As a Control Engineer, trained in the 1960s, I can only give one answer. And that must be yes!

I feel that the stations are the key, as at times stations like Oxford Circus and Walthamstow Central are struggling to handle the number of passengers. Victoria was like that a few years ago, but the addition of a new entrance and more and wider passages has made the station seem a lot less crowded.

Surely, Dear Old Vicky has shown what is possible, when you take a well designed railway and try to ramp up the capacity!

Various commentators have said Crossrail will handle thirty tph, but why are they not being more ambitious?

Comparing Crossrail And Thameslink

Crossrail and Thameslink have a lot in common.

  • Frequencies of twenty-four tph through their central sections
  • High capacity step-free central stations
  • High-capacity purpose-built trains
  • Automatic Train Control in the central sections.

But there are differences.

  • Crossrail’s central section is straight through from Paddington to Stratford, whereas Thameslink has a junction at Blackfriars.
  • Crossrail’s central section has seven stations, whereas Thameslink has just five.
  • Blackfriars station is also a terminal station on Thameslink’s central section.
  • Crossrail’s stations are generally island platforms, which ease reversing direction, whereas Thameslink’s generally aren’t.
  • Crossrail is 25 KVAC overhead electrification throughout, whereas Thameslink has a voltage change at St. Pancras.

I think that although both lines will be opened at a frequency of 24 tph, raising the frequency on Crossrail will be easier than Thameslink.

The Importance Of Increasing Frequency On Crossrail and Thasmeslink

The train capacity on the two routes are as follows.

  • A nine-car Crossrail Class 345 train can carry 1,500 passengers
  • A twelve-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,754 passengers
  • A eight-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,146 passengers

Compare this with an eight-car Victoria Line 2009 Stock train, which holds just 876 passengers.

So if Crossrail went from 24 to 30 tph through the central section, that would add extra capacity for 9,000 passengers per hour, between Stratford and Paddington.

Building Crossrail and upgrading Thameslink will bring London two high-capacity cross-London Underground Lines.

The more the frequencies on those lines can be increased the higher will be the capacity of the Underground network in Central London.

Crossrail’s Shenfield Branch

The Branch to Shenfield station has the following characteristics.

  • It is an almost completely separated double-track railway between Stratford and Shenfield.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • A few of Greater Anglia’s similar Aventra trains may use the route.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Shenfield Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

That figure might seem high, but consider the following.

  • Shenfield station has three platforms where Crossrail trains can be turned back.
  • Walthamstow Central and Brixton stations handle thirty-six trains tph with just two platforms.
  • The track layout at Shenfield can accommodate through trains.

Passenger access to the platforms is probably more of a limiting factor, than the track and platforms.

Timings

Currently, Class 315 trains are scheduled to go between Stratford and Shenfield in thirty-six minutes, with faster Longer distance services doing the trip non-stop in fifteen minutes.

  • Crossrail is claiming on their web site, that the Class 345 trains will do the trip in thirty-two minutes or four minutes less.
  • But there are eleven station between Stratford and Shenfield. So that is a saving of only around twenty-two seconds a station.

I feel Crossrail is playing their timings very safe.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The current proposal of twelve tph to Shenfield will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Crossrail timings between Stratford and Shenfield will approach the current fastest time of fifteen minutes between the two stations.
  • Fast services to and from North of Chelmsford will stop at Shenfield to enable faster and easier journeys.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Beaulieu and Southend Victoria.
  • Shenfield will become a major rail interchange.

The East of England will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Abbey Wood Branch

The Branch to Abbey Wood station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a tunnelled double-track railway between Whitechapel and Abbey Wood stations.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • All trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Abbey Wood Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of twelve tph to Abbey Wood will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Services on the Abbey Wood Branch will continue to match those on the Shenfield Branch, as this makes journeys between the two Eastern branches easier.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • Abbey Wood will become a major rail interchange.

South East London and Kent will see major changes to its rail network.

Summing Up The Two Eastern Branches

The two Eastern Branches can probably provide as many as twenty-four tph for Crossrail.

As the maximum frequency through the Central Section is probably in the thirties, they can allocate services according to where the traffic lies.

It would also appear that as the two services will use the same platforms at Whitechapel station and trains will be every few minutes, that Crossrail is designed to make journeys between say Ilford and Abbey Wood much quicker than by car.

Crossrail’s Reading Branch

The Branch  to Reading station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a semi-separated double-track railway between Paddington and Reading.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch; four to Reading and two to Maidenhead.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Reading Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph,

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Reading and Maidenhead will be increased increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Basingstoke and Oxford.
  • Reading will become an even more major rail interchange.

West London and Berkshire will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Heathrow Branch

The Branch to Heathrow has the following characteristics.

  • It is a fully-separated double-track railway between Airport Junction and Heathrow.
  • All stations are step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Heathrow Branch could handle in excess of twelve tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Heathrow is increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations beyond Terminal 5.
  • Heathrow Express will fade away.

Heathrow will see major changes to its rail network.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Paddington

These services will call at Paddington from the East.

  • 12 tph from Abbey Wood
  • 12 tph from Shenfield

And these from the West

6 tph from Heathrow

2 tph from Maidenhead

4 tph from Reading

This gives an imbalance, so twelve tph will have to be turned back to the East at Paddington.

Crossrail Services

The provisional service pattern is shown in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail under Services.

It effectively shows the following services, with times are from Crossrail’s provisional journey time calculator.

  • 4 tph – Reading to Abbey Wood – 80/78 minutes
  • 2 tph – Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 67/66 minutes
  • 4 tph – Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes
  • 2 tph – Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes (assumed same as previous)
  • 12 tph – Paddington to Shenfield – 51/51 minutes

It should also be noted that Paddington to Abbey Wood is 29/28 minutes.

Note.

  1. The first figure is for the West to East journey.
  2. The second figure is for the East to West journey.
  3. There isn’t much difference between West to East and East to West journeys.

This leads me to give these numbers for the trains on each route.

  • Reading to Abbey Wood – 12 trains
  • Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 10 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Paddington to Shenfield – 24 trains

This totals up to 56 trains.

Note.

  1. My numbers of trains figures, are very rough and are minimum numbers.
  2. Provisionally, Crossrail will also be running 4 tph between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park in the Peak, which could need four trains.
  3. Crossrail have ordered 70 trains.
  4. Some trains will be in maintenance and others will be held in reserve.

Crossrail seem to have ordered a sensible number of trains for the initial services.

Ceossrail Extension To Gravesend

It would appear that a typical Abbey Wood to Gravesend service takes just under half an hour.

This is with slower twenty-five year old Class 465 trains, so extending services to Gravesend would just add an hour to the round trip.

This would make train timetabling easy.

If the Heathrow Terminal 4 service to Abbey Wood was extended to Gravesend, it would require another two trains.

In addition.

  • The Class 345 trains have been designed to run on 750 VDC third-rail electrification, with the addition of third-rail shoes.
  • I think that the new track layout at Abbey Wood station could cope with four tph running to Gravesend using the North Kent Line.
  • A single platform at Gravesend could turn back four tph.

It does look that to choose Gravesend as an extension for Crossrail could be a very good decision.

The New South Eastern Franchise

This will be a key factor in extending Crossrail to Gravesend and I suspect all bidders will give co-operation with Crossrail, a high priority.

I suspect a new franchise will replace a large proportion of the train fleet with new 100 mph traqins and that the Class 465 trains will be retired.

The new franchise is due to start in December 2018.

When Could A Crossrail Service To Gravesend Start?

I believe that the following infrastructure is ready for a four tph Crossrail service to Gravesend.

  • The link between Crossrail and the North Kent Line at Abbey Wood station.
  • Platform 0 at Gravesend is a twelve-car London-facing bay platform, that could handle the trains.
  • Dartford, Gravesend, Greenhithe stations are step-free.

However, certain things must happen before a Crossrail service to Gravesend could start.

  • The new Southeastern franchise must be up and running.
  • ERTMS must be installed along the North Kent Line.
  • All trains running along the North Kent Line must be 100 mph trains, able to take advantage of modern signalling.
  • All stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend must be made step-free.

The new franchise will probably have its new service pattern and modern trains in place by the end of 2023, which would probably make the Crossrail extension easier.

Before a decision is made on the extension, Crossrail needs a couple of years to find out how passengers use the new line and the other services, which will include Thameslink, that call at Abbey Wood station.

Can Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

Before answering the question, the related question of whether it is possible should be answered.

Extending Trains From Paddington

Current proposals envisage twelve trains turning back at Paddington.

It would not be difficult if a number of these trains continued to Old Oak Common station.

Can Paddington To Old Oak Common Handle The Extra Trains?

The current proposals envisage just twelve tph using the route between Paddington and Old Oak Common station, with perhaps a few wxtra trains going to and from Old Oak Common Depot.

As the tunnelled section of Crossrail can handle double that frequency, I suspect there will be no problems extending extra trains to Old Oak Common station.

It would appear that there would be no problems extending services to Old Oak Common station.

Where Would The Extra Services Go?

The choices lie between the Chiltern Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

If we take Crossrail’s well-thought out choice of Gravessend, I think we need a destination, that is ideally just under thirty minutes from Old Oak Common station.

In the next few sub-sections, I’ll look at possibilities.

Extending To High Wycombe On The Chiltern Main Line

A service between High Wycombe and Wembley Stadium stations takes 27 minutes with stops at Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross and South Ruislip stations. Taking the Acton-Northolt Line and even with stopping at Seer Green and Jordans, Denham Golf Club, Denham, West Ruislip and Greenford, I’m pretty sure, that a train could go from Old Oak Common to High Wycombe and back in comfortably under an hour.

Four tph between High Wycombe and Shenfield would require twelve trains, which is four more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at High Wycombe station.
  • High Wycombe station has plenty of space.
  • However, it would need the route between Old Oak Common and High Wycombe to be electrified.
  • But, it is a long-term aim of Chiltern Railways to electrify the Chiltern Main Line.

I believe that High Wycombe station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Extending To Milton Keynes Central On The West Coast Main Line

A service between Milton Keynes Central and Wembley Central stations takes 51 minutes with seven stops.

This would mean that a train could go from Shenfield to Milton Keynes Central in comfortably under two hours.

Four tph between Milton Keyns Central and Shenfield would require sixteen trains, which is eight more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • Milton Keynes Central station  has space for a terminal platform.
  • Except for creating the connection at Old Oak Common and updating stations to full step-free access, the infrastructure is pretty good.
  • Crossrail would be linked to the East-West Rail Link.

I believe that Milton Keynes Central station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

It is certainly possible to extend to either High Wycombe or Milton Keynes Central.

If a decision were to be made to extend Crossrail, passenger statistics would probably decide, which would be the extra terminal or terminals.

 

 

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Will Crossrail Go Up The West Coast Main Line?

This report on the BBC from August 2014, is entitled Crossrail Extension To Hertfordshire Being Considered.

This is the opening paragraph.

Proposals to extend Crossrail to Hertfordshire are being considered by the government, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced.

But then in August 2016, the proposal was cancelled as being poor value for money.

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail has a section called To the West Coast Main Line, under Extensions.

This is said.

Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. This would provide a direct service from the WCML to the Shenfield, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail’s capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the north. Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph)

That sounds all very sensible. So why was the scheme cancelled?

I will look at various factors to see if I can get an idea!

Current Local Services To Milton Keynes

London Midland currently runs five trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Milton Keynes Central stations using Class 350 trains capable of 110 mph.

The new operator; West Midlands Trains will replace these trains with 110 mph Aventras.

Note that both these trains have to be capable of running at 110 mph, as this is necessary for efficient operation of the West Coast Main Line.

Crossrail Local Services To Milton Keynes

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are only capable of 90 mph running, but then again, West Midlans Trains will have Aventras capable of 110 mph.

So for a start, the current Crossrail trains would be unable to work services to Milton Keynes in an efficient manner.

I would estimate around twenty trains  would have to be updated for 110 mph running to provide eight tph.

An Upgrade Of Milton Keynes Central Station

With a fast eight tph running to and from Central London, the nature of the train services at Milton Keynes would change dramatically.

How many of Virgin’s passengers to and from the North would prefer to change to a local train at Milton Keynes, rather than lug heavy baggage on the Underground?

HS2 would have an unexpected competitor.

ERTMS On The West Coast Main Line

Would ERTMS need to be installed on the West Coast Main Line to accommodate al these trains?

This will probably happen soon anyway, but Crossrail to Milton Keynes could bring it forward.

Connecting Crossrail To The West Coast Main Line

Look at this map from carto.map.free.fr, which shows the lines in the Old Oak Common area.

Note.

  • The West Coast Main Line is the multi-track railway towards the top of the map.
  • The Great Western Main Line is the multi-track railway towards the bottom of the map.
  • The Slow Lines on both main lines are on the Northern side of the tracks.
  • The Old Oak Common station will be on the Great Western Main Line, just to the West of the North Pole Depot.

This all means that a flyover or a tunnel must be built to connect the two pairs of Slow Lines. It’s not simple!

This Google Map of the area illustrates the problem.

Note.

  • The Great Western Main Line going across the bottom of the map.
  • The North Pole Depot alongside the Great Western Main Line.
  • The Dudding Hill Line and the West London Line at the Western side of the map.
  • Crossrail’s newly-built depot is the large grey rectangular building.
  • There’s also some housing to the North-West of Crossrail’s Depot

I doubt that a flyover could pass over all that.

But a tunnel starting at the surely soon-to-be-redundant Heathrow Express Depot , that turned North-West would be a possibility.

A tunnel could emerge to the North-West of Harlesden station.

This Google Map shows that area.

Note.

  • The silver building in the top-left corner is the Princess Royal Distribution Centre.
  • The West Coast Main Line runs diagonally across the map.
  • The Dudding Hill Line runs up the Eastern side of the map.

I suspect that space for a tunnel portal can be found.

  • Twin tunnels would probably be bored.
  • I estimate that they, would need to be just over two kilometres long.
  • I suspect too, that they could be build without an additional ventilation shaft in the middle.

Looking at these maps, I’m very much of the opinion, that boring a tunnelled solution, would be possible, but what would be the cost?

The Lee Tunnel in East London is about twice as long and larger in diameter. From the cost of that tunnel, which was opened in 2016, I feel that the two tunnels could be built for just under a billion pounds.

A Tunnel-Free Solution

This Google Map shows Old Oak Common between the Great Western Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

The Crossrail station would be at the bottom just above the North Pole Depot.

I wonder if a line could go through or behind the Heathrow Express site and then follow the North London Line behind the Crossrail Depot to Willesden High Level Junction.

This Google Map shows Willesden High Level Junction and the tracks of the London Overground as they pass over the West Coast Main Line.

I suspect modern three-dimensional design and structural analysis can create a connecting viaduct.

I doubt the track will be much more than a kilometre long and I suspect with the right signallinmg and a degree of Sutomatic Train Control, eight tph each way could be handled on a single track.

Conclusion

It looks like updating the Class 345 trains, ERTMS and building a tunnel under Old Oak Common could be a sizeable bill.

Have cost estimates been such, that the project was not deemed to be value for money?

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Railway Line For West London Proposed

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

I’ve also found this article on the Hendon Times, where the railway line is called the West Orbital Railway.

The West Orbital Railway now has a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Dudding Hill Line, which is entitled West Orbital Railway Proposal. This is said.

In September 2017, a proposal for a new West Orbital Railway from Hounslow to Hendon using the disused Dudding Hill Line could go via a new station at Old Oak Common which would be located at Victoria Road and other new stations at Staples Corner, Harlesden and Old Oak Common Victoria Road. 4 trains per hour would run from Hendon to Hounslow and another service from Hendon to Kew Bridge via Old Oak Common.

The proposal seems to be creeping into the media.

The Preamble

I will describe a few of the lines in the area first.

The Dudding Hill Line

The Dudding Hill Line is one of London’s unknown and almost forgotten railway lines.

Passenger services ceased in 1902, although even today the occasional charter service uses the line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Dudding Hill Line.

Note.

  • How the line joins the Midland Main Line in a triangular junction, which is North of Criklewood station, enabling North and South connections.
  • How the line crosses the Chiltern Main Line by Neasden station.
  • How the line crosses the electrified West Coast Main Line by Harlesden station.
  • How the line joins the North London Line just North of the electrified Great Western Main Line.

This connectivity makes it a very useful freight line.

The Hendon Freight Lines

These two lines run on the Western side of the Midland Main Line between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hendon stations,

North of Hendon they cross the tracks of the Midland Main Line on a flyover and merge with the Slow Lines at Silkstream Junction.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Hendon.

The Hendon Freight Lines have following properties.

  • They are only partially electrified.
  • They have double-track connections from the North to the Dudding Hill Line, which is named the Brent Curve and Brent Curve Junction.
  • They have double-track connections from the South to the Dudding Hill Line, which is named the Cricklewood Curve and Cricklewood Curve Junction.
  • As shown at Hendon in the map, the Hendon Up Line passes behind Platform 4 at Hendon, Cricklewood and West Hampstead Thameslink stations.

The innovative use of these lines will be an important part of the proposal for a new passenger service in West London.

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line and the Dudding Hill Line are linked together by the Midland Main Line,

  • Between the two lines is fully electrified
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line will be electrified from May 2018.
  • The connecting lines between the Midland Main Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line are being electrified around Carlton Road Junction.

This will enable electrified freight trains from East London to the Midlands, using the following route.

  • Gospel Oak To Barking Line
  • Carlton Road Junction
  • Midland Main Line.

Note that there is no flyover between Carlton Road Junction and the Dudding Hill Line, which means they have to cross the Midland Main Line on the flat.

For this reason, electrified freight trains for the West Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line must probably take the North London Line from Gospel Oak station.

This probably rules out passenger services between Barking and Acton, using the Dudding Hill Line.

However passenger trains from East London could continue up the Midland Main Line to a suitable terminal.

Class 710 Trains

The Class 710 trains that will be delivered for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line have the following characteristics.

  • They are Aventras
  • They are dual-voltage and can operate on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • They may be fitted with onboard energy storage to operate without electrification for a few miles.

If the last point is true, they will be able to run between West Hamsted Thameslink or Hendon and South Acton stations, with a change of voltage at Acton Central station, using onboard energy storage on the Dudding Hill Line.

The Proposal

The West London Railway has been proposed by a consortium of West London Councils and other interests, that the Dudding Hill Line be reopened to passenger trains.

The passenger service would open in two phases.

  1. West Hampstead to Hounslow via Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  2. Hendon to Kew Bridge via Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central and South Acton.

Four trains per hour (tph) would run on both routes.

How Does The Proposal Stack Up?

In the following sub-sections, I’ll discuss the various issues.

Track And Signalling

This is said about the current state of track and signalling in Wikipedia.

In 2009, the track has received considerable maintenance in parts, including complete track and ballast removal and replacement. It was informally thought locally by Network Rail staff that replacement signalling, controlled from Upminster, was planned for Christmas 2010, leading to the closure of the three signal boxes (staffed 24-hours a day, at least during the working week). However, financial constraints within Network Rail have now delayed this timescale.

It looks like the track is in good condition, but the signalling needs replacing.

How Would The Service Be Run?

The Hendon Freight Lines connect to the Dudding Hill Line to give all possible access needed.

It should also be relatively easy to put a single platform on the Up Hendon Line at the following stations.

  • West Hampstead – It would act as a terminus.
  • Cricklewood
  • Brent Cross – When the station is built.
  • Hendon – It could act as a terminus.

The new platforms would have the following characteristics.

  • They would probably be numbered 5.
  • They would probably be able to share platform access and other services with current Platform 4 at each station.
  • Little demolition of existing buildings and structures would be required.

A Phase One service coming North from Neasden could do the following.

  • Take the Cricklewood Curve from the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Join the Up Hendon Line.
  • Stop in the new Platform 5 at Cricklewood.
  • Continue on the Up Hendon Line to the new Platform 5 at West Hampstead Thameslink.
  • Reverse the train at West Hampstead.
  • Proceed to and stop in Platform 5 at Cricklewood. Existing cross-overs would allow use of both Hendon Lines.
  • Cross over to the Down Hendon Line and take the Cricklewood Curve to rejoin the Dudding Hill Line.

As the service is four tph, provided a train can leave and return to the Dudding Hill Line in fifteen minutes, there should be no problem.

Currently, Cricklewood to West Hampstead takes three minutes, so the Phase One service looks possible.

The Phase Two service to Hendon could do the following.

  • Take the Brent Curve from the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Join the Up Hendon Line.
  • Stop in the new Platform 5 at Hendon.
  • Reverse the train at Hendon
  • Take the Brent Curve to rejoin the Dudding Hill Line

It looks to be a simple plan, that makes good use of the existing infrastructure.

  • Building the extra platforms at Hendon, Cricklewood and West Hampstead shouldn’t be difficult.
  • The new routes don’r cross the Midland Main Line.
  • The Hendon Lines seem to have plenty of cross-overs and I don’t think any new ones are needed.
  • Dual voltage trains would be at home on all existing electrification.

At the Southern end of the route, everything appears fairly simple.

Why Are There Two Phases?

If it’s so simple, why is the service proposed to have two phases?

Look at this map from carto.map.free.fr, which shows the railways around Brent Cross.

The development of Brent Cross Cricklewood and the building of Brent Cross Thameslink station is going to be a massive undertaking. This describes the development in Wikipedia.

Brent Cross Cricklewood is a planned new town centre development in Hendon and Cricklewood, London, United Kingdom. The development is planned to cost around £4.5 billion to construct and will include 7,500 homes, 4,000,000 sq ft (370,000 m2) of offices, four parks, transport improvements and a 592,000 sq ft (55,000 m2) extension of Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The developers of the scheme are Hammerson and Standard Life. Construction is planned to start in 2018 and be completed in 2021-22

The development will include the building of Brent Cross Thameslink station and the redevelopment of Cricklewood station.

Looking at the Phase One route to West Hampstead Thameslink, the following applies.

