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East-West Rail (EWR): Consultation updates [not speculation]

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Dunnyrail

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I understand the issues re Bedford Station and the Location. But if the Station is moved to a site elswhere is it still Bedford? If such a thing were to happen that would be less serving than to have East West Station at say St Johns or anywhere else with a Bus or day I say it Tram Connection? But in alleged Cash Strapped UK such things are almost Pipe Dreams. To keep considering Car Parking is why things will never get better, yes I know it is reality but places like Nottingham have shown the way with Tram System that has and will continue to get bodies out of cars.

Similar conversations are being held about St.Neots. The Current Town Mayor contacted me recently to ask for my support for the line to take the Northern Route to Cambridge with a new interchange in the area where the new Dualed A428 goes across the ECML. Probably somewhere near Little Barford Power Station. As I pointed out to him such a move would likely result in the existing St.Neots Station being closed much to the frustration of many who have moved to the new and upcomming Estates that are well positioned for the current St.Neots Station. Meanwhile the Combined Mayor's plans/hopes for a Tram System in Cambridge (or busway extensions) stretching out via Cambourne to St.Neots are likely to be 15-20 years in the future if at all.

It would apoear that joined up thinking with any passing thoughts to the environment are just Pipe Dream thinking.
 
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70014IronDuke

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Right just so I'm clear on why BDM is currently not in a great position going forward.

Car park is already at full capacity daily. ..... If people can't see that BDM is awfully situated for any expansion work then I am a loss for words.

I haven't been there for a decade, but I can appreciate your arguments. My only disagreement is that Bedford needs a station as near the town centre as possible, which is why ...

A third an final option could be to put a station near the A6 like I stated before, but keep it small, sweet and simple for THL terminating trains and have East Midlands trains stop at the new station rather than the current station. THL would still stop at the current BDM. This would keep the commuter populace happy since they would drive to the station anyway.

I posted something similar suggestion some pages back (though I think I wrote 'near the site of the former Oakley station' - but that's just an indication). Run Thameslink through BDM, then terminate and turn at BED PKWY.

I steadfastly disagree with stopping MML at the new station, however - whatever service Bedford is offered (hopefully more than just one train per hour north of Kettering on the main line) + the Corbies, just stop them at the current station. Same with East-West trains - unless the expensive option of taking E-W rail north of Bedford, then heading east to St Neots is chosen. Which I don't think it will be. Otherwise, Bedford passengers to Mkt Harboro and north thereof will have to change at BED PKWY after a 4 min journey from the town.
 

jopsuk

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Clearly the answer is to entirely flatten Bedford and Milton Keynes and start again? Not the stations, the towns
 

Andyjs247

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For the benefit of those who may not have seen the Oxford Mail article the text is here:

“Oxford Mail” said:
TRANSPORT secretary Chris Grayling said the new rail line between Oxford and Cambridge will 'transform' travel for passengers in the county when it opens in five years' time.

Mr Grayling visited Bicester yesterday to see progress on the East West Rail line.

Early work is already under way on the section between Bicester and Bedford in an effort to link up the UK's two top university cities after the Varsity Line was shut in the 1960s.

Mr Grayling, who visited Launton Junction to see work for himself, compared the possible impact to that of the Chiltern Line, between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

He said: "This is going to be a commuter railway, like the Chiltern Line. This is a line that will deliver people to work in Oxford, in Bletchley, in Milton Keynes, and will enable people in between to get around by train when currently they have to go by car."

The new railway line between Oxford and Bedford could be open as early as 2023 and Mr Grayling said he was fully supportive of the project.

Mr Grayling added: “East West Rail will transform journeys in one of Europe’s most vibrant economic regions, providing passengers and businesses with a transport system that unlocks economic opportunity and drives forward new housing and jobs."

Work on the line is planned to start - following the completion of the enabling work - by September 2019.

But Mr Grayling said critics who had been angered that the line will be diesel-powered were 'missing the point'. He added: "We're on the edge of a rail power revolution. I was in Berlin seeing the new power technology in development of battery trains, of hydrogen trains. [East West Rail] won't be a conventional diesel-powered line in the future. It's going to be a line that has completely new generation, low-emission trains."

