British Timetable Review – December 2016

BRITISH TIMETABLE REVIEW –  December 2016
by Alan de Burton

Overview and Timetable Format

Unless otherwise specified, the text refers to Monday to Saturday timetables. This is very much a ‘marking time’ timetable before major changes in many parts of the country later in 2017 based on either new trains or infrastructure improvements. The main landmark this time has been the extension by Chiltern Trains of their service from Marylebone to Oxford Parkway on to Oxford.

C2c (emus)

C2c’s ‘start again’ timetable in December 2015 hadn’t worked well on Monday to Friday peaks and has been subject to frequent changes. In January 2017 they implemented another version this time bolstered by some extra rolling stock.

Cross Country (dmus and a few HSTs)

Completion of the flyover at Norton Bridge north of Stafford has enabled acceleration of trains from Bournemouth to Manchester by about 10 minutes.

Great Western (HSTs, dmus and diesel loco-hauled sleepers)

From September 2016, a few peak dmu services between Paddington and Greenford were diverted to Hayes & Harlington as emus and replaced by shuttles between West Ealing and Greenford. This arrangement now applies for the full working day.

Merseyrail (all emus)

Although not shown in the published timetable, engineering works are interrupting Wirral Line services under the Mersey between January and June 2017. At some periods trains are terminating at Birkenhead Central or North, at other times only the Loop under Liverpool is closed and trains are terminating at James Street.

ScotRail (emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

The new station at Edinburgh Gateway has opened. On Mondays to Saturdays, half the trains that used to call at South Gyle now call here instead. However, the hourly faster trains from Edinburgh to Perth and to Dundee now call as well. The only other improvements of note are the through early morning trains on the Highland Main Line at 05 08 from Perth to Inverness and at 05 36 from Inverness to Edinburgh.

South West Trains (emus and dmus)

In December 2016 there were further improvements to the additional diesel services west of Salisbury which commenced in December 2015. Notable is a new Sunday train at 18 04 from Frome to Waterloo as an extension of a train previously starting at Salisbury. There are various other minor improvements.

TransPennine Express (dmus and emus)

The present hourly service 7 days between York and Newcastle has been supplemented by an extra train every 2 hours all 7 days, although on Mondays to Fridays there are some gaps. Pathing difficulties impose some curious stopping patterns, and most of the extra trains on Mondays to Saturdays run northbound non-stop from York to Durham.

Virgin Trains East Coast (electric loco-hauled and diesel HST)

This time there are some extra off-interval trains on Saturdays and Sundays between Kings Cross and mainly Leeds.

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Farewell to Friends

Two good friends of the Society died recently and this note acknowledges the help that they gave over many years.
Brian Martin Longworth was born in Toronto to Scottish parents but soon the family returned to Scotland and Brian spent the rest of his life in the Glasgow area.    He worked for Glasgow Corporation’s Transport Department at the Bath Street headquarters and came to know just about everything about the extensive tramway network, and in more recent years about the complex suburban railway network.    Much of the Scottish news in our Journal came indirectly from Brian.    He died on 24 September 2016 – just 8 hours short of his 73rd birthday – from a brain tumour.   He had no living relatives and regarded the enthusiast railway and tramway bodies as his family.    Well over 100 attended his funeral on 06 October 2016 and at least six ERS members were present.   Many of those present had attended Glasgow’s Hutcheson’s Grammar School, including Brian, so that the reception at times became almost a school FP gathering complete with the singing of the school song!

Ernest Walker was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, where his father had been born and brought up but he moved to a job in Glasgow so that Ernie attended Hutcheson’s Grammar School then Glasgow University where he studied mathematics and accountancy.     He moved to the Toronto area soon after the completion of his studies becoming a prominent accountant in the Barrie area, moving to Waterloo after retirement.    Ernie was the source of much of the Canadian news material that appeared in the Journal over a period of over 40 years.    His funeral service was held in a Presbyterian Church in Waterloo and was conducted by his daughter Leslie, until recently one of a team of ministers at the Scots Kirk in Calgary.
Iain Frew.

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British Timetable Review – May 2016

BRITISH TIMETABLE REVIEW –  May 2016
by Alan de Burton

Overview and Timetable Format

Unless otherwise specified, the text refers to Monday to Saturday timetables. Major changes this time are limited to unplanned temporary line closures between Appleby and Carlisle and Folkestone and Dover because of earthworks failures, planned electrification works between Gospel Oak and Barking, through the Severn Tunnel and at Glasgow Queen Street High Level, and finally reconstruction at London Bridge for Thameslink.

The December 2015 issue appeared at one time to be the last for a complete Network Rail paper timetable. Middleton Press initially decided to publish no more than the British section of the European timetable (previously ‘Cook’s’) because of poor data quality. After pressure on Network Rail from the regulators Middleton Press was finally able to publish the May 2016 timetable in usual format at the end of August. I compiled much of this summary originally from a combination of operator publicity backed up by timetable articles published in the relevant railway magazines. The eventual ‘May’ issue is in 2 volumes of enormous bulk, partly because it includes major duplication or triplication of tables for the engineering work already mentioned.

Abellio Greater Anglia (emus, dmus, electric loco-hauled and diesel loco-hauled)

In recent years the company has operated summer Saturday extras between Norwich and Great Yarmouth; this year they run on Mondays to Fridays as well. A new station has opened at Lea Bridge, on the line between Tottenham Hale and Stratford.

Arriva Trains Wales (dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)

Although too late for any publicity, the company was able to extend its Monday to Saturday trains from Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly on to Manchester Airport at off-peak times on Mondays to Fridays and all day on Saturdays. Since the timetable only shows the extension by footnote, it doesn’t actually give departure times from Manchester Airport.

Chiltern Trains (dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)

There is the usual array of minor changes.

C2c (emus)

C2c’s ‘start again’ timetable on Mondays to Fridays introduced in December 2015 hasn’t worked well and has been subject to frequent changes. They have promised a new timetable in December 2016 and I won’t comment further till then.

East Midlands Trains (HSTs and dmus)

The service from Matlock to Nottingham already extended to Newark (Castle) on Mondays to Fridays has been extended on Saturdays too.

Great Western (HSTs, dmus and diesel loco-hauled sleepers)

The timetable is largely ‘marking time’ while electrification work is in progress. From September, a few peak dmu services between Paddington and Greenford will be diverted to Hayes & Harlington as emus and replaced by shuttles between West Ealing and Greenford. There are stock changes on Paddington to Oxford fast services between HSTs and class 165 / 166 and class 180 dmus to better balance train capacity against train loadings.

Stops at Didcot on Paddington to Bristol and South Wales services have been shuffled somewhat. GWR have supplemented the basically hourly Sunday service from Paddington to Bristol by a number of off-interval extra trains.

The route through the Severn Tunnel will be closed between 12 September and 23 October for electrification work. Paddington – Swansea trains will be diverted via Gloucester adding 30 – 40 minutes to the journey. The additional Monday to Friday service from Paddington to Cardiff will be cut short at Bristol Parkway. Trains from Portsmouth Harbour and Taunton to Cardiff will be diverted to Bristol Parkway for bus connections to Newport.

London Overground (emus and dmus)

The line between Gospel Oak and Barking is closed for most of the timetable period for electrification works. East London services after 22 00 in the evening have been improved on Mondays to Saturdays.

Northern Trains (emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

Remapping of franchises between TransPennine and Northern took place on on 1 April 2016. Northern now have full responsibility for trains from Manchester to Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere, although at first continuing to hire stock from TransPennine Express. Stock changes have led to significant detailed alterations to train services.

A new station opened at Kirkstall Forge on 19 June between Leeds and the new station at Apperley Bridge itself opened at the previous timetable change. However, Kirkstall Forge is only served hourly, mainly by Ilkley trains. The Settle & Carlisle line between Appleby and Carlisle has been closed since February because of a serious embankment slip, and will remain closed at the Carlisle end for the rest of this timetable period. The timetable book shows most services extended from Appleby as far as Armathwaite from 1 August although the extension actually occurred on 27 June.

ScotRail (emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

There were major changes to services from 20 March 2016 till 8 August 2016 when the High Level platforms at Glasgow Queen Street were closed for major engineering work. Services from Edinburgh via Falkirk, Stirling and the West Highland Line were diverted to the Low Level platforms at Glasgow Queen Street, while services from Inverness and Aberdeen were diverted to Glasgow Central.

Some of the changes were in effect permanent. On Mondays to Saturdays, electric services via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level and to a lesser extent via Glasgow Central Low Level were extensively revised in detail, for example in stopping patterns and service linkages across central Glasgow. The Monday to Saturday service from Cumbernauld via reversal at Springburn through to Dalmuir was extended to Dumbarton Central. In the evenings an extra half-hourly service from Airdrie to Dalmuir has enabled the Edinburgh – Helensburgh services to be speeded up by omitting many wayside stops.

Southeastern (emus)

With the previous timetable change, a new station west of the old replaced the previous station at Rochester. However, various essentially temporary timetable changes had to be made pending resignalling which took place at Easter 2016. Further changes took place then including reversal of a few peak trains at Sole Street and at Rainham (Kent) for the first time.

During the 2015 Christmas period, the line between Folkestone Central and Dover was severed by a serious collapse of the sea wall which closed the line for over 8 months. The main change was to terminate all trains from the Ashford direction at Folkestone Central and introduce temporary service patterns between Dover and Ramsgate. While Network Rail restored service from 5 September, this was rather ahead of publicity which shows the blockage extending till December.

Major engineering works related to the Thameslink project took place in the London Bridge area over the August Bank Holiday period. All the comments hereafter refer to the service after the Bank Holiday. Trains from Cannon Street are now unable to stop at London Bridge but trains from Charing Cross resumed calling except in the Down direction in the morning peak and in the Up direction in the evening peak. While the beginning of the blockage in January 2015 had surprisingly little impact on service structures, Southeastern have taken the opportunity to make much more extensive changes and improvements including the use of some 12-car suburban services. They intend this timetable to last until final Thameslink services are implemented probably in 2018.

There are varying changes on the routes to Dartford and beyond. Some morning peak trains run fast against peak flow. There are changes in the peaks to route linkages east and west of Dartford. On Sunday mornings the stopping service starting at Gravesend commences 2 hours earlier. Most stations on the line via Woolwich now have a peak flow service to and from Charing Cross. The Sidcup line benefits in 2 ways; on Mondays to Saturdays the reduction in evening services from 4 to 2 trains per hour takes place 2 hours later, while the 4 trains per hour service on Saturday mornings starts 2 hours earlier.

Previously the 4 trains per hour off-peak Hayes service was divided 2 and 2 between Charing Cross and Cannon Street. It now all runs from Charing Cross, except on Sundays when it all runs from Cannon Street. The Bromley North service starts an hour earlier on Mondays to Fridays and ends an hour later on Mondays to Saturdays; Sundridge Park has lost from an increase in the peak service from 3 to about 4 trains per hour since it is then skipped by some trains against peak flow. The off-peak Sevenoaks service runs from Charing Cross rather than Cannon Street on Mondays to Saturdays, but as with Hayes continues to serve Cannon Street on Sundays. The late evening frequency break on Mondays to Saturdays is now 1½ hours later.

The Victoria – Orpington 15 minute stopping service continues for another 3 hours almost to end of service on Mondays to Saturdays. The Medway Valley line runs an hour later on Sundays, when there are also a couple of extra trains between Faversham and Canterbury East. Finally the off-peak Cannon Street  – Tunbridge Wells service on Mondays to Saturdays is rerouted to run from Charing Cross.

South West Trains (emus and dmus)

There have been some further improvements to diesel services around Yeovil. South West Trains operated 2 return workings between Yeovil Junction and Weymouth with a reversal at Pen Mill on summer Saturdays. Some of the recently introduced extra Sunday evening fast trains from Waterloo to Salisbury call additionally at Andover.

Virgin Trains East Coast (electric loco-hauled and diesel HST)

On Mondays to Fridays most of the daytime trains from Kings Cross just to Newcastle have been extended to Edinburgh leaving only about 3 gaps in a 2 trains per hour service.

Virgin Trains (i.e. West Coast) (emu and dmu)

The ‘flagship’ Monday to Friday 16 30 from Euston to Glasgow in 4h 08m now follows the normal stopping pattern and takes 4h 31m. There are a number of shuffles and extra intermediate stops at Rugby and the Trent Valley stations and post evening peak on Fridays.

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Scottish Transport 66  –  2014 Edition

Scottish Transport 66 is the 2014 edition of the STTS’s annual magazine. It comprises 48 A5 pages with card covers, and includes a variety of well illustrated articles covering tram, bus, and railway topics. Continue reading

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Scottish Transport 67 – 2015 Edition

The annual magazine of the Scottish Tramway and Transport Society was published in September 2015 and contains as usual a selection of articles covering a wide range of transport modes. Continue reading

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Twenty Year Plan for Transport around Dublin

A twenty year plan for transport around Dublin was published on 16 April 2016.  Many of the plans have been discussed for a number of years but there is now much more flesh upon suggested improvements and a clearer timescale for much of the work.   The proposals concern improvements and extensions to existing heavy rail, light rail (LUAS) and the creation of a high capacity Metro north and south of the city centre.

The DART heavy rail electrified suburban service would be extended north  along the Belfast main line to Drogheda, south west along the Kildare and Cork main line to Hazelhatch, while the route along the Sligo main line would be electrified to produce more frequent services to Maynooth and M3 Parkway.    The Phoenix Tunnel would be reopened to passenger services allowing the Hazelhatch service to run through to Connolly in the City Centre.     Improvements to the signalling system will allow more frequent services through the central area.     New Park and Ride facilities, and completely new stations will be provided where the potential traffic is good.

The LUAS light rail system will be expanded substantially   The east – west Red Line between the Docklands – Connolly Station – City Centre – Tallaght and Saggart  will be extended to serve the Poolbeg Peninsula which is south of the Liffey Estuary and will be reached via the new  East Link Bridge to The Point, in Poolbeg.     The Green line from St Stephens Green south to Bride’s Glen will be extended to Bray town centre although the exact route to be taken remains uncertain.   A  completely new route from St Stephens Green through the City Centre then north west to Grangegorman College, to Broombridge and a connection with the Dart Maynooth line.   The case for a possible further extension north to Navan will be re-examined.

A  Metro has long been discussed operating north from the city centre to the Airport and a park-and-ride terminus at the village of Swords.   An extension south could replace the Green LUAS line in part or totally.    The new proposal is for a Metro North in tunnel below the city centre, with the LUAS Broombridge line running at street level above it.    This would run north a little inland from the DART Drogheda line and serving the Airport and Swords.    The southern end of Metro North would in fact be some way south of the city centre at Ranelagh.     The Metro South is not being actioned at this time.   The Green Line gives an adequate service until traffic has built up so much that more capacity along this corridor becomes essential     Eventually the Metro North may be extended south probably replacing the LUAS Green Line as far as Bride’s Glen but perhaps running alongside the Green Line for some distance.     A LUAS service would continue beyond Bride’s Glen into Bray.

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Single Track Working on Metrolink

Manchester’s tramway network has grown with remarkable speed in recent years and it has become essential that a second route across the city centre be built to prevent excessive congestion along Mosley Street.    The first section of the Second Crossing from Victoria Station to Exchange Square  has already opened and is used by services through Oldham to either Shaw and Crompton (Route H) or Rochdale (Route I).     The Second route will join the initial route at an enlarged St Peter’s Square station close to the Central Conference and Exhibition Centre (which occupies the one-time Central Station, built by the Cheshire Lines Committee between 1875 and 1880, which still proudly retains its glorious arch roof).  While the  St Peter’s Square stop is being totally rebuilt and the track layout is rearranged, the route from the city centre ( from both Victoria and Piccadilly Stations) has been reduced to a single track along Mosley Street between the Art Gallery and the Conference Centre.     Only trams are allowed along this part of the road all other vehicles being diverted to alternative roads.   Three regular tram routes share the single track. –  Route A (Etihad Campus – Piccadilly –  Altrincham);   Route C  (Bury – Victoria – East Didsbury;  Route E (Piccadilly – Cornbrook – Media City (reverse) – Eccles.    Additional services are run when either Manchester City (to Etihad Campus) or Manchester United (to several stations within 10 minutes walk from Old Trafford Stadium) play their home games.    The single track operation has made it essential to operate a special system to keep things moving smoothly and this is controlled from the Control Centre but depends heavily on hard work by two “signallers” – one positioned at each end of the single track section.

The normal throughout the day service sees a tram on each route every six to twelve minutes and Control arranges that a group of three trams, one per route, form a queue on the last section of double track before the start of each single track section.    Sometimes extra services such as football specials are added to the group of three trams.     There is a single tablet, a stout rod with a bulky triangular shape at one end, and this allows access along the single track.    If the system is working properly the signaller at one end will have received the tablet from the last tram in the last group of three trams to operate along the single track.    After checking that the route along the single track is clear and receiving authority from Control the signaller gives the leading tram of the next batch authority to move on to the single track to be followed shortly by the second tram and finally by the last of the batch whose driver receives the tablet from the signaller who no longer has the tablet so cannot send any further trams on to the single track.    Any trams now arriving form the next queue.     The batch of trams make their stately progress along the single track and reach the start of the double track.   The driver of the last tram in the batch hands the tablet to the signaller who is now able to send the next queuing trams along the single track,.   The driver of the last of this batch receives the tablet which is handed to the first signaller.   The whole process can then be repeated.

If operations are performed slickly enough there is little delay to the services but at the rush hours when many additional trams are on the move a few minutes delay are sometimes encountered.  Many of the services are now worked by a pair of trams – indicated on the screens at the busier stops as “dbl” – a shortened version of “double”.

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Review of Main Line Timetables in Five European Countries – 2016

Introduction

Five years ago I wrote an article on changes to main line timetables in Germany, Denmark and Spain. As a follow up, I describe in this article the major changes in December 2015 to train services in 5 European countries: Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Austria. The changes have been driven in part by major improvements in railway infrastructure: (1) in Switzerland the full opening of the new low-level through platforms at Zürich HB and approach lines, (2) in Denmark some track doubling and forthcoming electrification, (3) in Sweden the opening of the 8.7 kms Hallandsåsen Tunnel, (4) in Germany the opening of the new high speed line from Leipzig / Halle to Erfurt, and (5) in Austria the full opening of the new Hauptbahnhof main station.

Please assume unless I have stated otherwise that the changes described apply in both directions and 7 days per week. I have drawn the information primarily from the European Rail Timetable, successor to the previous Thomas Cook publication. During the winter, I am expecting to receive paper timetables for some of the relevant transport administrations. Depending on content, I may need to produce a 2nd. edition.

Switzerland

It is 8 years since the last major changes to Swiss train services. On that occasion it was driven by the full opening of the Lötschberg Basistunnel in December 2007. This time it is the full opening of the second stage of the Zürich cross-city link and the 4 new low level Löwenstrasse platforms at Zürich HB. When the previous low level platforms were opened in 1990 it was just for S-Bahn trains. This time the new platforms are served by through InterCity trains which avoid reversal in the main line terminal platforms above.

The InterCity train operator SBB has taken this opportunity to revise comprehensively main line services which previously reversed at Zürich HB. The prime hourly service from Genève Aéroport via Bern to Zürich to St. Gallen saves a quarter of an hour by eliminating reversal time at Zürich HB and running non-stop between Winterthur and St. Gallen. The intermediate stops are covered by extending the IR service from Basel to Zürich via Aarau and Lenzburg on to St. Gallen.

There are fundamental changes to the group of services worked by ICN tilting trains interconnecting hourly at Biel / Bienne. Previously these ran hourly but in a 2-hourly alternating cycle from Genève Aéroport and from Lausanne to Biel / Bienne where they interconnected and then alternated running on via Solothurn to Zürich and St. Gallen and via Delémont to Basel. These services now operate on an hourly cycle about half an hour apart between Yverdon, Neûchatel and Biel / Bienne rather than in pairs. Consequently (1) they have dropped the inter-connections at Biel / Bienne and (2) trains from both routes now continue as far as Zürich. Trains originating at Lausanne continue hourly to St. Gallen. Basel is served by an hourly ICN shuttle from Biel / Bienne. As far as Zürich the extra hourly ICN has replaced the previous hourly IR train from Biel / Bienne to Zürich and Konstanz. Overall train ‘mileage’ is unaffected.

CFF (SBB in ‘French speak’) provides the main service in the Rhône valley in the form of 2 trains per hour from Genève Aéroport to Lausanne and Brig. The stopping patterns in the Rhône valley have changed but the detail must be found in the Swiss paper timetables. A number of regional services have been reorganised, for example Morges – Bière, Solothurn – Burgdorf – Thun, around La Chaux de Fonds and some railway lines connecting with CFF’s IR services in the Rhône valley. Most trains now run through to Vallorcine in France on the TMR line from Martigny where previously about half the service terminated at La Châtelard Frontière.

There are changes in the working of through EC and ICE trains from Germany. 4 ICE workings each way now run through beyond Zürich to Chur, 1 less on Sundays. In December 2016 we can expect major changes in the Gotthard line services to Ticino with the opening of the Gotthard Basistunnel and temporary diversion of trains between Zug and Arth-Goldau for engineering work.

Denmark

I reported 5 years ago that Danish operator DSB was finally succeeding in putting into service several years late new IC2 and IC4 dmus ordered from the Italian firm Ansaldo-Breda. In practice this didn’t really happen. Only about half the fleet is operational and these trains cannot yet split and join en route. Main line services are still necessarily largely in the hands of the previous generation of trains (the IC3s) especially since DSB main line services originating from København make extensive use of splitting and joining sections when they reach the European mainland in Jylland (Jutland). On the other hand, double tracking between Lunderskov, Vamdrup and Vojens in Jylland on the way south to Germany has no doubt assisted timetabling. Train ‘mileage’ is unaffected. Completion later this year of electrification to Esbjerg has no doubt prompted disentangling Esbjerg services from the portion splitting on Jylland.

In recent years the core of the InterCity timetable west from København to Jylland has been 3 services each hour. The faster service branded as Lyn ran from København Lufthavn and then København H main station to Århus, Aalborg and on some hours to Frederikshavn. In the new timetable only alternate trains run between Lufthavn and København H main station. More trains extend through from Aalborg to Frederikshavn. Lyn trains now have an additional portion every 2 hours detached at Fredericia for Sonderborg. By comparison with previous portions of ICs referred to below through passengers save a quarter of an hour. Return trains to København run through a quarter of an hour earlier, as do the IC trains described below. In consequence local services in much of Denmark have been extensively retimed.

The slower services branded IC have been substantially reorganised. The hourly trains from København to Esbjerg have been repathed to cross-connect with Lyn trains at Odense. Passengers prepared to change there can save 20 minutes overall. These trains used to split and join on the way at Kolding alternately with portions south to Sonderborg and to Flensburg in Germany but no longer do so. The København to Esbjerg service is likely to change to electric traction during the timetable year.

The other IC service ran hourly from København H to Aalborg. This service now consistently starts at København Lufthavn and collects a through portion at Fredericia from Flensburg every 2 hours.

Sweden

Many train services in Sweden benefit from the opening of the new 8.7 kms  Hallandsåsen tunnel on the main line from Göteborg to Malmö and København on which construction began in 1992! Hourly Øresundtog trains between København, Malmö and Göteborg are a quarter of an hour faster while SJ’s Snabbtåg trains from Malmö and Göteborg benefit somewhat less. One Snabbtåg train in the morning now runs through from Malmö via Göteborg to Stockholm, returning in the evening.  At the time of writing services between København and Malmö over the Øresund bridge are being disrupted by new and hopefully temporary Swedish border controls.

No doubt reflecting competition on the prime Stockholm main lines, SJ have started a prime morning Snabbtåg service on Mondays to Fridays from Malmö to Stockholm with only 3 stops, back in the evening. Especially noteworthy is the southbound working running the nominal 416 kms from Stockholm to Alvesta non-stop in 2h 50m = an average of 147 k/h. The distance assumes routing via Norrköping.

In recent years train operators have shown little interest in connecting the two capitals of Stockholm and Oslo by running only 2 slow trains each way. SJ now run 3 Snabbtåg train pairs on Mondays to Fridays (fewer at weekends) saving about an hour.

Changes in Germany’s DB InterCity services

Background

DB’s long distance services are operated by the subsidiary DB Fernverkehr, although I have used their InterCity brand name here for convenience. The last major changes in infrastructure were in December 2006 reflecting the opening of two major elements of infrastructure, firstly the new 2-level main line Berlin Hbf. station with a new north-south main line through the city, and secondly the high speed line from Nürnberg to Ingolstadt and München.

Since then, various economies have tended disrupt the previous tidiness of service patterns. In 2009 the ICE service between Stuttgart and Zürich went over to loco worked trains and in 2010 technical problems led to the tilting system on ICE-T tilting trains being turned off extending journey times of the services they worked. Despite the delivery since of 17 x class 407 320 k/h ICE emus intended for international services, rolling stock availability continues to be a serious constraint. DB Fernverkehr’s longer term strategy is to revive a denser network and to improve service frequencies we take for granted on prime InterCity routes in the Britain. To achieve this, they will need substantial deliveries of new rolling stock already on order, but there won’t be enough till the early 2020s.

This year one major infrastructure improvement dominates timetable changes: opening of about 94 kms of high speed line from Halle and from Grobers (between Leipzig and Halle) to Erfurt as a major stage in completion of a high speed route through from Berlin to München. While it is a 300 k/h railway, almost all trains using it for the next 2 years will be 230 k/h maximum speed ICE-Ts. The 280 k/h ICE1s will operate at least the Berlin – München trains eventually. Commercial service on the remaining section south of Erfurt to Ebensfeld north of Bamberg should begin in December 2017. I presume that the extensive pathing changes on the old Deutsche Reichsbahn already represent the eventual December 2017 service timings.

Two major temporary changes are missing from the printed timetable: (1) restriction on train services between Düsseldorf and Dortmund until 20 March 2016 while fire damage to the signal box at Mülheim (Styrum) is repaired and (2) withdrawal of through InterCity service between München and Salzburg due to temporary border controls between Austria and Germany at Salzburg.

Changes largely on the former Deutsche Reichsbahn

The prime changes directly driven by opening of the Grobers to Erfurt high speed line affect 2 service groups. The first service group covers through services from Berlin to München in 2 ways. For the full period of the timetable they are repathed and all now serve Leipzig rather than half the service running via Halle on the way from Berlin. Short workings from Hamburg to Leipzig covering the service gaps between Berlin and Leipzig have now been withdrawn. Stopping patterns between Leipzig and Nürnberg have been changed, and fewer trains run via Augsburg between from Nürnberg and München; additional loco-worked services appear to cover the gaps between Nürnberg and München.

However for the period 12 January till 3 September the old route between Lichtenfels and Bamberg is closed for engineering work related to completion of the high speed line. During this period the service between Leipzig, Nürnberg and München is reduced to 2-hourly and rerouted from Leipzig on the new high speed line to Erfurt calling there and then calling further at Fulda and Würzburg on its way to Nürnberg. Remarkably this takes no longer.

The second service group affected by the high speed line runs from Dresden to Wiesbaden. Previously there were 2 x 2- hourly services worked by a mixture of ICEs and loco-worked trains as follows: (1) from Dresden to Leipzig and running through Frankfurt (Süd) to Frankfurt Flughafen and (2) starting at Leipzig and running via Frankfurt Hbf. to Wiesbaden. These 2 services have now swapped origins in Dresden. Both these services now run direct on the high speed line from Leipzig to Erfurt and allowing for changed stopping patterns save half an hour. A new hourly local service operated by Abellio Rail Mitteldeutschland covers intermediate stops between Leipzig and Erfurt.

There is also a new service group potentially running every 2 hours from Berlin Hbf. via Halle to Erfurt and Frankfurt Hbf taking under 4 hours, but only about 4 of the possible paths each way are used. Which paths are used depends on the day of the week.

Associated with the service changes on Hamburg – Berlin – Leipzig – München is a reconstruction of the service between Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden and Praha. This now tolerably tidy 2-hourly repathed service from Hamburg to Praha now has only one train pair continuing to Budapest instead of 3 to Budapest and 1 to Bratislava. Connecting trains cover the paths beyond Praha. Retiming of Wismar – Ludwigslust RB trains and tidier main line services now enable more consistent connections at Ludwigslust for passengers in particular from Schwerin towards Berlin. The previous København –  – Hamburg – Berlin ICE dmu train pair no longer runs through across Hamburg.

No doubt consequent on the changes to main line services, there are extensive changes to the linkages of the long 2-hourly RE north-south services across Berlin: (1) trains from Stralsund via Neustrelitz to Falkenburg (Elster) now terminate at Berlin Südkreuz (2) trains from Rostock to Lutherstadt Wittenberg now run to Elsterwerda (3) trains from Stralsund via Angermünde to Elsterwerda now run to Falkenburg and finally trains from Schwedt to Berlin Südkreuz now run to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Overall service levels seem unaffected, as elsewhere on the former Deutsche Reichsbahn where there have been significant changes. The main loss has been on the previous service from Leipzig to Döbeln and Meissen where the service over the 40 kms from Döbeln to Meissen has been withdrawn.

For international services, some of the Berlin-Warszawa Express services are repathed by an hour. Koleje Dolnoslaskie have commenced operating 3 through train pairs plus shorter workings from Wroclaw over the border to Görlitz.

Changes largely on the former Deutsche Bundesbahn

None of these are of great consequence. Unlike in the area of the former East German Deutsche Reichsbahn, there are no significant pathing changes.

There are new afternoon fast IC services from Hamburg Altona leaving at 15 56 to Köln in principle running non-stop from Hamburg Hbf. to Essen Hbf., returning at 16 14. Both these services run on Sundays but not Saturdays and save about half an hour. The hourly ICE services from Berlin Ostbf. to Hamm dividing there into portions generally to Köln via Wuppertal and to Düsseldorf via Dortmund now start at Berlin Hbf. (tief). They have already  done this when the main line tracks of the east-west cross-Berlin Stadtbahn have been closed for engineering works.