  • The route doesn’t go past the Brent Cross development.
  • The terminal platform at West Hampstead Thameslink would be step-free with a lift.
  • The Up Hendon Line is electrified at \West Hampstead Thameslink, but it is not at Hendon.
  • Hendon station needs a lot of work to make it step-free.
  • West Hampstead Thameslink could be part of a growing West Hampstead Interchange with excellent connections.
  • The service could even go straight through Cricklewood station, until it was redeveloped.

It would thus appear that for an easy and affordable construction, the service should serve West Hampstead Thameslink first.

Once Brent Cross Thameslink station is open, Hendon and Kew Bridge stations are updated, Phase Two can open.

Electrification

The electrification of the twelve mile route on the Chase Line between Rugeley and Walsall was budgeted at £78 million.

So hopefully, the four miles of the Dudding Hill Line should be able to be electrified for a reasonable cost.

Consider.

  • The track is in reasonable condition and probably well-surveyed.
  • There are a few bridges that might need to be raised.
  • There are no stations to electrify, just provision to be made.
  • Both ends of the route are electrified.
  • The route connects to three electrified main lines.
  • Electrification of the line would cause little if any disruption to passenger services.

I think that the needs of electrified freight will decide whether this route is electrified.

A Passenger Service Without Electrification

Dudding Hill Line Electrification is not necessary to run s passenger service using Class 710 trains.

  • Class 710 trains with onboard energy storage could easily bridge the four-mile electrification gap between the Midland Main Line and the North London Line.
  • There would be no problem charging the onboard energy storage at each end of the routes.
  • At various places, Aventras will share station platforms with Thameslink’s Class 700 trains and the North London Line’s Class 378 trains, so there should be no station issues.
  • From Acton Central to Hounslow and Kew Bridge, the trains would use the third-rail electrification.

Class 710 trains wouldn’t mind if the line is electrified or not.

Stations

The following stations will need to be built or modified.

  • Brent Cross Thameslink – New station to be built as part of large development – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Gladstone Park – New station on the site of the old Dudding Hill station – Might be and/or with Neasden.
  • Harlesden – New station – Could be linked to the existing station on the Bakerloo Line?
  • Hendon – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Hounslow – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.
  • Kew Bridge – Existing station – A new terminus platform would need to be added.
  • Neasden – New station – Could be linked to the existing station on the Jubilee Line?
  • Old Oak Common – New station to be built as part of large development
  • West Hampstead Thameslink – Existing station – Might need a platform suitable for use as a terminus.

The next sections give my thoughts on specific stations.

Brent Cross Thameslink Station

Brent Cross Thameslink station is a planned new station to serve the £4.5 billion Brent Cross Cricklewood development in the area.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this station built as a close-to-London interchange station, in much the same way as Clapham Junction and Abbey Wood stations work and will work in South London.

At a minimum it will have the following characteristics.

  • Two slow platforms for Thameslink services.
  • Two fast platforms for long distance services.
  • Extra platforms for future services.
  • Full step-free access.

The design of the station will be key to extra services using the Midland Main Line.

Cricklewood Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Cricklewood station.

These pictures show the station.

Cricklewood station is one of four stations that need to be modified or built with a Platform 5 on the Up Hendon Line.

The station is also not step-free and this will probably be added in the redevelopment of the station to serve the Brent Cross Cricklewood development..

Harlesden Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Harlesden station.

The Dudding Hill Line runs down the map at the right and it crosses the shared tracks of the Watford DC Line and the Bakerloo Line, just to the West of Harlesden station.

These pictures show the station.

I think that, I am being very truthful, if I said that Harlesden station is not one of the London Underground’s finest stations. Ian in his article said this.

The other station, at Harlesden could also see the old station of the same name rebuilt, but again, the freight line runs close to the current Harlesden station, so a combined building would again be likely, this time with just a modest footbridge needed to link the new platforms to the existing station.

I very much feel that a station can be built at Harlesden on the other side of Acton Lane, that has platforms on both the Watford DC/Bakerloo Lines and the Dudding Hill Line. The high level platforms on the would be connected by steps and/or lifts to the low-level ones.

The new station could even be built without closing any of the lines and once completed the old Harlesden station could be demolished.

It would have the following services.

  • Three tph between Watford Junction and Euston.
  • Nine tph on the Bakerloo Line
  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow.
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

The last two proposed services would provide an eight tph service to Old Oak Common for Crossrail, HS2, the North London Line and most importantly, a very healthy amount of employment opportunities.

Hendon Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Hendon station.

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  • The footbridge is not step-free.
  • The footbridge is used to support the electrification.
  • The electrified fast lines in Platforms 3 and 4.
  • The electrified slow lines in Platforms 1 and 2.
  • The two freight lines without electrification behind the white metal fence on Platform 4.

In my view, this needs to be done.

  • Make the station step-free.
  • Build a Platform 5 on the Up Hendon Line, that backs onto Platform 4, so it can share steps and the lift.
  • Electrify the line through the platform.

The created Platform 5, will be the terminus of the Phase Two service to Kew Bridge.

Hounslow Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Hounslow station.

These pictures show the station.

It will be tight to fit a bay platform into the station, but I suspect, it will be placed on the Up (London-bound) side of the station, in what is now an access road and yard to some business premises, where one is labelled Resco Living.

  • It will need some changes to the cross-overs at the station to allow trains to access the new platform.
  • The station needs a new step-free bridge.

This Google Map shows Hounslow station’s location with respect to Heathrow.

Hounslow station is in the bottom right-hand corer of the map.

I do wonder if Hounslow station, needs a frequent bus to Heathrow Airport. After all the extra four train per hour across London will make it a very busy station.

Kew Bridge Station

This Google Map shows the layout of the lines and the location of Kew Bridge station.

Note.

  • The triangal of lines, of which only the bottom side has any trains.
  • The top angle leads to South Acton station.
  • The proposed Phase One service would use the left side of the triangle.
  • The proposed Phase Two service to Kew Bridge would use the right side of the triangle and terminate in a reopened platform at Kew Bridge station.

These pictures show the station.

The work needed at Kew Bridge station would appear to be very simple.

  • Reinstate the former Platform 3 to handle four tph.
  • Replace the footbridge with a better step-free example.

It would also appear that there is a siding to the East of the station, that could be used to reverse trains if necessary.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Kew.

As Brentford’s new stadium and other large developments are being built in the area, I wonder if the proposed Phase One Hounslow service should call at a reopened Kew station.

Neasden Station

This Google Map shows the layout of Neasden station.

And this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station.

These pictures show the station.

Ian says this about Neasden in his article.

The station at Gladstone Park could see the disused station called Dudding Hill brought back into use, although the likelyhood is that a new station closer to Neasden on the Jubilee line would be favoured for the shorter interchange walk.

There may even be enough space to flip the existing Neasden station southwards and link up with the new Overground line to create a single station linking the two lines.

Whether the funding for that would be available will doubtless depend on getting new housing developers to pick up some of the bill.

There are certainly possibilities.

A combined station would give the following services.

  • Upwards of twenty tph on the Jubilee Line
  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow.
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

The last two proposed services would provide an eight tph service to Old Oak Common for Crossrail, HS2, the North London Line and most importantly, a very healthy amount of employment opportunities.

Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common station will be a major interchange between the following lines and services.

  • Crossrail
  • HS2
  • Great Western Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Chiltern Tailways
  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • North London Line
  • West London Line

Whoever sorts this lot out, deserves a Turner Prize.

