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Cambridge - Newmarket: electrification candidate?

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70014IronDuke

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Pondering the Cambridge Ipswich service just now, I have to ask: has anyone ever proposed electrification (and upgrading) Cambridge - Newmarket as a serious possibility?

I confess I've never done the line, and I realise it goes through some rural country, but - rather like electrification Ely to Kings Lynn (which must have been only justifiable in order to eliminate diesel traction rather than of itself) - extending, say, two of the GN services to Newmarket per hour, with new? reopened? stations at Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn (and P+R at Six-mile Bottom?) would massively improve connectivity to the entire area, relieving road traffic immediately east of Cambridge in the suburbs and presumably, reducing Newmarket to Cambridge road traffic to boot.

I assume it would need additional passing loops for such a service, especially if some through Ipswich - Cambridge trains were kept on in the peaks (otherwise, they could be cut back at Newmarket, perhaps releasing a DMU set ?).

And I guess the line speed would need to be increased where possible (where I've seen the line, crossing it near Dullingham, it's looked like the line speed might be in the 50, max 60 mph category) in order to reduce minimise the additional electric stock needed.

Perhaps I'm off the wall with this, but just wondering?
 
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swt_passenger

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Cambridge to Newmarket has an entry in the 2009 Electrification RUS, just like dozens of similar routes around the country, so to that extent NR have considered it.
 
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Ipswich - Cambridges cut back to Newmarket would be an utter disaster, 90% of traffic after Bury is for Cambridge. The line would do very very well redoubled (excluding the tunnel at Newmarket) and electrified. 3 car 170s are full and standing in the morning and evening peaks.

Line speed is 60 (mostly) between Newmarket and Cambridge and could easily be 90 in many places now.

The way it would get done is as a ancillary to electrification between Ipswich and Peterborough for the freights, I can't see it being done on it's own. Don't get me wrong, it will get done, i'd like to see it within the next 10 years, there's certainly the demand for it now.
 

GRALISTAIR

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Cambridge to Newmarket has an entry in the 2009 Electrification RUS, just like dozens of similar routes around the country, so to that extent NR have considered it.

I have extracted from that document

A5.2 Chippenham Junction (Newmarket) to Cambridge
Gap A5.2 Chippenham Junction (Newmarket) to Cambridge
Option A5.2 Electrify Chippenham Junction (Newmarket) to Cambridge following Haughley Junction to
Peterborough. Convert Ipswich to Cambridge service to electric traction.

The map on Page 115 of the document seems to indicate that it is not very low down on priorities but neither is it very high up.
 

jopsuk

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Ambitious types keep proposing double track and electrification with reopened stations (Cherry Hinton, Fulbourn and possibly Six Mile Bottom for a parkway) with CBG-Newmarket 4tph with 1-2tph through to Ipswich. All electric obviously. Of course, no-one has identified the funds for it. A new (wider) underpass at Coldham's Common would be welcome though!
 

BuryBlue

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I have to say, as a resident of Bury I would be rather hacked off if Newmarket were to get an electric, Thameslink service while I and 70% of the current train load of passengers get left with a poor DMU service and a change at Cambridge likely to a retimetabled fast service.

If you are electrifying it should go at least to BSE; and then you may as well just do the whole damn line. The freight market will chip in for Ipswich to Peterborough.

Regarding redoubling, if you are not planning on running Newmarket-Ely with a chord at the junction then with line speed increases you could get away with 2tph on the Cambridge branch, just. If you reopen stations, however, no. It'd also make the service unacceptably slow - it already nowhere near competes with the roads to Cambridge for time.

I agree though that in the event of electrification one London GN service an hour would be very beneficial.
 

GRALISTAIR

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The way it would get done is as a ancillary to electrification between Ipswich and Peterborough for the freights, I can't see it being done on it's own. Don't get me wrong, it will get done, i'd like to see it within the next 10 years, there's certainly the demand for it now.

This is the key - though I would argue Felixstowe -Peterborough. Also if you start at the other end simultaneously and do Birmingham NS via Water Orton -Nuneaton and Felixstowe -Peterborough with "fill ins" Nuneaton -Peterborough following later, you get a huge number of benefits. An east -west route rather than London --xxx centric; a large number of diversionary routes; less diesel particulates at New Street; a great freight route; a lot of route kms electrified, quite a few DMUs eliminated etc. A great option - but now I am turning into a crayonista and we have a new government and we have not enough resources. Absolutely love it to happen though. :D oh and BTW you would also need to do to Norwich of course.
 

Julia

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Ambitious types keep proposing double track and electrification with reopened stations (Cherry Hinton, Fulbourn and possibly Six Mile Bottom for a parkway) with CBG-Newmarket 4tph with 1-2tph through to Ipswich. All electric obviously. Of course, no-one has identified the funds for it. A new (wider) underpass at Coldham's Common would be welcome though!

Cambridge City Deal certainly have plenty of funds but they seem intent on little chunks of busway rather than anything that will make a real difference...
 

mr_jrt

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I'd have thought the plan was for Cambridge to Ipswich improvements to be the final phase of East-West rail...which means redoubled and wired up?
 

70014IronDuke

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Ipswich - Cambridges cut back to Newmarket would be an utter disaster, 90% of traffic after Bury is for Cambridge.

I have no doubt whatsoever that is true - just it begs the question, how much is there west of Bury and before Newmarket?
If you are saying trains from Bury are well loaded already, before they reach Newmarket, then of course, I can see terminating the DMU service at Newmarket for a change to electric would be unacceptable.

The line would do very very well redoubled (excluding the tunnel at Newmarket) and electrified. 3 car 170s are full and standing in the morning and evening peaks.

That's good to hear. Do you know who these passengers are? I mean, are they mainly Bury/Newmarket to Cambridge commuters, or do significant numbers continue to London (or somewhere in between).

If the line is already that busy, re-doubling (at least some parts) and re-opening stations should easily support 2 TPH.

The way it would get done is as a ancillary to electrification between Ipswich and Peterborough for the freights, I can't see it being done on it's own. Don't get me wrong, it will get done, i'd like to see it within the next 10 years, there's certainly the demand for it now.

In a perfect world, I would fully agree that it should be part of the wider east-west scheme. I was just thinking that that whole scheme will take years to implement - and the Cambridge - Newmarket section might just be viable as a relatively quick 'add-on' for the providers to London services.

But if you need to keep running the DMUs to provide a through service to Bury and beyond, obviusly that would impact on any possible viability of such a scheme.
 
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I have no doubt whatsoever that is true - just it begs the question, how much is there west of Bury and before Newmarket?

Nothing. Which is often the problem. All bar Kennett which sees poor loadings there are no major settlements, it is effectively dead ground in terms of passenger numbers.


That's good to hear. Do you know who these passengers are? I mean, are they mainly Bury/Newmarket to Cambridge commuters, or do significant numbers continue to London (or somewhere in between?

I certainly do, I sell their tickets! Morning and evening peaks are very much London centric, connecting well with the GN flyers to King's Cross with most of the London passengers coming from Newmarket. Your 0510/0616 services from Ipswich will be about 70% London commuters 30% Cambridge after Newmarket. 0654 ex Ipswich is heavily loaded with students from Newmarket and Dullingham.

Bury finds itself in a bit of a no mans land, most London travelers from Bury prefer the Ipswich route with local traffic to Cambridge and Newmarket making up most of the numbers from Bury heading west.

Off-Peak I always consider the route split into three parts 1) Ipswich to Bury 2) Bury to Newmarket and 3) Newmarket to Cambridge. Apart from a few through passengers you can often see a three complete changes of people on board.

Worthy of note is the amount of Colchester - Cambridge tourist traffic, mainly seeming to be students from Uni of Essex which could be improved upon.

the Cambridge - Newmarket section might just be viable as a relatively quick 'add-on' for the providers to London services.

Don't get me wrong an extended service from KGX (perhaps the rear 4 that terminate at Cambridge currently) would go down very well and be well used from Newmarket, especially if Cherry Hinton got a station back, but we would need to make sure it wasn't to the detriment of through diesel services or huge damage could be caused to patronage west of Bury.
 

Alfie1014

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Hopefully it will be done in CP6 as part of Ipswich - Peterborough wiring. Not sure extending the GN slows would be an option though as they're soon to become fixed formation Thameslink 8 car services. A better option would be a Colchester to Cambridge EMU service, shorter journey times and one fewer change would be welcome, (current journey times are around 2 hours). Unfortuately the roads in this part of the world are not much better with journey planners giving the fastest journey from the Uni to Cambridge via the A120 and M11 (60 miles in 90 minutes) or 105 minutes via the shorter (50 miles) but slower direct route via Haverhill or the longer the A12 and A14 (70 miles).

Whilst much of East Anglia's hi-tech economy powers into the 21st Century, much of the region's transport infrastructure limps along still in the 19th!
 
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Hopefully it will be done in CP6 as part of Ipswich - Peterborough wiring. Not sure extending the GN slows would be an option though as they're soon to become fixed formation Thameslink 8 car services. A better option would be a Colchester to Cambridge EMU service, shorter journey times and one fewer change would be welcome, (current journey times are around 2 hours). Unfortuately the roads in this part of the world are not much better with journey planners giving the fastest journey from the Uni to Cambridge via the A120 and M11 (60 miles in 90 minutes) or 105 minutes via the shorter (50 miles) but slower direct route via Haverhill or the longer the A12 and A14 (70 miles).

Whilst much of East Anglia's hi-tech economy powers into the 21st Century, much of the region's transport infrastructure limps along still in the 19th!

Quite right, electrification and line speed improvements would only see the railway beat the car both for convenience and speed, there's a huge potential market east-west across east anglia that is currently barely tapped into.
 

edwin_m

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Not sure extending the GN slows would be an option though as they're soon to become fixed formation Thameslink 8 car services.

If it was just as far as Newmarket or Bury, I think the Kings Lynn fasts will still drop a unit at Cambridge so perhaps that could be used?
 

BuryBlue

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Quite right, electrification and line speed improvements would only see the railway beat the car both for convenience and speed, there's a huge potential market east-west across east anglia that is currently barely tapped into.

There is much potential for the rail line.

As has been said, under EMU power, IPS services could be extended to Colchester.

Thameslink extensions.

Another is Newmarket-Ely via Soham.

Electrification, redoubling etc

Reinstatement of LST-Peterboro services.

However the costs mount up quickly, and as ever, the biggest problem with today's railways is lack of capital. I think electrification and Cambridge redoubling will go through eventually because the freight market will pay for some of it, with an Oxford service likely making up the extra service every hour around the existing Ipswich to Cambridge one.

I have reservations about Network Rail's willingness to add a chord to Chippenham Jn, redouble to Ely and likely do work on Newmarket stn in order to make a single, hourly service possible, while also precluding any Thameslink extension there without basically demolishing the whole station (no bad thing, really). You'd need 4 platforms, I think.

And Abellio probably do not want to reinstate a service that they likely will never be able to get rid of again to Liverpool St.
 

Class 170101

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The Kings Cross to Kings Lynn services (Cambridge Cruiser) services will not be going into the Thameslink core. They will be 377s / 387s (as discussed elsewhere). Therefrore if the wires were put up those services could be extended to Newmarket.

The current services from Bury St Edmunds to Kings Cross are journey time competitive when compared to Liverpool Street.

However current infrastructure prevents this. The best is an additional train in each direction every two hours, terminating at Newmarket requires a pilotman due to the signalling the line employs.
 
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