beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and London rail capacity, part three

with one comment

Part two

Judging by business group London First’s diagram of anticipated London rail passenger growth to 2031 (below), one might wonder why Network Rail’s 2009 New Lines Study did not consider the case for a new railway in the Great Eastern corridor, rather than HS2.

London First's diagram showing anticipated London rail passenger growth to 2031

The southern section of the West Coast Main Line has substantial unused capacity, as both Network Rail and Department for Transport have, on occasion, conceded. Even the Department’s October 2013 HS2 Strategic Case noted that adding an extra two Euston commuter train paths (in the peak hours) on the West Coast Main Line as soon as 2014, was “under active consideration”.

[DfT HS2 Strategic Case, Oct 2013]

[2.6.4] This would require multiple unit operation at higher speeds which causes certain technical challenges. But if they can be introduced successfully, they would help to alleviate commuter congestion over the next 10-12 years. But it will be for the ORR to decide if this is possible and consistent with achieving the required level of performance reliability. At 15 trains/hour in peak periods on the fast pair of tracks out of the capital, this is at the highest end of levels achieved on main line railways elsewhere in Europe – even those such as high speed lines with purpose-built train control systems, let alone a railway with a mix of diesel and electric traction, commuter, freight and intercity services. Once this level of throughput has been achieved, it would be very difficult to add further commuter trains to the route.

The Department subsequently issued a list of Strategic Case ‘Clarifications‘ (date unknown), one of which stated that the text should have read “At 15 trains/hour in peak periods on the fast pair of tracks out of the capital, this is at the highest end of levels achieved on main line railways elsewhere in Europe…” and “Once this level of throughput has been achieved, it would be very difficult to add further commuter trains to the route”.

Network Rail's 2009 Route Plan set out a frequency of 18 trains per hour on the Fast Lines out of Paddington in the peak

Network Rail’s 2009 Route Plan set out a frequency of 18 trains per hour on the Fast Lines out of Paddington in the peak

Contrary to the impression given by DfT, 15 trains per hour in peak hours on Euston’s Fast Lines would not really be an ambitious target; Network Rail’s 2009 Great Western Route Plan set out a frequency of 18 on the Fast Lines out of Paddington (with a mix of Heathrow electric and InterCity 125 diesel). So there is no reason to believe that 17 per hour could not be reliably operated on the Euston Fast Lines.

Narrowing of the performance disparity between commuter and intercity trains on West Coast should allow some capacity uplift. So far as can be ascertained, Class 350 commuter trains operating out of Euston are now able to operate in multiple at 177 km/h. In the medium term, it might be worth homogenising performance by

  • replacing Class 350s with higher performance trainsets, and
  • undertaking electrification of routes such Crewe — Holyhead / Wrexham, Wolverhampton — Shrewsbury, Stockport — Stalybridge (for Huddersfield), Manchester — Rochdale, etc.

With all-electric operation would come the possibility of direct ‘half-train’ services to Blackpool, Rochdale, Bolton, and Wrexham (two half-trains sharing one path). Other cost-effective methods of capacity augmentation, such as moving West Midlands intercity trains to the Chiltern route, and Haven Ports railfreight to F2N, have been described in earlier Beleben blogposts.

Advertisements

Written by beleben

January 28, 2014 at 10:55 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It is my understanding that the remaining part of Project 110 will be implemented by London Midland in May 2014. This will provide an extra three trains in the morning peak and an extra five trains in the evening peak to/from Euston. “Under active consideration” probably understates the situation.
    http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Rail-News/project-110-speeds-up-london-midland-journeys

    Andrew Bodman

    January 28, 2014 at 1:27 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: