beleben

die belebende Bedenkung

Chiltern electrification versus HS2

with 6 comments

Another cost-effective way of increasing north – south rail capacity would involve electrification of the Chiltern Main Line to Birmingham Snow Hill.

At present, four Heathrow Express trains run each hour from London’s Paddington station to the airport, but when Crossrail 1 becomes operational, the case for the wasteful Heathrow Express should weaken further.

The capacity freed at Paddington from discontinuing Heathrow Express could be used to run an IEP-type train to Birmingham Snow Hill, via the New North Main Line and Bicester cutoff, every 15 minutes.

As can be seen from the table below, a more intensive use of existing infrastructure has the potential to meet any foreseeable demand between London and Birmingham.

Route Train type Trains / hour
Seats / hour
Euston – Birmingham Curzon
Street (With-HS2 scenario)
HS2 captive 2 * 200-metre 3 3300
Euston – Coventry –
Birmingham New Street
(With-HS2 scenario)
11-car Pendolino 2 1178
Total
(With-HS2 scenario)
4478
Euston – Coventry –
Birmingham New Street
(No HS2)
260-metre IEP equivalent
(715 seats)
4 2860
Paddington – Birmingham
Snow Hill, via Bicester cutoff (No HS2)
260-metre IEP equivalent
(715 seats)
4 2860
Total (No HS2) 5720
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Written by beleben

March 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Or use 4 twelve coach Pendolinos on each route every hour and benefit from some increased speed on the Chiltern curves and no reduction in speed on WCML. And save lots of money because they cost far, far less than an ICE.

    johnma

    March 21, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    • Indeed, one could use Pendolinos or new-generation pendular trains on both routes. According to HS2 Ltd, 400-metre Birmingham trains would only run in the peaks, but as the analysis shows, it’s perfectly possible to provide the same (over-)capacity with the two existing lines.

      beleben

      March 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

  2. […] and affordable way to cater for demand between London, Birmingham, and Manchester would be to upgrade the existing asset base — freeing up billions of pounds for education, healthcare, and clean […]

  3. Why are you assuming that Chiltern electrification will not go ahead in the same time frame as HS2 Phase 1 is built anyway? It doesn’t need Birmingham passengers to be justified. As a primarily London commuter route it has stopping trains and once the GWML is wired, it will be the only diesel primary route left into the city. The Birmingham end will be electrified for the sake of local services in Birmingham, while everything north of Banbury will need done for the sake of the Electric Spine. The remainder of the route into Marylebone is then a manageable job

    Since the Chiltern Line is limited to 100mph, is a two-track railway and has suburban services at either end there is really no justification for a 125mph train design to be used. Most likely upon electrification the entire line, including the services to Birmingham, will be run by trains similar to those ordered by ScotRail for the newly-electrified services in the Central Belt. In effect, electric versions of the Turbostars that are currently used on most services. Meanwhile, commuting demand will make it even harder to run non-stop services on these tracks, so the chance of being able to run electric 100mph trains from Paddington will be even more slim.

    On top of that, the 4tph HEx paths would be used for other services on the GWML corridor. Using them for additional >=110mph commuter EMU shuttles from Swindon/Oxford in the peak would benefit more people than any attempt to send them up the Chiltern Line.

    CautiousObserver

    April 18, 2016 at 12:40 am

    • “Why are you assuming that Chiltern electrification will not go ahead in the same time frame as HS2 Phase 1 is built anyway?”

      In case you missed the news, large chunks of Network Rail’s electrification have been delayed or postponed for years. That makes further large projects in the same time frame as HS2 Phase 1, less likely.

      “Since the Chiltern Line is limited to 100mph, is a two-track railway and has suburban services at either end there is really no justification for a 125mph train design to be used.”

      Not too long ago, the West Coast Main Line was limited to 100mph, and before that, it was a less-than-100mph-two-track railway. And it has suburban services at either end. So, your point is…?

      beleben

      April 18, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      • HS2 Phase 1 will open during CP7, in 2026-27. The current tranche of electrification projects is projected to end in 2022-23, with Bedford to Sheffield and Manchester to York being the major ones. In the four years which will take place before HS2 opens, why would it be impractical to electrify the Chiltern route given that it is such a priority?

        [Beleben:] If it’s “such a priority”, please provide a Network Rail or government reference stating that it will be prioritised.
        At what recent point was the WCML (south of Birmingham) a primarily two-track railway? The headline speed does not matter as much as the ability for non-stop express services to co-exist alongside stopping services. There have been six tracks to Watford since the 1920s. The most recent four-tracking has been the Trent Valley Line during the WCRM.

        Suburban services present no problems when they can run on a separate pair of tracks to express services, and on the Chiltern line there has never been enough four-tracking to make these possible.

        [Comment] Your evidence that on the Chiltern line there has never been enough four-tracking to make these possible, is where?

        The four-tracking that does exist is the Metropolitan Line, which ends at Rickmansworth. Your express services to relieve the WCML would have to compete for track space with stopping services unless you want to spend lots and lots of money building another pair of tracks out to the M25 and beyond.

        They would have to “compete for track space with stopping services” just like Chiltern Railways intercity trains do now, and just like Birmingham New Street – London Euston intercity trains do now. (And, as this blog has pointed out, GWR Bicester_route four-tracking extended from London terminals to the M25, and beyond.)

        CautiousObserver

        April 20, 2016 at 1:43 am


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