The first phase of East West Rail between Oxford and Bicester is already complete and phase two is currently seeing work on extending services from Oxford to Bedford and from Milton Keynes to Aylesbury.

Oxfordshire is just one of three counties in the country that is a net contributor to the economy and maximising the growth between Oxford and Cambridge has become a key part of Government policy ahead of Brexit.

The Government also sees the controversial Oxford-Cambridge expressway as another vital transport project and parts of it look set to run alongside the East West Rail link.

Rob Brighouse, the chairman of the East West Railway Company, said: "East West Railway Company is working hard with Network Rail to open this line as soon as possible. We're delighted to have the work under way.

"When open this line will boost economic growth, and make it easier and quicker for people who live here to travel in the local area."

Last November, a key National Infrastructure Commission report said one million homes should be built between Oxford and Cambridge to ensure the region - known as the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Arc - fulfils its potential.

An NIC spokesman said: “As our report highlighted, this and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway together have the potential to help deliver one million homes by 2050, creating vibrant communities and supporting future economic growth.

“And as the Growth Arc continues to attract the brightest and best in some of the most high-tech industries, this will benefit both the area and the country as a whole.”

My bold. Seriously what planet is FG on? We want zero emission trains that work; not untried, untested battery trains. Just put the knitting up, you know it makes sense.
 

richieb1971

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There are many parts here that should be split off into the fantasy section of the board.

Trains have become much more popular with Bedfordians over the past 10 years Rich. If you don't move the station or share it with another one your going to have a station struggling with just the current timetable in a few years. If you start adding more services, especially ones that terminate at Bedford its going to get ugly.

In recent memory I've seen a brand new Stafford, a brand new Reading, a brand new up and coming Derby. I really don't see why Bedford can't have A) Terminating sidings B) A parkway station to the north.

If Bedford isn't propositioned for refit/move/upgrade. You might as well say its not fit for purpose for EWR. But for me, moving the car traffic to outside of Bedfords main hub is important and you might as well do the lot in one swoop. In effect, BDM needs to be like Bletchley. It would get more use than Bletchley does north of the station.


"Come, friendly bombs..."?

Oh, no; that was Slough. Same principle, though.

Went to Hiroshima in April. The place is just amazing. When I was there I was thinking "So this is what atomic bombing does to a town".
 

duffield

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My bold. Seriously what planet is FG on? We want zero emission trains that work; not untried, untested battery trains. Just put the knitting up, you know it makes sense.

Not necessarily battery trains; there are now actual, working, hydrogen powered trains in daily commercial use in Germany (2 currently with 14 on order) and this technology would clearly be quite a bit more mature by the time EWR to Bedford opens. 600 mile range before refueling so you might only need one or two fueling points. Max speed currently about 90mph - I guess this would be OK for EWR? I'm sure you can't beat overhead for full-scale high speed main lines but EWR might just be a good fit for hydrogen.
 

hwl

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Not necessarily battery trains; there are now actual, working, hydrogen powered trains in daily commercial use in Germany (2 currently with 14 on order) and this technology would clearly be quite a bit more mature by the time EWR to Bedford opens. 600 mile range before refueling so you might only need one or two fueling points. Max speed currently about 90mph - I guess this would be OK for EWR? I'm sure you can't beat overhead for full-scale high speed main lines but EWR might just be a good fit for hydrogen.
That German order is limited by what 1 refuelling station can cope with and they are hugely expensive £10m+ . Grayling doesn't want big CapEx for electrification suggested, a which point anything can be proposed.
 

DarloRich

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Right just so I'm clear on why BDM is currently not in a great position going forward.

Car park is already at full capacity daily. If more trains are serving Bedford where are the people going to park? I am currently house hunting in the area of Bedford and all the new estates i've looked at are strategically building homes that are in the "London commuter belt" pricing range. People who work in Bedford don't make salaries that give them the ability to afford 450k/500k/650k homes, and half of each estate is made up of such homes. If you consider the platform for 1A will be extended through the ticket office, that will inevitably eat away at more parking spaces. So on this note, car parking is a massive consideration considering BDM is placed where it is, there is just no room to expand without making sacrifices elsewhere. Please also note that BDM is situated between 2 bridges. One is Ford end road which has just been remodeled for the OHLE and the other is Bromham road which to my understanding will never support more the 4 current tracks going underneath it even after the new bridge is erected in 2019.

Traffic/Roads in the area of BDM - Its not great. The A428 is overly congested and the roads are old nearby the station. Its a cramped road network with little to no provision to making it better. So access in the peak is terrible as the town of Bedford creaks under the pressure of ridiculous traffic.

Thameslink terminators - I'm not the biggest fan of using through tracks for terminating trains. BDM has historically always done this, but now its getting to the point where through trains are slotting between 2 terminators. The last 2 times i've seen Flying Scotsman visit Bedford it slotted through on p2 between 2 Thameslink terminators. This often happens with freight as well. Ideally a remodeled BDM would need platforms for terminating trains leaving the through platforms free. That just isn't going to happen at the current site where the station is today.


Where would I put a new station? - Somewhere where the A6 runs closely parallel. Whilst this is quite a way north from the town centre there is room for everything noted above. Parking/terminating platforms and access would be much better. It would be with the car user in mind though, so provisions for buses would be needed for shuttle runs to the bus station. Moving the station outside the town would alleviate some traffic issues in Bedford.

I'm only stating this is my preference if EWR goes through BDM for the long term. If not, the Wixams/Parkway at Elstow option would be my favoured option.

I keep bringing up Bedford because little fore thought is going into Bedford with EWR and the capacity issues already experienced at BDM. If people can't see that BDM is awfully situated for any expansion work then I am a loss for words.

A third an final option could be to put a station near the A6 like I stated before, but keep it small, sweet and simple for THL terminating trains and have East Midlands trains stop at the new station rather than the current station. THL would still stop at the current BDM. This would keep the commuter populace happy since they would drive to the station anyway.

Bedford station isn't going to move half an inch up the line. The costs simply do not deliver enough benefit. You whole argument is that there isn't enough car parking ( ever thought of sticking a deck or two on site?) and that E-W trains might have to reverse. The rest is pie in the sky nonsense. Sorry but the best we are going to get is a new station building and an extended Platform 1A
 

richieb1971

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Gbrf freight drivers once wrote a piece about BDM being a bottleneck and always lost time there due to terminating trains and a lack of will to put them in the fasts. Almost all south bound freight is held north of the station and a lot of north bound freight held at kempston. If the timetables get more hectic in the future which they will how will they cope? You really need a loop at least for that.
 

DarloRich

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That still doesn't justify spending ins and millions on a new station
It might justify a loop however I am not convinced the level of freight is there to justify this work.

Compare mml freight levels with wcm freight levels and the usage of the lines in general
 

richieb1971

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The wcml does not have a through station acting as a terminus. Imagine bletchley had 3 trains parked sporadically through the day. Look how much freight is scheduled today.

After OHLE the north of Bedford will support passenger services so the held up freight will probably be overtaken by passenger shunting the bottleneck to the fasts
 

David Sinnett

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Bedford is a bottleneck with the terminators holding the platforms for too long. An example is at 18.24 an arrival from Gatwick on platform 3 which then doesn't move for 20 minutes. Why can't it be moved out of the way until closer to departure time?
 

richieb1971

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Northampton?

I see what you did there. Very clever. Your argument falls flat when you consider the bright sparks at Northampton put in a freight only line on the middle road which pretty much cleans everything up.

When I said to do that at Bedford one person said if your going to put the track in you might as well put a platform, which is just going to act as another terminating platform. Get rid of the platform and nothing will stop there. If not just terminate the trains somewhere else.
 

70014IronDuke

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That still doesn't justify spending ins and millions on a new station
....

But you don't know that, neither do I, nor Richieb - unless we have access to the sums, it's an opinion.
However, it is an opinion I would tend to agree with - certainly in terms of the freight delay costs alone.

But building a Bedford North Parkway (by that, or any other name - Milton Earnest if you like) has been talked about for at least two decades on and off regardless of the EW Rail or freight delays. NSE was considering it in the early 90s- simply to relieve Bedford Midland of passenger traffic, to keep vehicle traffic away from the northern approaches of the twon, and to generate new rail traffic.

If you then add in the reduction to freight and the need for more capacity at BDM for EW Rail, I suspect the sums could become more attractive towards building a Bedford North Parkway - but not moving BDM 1 mile north - that would simply be an expensive bodge with more downsides than up in my view.

Sad to say, however, since the plans for the London extension of 1868 were drawn up, Bedford from a rail infrastructure pov has indeed been a tale of expensive (in the long-term) bodges.

Gbrf freight drivers once wrote a piece about BDM being a bottleneck and always lost time there due to terminating trains and a lack of will to put them in the fasts. Almost all south bound freight is held north of the station ...

'Twas so in the days of 8Fs and 9Fs, probably so in the days of Garretts, and possibly even in the days of 2 x MR 2Fs.

I suspect, if you could clean the bricks of Bromham Road Bridge, you could fine an inscription or two like: "My fireman and I expired here on 48285 waiting for a path to Brent Sidings." :)
 
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richieb1971

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As far as I am concerned the bottleneck here, and the easiest solution is one of 3 things. I've omitted any parkway stations based on cost.

1) Build some sidings north of BDM for trains that will reverse. Just keep them at BDM for the duration of picking up passengers (shocker).

This is a very cost effective solution and north of BDM there is great road connectivity as you can easily access by road from Bromham. Drivers may have to cross the tracks if the sidings are on the slow side. In fact the Northampton junction signal box access (the access is there, the signal box is not since 1965 or something) at Lower Farm Road now has temporary OHLE equipment there and can be re-purposed.

2) Make a through road at Bedford for freight. Not my preferred option.

As previously stated I would knock away Platform 3 in part, move the P3 rail track close to P2 and build a platform on the up fast. This would allow only 2 terminators at BDM on current P1 and P2, would allow a through freight road like at Northampton. The upside is that East Midlands trains would stop on the fast. Currently all southbound EMT cross to the slows since there is no up platform on the fast at BDM. This is currently adding to the bottleneck.

3) Create a freight loop north of Bedford and south of Bedford. Whilst freight traffic will not benefit on their timings since they will inevitably park, all through roads north and south of Bedford would be freed up for passenger traffic for the duration of the bottleneck. The bottleneck would be shorter under this format so things would be slightly quicker.

Lets not forget passenger traffic does currently suffer. EMT trains approaching from the north quite often slow down to a crawl between Sharnbrook and Bedford north junction due to amber/reds. From the south its not too bad since BDM has a P4 on the down fast. Had that not been there Thameslink wouldn't be able to do what they are currently doing. P4 has actually enabled more terminating trains at BDM because EMT would simply not have access to any platforms at all when all 3 current platforms are filled in peak times by Thameslink trains. And on that subject why the hell does BDM need 3 Thameslink terminators in platforms at the same time? Its simply greedy and the passenger uptake at BDM trickle feeds onto the trains because they are parked for so long as previously stated. If the passengers know the time of the train they can accumulate on platforms just like they do for EMT.

If Wixams goes ahead, a middle road loop would be beneficial. If they are going to build it, might as well take the pressure away from other areas. A cheaper option would be to join the Elstow cement sidings to the main line on both ends. Its really long looks like a simple join up. However, I don't know if its private land. Those tracks are certainly being wasted when they are empty 95% of the time.


As for the parking situation. Oh, thats a bad one. Bromham road bridge rebuild is going to eat at that for a duration. I can hear the cries now whilst some crane equipment is eating up 50 spaces. Which is similar to what might take effect when 1a becomes a through platform. You could build a multi storey, but not without completely closing huge sections of the car park for a long duration.

Thats why BDM needs a complete rethink from scratch. All these expensive upgrades only provide a 5% increase in capacity in certain areas whilst neglecting all other concerns as well. If you bite the bullet and give BDM what it really needs its more expensive, but the provision for capacity increase is 100%. Which should buy you many years and if a new station had a huge car park the station could be built bigger down the road.


Lastly, all these problems are current day. EWR is far away and will only increase the problem. Any freight using the line will pass through P1 or P2, shock horror. By 2025 when the problem is a crisis, I bet thousands of new homes are built either sides of the tracks making any of what we are talking about totally impossible. There is a difference between expensive, and impossible.

Could I argue that someone at some point thought to put 8 platforms at Nuneaton. Built a whole junction network of track where lots of railways all meet. The population is quite low and there isn't much business there. You don't even get any fast trains to London from there. Where as Bedford, wanting to be a rail network junction only has 4 platforms, does have fast trains to London and completely isolated by bridges and any expansion possibilities beyond doing a little. I would say the customers will suffer in the long run. Profits will be high, customer service will be terrible.

I've edited this several times.

One edit was Elstow cement sidings being used as a loop. Currently one end is attached to the mainline. If both ends were connected -
 
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DarloRich

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Clearly the answer is to entirely flatten Bedford and Milton Keynes and start again? Not the stations, the towns

nothing wrong with Milton Keynes. Come friendly bombs and fall on Bedford...................

But you don't know that, neither do I, nor Richieb - unless we have access to the sums, it's an opinion.
However, it is an opinion I would tend to agree with - certainly in terms of the freight delay costs alone.

But building a Bedford North Parkway (by that, or any other name - Milton Earnest if you like) has been talked about for at least two decades on and off regardless of the EW Rail or freight delays. NSE was considering it in the early 90s- simply to relieve Bedford Midland of passenger traffic, to keep vehicle traffic away from the northern approaches of the twon, and to generate new rail traffic.

If you then add in the reduction to freight and the need for more capacity at BDM for EW Rail, I suspect the sums could become more attractive towards building a Bedford North Parkway - but not moving BDM 1 mile north - that would simply be an expensive bodge with more downsides than up in my view.

Sad to say, however, since the plans for the London extension of 1868 were drawn up, Bedford from a rail infrastructure pov has indeed been a tale of expensive (in the long-term) bodges.

My views are based on trying to obtain funding for and then deliver railway projects. I have some experience of that. it is hard enough to get funding for projects most people here will never see or understand but which impact on daily operations never mind a vastly expensive idea to solve a problem that isnt very serious! Other than that no idea what i am talking about.

The wcml does not have a through station acting as a terminus. Imagine bletchley had 3 trains parked sporadically through the day. Look how much freight is scheduled today.

After OHLE the north of Bedford will support passenger services so the held up freight will probably be overtaken by passenger shunting the bottleneck to the fasts

Cant think of any. Oh hang on yes i can: Milton Keynes or Northampton or even Bletchley!

Bedford had 12 freights yesterday. 14 if you include the out and back RHTT.

Bletchley had 12 by 03:19 and 59 in total. 61 if we include the RHTT.

1) Build some sidings north of BDM for trains that will reverse. Just keep them at BDM for the duration of picking up passengers (shocker).

This is a very cost effective solution and north of BDM there is great road connectivity as you can easily access by road from Bromham. Drivers may have to cross the tracks if the sidings are on the slow side. In fact the Northampton junction signal box access (the access is there, the signal box is not since 1965 or something) at Lower Farm Road now has temporary OHLE equipment there and can be re-purposed.

No issue with providing more parking space for trains but that isnt as cheap or easy as you might think. I have built some sidings. Crossing the track, especially a fast main line, is not going to fly.

As previously stated I would knock away Platform 3 in part, move the P3 rail track close to P2 and build a platform on the up fast. This would allow only 2 terminators at BDM on current P1 and P2, would allow a through freight road like at Northampton. The upside is that East Midlands trains would stop on the fast. Currently all southbound EMT cross to the slows since there is no up platform on the fast at BDM. This is currently adding to the bottleneck.

then you impact on fast line services. Which is more important? Personally i would add a fast line platform to prevent the need to cross over rather than do away with an entire platform to build what is essentially a loop for a few goods trains.

3) Create a freight loop north of Bedford and south of Bedford. Whilst freight traffic will not benefit on their timings since they will inevitably park, all through roads north and south of Bedford would be freed up for passenger traffic for the duration of the bottleneck. The bottleneck would be shorter under this format so things would be slightly quicker.

Do you mean two loops or a freight only avoider? No issue with the former in principle however I don't think the current freight service requires the investment.

As for the parking situation. Oh, thats a bad one. Bromham road bridge rebuild is going to eat at that for a duration. I can hear the cries now whilst some crane equipment is eating up 50 spaces. Which is similar to what might take effect when 1a becomes a through platform. You could build a multi storey, but not without completely closing huge sections of the car park for a long duration.

Just put a deck on the existing site like, say, Bletchley. It isnt that hard and is the most cost effective solution to a minor issue.

PS @richieb1971 is the picture above the quarry area near Whixhams? If so is it not a bit close to another station?
 

richieb1971

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There is no station at Wixams, but yes its close to the wixams site. Its near Kempston retail park. I don't see the problem with connecting the site at both ends which could double up as a loop. We are talking about 30 metres of track here.

The minor problem is that Thameslink want the whole station to themselves. Why can't you see that?
 

DarloRich

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There is no station at Wixams, but yes its close to the wixams site. Its near Kempston retail park. I don't see the problem with connecting the site at both ends which could double up as a loop. We are talking about 30 metres of track here.

The minor problem is that Thameslink want the whole station to themselves. Why can't you see that?

I don't understand. Is this the site for a loop ( if so = ok) or a station ( if so = hmm).

What does the final paragraph refer to? Wixhams, Bedford?
 

richieb1971

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The cement site would make for a cheap loop. The wixams station site isn't decided. It's probably going next to the car auction site.

Thameslink trains are the problem at Bedford.
 

DarloRich

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The cement site would make for a cheap loop. The wixams station site isn't decided. It's probably going next to the car auction site.

Thameslink trains are the problem at Bedford.

Agreed. It would make the site for a potential loop. If the quarry/works was closed or moved and the land remediated. Would a loop not be better placed south of the Wixhams site in what is open country? Say beyond the Stewartby Road bridge?

As for Bedford - the station layout is the problem. A new through platform where the bay platform is would really help. The sidings north of the station would have to be replaced somewhere. Perhaps they could go into the depot area with a it of jiggery pokery.
 

richieb1971

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Why does the cement site need to move to make a loop there? I don't know if it's private land, probably is but getting permission to use it should be fine. I've seen RTT show tampers going in there.

The bay platform 1a? It really needs connection to the mml. It might be already but out of memory I can't think of anything that has crossed from the south into it.

There is flat ground parallel near Stewartby.
 

DarloRich

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Why does the cement site need to move to make a loop there? I don't know if it's private land, probably is but getting permission to use it should be fine. I've seen RTT show tampers going in there.

The bay platform 1a? It really needs connection to the mml. It might be already but out of memory I can't think of anything that has crossed from the south into it.

There is flat ground parallel near Stewartby.

Sorry. Really confused. Are you saying the quarry access line would act as a loop?
 

richieb1971

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Not the round bit. There is a double track parallel to the mainline which is the length greater than most freight trains. It's only connected at one end though. Some points and 30m of track and it's done.
 

richieb1971

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Did a Heathrow to Bedford yesterday. I was wondering if there is currently a "DIRECT" viable connection between the 2 stations that EWR can use if the Bicester/Bletchley section was completed? I think I read elsewhere in the thread that this might be considered in the future. I'm not talking about a branded train called the "EWR Heathrow Express", just a train that terminates at Heathrow that is priced on distance traveled not a premium £32 in one direction jobby. Mind you it was £55 for 2 going the Piccadilly via STP route. £32 is just to Paddington currently, so you would have to factor in the other £25 to Bedford.

If such a route could/does exist how many stops are we talking (which ones) and what sort of duration would it take? I did Heathrow to Bedford starting at 20:16 and arrived at Bedford at 22:10, this was the fastest route. Albeit with a change that involved walking 15 minutes through STP subways. We only just caught the EMT train so it was a bit dicey.

We have 2 airports that are currently very easy to get to from Bedford and 2 that are substantially a lot harder. If EWR did a Stansted to Heathrow and vice versa it could pick up on all airport traffic. Not necessarily from one airport to the other, just from the intermediate stations obviously. With Bedford at the half way point or thereabouts it would make Bedford an attractive rail option for air passengers.
 

Bald Rick

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Stansted airport is at capacity (for trains), so they’ll be no EWR trains going in there unless either a new line is built in (which could be as ‘simple’ as a second tunnel), or something already serving it is removed.
 
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