But after seeing some very complicated stations in both the UK and Europe, I believe that it would be possible to create a station that provided easy  step-free interchange between the various lines without walking halfway round the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

 

Connecting the West Orbital Railway to Crossrail would be a very valuable interchange.

West Hampstead Thameslink Station

This Google Map shows the layout of West Hampstead Thameslink station.

 

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  • In the Google Map, the lines are Slow, Fast and Freight from top to bottom.
  • The station is fully step-free.
  • The freight lines are electrified.
  • The last picture shows how the other West Hampstead stations are being improved.

In my view, all that needs to be done is build Platform 5 for the Phase One service behind Platform 4, so that it can share the steps and the lift.

As other improvements are appearing, West Hampstead will become an important interchange. It’s now got the absolute necessity for a Grade A Interchange; an Marks and Spencer Food Store.

Employment, Housing And Social Benefits

In the seven years since I moved to Dalston, the area has improved considerably.

  • New apartment blocks have appeared.
  • The shops, restaurants and cafes have got better.
  • It also appears to me, that the amount of idle youths hanging around has reduced.

I put a lot of all this, down to considerable investment in both buses and railways. It’s probably not surprising as the London Borough of Hackney doesn’t have an Underground station of its own.

The Overground has been a conspicuous success, offering train services of the following nature.

  • Safe, clean stations.
  • Visible, well-trained staff.
  • New modern trains.
  • Train services at a frequency of four tph.

The only problem, is that every time the capacity is expanded it quickly fills.

But then that is only new travellers opting for quality.

On Sunday, I took a ride on top of a bus between Willesden Green and Harlesden stations. These are some pictures I took.

The two most impressive buildings I passed were Courts.

It is my belief that after my experience in Dalston, that improving the transport links in an area of deprivation improves the area considerably, in any number of ways, some of which are rather surprising.

From speaking to people in Dalston, decent reliable transport links seem to have the benefit that those who are unemployed often benefit substantially, by being able to get to nre-found work easily and on time.

So if the proposed line is built with stations at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common will we see the improvement in North West London, that the Overground has brought to Dalston?

Unfortunately, the only way to test my theory is to build the line.

Building The Line

This is no Crossrail or HS2, where billions need to be spent.

The three largest sub-projects would be.

  • Electrification of the Dudding Hill Line,  if it is to be done.
  • Resignalling of the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Necessary track replacement and updating.

In addition, there are around ten station projects.

There will also be a need for up to perhaps sixteen Class 710 trains. This could be around £90-100 million.

Other Possible Rail Services

It might be possible to connect the West Orbital Railway to other rail services and stations.

Changing At Old Oak Common

All stations on the West Orbital Railway will have at least a four tph connection to Old Oak Common, with Harlesden and Neasden having an eight tph connection.

 

Provided that the connection at Old Oak Common is well-designed, I think passengers will be happy to change here for the following services.

  • Six tph on Crossrail to Heathrow.
  • Twelve tph on Crossrail to Central London.
  • West Coast Main Line
  • HS2
  • Chiltern
  • North London Line
  • West London Line

I’ve left out the Bakerloo and Central Lines, as it will probably be quicker to take Crossrail and change.

Thameslink And The Midland Main Line

All stations on the West Orbital Railway will have at least a four tph connection to Thameslink, with Harlesden and Neasden having two separate four tph connections.

Depending on how the new East Midlands franchise arranges services, it might also be possible change onto some services to Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Hopefully, the interchange will be step-free. West Hampstead Thameslink already is step-free and I would assume Brent Cross Thameslink will be built that way!

A direct connection from Midland Main Line or Thameslink services to the West Orbital Railway may be possible, but the current track layout would appear to make it difficult.

Changing At Hounslow And Kew Bridge

The two Southern termini are on the Hounslow Loop Line, which gives valuable connections in South West London, including Clapham Junction.

Affect On Other Services

The West Orbital Railway affects other passenger services in two places.

The North London Line Through Acton Central And South Acton

Acton Central and South Acton stations on the North London Line are both served by a four tph service between Stratford and Richmond.

  • There are also other trains.
  • Both stations also have a level crossing.

So would it be possible to fit the eight tph of the West Orbital Railway through this section of the North London Line?

I suspect the answer is positive, otherwise the impossibility would have killed the proposal.

The Hounslow Loop Line Between Kew Bridge And Hounslow

This section of line has a four tph service in both directions, so it should be able to handle an extra four tph.

Collateral Benefits

There are some benefits to existing services.

Services Through Acton

The two Acton stations; Acton Central and South Acton, receive a big boost to services.

Currently, they have just four tph between Stratford and Richmond.

After Phase Two of the West Ortbital Railway is complete, these servicesc will be added.

  • Four tph between West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Four tph between Hendon and Kew Bridge

All twelve tph will stop at Old Oak Common.

Major Developments Get New Or Improved Rail Connections

The following developments get new or improved rail connections.

  • Brent Cross Cricklewood
  • Old Oak Common
  • Brentford

How many housing and commercial developments will the passenger serviceencourage?

Conclusion

I believe that the West Orbital Railway is an elegant proposal.

  • No new track or electrification, just signalling and stations.
  • Four tph on two routes through areas of London that need much better public transport.
  • It links to the major rail hub at Old Oak Common for Crossrail and HS2.
  • It can be built without major disruption to existing services.
  • It can use the London Overground’s standard Class 710 trains.
  • It is very much a self-contained railway, that has little chance to affect existing services.

But above all, it is very much an affordable proposal, with a projected high return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slow Trains In The North

I was asked a few hours ago, as to why would TransPennine Express want to get rid of their Class 350/4 trains.

These ten 110 mph trains were only delivered in 2013 -2014, so why should TransPennine Express replace them?

They work Manchester Airport to Glasgow and Edinburgh services, but they have two major problems.

No Wi-Fi

It looks like none of the Class 350 trains have wi-fi, so possibly passing them on now3, will give that problem to the new owner.

They Are Only 110 mph Trains

The trains are being replaced with Class 397 trains from Spanish manufacturer; CAF.

I suspect the Class 397 trains have a few advantages over the Class 350 trains.

  • The new trains are probably built with wi-fi.
  • The interiors are custom-designed for the Scottish and Manchester Airport markets.
  • The trains are five-cars as opposed to four.
  • The capavity of the new trains is 286 seats as opposed to 229.

But the major difference is that the Class 397 trains are 125 mph trains, like the Class 390 trains used by Virgin.

Looking at times between Glasgow and Preston on the West Coast Main Line, it would appear that the Class 390 trains are up to twelve minutes faster than the current Class 350 trains, so when both companies are running 125 mph trains will we see an improvement in both?

Similar improvements will probably happen on the East Coast Main Line, where the Class 397 trains will be mixing it with Class 800 trains.

Could The Class 397 Trains Handle 140 mph?

This question has to be asked, as at some point in the next few years, when the signalling allows, there may be possibilities for 140 mph. running on both the West and East Coast Main Lines.

I would hope that the Class 397 trains can be uprated to allow 140 mph running.

Will The Class 397 Trains Get In The Way Of HS2 Trains?

HS2 could reach Crewe as early as 2027 and the trains will take to the West Coast Main Line to go North.

I hope that the Class 397 trains are future-proofed to share a line with these new trains.

Other Trains On The West And East |Coast Main Lines

There are other trains that will use the West and East Coast Main Lines, which will not be able to operate at speeds in excess of 125 mph.

I suspect these trains will have to be kept away from the two main lines to Scotland.

Conclusion

The Class 397 trains will have to be capable of being uprated to 140 mph.

