Monthly Archives: March 2014


Impact of Level Crossings on Railway Reopenings

The Transport Select Committee published its report into Safety at Level Crossings on 24th February 2014. It highlighted a number of recommendations with regards to the management of Level Crossing Safety. Although it targeted the existing infrastructure, it was another sign that additional Level Crossings on the railway network created by the reopening of railway lines would be unlikely to be welcomed.

There are 6,500 Level Crossings and this is where a footpath or road crosses a railway line. Network Rail are currently undergoing a programme to reduce the number of Level Crossings by 25%. Although, fatality figures are reducing and the UK has one of the best safety records for Level Crossing incidents, the Transport Select Committee believes that more can be done.  They have recommended that the Office of Railway Regulation (ORR), should adopt a target of zero fatalities from 2020.

The analysis has a substantial impact on railway lines being reopened. Many projects will cross roads and footpaths that were either there before closure occurred or have been created since the closure. With the targets to reduce the number of Level Crossings, additional level crossings on the network are unlikely to be approved unless they are a matter of last resort and have not been upgraded to the highest level of safety. Upgrades, reports and applications to have Level Crossings will add further costs at the planning stage for proposals to reopen railways lines.

Some of the larger proposals have substantial issues with Level Crossings. The reopening of the Skipton to Colne railway line is impacted by the need to cross the A56 in Earby. The easiest option would be a Level Crossing but this is likely to be ruled out because of the angle of the road. Crossing the A56 here with a tunnel or a bridge is almost impossible within a reasonable budget so the railway line is going to need to find an alternative route around Earby. This adds substantial costs to the project because it needs to identify and create a new formation.

Another proposal where this expense can be measured is Wisbech where the bridging of the A47 to ensure that the railway can serve the centre of town is costed at approximately £15 million. This can have a substantial impact on projects that are costing £10-30 million before bridges are required. The good news is that options to resolve these are being created. Lower cost schemes and proposals, where railway lines are being terminated before the bypass have been created at Wisbech (for the A47) and on the Aln Valley Railway, which is trying to cross the A1. Although this means that the line terminates away from its intended destination, it has allowed the railway scheme to start with a lower cost base than would have happened if the bridge was delivered.

 


Minsters Rail Campaign challenges Local Plan

The Minsters Railway Campaign have written to the East Riding of Yorkshire’s Planning Department with regards to the soundness of the Local Plan Draft, which omits protecting the trackbed of the railway line from York – Beverley.

The newly elected Chairman of the Minsters’ Rail Campaign, Councillor Peter Hemmerman from Market Weighton said, ‘We have expressed our concerns to the Planning Inspector whom will we hope tell the Council to re-consider.’

Crossrail extended to Reading

Two trains per hour will serve Reading after an announcement was made that Crossrail would be extended from Maidenhead. The extension will add Twyford and Reading to the Crossrail network. Four trains per hour will continue to serve Maidenhead.

The current planning assumption is that new Crossrail trains will be introduced to run Crossrail services as follows:

  • Liverpool Street to Shenfield – May 2017
  • Heathrow to Paddington (mainline platforms) – May 2018 (when the Crossrail concession takes over the Heathrow Connect service)
  • Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Abbey Wood – December 2018
  • Paddington (Crossrail platforms) to Shenfield – May 2019
  • Full through service (including services to Reading) – December 2019

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Elland plans to be discussed at council

Plans for a railway station at Elland are to be discussed at a Calderdale Council meeting.  The cabinet will review the progress made so far.

£200,000 is required to progress the proposal through GRIP Stage 4, which will include a feasibility study that generates a single proposal.

There is a proposed site at Lowfields Business Park that is being looked at.

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Tyne and Wear Metro expansion plans published 1

Plans to expand the Tyne and Wear Metro so it serves Washington, Cobalt Business Park and the Team Valley have been revealed following the publication of a consultation document into the ambitions for the development of the Metro system to 2030 and beyond.

Two sets of proposals have been made. The first set are extensions of the existing Tyne and Wear Metro network and this includes extensions to Washington (from Pelaw and South Hylton), Silverlink and Seaham. The second set are part of a new On Street Network running to Metrocentre, Team Valley, West Newcastle, Doxford Park and South Shields.

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New Stations

A number of stations were noted in the report because they are identified in Local Development Plans.

High Lane Row

Between Hebburn and Jarrow. The station would be reliant on the doubling of this section of railway line.

Monkton Fell

Between Pelaw and Fellgate. The station would require the approval of Network Rail because this section of line is operating close to capacity

Pallion Area

Two potential station sites east and west of Pallion are noted in the Sunderland Unitary Development Plan.

Metro Routes

  • Washington (from Pelaw and South Hylton)
  • Silverlink
  • Seaham

On Street Routes

  • Metrocentre
  • Team Valley
  • West Newcastle
  • Doxford Park
  • South Shields to Sunderland

Haverhill Rail Route could relieve congested road network

The Cambridge to Haverhill railway line has been identified as a potential reopening with support from Cambridge County Council, Suffolk Council and New Anglia LEP. The A1307 corridor between Haverhill and Cambridge has been earmarked as a growth corridor but it suffers from traffic congestion that is impacting journey times. Although short-medium term solutions are likely to involve improving bus infrastructure, long term options include providing alternative routes including a busway or rail.

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