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Faster trains on Great Eastern, but renewals hold the key - Network Rail

DB Cargo UK 90034 passes through Chelmsford at the helm of the 0930 Norwich-Liverpool Street on March 22. Faster journey times on the Great Eastern Main Line are called for by campaigners, but Network Rail has warned of the costs. ANTONY GUPPY.

Network Rail says proposed journey time improvements on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) from London Liverpool Street to Norwich are said to have a “very significant” cost, and will have to be implanted alongside other enhancement and renewals works to reduce the cost. Level crossing closures and power supply upgrades are also likely to be needed to support faster services.

In its Anglia Route Study, the company says Liverpool Street will need additional platform capacity in Control Period 6 (CP6, 2019-2024), alongside signalling headway reductions between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street, construction of a new passing loop north of Witham, and track doubling at Trowse swing bridge.

Capacity improvements between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street are likely to hinge on the introduction of European Train Control System (ETCS), in either Level 2 (fixed block but with no lineside signals) or Level 3 (radio-based moving block signalling with no lineside signals) form.

Should ETCS Level 3 be adopted with Automatic Train Operation - assuming the world-first implementation of this technology on the central section of the Thameslink route proves successful - then capacity from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street could increase from the current maximum of 24 trains per hour (tph) to 32tph.

  • For much more on Network Rail's plans for the Great Eastern Main Line, read RAIL 798, published on April 13.

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 08/04/2016 12:05

    A new railway bridge with 2 tracks to replace the single track Trowse Swing Bridge in Norwich is a good idea plus a new passing loop north of Witham is also a good idea. But also a new Beaulieu Park station to be built with 4 platforms with intercity trains passing through and commuter trains to stop at the new train station northeast of Chelmsford with new homes to be built which is to be built in 2020 and a new bridge and road to be built to replace the current bridge as its to be knocked down and the A130 to be dualled and upgraded from Great Chatham to Boreham Interchange (A12). Plus new overhead wires are to be installed on the Shenfield-Southend Victoria line to replace the older wires. But I do think that new trains is required to replace the Class 321's, Class 317's and Class 90+MK3+DVT and Class 153's & Class 156 rolling stocks with Vivarail Class 230's DEMU (former London Underground D78 stocks) to be used on the Marks Tey-Sudbury branch line and on local rural lines in Norfolk and Suffolk and to/from Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge and Peterborough. So yes we do need the Eastern Powerhouse or Anglia Powerhouse with the GEML to be upgraded and CAF, Siemens, Bombardier and other train manufacturing companies to build new trains for the Greater Anglia network over the next 5-10 years.

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  • Philip Walker - 08/04/2016 12:49

    Surely journey time improvement can be obtained by simple timetable adjustments. The hourly fast train (xx00 from Liv St) to Norwich once did the journey in 100mins until extra stops were added at Manningtree and Diss. Although not 90mins, 100mins is an improvement on the current schedules and could be obtained by simply omitting Manningtree (which has other trains that can provide connectivity) and Diss ( the population of Diss and surrounding station-less catchment area must be much smaller compared to that of Norwich). The xx02 Ipswich semi-fasts could be extended to cover a second hourly stop at Diss if the xx00s were to become fast again. Perhaps investment for higher speeds could be concentrated north of Colchester. Surely Ipswich-Norwich has the potential for sustained higher-speed running, even 125mph. The route south of Colchester, on the other hand, is a congested double-track section which has to accommodate stopping services as well as faster ones, and an upgrade for higher speeds would be much more expensive.

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  • Philip Walker - 13/04/2016 11:36

    Norwich in 90 by regular services (not just one or two trains a day) must be a priority. But surely some journey time improvement can be obtained by simple timetable adjustments before the much needed investment is made. The hourly fast train (xx00 from Liv St) to Norwich once did the journey in 100mins until extra stops were added at Manningtree and Diss. Although not 90mins, 100mins is an improvement on the current schedules and could be obtained by simply omitting Manningtree (which has other trains that can provide connectivity) and Diss ( the population of Diss and surrounding station-less catchment area must be much smaller compared to that of Norwich). The xx02 Ipswich semi-fasts could be extended to cover a second hourly stop at Diss if the xx00s were to become fast again. The route north of Colchester is probably easiest to upgrade for higher speeds. Surely Ipswich-Norwich in particular has the potential for sustained higher-speed running, even 125mph.

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  • Philip Walker - 14/04/2016 19:45

    Norwich in 90 by regular services (not just one or two trains a day) must be a priority. But surely some journey time improvement can be obtained by simple timetable adjustments before the much needed investment is made. The hourly fast train (xx00 from Liv St) to Norwich once did the journey in 100mins until extra stops were added at Manningtree and Diss. Although not 90mins, 100mins is an improvement on the current schedules and could be obtained by simply omitting Manningtree (which has other trains that can provide connectivity) and Diss ( the population of Diss and surrounding station-less catchment area must be much smaller compared to that of Norwich). The xx02 Ipswich semi-fasts could be extended to cover a second hourly stop at Diss if the xx00s were to become fast again. The route north of Colchester is probably easiest to upgrade for higher speeds. Surely Ipswich-Norwich in particular has the potential for sustained higher-speed running, even 125mph.

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