I also suspect that any train not capable of holding 140 mph may not be allowed on the West and East Coast Main Lines.

 

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Enthusiasm For The Borders Railway In Carlisle

This article in the Carlisle Express And Star is entitled New Rail Link To Carlisle Could Be ‘Catalyst’ For Job Creation.

It is discussing the report of the Campaign for a Borders Railway, which recommends rebuilding the line.

This is said in the newspaper.

The summary said: “A new rail link to Edinburgh via the Borders could be a catalyst for the development of new employment uses on the former MOD land at Longtown and in the Kingstown area on the northern fringe of Carlisle.

“Park and ride stations in these areas would provide congestion relief and improve access to the city.

I think that as the only major City on the route, apart from Edinburgh, Carlisle must be a major beneficiary of a reinstated Borders Railway.

Carlisle scores high in the Location, Location, Location stakes, as not only is it just off the M5 between England and Glasgow, but Carlisle Citadel station is a major rail interchange. Incidentally, these romantic Victorian names are dropped far too readily.

This map from Wikipedia, shows the railways around the City.

Note Longtown station on the Waverley Route to Edinburgh and the MOD Depot or Defence Munitions Centre Longtown, between the two rail routes, to the North of the map.

This Google Map shows the DMC.

Note the West Coast Main Line with its connection to the Centre and the Glasgow South Western Line branching off to Gretna Green station and all the way to Glasgow.

Longtown is in the North East corner of the map and you can just pick out the track-bed of the Waverley Route, linking the town to Carlisle.

Conclusions

The CBR report, recommends a Park-and-Ride at Longtown and I wonder, if developments there might be the key to rebuilding the Waverley Route on a more economic basis.

A lot would depend on whether the Defence Munitions Centreat Longtown continues to be used, but the following could be built in the area.

  • The proposed Park-and-Ride.
  • A Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.
  • Distribution warehouses.
  • Factories that need lots of space and good rail and road access.

A lot would depend on what the locals want and whether Scotland became independent, for which the site must be ideally placed.

If the track-bed of the old Waverley Route is still present and can be used to Carlisle, this route could be developed as a rail route, which might have advantages.

  • It has its own route to Carlisle station with a separate bridge over the River Eden.
  • The West Coast Main Line bridge over the River Eden appears to be only double-track.
  • Would it improves timings to and from Glasgow on the West Coast Main Line?
  • Could it be used as a diversion route for freight trains on the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle?
  • Extra stations could be opened on the route, that could improve connectivity in the City
  • There is probably few paths on the West Coast Main Lines for extra trains from Longtown and/or a reinstated Waverley Route to Edimburgh.

But would the extra cost be justified?

Done properly, as the CBR report says, improving the railways between Carlisle and a new Park-and-Ride at Longtown, would surely improve the Carlisle economy.

 

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Birmingham Airport Mulls Plan For Terminal Inside HS2 Station

This is the title of an article in Construction News.

This Google Map shows Birmingham Airport, the current Birmingham International station, the NEC, with the M42 Motorway going North-South down the Eastern side.

Currently, it is planned that the Birmingham Interchange station for HS2, would be on the other side of the M42 to the NEC.

Surely, the Construction News headline is indicating that something better can be done.

In an ideal world, Birmingham Airport would have one station for HS2, West Coast Main Line and local train and tram services, with a step-free lift/escalator connection between all platforms and both Departures and Arrivals at the Airport.

 

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

UKIP Says HS2 Won’t Benefit Copeland

There is a by-election in the Copeland constituency, if you haven’t noticed and this is the BBC’s guide to the election.

When I was at Liverpool University in the 1960s, one of C’s friends used to live near Barrow-in-Furness. I remember we had a drink with her once and she told us how she used to have to take five trains and umpteen hours to get between Barrow and Liverpool.

Liverpool to Barrow-in-Furness now takes just over two and a half hours with a single change at Preston.

So when I heard someone from UKIP say that HS2 wouldn’t benefit Copeland on the BBC, I thought I’d check the times.

HS2 opens to Crewe in 2027 and I suspect that trains going to the North of Crewe will use HS2 to Crewe and then run on the classic lines to go North.

Euston to Crewe currently takes 90 minutes, but after HS2 opens this time will reduce to 58 minutes. Times are from this page in The Guardian.

The fastest trains to Barrow-in-Furness currently take  three hours fifty-three minutes with a change at either Preston or Lancaster.

So just reducing this time by the thirty two minutes saved South of Crewe, brings the time down to three hours twenty-one minutes.

But I think we’ll see innovation in HS2’s trains.

It seems to be the policy now for a company to have short and long trains, as both the Class 800 trains and Greater Anglia’s Aventras come in both short and long versions, where two short trains can join together for flexibility of operation.

Could Hs2 take this further and say have five-car short trains, three of which could join together for the fast run to and from London?

So will we see five-car trains that can serve places like Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool and Burnley, joining at Preston  for a fast run on HS2 to London?

I also think that by the mid-2020s, all electric trains will have the capability to fit onboard energy storage to give them access to places like Barrow-in-Furness, which may not be electrified.

So could we see a high speed train serving Barrow-in-Furness in 2027? After all Barrow-in-Furness to the West Coast Main Line is just twenty-nine miles, which by that date, will be totally in range of a train with onboard energy storage.

If you look at the provisional timetable for Phase 1 of HS2 on Wikipedia, you will see that there is one train per hour (tph) to Preston. Could this be a train created by bringing together portions from Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool and Burnley? I don’t know, but the French do similar things with TGVs.

I wouldn’t be surprised and with selective improvements to the route North of Preston and on the Furness Line, the time from London to Barrow could be under three hours, when HS2 opens to Crewe.

Effectively, by building HS2 to Crewe and using specially-designed trains, towns like Barrow-in-Furness get a high speed connection to Birmingham and London.

Cancel HS2 and Copeland will still be deep in the past, as far as rail travel is concerned.

 

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Will High Speed 2 Have Go-Anywhere Trains?

I ask this question as after writing Plans For Toton Station For HS2 Are Beginning To Emerge, I started to think about the specification of the trains that will work on HS2.

Extending North |From Toton Or East Midlands Hub Station

Extending HS2 to Sheffield from Toton will eventually be via a dedicated High Speed Line, where the trains can run at their design speed of 225 mph.

But Toton HS2 to Sheffield via Chesterfield will be linked by the Erewash Valley Line, where trains will be able to travel at least as fast as 125 mph.

The Erewash Valley Line will probably be electrified before HS2 opens to Toton HS2 around 2030, to bring Sheffield consistently under two hours from London.

Extending North From Crewe

Similarly Crewe to Liverpool will not be getting a dedicated High Speed Line, but there is already a route where at least 125 mph is possible.

As passengers won’t want to change trains, Liverpool will get two trains per hour (tph)from London on HS2.

The only work needed North of Crewe would be to create extra and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street, provided that the new HS2 trains can work on classic high speed lines like the West Coast Main Line.

These improvements at Liverpool Lime Street are actually underway and knowing Scousers as I do, you could bet your house on it being ready in 2027, as they would want to have HS2 services at the same time as Manchester, if not a couple of years before.

Learning From The French

We should also look at how the French do things.

If you travel from Biarritz to Paris via a TGV, the service runs on both High Speed and classic lines.

From the Liverpool and Sheffield examples, I suspect that we will adopt a similar philosophy.

Consider when HS2 opens, the places that could be served directly from Crewe.

  • Runcorn and Liverpool
  • Manchester Piccadilly, if there is platform space.
  • Warrington, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh – Why not?
  • Chester and Holyhead – If the North Wales Coast Line is electrified, as has been threatened!

Note most of the West Coast Main Line routes are covered.

Can this explain the decision to combine the HS2 and West Coast Main Line franchises and the early extension of HS2 to Crewe?

The new franchise could even use the same 225 mph trains for HS2 at a slower speed on the West Coast Main Line to replace the Pendelinos.

The only disadvantage would be that the new trains couldn’t take advantage of the more generous HS2 loading gauge, unless of course the classic lines, where they are to run have their gauges enhanced. This may already be the case, as many of these routes have a loading gauge of W10 to take large freight containers.

The Trains For HS2 And West Coast Main Line

I think we’ll be seeing a very interesting specification for the HS2 trains.

  • 225 mph capability on High Speed Lines
  • 140 mph Pendolino performance on classic lines where possible.
  • Short and long trains. Class 800 trains and others seem to be ordered this way, as five and nine/ten car units.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling of units, just as Class 395 trains do now!

As the trains won’t be delivered for nearly ten years,  wouldn’t be surprised to see that they have a 100 mph independently-powered capability of perhaps 100 miles. This would enable the trains to reach places like Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Blackpool, Inverness and Lincoln from the West Coast Main Line or Phase 1 of HS2.

Expanding The High Speed Network

It may seem strange to use perhaps onboard energy storage to extend services away from HS2. But this capability would probably only be given to the shorter trains that can join and split at Crewe or Birmingham International for fast running to and from London. Generally, when operating on onboard energy storage, the trains will be travelling at slower speeds. so less energy is needed.

This would mean that places like Barrow-in-Furnace, Blackpool, Cleethorpes and Lincoln could be easily added to the high speed network.

The High Speed network could also be expanded by improving the current network with selective electrification and the capability for higher line speeds.

All of these improvements on the classic lines,  would mean that local and freight trains were able to provide a better service too!

Coupled with HS2, they would make a wonderful marketing opportunity.

I estimate the following using new trains and HS2 from Crewe, when Phase 2a of HS2 is complete.

  • Glasgow-London would take under four hours for the journey as opposed to just over four and a half hours now.
  • Liverpool-London would come down from two hours twelve minutes to one hour 33 minutes.
  • Preston-London would down from two hours fifteen minutes to under a hundred minutes.
  • Wigan-London would come down from just over two hours to just 87 minutes.

And some commentators and politicians doubt HS2 is needed.

Conclusion

Certainly, the decision to extend as fast as possible to Crewe was a very good idea.

Consider going from Euston to Glasgow in say 2028.

  • The train would run from Euston to Crewe at full speed of 225 mph stopping if required at Old Oak Common and Birmingham International in a time of 58 minutes.
  • From Crewe to Glasgow, the train would run at least at 125 mph stopping as appropriately.
  • Selective improvements and in-cab signalling would reduce journey times from those of today to the North of Crewe.

Ten years or so later, the journey time will be even faster as the High Speed line was extended past Crewe.

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Seamless Interchangeability

At several places on the UK rail network, two trains running as a pair will split, with one train going to one destination and another going to another.

I wrote about trains splitting and joining in Trains Uncoupling and Coupling at Cambridge.

In the past, UK railways used to use the concept of slip coaches, so that coaches could be dropped from an express without stopping. But the last time it was used in the UK was in September 1960 at Bicester North station.

I have just read this article on the Rail Engineer web site, which is entitled Seamless Interchangeability.

The article talks about a concept of dynamic coupling, where trains are automatically coupled and uncoupled at line speed.

It also talks about the issues this would raise.

As a Control Engineer, I’m fairly certain, that it would be very easy to create a system, where say an eight-car Kings Lynn train could split just before Cambridge station, with the front four-car train going to Kings Lynn and the other four-car train stopping in Cambridge station.

It could either be done using two drivers or by driver-less trains. Although the unions would have a lot to say about the latter.

I also believe that if the trains could uncouple, then coupling at line speed would also be possible.

So what is the point?

An Example From The Brighton Main Line

To make full use of the capacity available, Southern serve Littlehampton and Ore, with a train that divides at Haywards Heath. It is a well-proven technique that has been used for decades.

Automatically splitting the two trains at line-speed, can give journey time advantages.

Take the 19:47 from Victoria, which arrives at Haywards Heath at 20:30 as an example.

The following is taken from the timetable.

  • The front portion to Ore leaves at 20:34.
  • The rear portion to Littlehampton leaves at 20:36.
  • Stops at East Croydon and Gatwick Airport take about a minute.

This leads to the following, if the two trains split immediately after stopping at Haywards Heath and before the trains take different directions after Keymer Junction where the East Coastway Line divides from the Brighton Main Line, a few miles South.

  • The Ore train performs a one-minute stop instead of one of four minutes, thus saving three minutes.
  • The Littlehampton train performs a one-minute stop instead of one of six minutes, thus saving five minutes.
  • The platform at Haywards Heath is only occupied for a minute, as opposed to six.
  • The Littlehampton and Ore portions must be capable of providing enough capacity for their route.

For those worried about driver-less trains, the driver of the second train for Littlehampton, would probably step up at the previous stop at Gatwick Airport or at Haywards Heath.

But the outcome would be a small increase in capacity on the line, due to the platform at Haywards Heath being occupied for five minutes less.

Coming North, take the 09:47 from Littlehampton as an example.

The following is taken from the timetable.

  • The first train arrives at Haywards Heath at 10:35 and leaves at 10:45.
  • The second train arrives at Haywards Heath at 10:41.

The pattern of the trains would be different.

  • Whatever was the front portion of the train would go through Keymer Junction first
  • The train forming the rear portion would be the next train through the junction.
  • The rear portion could catch the front portion and the two trains would be automatically coupled together before Haywards Heath.
  • The joined train would stop at Haywards Heath for a minute.
  • The driver of the second train could step-down at Gatwick Airport or Haywards Heath.

In some ways the mathematics involved in the coupling, are not unlike those for a fighter jet connecting with a tanker aircraft. Except that speeds are a lot lower and there is no need to control direction only closing speed.

Haywards Heath station would be occupied for up to nine minutes less, thus creating capacity.

This simplistic analysis, shows how automatically coupling and uncoupling trains at line speed can create capacity and decrease journey times.

  • Journey time from Victoria to Ore would be reduced by three minutes.
  • Journey time from Victoria to Littlehampton would be reduced by five minutes.
  • In the Down direction the platform at Haywards Heath station would be occupied for just one minute instead of six.
  • Journey time from Littlehampton to Victoria would be reduced by nine minutes.
  • Journey time from Ore to Victoria would be reduced by three minutes.
  • In the Up  direction the platform at Haywards Heath station would be occupied for just one minute instead of ten.

Obviously strategies would have to be developed for various eventualities including.

  •  Unsuccessful coupling or uncoupling.
  • Late trains.
  • Signalling and train failures.
  • Leaves on the line.
  • Extreme weather.

But as during all coupling and uncoupling operations, both trains would have a driver in the cab, keeping an expert eye over the procedure and each train could be driven independently, I think all safety issues could be overcome, to the satisfaction of all parties.

If you read the full article, you’ll see that there are some much more exciting possibilities, than the simple ones I have outlined here.

But I do believe that line speed uncoupling and coupling of trains with a driver in the cab of both trains involved, can be a very powerful tool in creating capacity on the UK’s railways.

The Great Eastern Main Line

I know the Great Eastern Main Line well and several trains are coupled and uncoupled regularly on this line.

As Greater Anglia has ordered new five-car Aventra trains and nearly all platforms can take 12 -car trains, running these trains in pairs and coupling and uncoupling appropriately, is probably in their plans for the line.

As on the Brighton Main Line, could coupling and uncoupling at line speed, unlock capacity on the line?

A few weeks ago, I caught a train from Chelmsford to Manningtree, that divided at Colchester, with the front four-car train going to Clacton and the rear four-car train going to Harwich.

The 16:44 from Liverpool street is a train that divides at Colchester, when it arrives at 17:40. These timinings are from the timetable.

  • The Clacton portion of the train leaves at 16:44.
  • The Harwich portion of the train leaves at 16:47.

As the Sunshine Coast Line for Clacton leaves the Great Eastern Main Line immediately after Colchester station, it would appear that the two trains must uncouple during the stop at Colchester.

Surely, an improved and well-designed automatic uncoupling  system could separate the trains faster, saving minutes on both services.

Towards London, two trains leave Harwich and Clacton at 07:16. The timetable shows.

  • The Harwich train arrives at Colchester at 07:47 and leaves at 07:54.
  • The Clacton train arrives at Colchester at 07:50 and leaves at 07:54.

Surely, an improved coupling system, could join the trains faster, saving minutes on both services.

The time savings will not be as great as those at Haywards Heath, but automatic coupling and uncoupling must be a worthwhile feature of the new trains.

|As Bombardier are adding automation to the Aventra, could they be adding the ability to automatically couple and uncouple trains, both in the station and at line speed?

The West Coast Main Line

I have seen Class 221 Trains, join at Crewe, but I don’t think this is done any more.

However, with the need for direct services from London to places like Blackpool, Burnley and Huddersfield, the ability to be  to couple and uncouple trains quickly must be something that would be useful to make optimal use of the valuable train paths on the line.

The East Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line, Great Western Main Line And South West Main Line

If the West Coast Main Line could benefit, then surely these lines could as well.

Class 800/801 Trains

The Class 395 train is very much related to the Class 800 and Class 801 trains, that are being built by Hitachi for the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Railway and other routes.

In The Impressive Coupling And Uncoupling Of Class 395 Trains, I talked about the design of the coupling system for the Class 395 trains.

I would be very surprised if this feature was not incorporated in the Class 800 and Class 801 trains.

So will we be seeing two five-car Class 800/801 trains dividing and joining at a convenient station and then running as a ten-car train to and from London?

Class 385 Trains

What about the Class 385 trains for Scotland?

  • These are another version of Hitachi’s A-Train, like 395s, 800s and 801s.
  • These will come in two lengths; three-car and four-car.
  • Edinburgh-Glasgow services will need at least two units to be coupled together.
  • The trains are being introduced from Autumn next year.

It seems to me, that Scotrail are acquiring a very flexible fleet that can run in various lengths.

Will they have the ability of the 395s to couple and uncouple in under a minute?

And if they do, will Scotrail use this ability to adjust train formation to the traffic?

Aventras

There are three definite orders for Bombardier’s new Aventra train at the present time.

All trains are fixed formations in a mixture of lengths.

Will Aventras have similar coupling and uncoupling performance to Hitachi’s Class 395 trains?

I suspect normally, the Crossrail trains will never be coupled together, as where are platforms for a four-hundred metre long train?

But suppose a train fails in the central tunnel, will the quickest way to remove it, be to attach it to another train and drag it out?

The routes where the London Overground trains will run, are currently served by a mixture of four-car and eight-car trains. So will London Overground, adjust train length to the known traffic patterns?

Greater Anglia do couple and uncouple trains at present to serve Harwich. So I suspect, we’ll see use of an automatic and fast coupling and uncoupling feature to create a more efficient timetable.

Cross City Lines

There are several cross-city lines in the UK.

One of the characteristics of cross-city lines, is they are busiest in the centre of the city, where passengers tend to use the trains for short hops , as well as longer distances. Then in the suburbs, outside of Peak hours the trains could run almost empty.

Crossrail’s trains are designed so that hopefully they could cope with the variable traffic, but would it be possible to have half trains, which join and split at outer stations.

Thameslink

I think that Thameslink could be the line that might benefit most, as it would probably want to serve more places.

In All Change On Thameslink, I detailed the current proposed schedule of trains.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) – Sutton to St. Albans (2 tph via Wimbledon, 2tph via Mitcham)
  • 2tph – Brighton to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Three Bridges/Gatwick Airport to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Brighton to Cambridge North
  • 2 tph – Horsham to Peterborough
  • 2 tph – Maidstone East to Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Sevenoaks to Blackfriars
  • 2 tph -Orpington to Kentish Town/West Hampstead
  • 2 tph – Rainham to Luton (via Dartford and Greenwich)
  • 2 tph – East Grinstead to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Littlehampton to Bedford

This makes a total of twenty-four tph, which is the design limit for the central tunnel.

In this schedule 4 tph go to Cambridge and 2 tph go to Peterborough. Suppose, it was decided that Peterborough needed 4 tph.

The path limit of 24 tph through the central tunnel makes this impossible, but if Peterborough and Cambridge services joined and split at perhaps Stevenage, then both Cambridge and Peterborough would get 6 tph through the core tunnel.

It would need new six-car trains, that could couple and uncouple quickly.

Conclusion

I believe that improving the coupling and uncoupling of all modern trains to the standard of that of the Class 395 trains could be very beneficial, to train operators, staff and customers.

If coupling and uncoupling  could be done at line speed, this might bring extra benefits.

 

 

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Norton Bridge Junction In Action

I was travelling between Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations on a Cross-Country train.

After leaving Stafford station, the train took the new route through Norton Bridge Junction on the flyover over the West Coast Main Line to j0in the line to Manchester. The Norton Bridge page on the Network Rail web site, links to this map.

The New Norton Bridge Junction

The New Norton Bridge Junction

Trains continuing up the West Coast Main Line take the black route, whereas trains to and from Manchester use the orange line and the branch to the North-East.

This pictures show my progression threough the junction.

I was sitting on the right side of the train.

It looks like the new route is being electrified.

Would this mean that an electrified service could be run on the following route?

  • Euston
  • Birmingham International
  • Birmingham New Street
  • Wolverhampton
  • Stafford
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Manchester Piccadilly
  • Preston
  • Carlisle
  • Glasgow/Edinburgh

There is also a current electrified route, using the Crewe to Manchester Line and the Styal Line.

  • Wolverhampton
  • Crewe
  • Manchester Airport
  • Manchester Piccadilly

Throw in the Ordsall Chord and I suspect that Virgin Trains, TransPennine and Northern Rail have been looking at their traffic, to see if the reconfigured and electrified Norton Bridge Junction could be to their and Manchester Airport’s advantage.

It should also be pointed out, that much of the line from Preston to Crewe, Stoke and Stafford will have line speeds of on or about 100 mph and the new generation of trains like Aventras, Class 700s and Class 800s will be able to take advantage.

It seems to me, that the Norton Bridge Junction and Orsall Chord projects at £250 million according to this document and £85 million according to Wikipedia, respectively, will help to improve services all along the corridor from Preston to Rugby via Manchester, Manchester Airport, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry.

Only when you take a train from Birmingham to Manchester and look seriously at Norton Bridge Junction, do you realise its significance.

 

 

 

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment