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Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool

HS2 and Merseyside

with 4 comments

Rather than provide a specific information sheet for Merseyside, HS2 Ltd has given the county second billing in a combined ‘Cheshire & Merseyside‘ document. Curious, because Merseyside is larger in population, and a bigger market for the railway.

HS2 Ltd, Cheshire & Merseyside infosheet header, 2013

The map in the infosheet focuses on Crewe, rather than Liverpool.

HS2 Ltd Cheshire infosheet, Crewe map, 2013

As with the Leeds, Toton, and Meadowhall infosheets, there is some problematic content.

HS2 Ltd, Cheshire infosheet 2013, 'two trains from Liverpool to London in 1 hr 36 mn'

Journey times* From Liverpool
Destination Current time (mins) HS2 time (mins)
London 128 96
Birmingham 122 70
*Serving regional stations
Journeys to Liverpool from London and the wider Birmingham areas through Birmingham Interchange are expected to be reduced by 32 and 52 minutes respectively when HS2 is up and running.

Crewe and Warrington are expected to experience similar time savings to the faster Liverpool services (around 30 mins). Other regional stations such as Stafford and Runcorn would still see savings, though they will be slightly different as the trains would leave the HS2 line at Lichfield and not Crewe.

The infosheet puts HS2 forward as a ‘crucial capacity lifeline’ for North West England, but the project does not involve any new track being built into Merseyside (so there would be no released capacity benefit for its local services).

And on the Scotland route, the HS2 track would only extend as far north as Wigan, so there would be no capacity uplift for the West Coast Main Line (WCML) in Lancashire and Cumbria. (Fortunately, passenger demand north of Weaver Junction is quite low.)

According to Adam Joyce (@randomravings, apparently a press officer for HS2 Ltd), “The HS2 trains able to run on the existing network will be 265m long, so as long as the extended 11-car Pendolinos…The 200m long rationale is based on Scottish services which would separate at Carstairs. One to Edinburgh, one to Glasgow.”

Merseyside journey details given in HS2 Ltd’s infosheet are not consistent with the company’s January 2013 service pattern concept. The latter shows only one of the twice-hourly Liverpool trains running from London in 1 hour 36 minutes. The other one, routed via Stafford, would take longer.

Furthermore, Mr Joyce’s claim that classic compatible trains “would be 265 metres long” is difficult to reconcile with details provided by HS2 Ltd. Its January 2012 Review of the Technical Specification for High Speed Rail in the UK stated “At this stage, we have only assumed the use of 260m sets for phase two operations to Newcastle services”. And in its January 2013 service pattern concept, one Liverpool classic compatible train is shown as running in combination with a Birmingham Curzon Street service.

HS2 Ltd, Y network Jan 2013 service pattern concept

How could a 265-metre long classic compatible trainset destined for Liverpool, be coupled to a 200-metre trainset bound for Birmingham? The combination would surely be too long for the HS2 platforms at Euston and Bickenhill.

Written by beleben

February 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

Tram-train tribulations

with 3 comments

Tram-trains are a well-established concept in continental Europe, but in Great Britain, the government has seem them as experimental technology that needs to be ‘trialled’.

In March 2008 the Department for Transport announced it would fund a two year trial of diesel tram-trains on the Sheffield to Huddersfield Line. Unsurprisingly, the scheme went nowhere, and in September 2009, it was cancelled in favour of a pilot of electric tram-trains between Rotherham and Sheffield’s Supertram network. As part of the evaluation, a Network Rail freight line was to be equipped with 750V dc tramway electrification, and in July 2011 Vossloh was selected as vehicle bidder for a service intended to commence in 2014.

As South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive had already committed to introducing bus rapid transit between Sheffield and Rotherham, the transport value of the tram scheme isn’t very large. Its technology value is equally questionable, because Tyne and Wear Metro have been inter-running dc trains on Network Rail track to Sunderland for the last ten years.

However, there are some potentially useful applications for tram-trains.

Merseyrail Northern line

Merseyrail Ormskirk to Skelmersdale tram train concept

Liverpool’s Merseyrail network includes tracks electrified using the direct current 3rd rail system (similar to that used on the ex-Southern Region). In the 1970s, an upgrade programme was commenced, but although the loop-and-link in central Liverpool was completed, other elements of the project — such as restoration of the railway to Skelmersdale — were abandoned.

Merseyrail tram train, Speke Airport access concept

South of central Liverpool, Speke’s John Lennon Airport has never had a station on the rail network, but was intended to be served by the ill-fated and amateurish Merseytram light rail project. Currently, the fastest public transport to the airport from the city centre involves a rail trip to Liverpool South parkway station, then a transfer to bus.