There have been further changes in the services over the Köln – Frankfurt Flughafen high speed line. In recent years stopping patterns and service extensions from Düsseldorf, Essen and Dortmund to Köln have become almost ‘random’ often varying according to the day of the week. The latest changes are no more systematic. International IC services between Stuttgart and Zürich have also been repathed.

The opening of the 2nd stage of the Paris – Strasbourg LGV was intended for 3 April 2016 but has been postponed. It was intended to add a further train pair to the TGV / ICE service between Paris and Frankfurt, with 2 train pairs in all to be routed via Strasbourg and Karlsruhe saving about 10 minutes. The Paris – Stuttgart – München service would have become half an hour faster. From 26 February it was also intended to divert Railjet services and some other services between München and Salzburg on the section between München and Rosenheim for engineering works slowing services by 15 – 20 minutes. However as already noted, Railjet services within Germany may be suspended because of migrant related border controls at Salzburg.

There are many changes of operator of regional services, some of which aren’t clear from the European timetable. On a brighter note, there is a new 2-hourly local service to the Czech Republic from Hof via As to Cheb restoring a pre 1945 connection.

Austria

Main line train services in the eastern part of Austria centred on Wien belong to 2 main axes: north – south and west – east. North – south services which already used the new Wien Hbf. on their route from Praha to Wien and Graz are now 10 minutes faster in the Czech Republic but otherwise little altered. The service from Wien via Sopron (in Hungary) to Deutschkreuz (back in Austria) is now linked through with the service from Wien to Bratislava (Petrzalka) in Slovakia.

There are far more extensive changes on the Westbahn main line from Wien to Linz, Salzburg and beyond. National train operator ÖBB has redirected all its main line services from Wien Westbf. to run from the new Wien Hbf. instead. Despite the extra 5 kms, they take no longer. Many called at Wien Hütteldorf in the suburbs just outside Westbf.; instead all now call at Wien Meidling in the southern suburbs. Most RailJet services run in 2 portions between Wien Hbf. and Salzburg; portions to Innsbruck and beyond now start from Flughafen Wien joining up with the other portion at Wien Hbf. The through RailJet services from Budapest to Wien, Salzburg and beyond save half an hour through not reversing at Westbf. on their way from Wien Hbf. westwards. Some regional services from Wien to St. Pölten and beyond but still running from Westbf. now use the high speed line and are branded REX200.

The ICE services from Wien to Frankfurt and beyond which until December 2015 started from Flughafen Wien and called at Wien Hbf. but avoided Westbf. no longer run east of Wien from Flughafen. As already noted, Railjet services within Germany may be suspended because of migrant related border controls at Salzburg.

Competitor Westbahn continues to run hourly from Wien Westbf. to Salzburg. A new initiative is a fast service in both directions in the morning between Wien Westbf. and Salzburg. The prime service is at 07 00 from Salzburg calling only at Linz before Wien Hütteldorf.

Other Countries

This article isn’t comprehensive. The standard gauge high speed network in Spain continues to expand, together with its gauge changer interfaces with broad gauge lines. In Italy open access operator NTV trading as ‘Italo’ and running from Torino to Milano, Firenze and Roma to Napoli and Salerno now operates out of Milano Centrale station rather than Porto Garibaldi, and more of its trains serve Roma Centrale. In Britain long distance services haven’t changed materially.

Conclusion

I noted in 2010 how both DSB in Denmark and DB Fernverkehr in Germany were suffering acutely from rolling stock problems. Both still are! Hopefully at least the problems already noted with migrants will also be resolved later in 2016.

Alan  de Burton

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Visit Observations in September 2015

Notes compiled by Alan de Burton

Introduction

Between 28 and 30 September I made a ‘family’ visit staying at a hotel in Slough. This provided me with ample opportunity to make plentiful observations on the early autumn 2015 transport scene. After BR’s and Railtrack’s cash starved years, there is a great deal to see. Beware: there is a lot of detail.

York via London to Slough and Furze Platt

This section is a ‘composite’ of several journeys, best described as if a single journey. It primarily illustrates the amount of investment being made in today’s railways. In these family visits I stay in a hotel in Slough, but I had to make a side trip to Furze Platt to make a hospital visit. On the way I noted the following building works:

Doncaster

New platform under construction for local trains adjacent to the bus interchange. However, access to the street will firstly be via a longitudinal footbridge to the Up island platform. Passengers will need to walk some way along this then use the subway to the main building to reach the street. It will be quite a long walk.

The IEP depot is under construction on the site of the former BR / EWS / DBS locomotive depot at the south end on the Up side. The site is now screened from the main line by trees that have grown up in recent years.

Peterborough

New berthing and servicing sidings have been built for Thameslink on the Up side north of the station on the site of previous sidings at New England.

Hornsey

The new depot for Thameslink has been built on the Up side on the site of the LNER’s former Coronation Sidings north of the present depot. Extensive alterations to the present depot site are in progress.

Paddington Station

The commercial concourse area at The Lawn is being extended. Most of the works for the Crossrail station and its access are hidden behind hoardings.

Royal Oak / Westbourne Park

You can now readily see the access ramp to the Crossrail tunnel, at present trackless (but see later). There is a curious new structure on the Crossrail site leading to Westbourne Park station. I can only surmise it is for bus parking lost for the Crossrail construction works.

Ladbroke Grove / Kensal Green

On the Down side, access to the former  North Pole International Depot now an IEP depot from Line 1 has been commissioned. There are extensive works on the Up side between Ladbroke Grove and Old Oak Common East. A new electricity substation has been built between the railway and the Grand Union Canal. An extra track is being built connecting the Carriage lines and Old Oak Common East on the north side of the Engine & Carriage Line Flyover.

Old Oak Common

On the Down side, the further part of the North Pole International Depot has also been converted for IEP. The most significant change taking the 2 depots together is the provision of diesel fuelling for IEP trains. On the Up side the former DBS depot at the rear (remains of the steam shed) has been removed and a depot for Crossrail trains is under construction.

Acton West

Construction of the fly-under for the Up Relief track to dive under the access tracks to the freight yard on the Up side is approaching completion.

West Ealing

Work has started on the new bay platform on the Up side for the Greenford shuttle service and on a new station building. This is all on the site of the former milk depot.

Heathrow Airport Junction (west of Hayes & Harlington)

The spans of the bridge over the Relief Lines which will give Up Heathrow Express trains access to the Up Main line have been installed. In effect the Relief Lines now run through a short tunnel.

West Drayton

The formation has been widened by about half a mile on the Up side towards London. The Up & Down Goods Line behind the Up Relief platform is being realigned for passenger use and the island platform extended towards London. This track was previously Platform 5 and I recall it being used by Staines West and Uxbridge Vine Street branch trains. A new footbridge has been built but not yet in use. At the country end, the various tenants of the derelict coal concentration yard within the curve of the former Staines West branch have been cleared out. The yard was opened in 1959 but although it hasn’t been used as a coal yard for many years, some of the plant is still there. The recent Lafarge Aggregates sidings are now used for construction.

Langley

The sidings of the former Total Oil Depot  on the Up side opened in 1969 are now being used for electrification construction. I was surprised to see Colas locos # 70 808 and 809 berthed.

Taplow

A temporary footbridge has been built.

Maidenhead

The canopies over both island platforms are being replaced. The previous canopy over platform 5 mainly used as a bay for the Bourne End and Marlow trains was an overall roof. The sidings adjacent to the Up Relief at the country end once used as a Ford Car Terminal and then let out to third parties are now used for construction.

Furze Platt (on the branch line to Bourne End)

I hadn’t previously used this station opened by the GWR in 1937 as a single platform basic halt. Although the materials have changed, this is how it remains. There is a hut which I assume is used to issue tickets in the morning peak although it isn’t signed as such. Conventional staffing seemingly ceased in 1942.

Other Comments

I used Furze Platt to walk about a mile to visit St. Mark’ Hospital where my mother was in ‘rehab’ after a fall. The entire walk was along streets of 1930s detached houses no doubt accounting for the authorisation by the GWR to build a halt on 18 March 1937. It opened on 5 July that year. By modern standards, dynamic!

Since my last visit First Beeline have closed their depot at Bracknell leaving their Slough operation far removed from the company’s legal HQ in Southampton. Both single and double deckers from the Bracknell fleet have moved in. The double-deckers are working the Green Line route. First Group are not abandoning their business in Slough. Route 75 between Slough and Heathrow Central Bus Station and route 78 between Slough and Heathrow Terminal 5 now operate hourly all night 7 nights a week.

I wonder where the ‘traditional’ population of the area has gone? One of my sister’s carers comes from Zagreb in Croatia. The two desk staff at the Holiday Inn Express in Slough who checked me out come from Poland and Portugal respectively. The GWR lady at Slough Station Up side who sold me a ticket comes from Lithuania. And I haven’t even yet mentioned the many South Asians. People may deride Slough which architecturally is as charming as the 1960s bits of central Birmingham, but it does offer jobs.

First Great Western isn’t so named any more. Its publicity even found on ‘car cards’ on the Bakerloo Line trains claims that this is a deliberate rebranding. I saw at least one Network Turbo in the new darkish green livery as well as Sleeping car train locos at Old Oak Common.

Riding in one of their Turbos, I noted a problem which must face many TOCs  / ROSCOs in making their trains ‘disabled friendly.’ There are 3+2 seats between the doors and toilets which wheelchairs surely couldn’t pass.

I wondered if there was any planning in the erection of overhead line equipment from Hayes & Harlington outwards towards Reading. Each pile, mast, structure and arm seems to have reached an entirely random state of completion.

North Kent Line

Introduction

About 3 years ago, I wrote a series of 4 articles on the North Kent Line. The first two have since been published in the Southern Electric Group’s journal ‘Live Rail.’ However, I am having to make regular trips along the North Kent Line to ensure that the text stays up to date during a period of rapid construction activity. Since my normal social rendezvous with former work colleagues had been cancelled at almost the last minute I had the chance to ride from Waterloo East to Chatham and back on Charing Cross to Gillingham trains via Lewisham and Woolwich Arsenal. I rode each way on BREL built class 465/0 Networkers which now sound different following replacement of their electric traction systems.

Borough Market area

In the area of Metropolitan Junction, I noted the installation at the August Bank Holiday of track work and signal gantries in preparation for a ‘big dig’ at Christmas / New Year. Routes from Charing Cross will be realigned on to the new viaduct into London Bridge station. At London Bridge, Cannon Street trains are stopping and using their post 1970s platforms 1 – 3 as before. Charing Cross trains are running through on the tracks formerly serving platforms 4 and 5. In the ‘big dig,’ this will change and Charing Cross trains will approach on the new viaduct and run through without stopping tracks which will in due course serve new island platforms 6 – 7 and 8 – 9 (I don’t know which in detail).

London Bridge to New Cross

Between London Bridge and New Cross Southeastern trains at present use 4 tracks at the northernmost side of the layout with a construction void between them and the 2 -3 tracks on the south side serving the 6 new ‘Brighton’ terminal platforms. There is now a long void in the brick viaduct of the New Cross Spur which used to carry trains from Charing Cross to the Fast Lines at New Cross. Here the new Bermondsey flyover is under construction. One Up track will use the alignment of the former line from North Kent West Junction to Bricklayers Arms; however, the old brick viaduct has been replaced by a new one in concrete. One major curiosity is that this line would have been used by peak hour Up trains from Southeastern lines on to Thameslink. It is now unlikely that such a service will be provided. In Branch Line Society terms: PSUL? Personal comment: from the point of view of service reliability, this is probably just as well. I believe that such a service was crowded out by the decision to continue to run the Wimbledon & Sutton trains through Thameslink rather than use the new terminal bays at Blackfriars.

Plumstead to Belvedere

On the Down side after Plumstead the Crossrail works appear. Firstly at an angle veering towards the Thames is the vast construction depot for the track laying. This is occupied by the colourful track laying train during the day when it is loaded with materials and maintained. It works track laying in the tunnels overnight. Crossrail tracks then emerge on the north side of the present tracks 3rd rail tracks and run parallel on the north side to the Abbey Wood station site. The 3rd rail tracks are having to be slewed over a considerable distance over a widened formation which continues to about half way between Abbey Wood and Belvedere. The modern Abbey Wood station has been demolished and replaced by temporary facilities.

Dartford and Gravesend area

The original Networker scheme assumed 12-car trains and a proportion of platforms were duly lengthened but the job was never finished. As far as I can tell it has been completed this year. However, I noted a train formed by 2 x 5-car 376 emus = 10 cars seemed to entirely fill up the spur between Slade Green and Perry Street Fork Junction leading to the Bexleyheath line. Does this mean that trains routed via this spur must not exceed 10 cars? The CLASP structure of the long decommissioned Dartford power signal box remains on the Down side at the country end of the station.

Tracks on the spur at Northfleet leading to the sidings used to dump Crossrail tunnelling spoil into barges on the Thames are once again disused and rusty. Gravesend station with its new single sided island platform and Up track at first sight looks a success in fitting new facilities between listed original station buildings. On the Up side at Hoo Junction a class 08 or 09 diesel shunter displayed a very large DB logo.

Medway

Strood station can only be described as at best ‘unfortunate.’ I don’t know what the regulars say. The station buildings on the Down platform are CLASP. There is a new footbridge with lifts at the ‘country’ end. The Up island platform is a user disaster. It has been lengthened at the London end for 12 cars and now curls towards the tunnel. However, trains 8 cars or longer now stop at the London end leaving a long walk from the footbridge / lift and are devoid of shelter. Maidstone West trains stop conveniently for the shelter and access.

Over the river, work is progressing well at the new Rochester station which is a significant distance closer to the Medway. The main building is on the Up side at right angles to the single sided Up platform. The Down platform which will be an island is necessarily incomplete since the present Rochester signal box is in the way. It can only be removed when the delayed resignalling scheme is implemented.

I lunched in Chatham. I find the station awkward and unsatisfactory, as is the walking route to the High Street. Road traffic ‘rules’ and pedestrians are relegated to a series of crossings.

Great Eastern Overground, etc

Enfield Town line

In the afternoon I decided to look at the London Overground lines newly acquired from 31 May this year. I rode in class 315 emus which seemed to have had a minor but acceptable refurbishment. My first trip was on the 15 30 from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town. I found it rather a dispiriting experience. I think that apart from installing electric lighting, Network Rail’s predecessors have been disinvesting at platform level for at least the last 100 years. The platforms have been resigned, but the Down side platforms at least now have quite minimal shelter. There are more buildings at Hackney Downs, Seven Sisters and Lower Edmonton. Sources suggest that much has been done sporadically to ticket offices, but this isn’t visible from the train. When BR electrified with electric trains starting in 1960, the new station at Enfield Town seems to have been their only major investment. My conclusion is that TfL have a major challenge in bringing the Enfield Town line stations up to the standard of their other lines.

After the fairly dismal performance I have become used to with 3-car class 507s and 508 emus on Merseyside, I was surprised to find that despite the lower power weight ratio on 4-car trains, the 315s seemed quite sprightly. I imagine there are a lot more amps in the 25kV wires. I returned to Hackney Downs.

Chingford line and Hackney interchange walkway

I then headed to Chingford. The stations served by the Chingford trains are in much better shape. The major disappointment is Walthamstow Central station which got a bodged adaptation when it became an interchange with the deep level Victoria Line in 1968. While more works have been carried our recently, it isn’t much better. Chingford has comparatively extensive train berthing but not to modern operational standards.

I returned as far as Hackney Downs to use the very new 200m long footway to Hackney Central on the Overground North London line. It connects the extreme London end of Platform 1 at Hackney Downs to the extreme west end of the eastbound platform at Hackney Central. This means that passengers from a westbound train at Hackney Central connecting to northbound trains at Hackney Downs have 4 more sets of stairs to climb up or down. However, the walkway is covered and is no doubt better than walking down the street. There was a similar previous facility but I am unsure if this survived WW1; after WW2 it would have been irrelevant anyway.

Stratford

I caught a ‘wedged’ 5-car class 378 from Hackney Central to Stratford. How did everyone fit on a 2-car Cravens dmu? At Stratford I found that the station subways aren’t really adequate for present peak interchange flows which are no doubt different from Olympic flows. I made a short visit to the Westfield shopping centre for the toilets. The flows at 18 00 on a Wednesday evening in September almost suggested a Saturday before Christmas!

I returned to Liverpool Street on a TfL Rail class 315 emu. This was in similar condition to its Overground brethren. The hoardings around the entrance to the Crossrail tunnel prevent much of a view.

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First impression of the rebuilt Birmingham New Street station.

The work to transform Birmingham’s New Street station into a spacious superbly equipped hub was finally completed and opened to the public on 20 September 2015.    The original main entrance facing the Bull Ring Shopping Centre has been reopened and this leads into a truly massive concourse space, much of it lit by daylight steaming in through a series of massive windows in the roof.    There are ticket machines close to this entrance as well as beside a wide entrance from the South Side area and a doubling of the ramps up to the Stephenson Street entrance beside which the Midland Metro tram route will soon be operating.     There are shops and food outlets sprinkled around the edges of the massive concourse and ticket barriers give access to the B-end of the platforms while far ahead another set of barriers give access to the A ends of the platforms.   There are limited amounts of additional seating but the one clear criticism is that the main Ticket Office is invisible until the passenger has almost reached it.    It is substantially hidden by a massive set of departure displays and partly by two sets of escalators which from 24 September 2015 will take customers up to the massive new Grand Central Shopping Centre above the station.    An innovation for New Street Station is the provision of a multi-faith room on the south side of the massive concourse.   It was locked and unavailable on the 20th but was open on the 22nd September.   It is equipped with a prayer mat and arrows pointing towards Mecca but that is all.   Not a single chair or other piece of furniture has been installed.    Originally described as a “Quiet Room” it was expected to have appropriate furniture to rest the wearied traveller.    Perhaps this will be installed soon.
Overall verdict – SUPERB – such a pity nothing can be done about the cramped station underneath!
I.D.O.F.

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