beleben

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Cost-effective capacity uplift on West Coast

with 2 comments

HS2 Ltd and Network Rail public relations have spun the risk, or even certainty, of a “capacity crunch” if the HS2 railway is not built. However, there is substantial unused capacity on the most of the rail network, even on the West Coast Main Line itself. Most capacity shortages are on commuter services from south and east London. And in the proposed HS2 Y network, half or more of the trains would be short-length.

As Network Rail admitted, there are at least two unused intercity paths on the southern WCML. Operating 17 trains per hour on the Euston Fast lines should be reliably possible.

There are numerous ways of increasing capacity on the existing network that outperform HS2 in terms of benefit-cost, deliverability, and scalability. A sample intermediate upgrade programme for intercity services to Manchester and Birmingham, with very low capital costs, is presented below, and compared with the HS2 proposal.

InterCity and HS2 seat capacities (hourly) Seats
London
and Manchester
2013, InterCityWestCoast VT 3 * 11-car Pendolino
(actual capacity 589 seats/train)
1767
2026, with HS2 stage one 3 * HS2 classic compatible
200-metre (stated capacity 550 seats/train)
1650
2033, with HS2 stage two 3 * HS2 captive 400-metre
(stated capacity 1100 seats/train)
3300
2016, with reconfiguration
of existing trainsets
3 * 11-car Pendolino with
one First Class carriage converted to Standard (actual
capacity would be 617 seats/train)
1851
2021, with timetable
re-cast to provide extra train
4 * 11-car Pendolino with
one First Class carriage converted to Standard (actual
capacity would be 617 seats/train)
2468
2022, with twelfth carriage
added to trainsets
4 * 12-car Pendolino
(actual capacity would be 693 seats/train)
2772
2023, with timetable
re-cast to provide extra train
5 * 12-car Pendolino
(actual capacity would be 693 seats/train)
 3465
London
and Birmingham
2013, InterCityWestCoast VT 3 * 11-car Pendolino
(actual capacity 589 seats/train)
 1767
2026, with HS2 stage one
(same in phase two)
3 * HS2 captive 400-metre
(stated capacity 1100 seats/train)
3300
2016, with reconfiguration
of existing trainsets
3 * 11-car Pendolino with
one First Class carriage converted to Standard (actual
capacity would be 617 seats/train)
1851
2021, with timetable
re-cast to provide extra train
4 * 11-car Pendolino with
one First Class carriage converted to Standard (actual
capacity would be 617 seats/train)
2468
2023, with replacement
non-tilting trains
4 * replacement 265-metre
trainsets (achievable capacity 680 seats)
2720

The Manchester upgrade concept is based on adding a twelfth carriage to Pendolino sets on that service. The infrastructure requirements are modest; probably none, at Euston.

On the WCML between Birmingham and London, the tilt feature of Pendolino trainsets confers few benefits. On that service an obvious way to increase capacity would be to use new non-tilting rolling stock, with more space. Applying the seats-per-metre-length coefficient of a HS2 train gives a capacity of circa 715 for a 265-metre non tilting set. In the table above, a figure of 680 has been used.

Higher levels of the Rail Package 6 concept would surpass HS2 in rail capacity and connectivity. The options include transferring West Midlands intercity services to the Chiltern Main Line, and re-using the Great Central corridor to relieve the West Coast route.

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Written by beleben

December 12, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. I am not sure that this adds much to what you have said butI have been looking at the WCML Rail Utilisation Strategy produced in 2011 which is rather showing its age. The RUS states that the fast lines south of Crewe have a 3 minute headway. Table 3.5 shows a typical off peak service pattern but inexplicably there is no corresponding table for the peak hour. Table 3.5 shows 9 Virgin trains, described as fast, leaving Euston at 3 minute intervals in flights of 1 or 2. Two of these flights are followed by a single London Midland train, also shown as fast, (11 trains per hour in all). Unfortunately, as the LM trains travel slower than the Virgin trains, they wipe out some fast paths. If all trains on the fast lines travelled at the same, or similar, speed, the fast lines could accommodate up to 20 trains per hour at 3 minute intervals. Three minutes is a CRN (Convenient Round Number). At current maximum speeds, and with appropriate rolling stock and signalling, the open line headway could be reduced to permit around 25 to 30 trains per hour. In order to get 18 very high speed trains per hour on HS2 they would need to be timed to much better precision than one minute. Turnouts on a line designed for 250mph have very significant impacts on capacity; at 140mph the capacity reduction is much less.

    johnma

    March 8, 2014 at 11:54 pm


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