The lowest cost solution to providing seamless journeys to Skelmersdale and John Lennon Airport is to build light rail extensions from Merseyrail with 750V dc tramway electrification. To operate the service, high floor dual-pickup tram-trains would be required.

Bradford Crossrail

Bradford Exchange - Forster Square tram-train concept

In Bradford, there are two dead-end railway stations serving different parts of the city centre. The costs of providing a conventional cross-city rail link are likely to be unfundable, so a more affordable possibility would be to build an on-street connection with 750V dc tramway electrification. The tram-trains would need to be high-floor-dual-system, so as to run on 25kV ac electrified Network Rail track.

Written by beleben

March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm

HS2 and Liverpool

with 3 comments

Under the government’s plan for HS2 stage one (‘HS2WM’, London to Birmingham), various towns in the North West would be served by ‘classic compatible’ trains running onto the West Coast Main Line (WCML). However, in the second stage Y-network (‘HS2YN’), fast services would be switched away from the WCML to new build track, with only Manchester directly served.

Liverpool’s Daily Post reported the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority‘s concern that this could be to the city’s disadvantage:

LIVERPOOL could lose trade to its Manchester neighbour if a high-speed rail link to London goes ahead as currently planned, it was warned last night.
[…]
Trains would slow to conventional speed just south of Manchester, but would still slash London-Liverpool journey times from 2hrs 10mins to 1hr 38mins.

The journey time from the capital to Manchester will be cut to just 1hr 10mins.

“This will act as a significant incentive to businesses to consider locating in Manchester rather than Liverpool,” Merseytravel said in its official response to the government consultation.

Merseytravel said the timetable to build it over 20 years is too slow and because the line does not come to Liverpool its position relative to Manchester and Birmingham will be undermined.

David Begg’s Biz4HS2 campaign responded to the Daily Post:

August 30, 2011

Last week, we wrote to the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, in response to their article entitled ‘Liverpool could lose business to Manchester under high-speed rail plans’ on 22 August 2011. Our letter was not printed, but can be read in full below.

Dear Editor,

In response to your article on high-speed rail dated 22 August 2011, it is important to understand the devastating impact for Liverpool if the line were not to go ahead.

HS2 would provide two regular high-speed services to Liverpool per hour, alongside the existing hourly service on the conventional line. As a bonus, journey times to London would be shortened by over half an hour.

However, under the alternative proposal, known as Rail Package 2, Liverpool would see these services halved with only one regular hourly service from London, and one additional service every two hours. There would be no improved journey times and increased chances of delays on a clogged-up Victorian network that is close to bursting.

Only the increased connectivity that HS2 would provide will enable Liverpool to unlock its full economic potential. Research suggests that HS2 would support the creation of 38,900 jobs in Liverpool and 76,600 in the surrounding areas.

It is clearly a no-brainer. The people of Liverpool need to show their support of high-speed rail, and help push through a project that Liverpool will reap the rewards from for generations to come.

Professor David Begg

Director, Campaign for High-Speed Rail

Under HS2 stage one, the journey from London to Liverpool is 110 minutes, not 98 minutes. So the Daily Post article, and Mr Begg’s claim that “journey times to London would be shortened by over half an hour” are incorrect. And Rail Package 2 is not “the” alternative proposal, it’s “an” alternative proposal, designed by the high speed rail lobby (in the shape of Atkins).

HS2 has little to offer Merseyside. In stage one, by running trains non-stop south of the North West, London is reached 20 minutes quicker. But London is the only destination with a shorter journey time.

In stage two (HS2YN), Manchester trains switch to new build track, removing Stockport and Stoke-on-Trent from the fast network. Exactly what would happen to Liverpool (and Warrington and Runcorn) services is unknown, as HS2YN would create a large amount of surplus rail capacity north of the Trent Valley. If Liverpool trains were not routed via the Y-leg to Manchester, the new build line would only be carrying around three Manchester, and two beyond-Manchester, trains each hour.

Whatever happens, it’s highly likely that Liverpool would be disadvantaged compared with Manchester, by HS2. Secondary towns in the provinces are likely losers under Adonis/Steer high speed rail. At the national level, HS2 is London-centric, and at the regional level, it is Manchester- and Leeds-centric. As Greengauge 21’s High Speed Two interfaces states:

The number of stations needed on the HSR network could be as low as one per region.

For the North West Region, “one per region” means a station in Manchester, and no station in Liverpool. If Merseyside politicians don’t like the “logic” of HS2, why support the policy? After all, sensible rail improvement products are available.

Written by beleben

September 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm