west midlands - urban transport group...west midlands the midlands engine is gathering speed,...
Embed Size (px)
THE MIDLANDS ENGINE IS GATHERING SPEED, REPORTS JAMES ABBOTT
Trains in the West Midlands are soonto appear in a purple and orangelivery, marking out a new identity
for the area. It is all part of an assertivestrategy on the part of the region, keento make the'Midlands Engine' as highprofile as the Northern Powerhouse.This is the first time the Department for
Transport has mandated the use of a brand:the West Midlands Railway branding will beapplied to local services in the new franchiseset to take over from the current LondonMidland operation in October 2017, for whichAbellio (with East Japan Railway Co andMitsui) and incumbent Govia are competing.
The Invitation to Tender (p10, Octoberissue) promises some exciting serviceimprovements, including two direct peakWalsall to London trains. These will comeas part of major improvements in thearea in December 2018. The timetablechange then is planned to include:■ A doubling in the off-peak frequencyon the Birmingham to Shrewsbury line,from one to two services per hour.
■ An extension of one of the two Birmingham -Wolverhampton stopping services each hourto Crewe via Stoke-on Trent. This will fill a gapleft by diversion of London Midland's Eustonto Crewe semi-fasts, which currently run via
Stoke but from December 2018will be routed direct down the West Coastmain line from Stafford to Crewe.
■ Improvement of evening services-after 19.00.
Other developments due over the nextcouple of years include electrificationto Bromsgrove and on the Chase linebetween Walsall and Rugeley, along withopening of Kenilworth station as part ofthe NUCKLE project (see page 58).Further improvements are due to come
in subsequent timetable changes, withsubstantial alterations pencilled in forDecember 2021. Sunday services will be one
of the chief beneficiaries at that timetablechange, with a regular hourly Sunday serviceplanned for the Birmingham to Shrewsburyline, taking over from the current stoppingservice operated by Arriva Trains Wales.
ROLLING STOCKWith the dramatic complete replacement ofthe rolling stock fleet on the Anglia franchise,observers wait with interest to see what thebidders put forward for the West Midlandsone. With money so cheap, new trains arelikely to feature strongly: the DfT is expectingsome extra capacity to be provided, butexisting fleets will also be closely examined.The Class 323s used on the busy CrossCity
line will come into focus. Bidders havebeen asked to suggest alternative seatingarrangements to the current '3+2' layout;narrow door widths are a more intractable„roblem. London Midland currentlyoperates 26 units; another 17 are used onthe south side of Manchester and are dueto come off lease in 2018, when ownerPorterbrook has made clear its aspiration toconcentrate the fleet in the West Midlands.An influx of EMUS would permit frequency
improvements on the newly-electrifiedChase line, although whether the bidders willretain an opening for the more. than 20-yearold '323s', which would need modificationto keep to the new mobility rules due in2020, remains to be seen. One factor intheir favour is their fleetness of foot: therapid acceleration of the units is legendary(recently-built units cannot keep up),making the Hunslet-built trains a favourite
• for the demanding CrossCity schedules.Concentrating small fleets in one depot
makes a lot of sense from a maintenancepoint of view: another type suggested forthis treatment is Class 172. Again, the bulkof the fleet is already in the Midlands, with27 units operating out of Tyseley. LondonOverground has eight for the Gospel Oak toBarking route: these are due to be replacedby EMUS next year after wiring of the route.Chiltern has four, but they have an operating
• constraint on this franchise: the design ofthe bogie precludes the fitting of tripcocks,so they are barred from the Amersham lineand restricted to Gerrards Cross services.The Class 350 electric units are another
casein point. London Midland has the lion'sshare of the fleet (77 units), but the10 units of sub-class 350/4 are operated byTransPennine Express on the Manchester toScotland route. With these set to be replacedby new trains, all the Class 350s might be
j concentrated in the West Midlands franchise.One definite change is that London
Midland's fleet of 3x2-car Class 150 DMUsis set to move to Northern under plans forthat franchise. In the short term at least,these will be replaced by six single-carClass 153s from Great Western Railway.
STATIONSStations will bean area of focus in the newfranchise. While train operators and Network
~nnnnni mnrlorn-rail~niavc ~nm
Rail have a duty to ensure the condition ofstations does not deteriorate, 'nobody looksat their strategic value to the community'says Malcolm Holmes, West Midlands Rail'sActing Programme Director.'Our proposalis to establish station alliances betweenWMR, the operator and NR -and privatesector third parties where appropriate. Thepartners could then co-operate on promotingtheir usefulness as community hubs.'A pioneering case will be Wolverhampton,
where responsibility for the station is tomove from long distance operator VirginWest Coast to the West Midlands franchisee.This reflects the part the station will playas part of a developing local transportmulti-modal hub, where WMR believes thatthe close proximity of the bus station andthe coming extension of the Midland Metrotram network to the rail station make itan opportunity too good to be missed.
ELECTRIfTCATIONA new station opened at Bromsgrove on12 July 2016. This will form the southernterminus of the CrossCity Jine whenelectrification is extended here fromBarnt Green over the notorious Lickeyincline, which is due to be completed byDecember 2017. Provided this scheduleis kept, the May 2018 timetable changewill see three CrossCity trains per hourextended from Longbridge to terminatein a dedicated platform at Bromsgrove.The other three out of the six hourly
CrossCity trains terminate at Redditch.Service was stepped up here inDecember 2014 following redoubling of partof the Redditch branch around Alvechurch.At the northern end of the route, two trains
an hour turn round at Four Oaks, two atLichfield City and two at Lichfield Trent Valley.While masts are going up on the southern
edge of the conurbation to serve Bromsgrove,another electrification project is proceedingon the opposite side of Birmingham. Wiring
of the Chase line from Walsall to Rugeleyis in-fill electrification of the sort seen inthe 1980s: not only will it allow upgradingof the local service, it will also give anotherelectrified alternative route for occasionswhen the West Coast main line is blocked byengineering work. A further bonus is thatgauge enhancement undertaken as partof the electrification work enhances theprospects for possible freight services to thePentalver container terminal at Cannock.The Chase line finish date is notionally
December 2017, although bidders for theWest Midlands franchise have been warnedthat it might not be completed untilMay 2019. At any rate, local planners havenot reckoned on frequency improvementsuntil the May 2018 timetable, when apossible influx of EMUS into the regionfrom Manchester could take placewhen Northern's 17 Class 323s comeoff lease. Cascaded Class 321s or 319sare other possibilities for the Chaseline - or indeed new trains altogether.The aim is to double off-peak frequency
from hourly to twice hourly, withsuperior acceleration resulting in shorterjourney times. Introduction of EMUS onthe Chase line will free up four DMUsfor use elsewhere in the franchise.Further electrification in the region
depends on progress elsewhere in thecountry. Notionally, Derby -Birmingham -Bristol would have been next in thequeue after the Midland main line andthe trans-Pennine route, but with wiresnorth of Kettering now being called intodoubt, the cross-country electrificationseems once again to be receding over thehorizon. One vaunted Midlands Engineaim is to improve links between the Eastand West Midlands -improving on thepedestrian 1hr 15min timings betweenBirmingham and Nottingham for example -but it seems it would be unwise to count onelectrification to help make that happen.
flArPmhAr~ni~ MATT'AT7DETT~I7aVC 4Q
Class 323 workhorse: this member of the class is at University, aheavily-used stationon the CrossCity route close to further education and medical facilities that is proposedfor remodelling to assist with crowd control. JO~i W~TE80USE
WEST MIDLANDS FQ CUS
After the cross-country route wouldcome the Chiltern main line and then theSnow Hill suburban services would beconverted to EMUS, but again when thismight happen is anyone's guess now.
II~iCREASII~iG PATRONAGEAs in other urban areas, Birmingham has seena dramatic increase in rail usage in recentyears. Since the turn of the century, passengerjourneys in the West Midlands metropolitan areahave more than doubled, up from 22.8 millionin 2000/01 to 53.7 million in 2015/16.Rail's share of the peak Birmingham travel
market surpassed that of buses in 2011 and
now, at over 36%, is almost level-peggingwith cars. Network Rail expects employmentgrowth in the city centre to be the dominantfactor driving demand increases in thefuture, rather than modal transfer.Making provision for these extra numbers
on the trains is a key concern of local transportplanners. Bidders for the new franchise arerequired to provide extra capacity equivalentto 137 vehicles by 2022, for longer trainsand more frequent services. The DfT saysthis will provide more than 30%additionalpeak capacity in the West Midlands area.To complement the extra trains, more
infrastructure will soon be required. West
Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)and its partners in the Midlands Connectconsortium are pressing for the MidlandsRail Hub concept to be embraced, as thiswould unlock capacity in Birminghamcity centre and make trains flow morefreely through the area. 'The BirminghamNew Street Gateway rebuilding hasquadrupled the passenger circulationarea in the station, but it hasn't addressedthe key issue of lack of track capacity'explains Toby Rackliff, Rail Policy &Strategy Manager with Transport for theWest Midlands (TfWM), a division of WMCA.'During the rebuilding New Street
station worked with one platform out ofuse, which showed it is not a question ofplatform capacity -rather, you cannot getmore trains in and out of the station. Thefoundations of the Bullring shopping centrepreclude widening the approach tunnels,so some other solution has to be found:
MIDLANDS RAIL HUBThat solution is the Midlands Rail Hub: anelegant project that would divert trafficaway from New Street to the other centralBirmingham stations at Moor Streetand Snow Hill, where extra capacity canmore easily be provided. The programmecould provide up to 10 extra train pathsper hour into central Birmingham.The scheme requires the construction
of the Bordesley chords, a suggestionlong on the drawing board but which hasbecome ever more sensible as traffic hasrisen. A chord line linking railway linesin the Bordesley area, where the former
Midland Railway 'Camp Hill' line fromKing's Norton to Water Orton crosses overthe top of the ex-Great Western Londonto Moor Street main line, is the key tounlocking the potential of several routesin the West Midlands. Bordesley stationwould be closed (or relocated) to freeup the required space for the chord.Not only would there be the opportunity
to introduce local services from poorlyserved parts of Birmingham's south
~ western quadrant (a proposal whichon its own does not quite justify majorinvestment on the scale of Midlands RailHub), there would also be the chanceto increase capacity on inter-regionalroutes. Services from Nottingham,Leicester, Worcester and Hereford couldbe rerouted into Moor Street, freeing upspace on the approaches to New Street.The project would use the existing
lightly-used terminal platforms 3 and 4at Moor Street, along with the disusedplatform 5 and a new platform 6 to beinserted on the west side of the formation.Chiltern has an aspiration to extend all itstrains from London to Snow Hill, a stationwell placed for Birmingham's business andfinancial district, rather than having thefast trains from Marylebone terminate atMoor Street. Capacity constraints in thetunnel between Moor Street and SnowHill and platform space issues at SnowHill have precluded this so far, so theMidlands Rail Hub proposes solving this tofree up the bay platforms at Moor Streetfor services off the Camp Hill chord.The way this would be done is to convert
the former Midland Metro terminatingplatform at Snow Hill, disused since the lightrail line was projected into the city centrestreets, into a heavy rail platform (No 4).Also needed would be additional signallingin the station area, especially in the tunnelbetween Snow Hill and Moor Street, andimprovements to stabling sidings.Extra capacity would be needed further
out, too. The Water Orton corridor, currentlya mixture of three and four tracks, wouldneed quadrupling up to the junctionwhere the line splits into routes to Derby
~ and Leicester. This had originally beenproposed for the resignalling that tookplace a few years back, but unfortunatelywas descoped out of that project.Also included in the Midlands Rail Hub
would be improved access to the freightterminals at Kingsbury and Birch Coppiceto minimise the impact of freight train.movements on overall line capacity.
Total bill for this imaginative set ofproposals is around £700 million. TheMidlands Rail Hub is in Network Rail's draftWest Midlands and Chiltern Route study,but not funded as yet. TfWM is pushing toget the Hub in the programme for Control
Period 6 (2019-24), with the aim of having
it in place when extra local rail capacity will
be required in the West Midlands to cater
for demand generated by the arrival of HS2
~l / M~1TFt?N 7?IITT LSTL~Y.t' I~Pf PI'Yi l~or 7lli~ unuui mnrlcrn-rnihu~vc rnm ~~nnnnimnrinrn-roihni~vc rnm
o ,o fo fvv c~i
~ Z~ a~,
o~aT ' 3~IY Z~
vYa~ Izo• o~~~ "s °o ~v ~ ~ ~0 9°v ~ ~ m• • I ~ oz3"
a ~~ e E ~ o~
_ o a ~gz f a
Y W I I I' '~
w Zd - "oa~ I" ~aEY ~o
Rnr~looi~"• +tio !'~mn Nill rhnrrlc wro dri link tha fnrmo~ ~~~.~i~..a onihuav rni ifo nn thA hinh loyal in
Moor Street: the Midlands Rail Hub project would see platform 5 brought back into use,plus a new plafform 6 built on the right hand side here. JOffi~i WHI'PEHOUSE
WEST MIDI.~NDS ~'~C~S
Snow Hill: this low-level tram platform, seen in use last year, is no longer required by Midland Metrosince trams were extended over the city centre streets. The Midlands Rail Hub projectwould see it converted into a new through heavy rail platform 4. J08NWffiTE80USE
at Curzon Street in 2026. The interchangebetween New Street and Moor Streetservices planned as part of the MidlandsRail Hub at King's Norton (where the centralplatforms would be reinstated) could giveuseful access to HS2 from Birmingham'ssouth-west quadrant, as Moor Street is rightnext door to HS2's Curzon Street station.
HS2HS2 will alter the landscape of Birmingham'srailways, both literally and figuratively.Literally, because the Curzon Streetterminus with adjacent Moor Street will be
like a Midlands version of King's Cross/StPancras, with New Street closer than Eustonis down the Euston Road in London. Andfiguratively, because the changing flowsthat will be consequent on the opening ofthe new high speed route will have profoundimplications for historic routes in the area.'Critically, just as the canals, railways andmotorways before it, HS2 will put the WestMidlands at the heart of Britain's 21st centurytransport network' says Toby Rackliff.
I mportantly, HS2 will free up capacityon the congested Coventry to New Streetcorridor. Birmingham has excellent
Services operated into central Birmingham by operator (average weekday)
London Midland 1,197
Virgin West Coast 152
Chiltern Railways 133
Arrives Trains Wales 66
Source: West Midlands Rail
6.8 , .
3.4 .. . .
