12:08 - Redux

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Devvy, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. QTXAdsy That Fifer

    Sep 25, 2017
    The Kingdom of Fife
    I thought it closed same as OTL. That all being said, Wales should get a good north/south route here one way or the other.
  2. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Carmarthen-Aberystwyth closed at the northern end due to the weather: (from OTL Wiki)

    "The line closed in two stages – the northern section closed prematurely in December 1964 when a section of the line one mile east of Llanilar was damaged by floods from the adjacent River Ystwyth."

    The route south of that stayed open for a while for dairy reasons, but sadly I just can't see the route being worth the investment to rehabilitate it at the time; there are alternative routes available, it's not got political backing, and it's not going to be carrying much passengers compared to it's long track mileage (and therefore maintenance costs).

    There is a better north/south Welsh route here still operating: Cardiff-Swansea-Llandovery-Builth Wells (transition via chord)-Newtown-Welshpool-Oswestry-Wrexham-Chester (and potentially on to Birkenhead or Holyhead). Also means South Wales to Aberystwyth is doable with a change at Newtown still, so a bit better then OTL regardless.
    Ogrebear likes this.
  3. Along the bay Active Member

    Jul 15, 2019
    Understood thank you for your response.
  4. Ogrebear Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2012
    Nice update there @Devvy

    No rail link to Swansea Airport?

    Nice that Mumbles got its service back.

    Remind me please- is Intercity not the same as Pullman services ITTL?
  5. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Cheers! :)

    Swansea Airport is so small, there's no point in investing in a rail link to it. Larger airports at Cardiff and Bristol are going to outweigh Swansea significantly.

    Pullman is a sub-brand of Intercity.

    So all "classic" Intercity services are branded as Intercity, and operated by Intercity. However, "Intercity" services operate over the legacy network, and have delays, cancellations, last minute platform changes, etc etc.

    All Pullman services are marketed either as "Pullman", or "Intercity Pullman", but they are a part of Intercity and operated by them. The Pullman trains, operating on a closed network, operate services which are fast, punctual and reliable, hence the sub-brand to differentiate the service in marketing and branding, and allow passengers to make a clear choice to take a Pullman train (or not).
    JN1, Ogrebear and Dan1988 like this.
  6. Threadmarks: 1997-Manifesto

    Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    1997 - The Labour Manifesto for Government [excerpts] (*1)

    The process of rail privatisation was refused by the British Parliament, but the Conservatives have pursued stealth privatisation nonetheless. It has made fortunes for a few, but has been a poor deal for the taxpayer, and has fragmented the network. Their economic recklessness with British Rail has limited investment and resulted in areas of our network becoming rundown, unreliable and unsafe. Our task will be to improve the situation as we find it, not as we wish it to be. Our overriding goal must be to win more passengers and freight on to rail. The system must be run in the public interest with higher levels of investment and be a truly "British Rail" which serves all of Britain - not just a few cities (*2). There must be convenient connections, through-ticketing and accurate travel information for the benefit of all passengers.

    To achieve these aims, we will establish an effective and accountable financial programme for British Rail, ensuring that the public subsidy serves the public interest. We will reform British Rail to devolve more, and truly serve local communities across the country, whilst establishing national standards and programmes nationwide to provide a clear, coherent and strategic programme for the development of the railways so that passenger expectations are met.

    The Conservative plan for the wholesale privatisation of London Underground is not the answer, much as it was not the answer for British Rail. It would be a poor deal for the taxpayer and passenger alike. Yet again, public assets would be sold off at an under-valued rate. Much-needed investment would be delayed. The core public responsibilities of the Underground would be threatened.

    Road transport
    We remain unpersuaded by the case for heavier, 44-tonne lorries mooted by the Conservatives. Our concern is that they would prove dangerous and damaging to the environment, and the case for them is weakened if British Rail can be reformed to offer better freight solutions.

    Life in our countryside
    Labour recognises the special needs of people who live and work in rural areas. The Conservatives do not. Public services and transport services in rural areas must not be allowed to deteriorate (*3). The Conservatives have tried to privatise the Post Office. We opposed that, in favour of a public Post Office providing a comprehensive service. Conservative plans would mean higher charges for letters and put rural post offices under threat.

    We favour a moratorium on large-scale sales of Forestry Commission land. We recognise that the countryside is a great natural asset, a part of our heritage which calls for careful stewardship. This must be balanced, however, with the needs of people who live and work in rural areas.

    Our initiatives to link all schools to the information superhighway will ensure that children in rural areas have access to the best educational resources. (*4)

    A Labour government will take the lead in extending opportunities for participation in sports; and in identifying sporting excellence and supporting it. We will bring the government's policy of forcing schools to sell off playing fields to an end. We will provide full backing to the bid to host the 2006 football World Cup in England (*5). A Labour government will also work to bring the Olympics and other major international sporting events to Britain.

    Devolution: strengthening the Union (*6)
    The United Kingdom is a partnership enriched by distinct national identities and traditions. Scotland has its own systems of education, law and local government. Wales has its language and cultural traditions. We will meet the demand for decentralisation of power to Scotland and Wales, once established in referendums.

    As soon as possible after the election, we will enact legislation to allow the people of Scotland and Wales to vote in separate referendums on our proposals, which will be set out in white papers. These referendums will take place not later than the autumn of 1997. A simple majority of those voting in each referendum will be the majority required. Popular endorsement will strengthen the legitimacy of our proposals and speed their passage through Parliament.

    For Scotland we propose the creation of a parliament with law-making powers, firmly based on the agreement reached in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, including defined and limited financial powers to vary revenue and elected by a proportional electoral system. In the Scottish referendum we will seek separate endorsement of the proposal to create a parliament, and of the proposal to give it defined and limited financial powers to vary revenue. The Scottish parliament will extend democratic control over the responsibilities currently exercised administratively by the Scottish Office. The responsibilities of the UK Parliament will remain unchanged over UK policy, for example economic, defence and foreign policy.

    The Welsh assembly will provide democratic control of the existing Welsh Office functions. It will have secondary legislative powers and will be specifically empowered to reform and democratise the quango state. It will be elected by an proportional electoral system.

    Following majorities in the referendums, we will introduce in the first year of the Parliament legislation on the substantive devolution proposals outlined in our white papers.

    Good local government
    London (*7)
    London is the only Western capital without an elected city government. Following a referendum to confirm popular demand, there will be a new deal for London, with a strategic authority and a mayor. Both will speak up for the needs of the city and plan its future. They will not duplicate the work of the boroughs, but take responsibility for London-wide issues - economic regeneration, planning, policing, transport and environmental protection. London-wide responsibility for its own government is urgently required. We will make it happen.

    The regions of England (*8)
    The Conservatives have created a tier of regional government in England through quangos and government regional offices. Meanwhile local authorities have come together to create a more co-ordinated regional voice. Labour will build on these developments through the establishment of regional chambers to co-ordinate transport, planning, economic development, bids for European funding and land use planning.

    Demand for directly elected regional government so varies across England that it would be wrong to impose a uniform system. In time we will introduce legislation to allow the people, region by region, to decide in a referendum whether they want directly elected regional government. Only where clear popular consent is established will arrangements be made for elected regional assemblies. This would require a predominantly unitary system of local government, as presently exists in Scotland and Wales, and confirmation by independent auditors that no additional public expenditure overall would be involved. Our plans will not mean adding a new tier of government to the existing English system.

    Much as I usually try to stay out of politics, this is directly relevant after 18 years of Conservative rule, which, like OTL, has been "gently" pro-car. Although we should note that even in OTL, Thatcher authorised the East Coast Main Line electrification and accompanying trains, as well as the Channel Tunnel and early days of Eurostar.

    (*1) This is basically the OTL manifesto, but suitably "refined" for taking place in this TL.
    (*2) No prizes for guessing what this refers to....
    (*3) Inferring no cuts to rural rail services.
    (*4) Meaning more railway lines; particularly closed railway lines still owned by British Rail to be used to lay new telecommunications cables.
    (*5) I think we all know how that turned out. It's destiny in any TL that England must never host a World Cup (football) after 1966.....
    (*6) So Welsh and Scottish devolution is coming in.
    (*7) And hello to the London Assembly.
    (*8) And lastly hopefully some form of regional devolution within England, as previously hinted in chapters past. I still think this will only pass in certain areas, and effectively replace the county council level with a regional authority level, retaining the two levels of local government in England, but with more powers at the regional level.
    Julius Vogel, MonsooN, JN1 and 4 others like this.
  7. Along the bay Active Member

    Jul 15, 2019
    Will scotrail be devolved to Holyrood as in OTL ? Also in your last update you mentioned transport for wales are they a similar entity to OTL or do regional remain wales main rail operator?
  8. Ogrebear Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2012
    Interesting manifesto ideas there. Nothing about Northern Ireland government though?

    I wonder if the new GLC would operate London inside the M25 like its own County regardless of the old boundaries?

    Perhaps this manifesto would help prevent the SNP rising over Labour in Scotland?

    I suspect this is the manifesto favoured with BR management.
  9. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    There's definitely scope to devolve Scotrail to Holyrood; I don't things will turn out exactly the same as before, but it's definitely something which is likely in some form. We've discussed in the Transpennine chapter how Regional has been split in to a "north" (which becomes Transpennine) and "south" (continuing Regional Railways) areas; I think TfW will be a further separation from those; predominately the south Wales area.

    I've just cut out the relevant parts; I've actually changed very little from the OTL manifesto, all the main changes are in the first chapter as obviously BR hasn't been privatised, although some smaller areas have been (Northern, C2C, et al). The rest there is almost a copy/paste job, with just a few tweaks. I've only reprinted it, as the 1997 manifesto contains some significant things for BR - the first elements of significant Pullman extension (rather then Tory tinkering around the edges, although Leeds is a bit more significant Tory authorised work), and constitutional devolution which will have consequences for BR down the line (pun fully intended...). It probably works well for BR, but then Labour has usually favoured higher-then-Tory taxes and spending, so any Labour government is likely by definition to be more agreeable to BR.

    Northern Ireland isn't mentioned partly because it doesn't really have any effect on British Rail, but also the GFA was only agreed in 1999. I've been pondering a little look across the waters at NIR/Belfast maybe circa 2010.

    For the new GLC, as before, I'd rather stick to pretty much an OTL set of political history. There are heartfelt opinions opposing some local areas being amalgamated in to "London", no matter how logical it might seem on paper, and tbh I'd rather stick to talking about trains! :)

    And finally, SNP/Labour probably won't have any difference; it's basically OTL. The only thing which could change things is a different electoral system, but I'd rather not go there or we'll get bogged down in politics and elections rather then what we're probably all here to read about! There might be the odd side mention of other stuff, but I'll try and keep it to just that.
    Michael Canaris and Ogrebear like this.
  10. Lucas Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2014
    I as interesting in see what ITTL 2019 would be motive power used on british rails. What would be the types of EMUs used on another metro routes as well mainline EMUs and High Speed Trains as the Pullman Service. Would be the OTL Hitachi Super Express being built or the Stadler and CAF trains as Class 68.

    By them way. Very nice timeline. Up until time would you be make them? 2020?
  11. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    All good questions we'll get to in time, I'm not going to pretend I have all the answers for you here and now! :)

    I'm envisaging continuing to the current day, and then signing off; which by the time I get there realistically means 2020!
    MonsooN, Dan1988, Lucas and 1 other person like this.
  12. Threadmarks: 1997-Merseyrail

    Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    1997 - Merseyrail

    The maze of railways around Birkenhead in pre-British Rail days

    The programme of route closures in the 1960s, known as the Beeching Reforms, caused a great deal of concern in Liverpool, and the wider Merseyside area. It was a city well served by rail, as befitting a major port in Great Britain, with railway connections in every direction; the main problem was that many of these were completely unconnected from one another and therefore was not particularly efficient. The 1970s saw further declines in rail usage, and some stations - and Liverpool Central in particular - became very rundown, and was proposed for closure. Liverpool Riverside terminal station at the Pier Head was an early casualty, and closed in the early 1970s. However, it was rather uncontroversial: the demise of the trans-Atlantic liner trade forced its closure, with it's last acts being the transport of troops to docks for transfer to Northern Ireland (*1).

    Come the 1980s, Pullman services were introduced to the city. Despite Lime Street being the predominate, and busiest, station, it was difficult to isolate a route in to Lime Street - and many passengers along the Lime Street routes could catch a train in the opposite direction and transfer to Pullman at Manchester instead. This opened up the study to several more stations in Liverpool. Eventually Liverpool Exchange was decided upon (*2); a long station, with capacity for long straight platforms, underused at the time, with a location right in the city centre. 4 platforms were isolated for Pullman services, and removed from standard usage. As rail usage began to rise in the later 1980s and 1990s, the station became busier and busier; the lack of onwards connections made it increasingly difficult to access the station, and roads became gridlocked at time around the station. Against this backdrop was the Merseyside Area Local Transport Action Review (MALTAR) in the late 1980s; a study in to a prospective local transport network, noting that Liverpool lagged far behind Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham, let alone London. The MALTAR report recommended that the suburban and outer-suburban commuter rail services into both Exchange and Central High-level stations be rerouted via new tunnels under Liverpool, and linked together, connecting in to the mooted Liverpool central regeneration project. Liverpool City Council wholeheartedly backed the report, and envisaged a "Merseyside Rapid Transit" network, or "Merseyrail" as it would become known. Importantly for the business case, this proposal would also release station capacity at Exchange station for an increase in Pullman services, and provide a step change in accessibility for the station (*3).

    The Merseyside Strategic Plan in 1990 envisaged that further phases would allow the Edge Hill Spur to the east of the city to be connected to the central underground sections, and the lines to St. Helens, Wigan and Warrington would be electrified and all integrated into Merseyrail by 2000 (*4). A tight grip on finances kept the project tightly defined; the Exchange-Central link would only require one underground station to be built from scratch and a short connecting tunnel, whilst the Wirral Line would be connected via Exchange to the older Victoria Tunnel to connect eastwards. The only major new underground station would be at Exchange station, which would serve as the connecting point between both routes (*5). Electrical systems would utilise and standardise the existing stretches of third rail DC (*6) electrification, which also would reduce the size of tunnel required to only a 5 metre diameter whilst still allowing larger trains to operate.

    The Loop and Link Project
    The major engineering works required to integrate the Northern and Wirral lines became known as the 'Wirral' and 'Link' Project. The 'Wirral' was the connecting of routes from Birkenhead via the Wirral Line tunnel and the 'Link' was the Northern Line tunnel, both under Liverpool's city centre. The main works were undertaken between 1992 and 1997. A further project, known as the Edge Hill Spur, would have integrated further lines into the city centre underground network (*7). This would have meshed the eastern section of the city into the core underground electric city centre section of the network, releasing platforms at mainline Lime Street station for mid to long haul routes.

    Merseyrail trains trundle across the docks on a viaduct.

    Split from British Rail
    As the Merseyrail service started, in 1997, the system was run as a separate logical network; to passengers it was a different network, in the same mold as any of the other major cities, although the network, trains and signalling were all operated and maintained by British Rail. In 2008, after 10 years, Merseyside authorities came to an agreement with British Rail to purchase the network outright; a 5-year transition period began, whereby Abellio (a British Rail subsidiary for contract operations (*8) ) began operating & maintaining the network whilst the network was detached in it's entirety from British Rail. Merseyrail maintenance is still conducted by Abellio and BR Infrastructure under contract, but operation of the network is now done by a consortium of FirstGroup and Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation (*9).

    The Wirral Line
    The Wirral Line brings together several rail routes via Birkenhead; those from New Brighton, West Kirkby, Neston (*10) and Ellesmere Port. The original Mersey Railway tunnel under the River Mersey allows trains to serve in to Liverpool, whilst also providing interchange with Birkenhead Woodside station (*11). The eastern end of the Mersey Railway tunnel used to connect to the low level platforms at Central station, via James Street, but this was to be discontinued. A new tunnel, diverging from the eastern end of James Street station, would curve northwards, in to the new underground station roughly under the Hackins Hey road. The new station offered "each-end" access, with the northern end linking directly in to Exchange station, and the southern end on to Dale Street near the edge of the "Liverpool One" city centre regeneration project. The Wirral Line could then bend eastwards again, and link in to the Waterloo/Victoria Tunnel where it can then run eastwards. Destinations to the east include Broad Green - plans to run further east were obstructed by the M62 construction which provided a double track obstacle (which would remain in use as British Rail tracks) - and to Liverpool Airport.

    Wirral Services:
    New Brighton - Liverpool Airport (4tph)
    West Kirby - Liverpool Airport (4tph)
    Neston - Broad Green (4tph)
    Ellesmere Port - Broad Green (4tph)

    The Northern Line
    The Northern Line is a double-track route which links the Widnes branch to the south (*12) with the Southport branch to the north, and also the Outer Loop Line to the east (*13), thereby creating one single unified route, the Northern Line. It provides direct access from the north and south of Liverpool to the shopping and business districts in the city centre via two underground stations, Liverpool Exchange and Liverpool Central, of which Exchange station also provides interchange with the Wirral Line (and Pullman services). The Northern Line effectively creates a north-south crossrail enabling passengers to travel from the south to the north of the city, and vice versa, via Liverpool city centre. The present Northern Line underground station at Liverpool Central Low Level was originally the Mersey Railway terminus, but was re-engineered to provide the north-south platforms and releasing the ground space where Central station "ground-level" station sat; the sale of land above the station provided a needed cash boost to the project. A section of the original 1880s tunnel between James Street and Central stations still exists as a stock interchange line, to allow trains to transfer between the two network lines, but is not used in regular service.

    Northern Services:
    Southport - Loop - Widnes (6tph, 8tph-peak) (creating 12tph, 16tph-peak through the core)

    Talks are underway between the Merseyside regional authorities and Welsh Assembly over the extension of the route at Neston, reopening the closed route from the 1970s (*14). This would see the Wrexham-Connah's Quay line, which currently links Wrexham to the North Wales Coastal Line, converted to an extended Merseyrail service, with Merseyrail trains running as far south as King's Mills in Wrexham where the line terminates. British Rail services would either then be diverted to Chester and Birkenhead, or a new chord built to the west of Chester to allow the current service pattern to remain. The other long term desire is to extend the Wirral Line (Green Branch) eastwards to meet the Outer Loop, and potentially on to St Helens. Discussions over the future of the British Rail "legacy" services at Exchange station which operate to Preston and beyond are ongoing; Merseyrail would quite like to add the line to their network, British Rail would like to hold on to it, and Northern (private rail operator) (*15) would like to take it over to extend their routes from Yorkshire and Preston to Liverpool.

    Newer trains are planned for Merseyrail.

    Services on the electrified Merseyrail network are operated exclusively by Class 508 electric multiple unit trains (EMUs). These replaced pre-war Class 502 (originally constructed by the LMS) and almost identical Class 503 EMUs. As the third rail system slowly shrinks in south eastern England, further Class 508 trains are being redeployed in the Merseyside region, allowing for an increase in peak-time services and allowing pro-active maintenance of trains during the middle of day. The fleet was refurbished between 2008 and 2010 as units began redeployment north, involving trainsets receiving new longitudinal seating (which despite increasing capacity proved unpopular with passengers), interior panel replacement, new lighting, the installation of a Passenger Information System and a new external livery. Further enhancements saw newer traction equipment installed, increasing energy efficiency and providing a smoother journey for passengers.

    New trains are to be built (*16), with the tender recently awarded to a European firm. New trains will be 4-coach units (instead of 3-coach), bringing a 1/3 increase in capacity straight away, and being deployed to start with on the Wirral Lines due to overcrowding, particularly on the route to Ellesmere Port. These will feature new and more comfortable seating returning to 2x2 transverse seats, in-train Firewire connections (*17), better passenger information systems, better regenerative braking systems and faster accelerating traction motor systems.

    Merseyrail Map

    (*1) As per OTL
    (*2) As per previous chapters introducing Pullman services to Exchange station. Pullman has to be isolated, as it uses 25kv AC electrical systems, rather than the BR standard of 1.5kV DC electrical systems (for better or for worse!).
    (*3) In OTL, this happened decades earlier, prompted by the OTL Beeching Axe. In this TL, Beeching Reforms have left more rail routes in place, so things pottered on as they are.
    (*4) Although this has never happened in this TL. Slashed budgets with the 1990s economic "dip".
    (*5) Envisaging a deep trench, with one line and island platform serving both tracks below the other line with island platform serving both tracks. Therefore interchange is easy, minimal land usage.
    (*6) Third rail DC electrification predates British Rail in the area, and there's no point in changing the infrastructure for what will be a closed network.
    (*7) Ideas linking to (*4) which never made it; largely the M62 at Broad Green restricts the original quadruple track alignment to double track, so no room for Merseyrail tracks and British Rail tracks. The Merseyrail Broad Green station is just to the west of the M62/A5080 overbridge.
    (*8) As previously mentioned "Abellio" is the BR sector business which handles contract operations.
    (*9) Symbolic of creeping privatisation in certain areas of the rail industry. Also, BR being an enormous national publicly owned business can't do some work in a manner which is economic and agile enough for small networks like Merseyrail, so other operators climbing in. Similar to London Overground (who operate mostly on National Rail tracks, for local government, as a private rail operator).
    (*10) Part takeover of the OTL Borderlands Line. Merseyrail now runs south as far as Neston. From the south, the *Borderlands Line from Wrexham currently gets to Connah's Quay and bends west to join the North Wales Coast Line.
    (*11) Birkenhead Woodside still operating
    (*12) Using the "Widnes Loop", as you can see in the old maps at the top. British Rail does not run via the OTL Widnes Station line. British Rail here runs via Liverpool South, then along the coastal line towards Warrington Bank Quay as far as Widnes, calling at Widnes station, and using the east half of the Widnes Loop to return on to the OTL British Rail tracks. Widnes-Warrington Bank Quay is only freight (coal for the power station), and Warrington Bank Quay eastwards is closed, due to expensive bridge maintenance.
    (*13) Using the full loop line, and rather then being a circular route, services from Southport run south, loop around, and then run on to Widnes, therefore doubling the service in the central core area, and avoiding a circle line (as circular routes are difficult to sort delays on during the day).
    (*14) Slightly different twist to OTL.
    (*15) As mentioned during the "Northern" chapter.
    (*16) Looks pretty similar to OTL right!?
    (*17) As mentioned before a couple of times, Firewire is this TL version of USB and offers network/internet and power on the single cable.
  13. Ogrebear Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2012
    Nice update @Devvy

    What stations are the Ireland Ferry ports covered by please?
    Is there road-rail services to Ireland?

    Opening up some of the North Wales routes should help boost investment and stuff.
  14. El Pip Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    The purchasing negotiations must have been fun. British Rail trying to somehow get paid for the 'assets' when all conventional accounting says they should be paying the Merseyside authorities for taking such a loss making mess off their hands.

    Seems sad that all of the changes in this timeline can't stop politicians from putting in train orders with foreign firms. Its like they've learned nothing at all. :teary:
    Ogrebear likes this.
  15. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Similarly to OTL, most Irish crossings will hook in to Holyhead and Liverpool/Birkenhead here. But there are increased opportunities for onwards shipment to be by rail here; the Channel Tunnel and WEG permits means intermodal containers can be unloaded from the ship and dumped on to rail wagons and conveyed directly to Europe. Also means a more stable future for the North Wales Coast Line if they can attract enough freight.

    Sad, but I just can't see local bosses/politicians, as soon as manufacturing is privatised, not looking overseas for cheaper products. I think some will continue; I could perhaps see a Brush/Metro-Camell merger to be the remaining major "actual British" manufacturer...at least in the 1990s.

    As you say, I'm sure Merseyside/BR negotations were pleasant. "How much will you pay us for these assets?" "What assets, the only way you operate these services is via our subsidy, otherwise you'd be losing money on them!"

    I'll admit I have no idea how that would end up in detail, except it "would happen"; I wonder whether Railtrack were paid for the West Croydon-Wimbledon branch when it was converted to Tramlink? Having said that, BR has long realised that it's in it's own financial interests to focus on mid to long range travel rather then urban operations outside London.
  16. Threadmarks: 1997-HS-North

    Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    1997 - Pullman: Northern Strategy, Summary of Options.

    The Pullman trains had come a long way since their early concepts.

    Given the 1997 election of Labour, strong majority it had in Parliament, and commitment to making sure "British Rail serves Britain" (*1), it seemed obvious that there would be conversations shortly about the extension of Pullman services further north then Leeds. The commercial successes of the TGV in France were obvious, as was the less-successful financially Eurostar (*2) operation from London to Paris and Brussels.

    Since Intercity Pullman operations had begun, huge number of passengers had switched to using the services. Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds had been the initial targets; Manchester and Leeds have gained significant economic benefits from it, although Liverpool with it's position right at the end of the line, had less significant time savings offered. Nottingham had, unforeseen, seen a rise in residency for London commuters (*3), being just under an hour from central London, aided by cheaper property prices. Sheffield, and the other smaller Yorkshire towns directly served, saw less impact for various reasons, but still saw economic advantages over those not directly served, of which Birmingham was the prime example (although served by high speed commuter trains indirectly). With the economy continuing to improve since the early 1990s, not least with the rapid growth of low cost airlines, but generally that demand for travel between the UK's largest cities would be expected to continue to increase significantly.

    Since Pullman operations arrived in Yorkshire, there have been several studies in to the benefits (or lack of as some studies backed by third parties advocated) of extending the route north. Thus far, all proposals have not been implemented, for a variety of reasons, although many involve government financing and government policy (*4). The fast, comfortable and punctual trains have interested local layers of government further north repeatedly, and especially influential Scottish politicians (*5) have lamented that Pullman does not serve Scotland, to "detriment of the Union". Within internal benefits, operation further north of Pullman services would take over West Coast and East Coast route expresses to some combination of Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, allowing the release of existing rolling stock to be either cascaded down to other routes, or scrapped. The Class 55 locomotives, operating from London to Newcastle and Edinburgh are now approaching almost 40 years of operation; their long lasting service is a testament to both their build and design quality, but also careful maintenance by British Rail. They can not, however, operate forever, and new locomotives at the very least will soon be required (*6).

    A Class 55 hauled express runs over the viaduct at Berwick.

    Rail capacity is, at almost all sections of the route, limited to roughly 12 trains per hour. This is currently divided between Intercity (who use 4 paths for Pullman, and 3 for Intercity operations to Birmingham), and Network South East (who use 3 paths for London outer-commuter services from Northampton). Full trains, particularly from the North-West route, have led to calls for additional services from Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield to London. This, and the additional demand for services from London to "further-north" will lead to congestion on the route, and risks compromising the very factors which have made Pullman a success - speed, punctuality and reliability. It seems implicit therefore, that any extension north will have to be conducted hand in hand with a resignalling of the route to add extra capacity. Examples from France indicate that up to 15 high speed trains per hour should be technically possible by improving the existing British Rail Balise Based Signalling, and reducing the signal block lengths from 1km to 0.5km.

    Any increases in capacity and train service in to London, must equally be matched by investment in Pullman services in London. Currently, the Pullman route terminates at 4 platforms within Euston station (*7), as well as using former West Coast Route "fast" tracks south of Tring to access Euston. This places an undue weight on the WCML; it has to only operate with 2 tracks as far north as Tring, and with reduced station capacity at Euston, which was the driving force behind Network South East switching Northampton & Milton Keynes commuter services to run via the Pullman route (*8).

    Railfreight by Freightliner on the West Coast Main Line.

    Supplemental to the limted rail capacity on the Pullman Route, any extension north would release capacity on the legacy British Rail routes. Growing demand for railfreight, particularly in the conveyance of intermodal containers (*9), is pressing on capacity, especially on the West Coast Main Line which is electrified and therefore cheaper for the transport of freight. The removal of Anglo-Scottish (WCML services to Glasgow) would therefore release track capacity for improved short distance passenger operations and railfreight, especially as express services require more headway due to their speeds.

    Working on the economic benefits laid out in prior studies, there is a clear business care for 2 tightly linked projects; extending the Pullman route north, and re-engineering the Pullman route in to London.

    Pullman to the North

    The three main options for extending Pullman north.

    Option A (*10) ) Add extra Pullman services to Leeds, to access Leeds from the east, and then continue north-westerly to serve Carlisle, Edinbugh and Glasgow. This is the fastest Anglo-Scottish route on paper; it is almost a straight line to the Central Belt, but this belies the complexity of terrain. Significant challenges would be found for a new link, let alone environmental challenges through the Yorkshire Dales, or utilising the existing Settle-Carlisle Line would reduce operating speeds. It also means Newcastle, and the wider north-east, are not served.

    Option B (*11) ) Add extra Pullman services to Manchester, which then continue north to Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. This would allow Manchester to benefit from additional Pullman services, and would take over much of the existing West Coast Main Line north of Preston, with some bypasses in place, particularly around Lancaster, and a large amount of track quadrupling to allow legacy services to continue operating. This option is cheapest, due to the considerable amount of existing infrastructure used, and also does not serve Newcastle or the north-east.

    Option C (*12) ) Add a new set of Pullman services, operating to south of Leeds, whereby branch off and head north, utilising parts of the East Coast Main Line where appropriate. This would allow Pullman trains to serve Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow simultaneously, but would require extensive works at each of the cities to allow Pullman segregation.

    Pullman across London

    Three sample options for extending Pullman across London.

    There are several different options for how to extend Pullman services across London, but all rely on a different set of key considerations, and all allow Pullman services from the north to operate across London and on to Europe (customs, security & immigration concerns notwithstanding). It would also allow Eurostar services to operate north of London, subject to the same concerns.

    Point A (*13) ) Central London station ("London Grand Central" as some have termed it); should it be at Euston or St Pancras. Building at Euston station would involve considerable disruption at an operation station, and with the associated cost increases. Building at St Pancras station itself would require an extensive overhaul of an old station. However, adjacent to St Pancras station lies the older goods yards, still in British Rail possession. Using this site would allow the reuse of central London property, links in to the existing London Kings Cross & St Pancras British Rail and London Underground connections, and without impact on existing rail operations.

    Point B (*14) ) East London access (as suggested by Arup) or South London access (as historically favoured by British Rail). The existing route in to London from Europe, via Bromley, would continue operations for new high speed commuter services from Kent, but Pullman/Eurostar operations would branch off further south. The extended viaducts of the South Bank mean it would be expensive to rise from a tunnel and join the existing line closer to the centre, and Beckenham would be the closest to London tunnel exit point. East London access would involved the route running under eastern London, with a new station at Stratford, before diving under the Thames and rejoining the existing Eurostar route near Gravesend.

    Point C (*15) ) London access from the north. Currently, all Pullman services use the previously West Coast Route "fast" tracks to access Euston station, with the corresponding reduction of capacity on the WCML legacy network. One suggestion has been to use the redundant tracks which previously accessed London Marylebone station on the now Beck Line Corridor to run from West Hampstead to Wembley, before diving in to a tunnel again as far as Tring.

    Point D (*16) ) Cross London commuter services. High speed commuter services from Birmingham and Northampton have already started operating in to Euston station. A closely linked question would be whether to extend such commuter services "cross-city" as well, improving access for all to the Pullman central station, whilst also allowing new high speed journeys to be possible and the corresponding higher utilisation of rolling stock and reduction int he amount required to run a service.

    (*1) As mentioned in the Labour Manifesto chapter
    (*2) Eurostar lower passengers then expected, but basically running 2 trains per hour to Paris and Brussels of standard length (200m) stock. OTL, Channel Tunnel safety rules means a train has to be 400m long; here the earlier state-funded construction of it has led to a different safety rules.
    (*3) The less then 1 hour travel time to central London via Pullman, with a service every 15 minutes, I think would lead to Nottingham attracting a reasonable amount of London commuters given it's location, "it's not the north!" location (!), and ease of commuting.
    (*4) Sounds familiar in any TL involving Government.
    (*5) SNP in pre-devolution days.
    (*6) The Class 55 locomotives are obviously old but have worked well for ECML Anglo-Scottish expresses. There will need to be a rolling stock refresh on the ECML (and WCML soon) whatever happens, so might as well make it Pullman!
    (*7) Pullman using the 4 western platforms; 2 for Pullman services (1 each for Liverpool and Leeds services, meaning a service must leave within approx 20-25 minutes after arriving to avoid blocking the station), and 2 for NSE/Intercity high speed commuter services (train must leave within 10-15 minutes of arriving, which is "challenging" and requires careful and well choreographed management).
    (*8) Longer distance services which stop infrequently obviously don't mix well with slower stopping services.
    (*9) We've mentioned this before briefly, and there is another freight chapter coming up; but in brief, intermodal container freight transport is on the rapid rise due to globalisation, similar to OTL. Particularly on the WCML, as it's electrified, and thereby cheaper to operate freight trains on.
    And more likely detail for those interested:
    (*10) Pullman via Leeds to Scotland. This would see a line through the Yorkshire Dales; I really can't see a new line being authorised through here for environmental reasons, and electrification of the line not being particularly welcome either. The Ribblehead Viaduct would also need substantial work to bring it up to spec. The Settle-Carlisle Line would likely have a max speed of approx 80-90mph if modernised, with standard trains.
    (*11) Pullman via Manchester to Scotland. Obviously adds extra services for Manchester and Sheffield but rather indirect. Would probably be able to take over portions of the WCML to reduce cost, but it's still going to be wiggly to avoid the national parks and the general unfavourable terrain. Also "less than direct", which will affect London to Scotland travel times. Some WCML traffic probably offloaded to Settle-Carlisle line as bypass route.
    (*12) Pullman via Newcastle to Scotland. Added advantage of serving Newcastle, and allowing a single service to serve both Edinburgh and Glasgow in one, although travel times to Glasgow are not 100% perfect. Probable reuse of much of the ECML between Newcastle and Edinburgh, and north of York where it is dead straight. Some ECML traffic rerouted via Leeds-Harrogate-Northallerton as bypass route. All non-Pullman Anglo-Scottish traffic routed via Carlisle - potential single point of failure!
    (*13) So here, I've assumed British Rail have kept the St Pancras yard (which OTL was turned in to the British Library in the 1990s) partly for this reason. British Library now sited in railway lands to north of Kings Cross/St Pancras. The area would require a small amount of house demolition (!) to the west of St Pancras approach tracks, but appears to mesh reasonably well. Euston would be difficult for mentioned reasons.
    (*14) The historical HS1 debate in OTL. Both plans have merit, although east London authorities were more favourable to the HS1 scheme then south London authorities.
    (*15) Some scope for reducing the amount of WCML takeover. In future, this could become a fully tunnelled route between central London and Britannia Airport, but at the moment I think this will just involve the reuse of some land to reduce WCML congestion rather then bypass the WCML entirely.
    (*16) Clear scope for cross London high speed commuter services, and the removal of a significant amount of Kent commuter traffic from the legacy network, as well as speeding up via high speed route, a la OTL HS1.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019 at 10:04 AM
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  17. Along the bay Active Member

    Jul 15, 2019
    London Boudicca returns ! My favourite concept from your previous timeline.
  18. QTXAdsy That Fifer

    Sep 25, 2017
    The Kingdom of Fife
    Going to be interesting to see Pullman get to Scotland soon...just trying to think which route though...
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  19. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Basically yep, although in a slightly different guise! :)

    Previously, I had it orientated east-west in the railway triangle north of St Pancras & Kings Cross, in what is now the Kings Cross Central area. It was proposed OTL as a through station alternative for HS1, although policy holders decided eventually to just use St Pancras as a terminus station. In that ATL, it linked to the North London Line directly, as well as Thameslink platforms and a re-opened York Road Piccadilly Line station.

    In this TL, London Boudicca is "provisionally" (there's no actual decision made in that last chapter, officially it's only a statement of options ;) ) to the west of St Pancras, on a north-south axis, so it hooks in directly to the combined tube station, and almost directly in to the Circle Line platforms, with a longer walk to the Piccadilly/Northern/Victoria Line platforms. I can easily see Thameslink platforms being rebuilt for the higher passenger loads roughly where it is OTL (the OTL Kings Cross Thameslink station has really narrow platforms!), which would place it right next to this Boudicca station.

    Technically speaking, there's the possibility of drilling down and adding closer platforms on the Northern (Bank Branch) and Victoria Lines, though the challenges of doing that on extremely well used lines which can't really be closed for any significant amount of time may well outweight the benefit given the Northern/Victoria Line platforms are accessible, even if a long walk (I'd guess maybe 200-300m under ground.

    To spoil things, I think the route via Newcastle is best, roughly mirroring the ECML (and taking over in parts). Serves Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow in one swoop, and I've managed to map out track segregation to keep Pullman services on a closed network.
  20. QTXAdsy That Fifer

    Sep 25, 2017
    The Kingdom of Fife
    Ah yes, thought that might've been the one. Funnily enough I did take an APT on the Newcastle to Edinburgh route on Train Simulator, 55 minutes I made on that with an average speed of 150mph! :p Actually if Pullman will go up that way and with all the design works that will be needed, this actually might be a golden opportunity to not only rebuild Dunbar station (like currently with OTL) but also reopen East Linton and Reston station along the route (providing that they haven't closed here) though I suspect that a reopened branch to Haddington is no possible...yet.

    All in all, if they all play the cards right, a lot might happen to improve that section of the ECML, then all we need is to go north to Aberdeen ;)
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