connections to the capital with today'sVirgin High Frequency three trains perhour London service, but the 20-minutefrequency is operationally problematicon the line through Hampton-in-Arden, asother services on the route operate on ahalf-hour pattern and the two do not mesh.With much of the London traffic
transferring to HS2 when it opens,demand will be such that a return to ahalf-hourly frequency on the historicroute would be justifiable -even ifperhaps a little unpalatable to the cityfathers of Coventry (although plannersargue that driving to BirminghamInterchange on HS2 will be a cinch).This would allow ahalf-hourly pattern
to be the general rule, increasing capacityoverall. With a slight easing of schedule forthe remaining Pendolino services, passengertrain paths per hour could increase from9 to 12 with a further two paths available forfreight via Stechford. The draft Route studyproposes uses for these paths (see diagrambelow), with the Birmingham Internationalto New Street local service doubling infrequency toquarter-hourly and extendedon towards Wolverhampton. This, coupledwith new through services to Walsall, woulddramatically improve links between theBlack Country and Birmingham Airport.Another winner could be the CrossCountry
service running towards Oxford and Reading.Currently, track capacity constraints meanthere is one train per hour on the Kenilworthroute and another on the line via Solihull.The former, which goes via both BirminghamAirport and Coventry, presents the bettertraffic opportunities, so ideally both trainswould run this way, doubling the frequencyof services via this route to Oxford and theThames Valley and restoring direct inter-cityservices from Coventry and BirminghamAirport to Derby, Yorkshire and North EastEngland. The post-HS2 changes could renderthis feasible, but it would also require thecompletion of the Coventry -Leamingtoncapacity scheme (deferred in the HeadyReview) to redouble the line betweenKenilworth and Milverton Junction.Other opportunities consequent on the
opening of HS2 include a fast commuterservice between Birmingham and MiltonKeynes. Currently, Virgin Trains from NewStreet don't stop at MK in the morning peak,so that peak capacity can be maximisedfor the West Coast route as a whole.
Central Adderley Lea Marston Bifmingham Hampmn- Tile ~~9Birmingham Park Stechford Hall Green Imematlonal IirArden Berkswell Hill Canley Coventry Rugby g~~y Northampton
Wolverhampton _ _ . - - -London EustonWohrerhampton ... - - -London Eus[onWolverhampton _ . .WoNerhamp[on _ _ .
Shrewsbury . _ . ... London EustonWolverhampron - - - ~ _ .. Bandon Euston
Walsall _ _ -Walsall _ ..
Newcastle ...Manchester Piccadilly _ _ f
_Reading (or beyond). _ . Bournemouth
Fastservke CrosscountryKenilworth Leamington
Semi-fastservice Freight ~
S[cmping service Extra capacity for local services: post-HS2 path usage on the New Streetto Birmingham International corridor proposed in the Draft Route Study.
~~ / I Mni]FRN RAii:WAYS DPc'PmhPr ~(11h ~nnnnn~ mnrinrn-r~ihnuvc ~nm
WMCA is closely studying HS2 as itdevelops, with reference to impacts on theWest Midlands. There was dismay when thelink to HS1 was axed, as it was thought thatthe Birmingham -Paris route could supportthree through trains a day (IeaVing aside thesynergies that.might develop through, forexample, a Kent to Old Oak Common service).'There is now not even passive provision for anHS1-HS2 link in the future' sighs Mr Rackliff.The implications of Birmingham's HS2
services to Leeds potentially running
In the past decade the West Midlands has had lessinfluence over its local railways than it did in BritishRail days, when the old Section 20 agreementswere in force.'The London Midland franchise ismonitored by someone in Great Minster House inWestminster. how does he know what this regionwants and needs?'asks West Midlands Rail's ActinqProgramme Director Malcolm Holmes.This is about to be remedied. West Midlands
Rail (WMR) is a partnership of local authorities,including the West Midlands Combined Authorityand neighbouring shire and unitary districts, thatwill play a role in overseeing the new franchise dueto start in October 2017. WMR has collaboratedwith the Department forTransport over the
0o - a 8
~ ~ ~ < B m
Langley Green Smethwick
r~~s aorc~scad wii
~re seiryoatStou~riclgeTam StourlxidgeJn ~mville
Hagky IGrgs Norton
Droitvdch Spa A~Bromsgrove
7R~SfERFOREGHTE5IREET Worcerter5hrub HillMalvern link
LedbuiY Malvern -
,~.,~.~.,~, r..-I.,r.,_~-, 11...-,..r ~nm
via the Sheffield city centre stationrather than Meadowhall could also besubstantial: 'This could add half an hourto a Birmingham to Leeds journey'.However, whilst questioning some of
the details, the West Midlands region isfully behind HS2 as a concept, believingthat the potential benefits are oftenunderestimated by the general public.'It'll be half an hour from Birmingham
Interchange station to the Crossrailinterchange at Old Oak Common' observes
specfication for the franchise and helped writethe Invitation toTender. Requirements includeextension of wi-fi to all trains (except those on theStourbridge branch, which at 13km in length and ajourneytime ofthree minutes, doesn't leave muchtime to loq on!), plus greater use of smart ticketing.The new operator will be required to set up two
separable business units within a year, allowingthe possibility ofthe West Midlands local networkbeing hived off in the future. WMR will lead thefranchise managementforthe services in the localbusiness unit and these services will be branded inWMR colours.The parallels with London Overground are clear.
The evidence from London and elsewhere is that
Toby Rackliff.'That means BirminghamAirport will be in London Zone 4,timewise: Eat your heart out, Heathrow.All this is, of course, some way off.
For the present, the West Midlands isconcentrating on the potential of theforthcoming franchise starting nextOctober. This will expire in March 2026,ready for the next operator to takefull advantage of the implications ofthe arrival of HS2 at Curzon Streetin December of that year. m
where services are devolved, they work very well forpassengers and the local economy'says Mr Holmes.While the oversight ofthe local networkwiil be a
central concern, WMR will also have a relationshipwith other operators.'We want to set up an alliancewith train operators and Network Rail that wouldhave an overview of all the services in the region.For example, we might want earlier services toBirmingham International for early morning flights:at the moment the timetable planners are the onlypeoplefrom all theTOCs and Network Rail thatwould come together and look at this, but theydon't have any responsibilityfortaking a widerviewofwhereyou can getto and from in the region inthe early morning:
AAFFORD~ West Midlards5epnrable Business Und
WestCwrtSeparable Business Unit
o wMsau sr~o wcsausunw~
RugeleyTrentValleyO Other Station
RugeleyTown~~~~~~ Lichfield Trent Valley
~~r9O0d fiddxld GryBbawidi Noah Shenstone
Bbxwich Blake Street
WNSAII Iutlers Lane~~~~
BescotStadium ~tt~~~~ TamwoNi
Tame Bridge Pky WyldeGmenHamstead ~~erRoad ~~~Wilnecote0
Perty Bartr _ Erdington A~~~3 ~ Wrtton G2velly Hill
Cdeshill Pkyd' Aston O
SNOW HILL Duddes[on WaterOrton
NEWS1AEEf AdderleyPark Bermuda Park
Stech(ordBIRMING ~~~ Lea Hall
F~W~M~~~ Small Heath Marston Green
,rsm, Tyseky BIRMINGHAM'Acaks Green irrrersNanonn~
CrnemryArena5~~~ Ohon 'Q, Hamprorri-A COVEMRY Ru
9~HaIlGreen Solihull ~0~9~~Y
Yardley Woad WdneyMarwr — ~ ~'
Shirley ~0"d9e ~ ~ 3 ~~~~Whitlodcs End ~yP~h KeniM~orth
WythallEadswood Hatton -~The takes Leamington Spa ~ _ ~ ~ ~ ~Wood End Oaverdon Warvrick
ParkwayWaiwidc ~ § .R ' „ ~ ~ ~ ..
lurch Henley-irrArclen Bearley
T ~ E ~ ~, g r&
LL ~ ~ a ~ ~ E ~ mW°°tt°" Wa'"m Ble[chley
~~rt~ Wlmcore Leighton BuaardStratfordvpon-Avon Parkway Cheddington
TmgS7RgTFORUUPON-AVON ~y~Ey a~ ~
3E 5 ffi 3 ~ B
IGngs laigley 3 ~ ~ ~ q ¢
r~.,.-1,mhor'Jnic nir~r~i+fl*rn~erre:mvc "l.~