Electrification East Anglia V Western SE England

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by Owen, 26 Feb 2019.

  1. Owen

    Owen On Moderation

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    So, i'm an outsider to England (Northern Irish). I've been living in East Anglia for 4 years, for Unviersity.

    To me, the Electrified network here is decent. Most towns i.e. Norwich, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich have at least one Electric service, indeed small, rural towns such as Ely and Downham Market have Electric services.

    Now, I look online at places such as Oxford and Aylsbury. From what I can see, the high density Electrification has stopped west of Hertfordshire. Berkshire, Oxfordshire etc are counties that have high population densities, relative wealth and close proximity to London?

    So why would Kings Lynn and Ely have Electrified service over and above these key towns?
     
    Last edited: 26 Feb 2019
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  3. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Cambridge to Kings Lynn was wired by 1992 as a follow on from the ECML electrification plus also Bishops Stortford / Royston to Cambridge and Colchester to Norwich in the mid to late 1980s. However it was done on the cheap at the insistence of the Thatcher government and until fairly recently no 12 car trains could operate between Royston and Cambridge due to power constraints. Indeed power constraints still remain between Cambridge North Station and Kings Lynn. So you will see very few eight car electric trains and no 12 carriage electric trains. Electric Locomotive operation is still restricted or not permitted between Royston and Kings Lynn I seem to recall.
     
  4. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    IT IS STARTING TO CHANGE
     
  5. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Norwich was done to a completely different scale apart from the dreadful early cost cutting plan to single part of the route between Norwich & Diss. Thankfully the penny pinching government of the day was educated to the error of their skinflint ways & there has never been anywhere near such a draconian restriction to the Intercity East as that imposed on the Network SE style West.
     
  6. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    After the Bishops Stortford - Cambridge electrification, the fast trains between Cambridge and Liverpool Street *were* electric loco hauled (by 86's) for a while, swapped for 47's between Cambridge and Kings Lynn. That stopped when more EMUs became available and the line to Kings Lynn was electrified.
     
  7. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    Didn't it stop before that when DMUs where substituted for North of Cambridge rather than keep any LHCS whatsoever on that route?
     
  8. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I think that a lot of it is down to the service patterns (before bi-modes became a reality).

    If you are wiring the southern section of the ECML out of Kings Cross then it's not much more to wire the bit from Hitchin to Cambridge. The additional cost is relatively low (especially given the Liverpool Street - Shelford - Cambridge line is wired).

    But then, since half of the fast Kings Cross - Cambridge services extend to Kings Lynn then wiring the line through Ely to Kings Lynn is a small price to pay compared to running diesels all the way from London to Cambridge because they are extending on to Kings Lynn... or forcing The Queen to change at Cambridge because you've cut off the direct services through to Kings Lynn. Plus much of it is single track.

    BUT, if you are wiring lines in an era before bi-mode then wiring to Oxford then you'd still be running diesel trains through to Worcester/ Hereford, so you're only getting part of the benefit from wiring the line (for all of the disruption - e.g. longer distance passengers might face long periods of Rail Replacement Buses whilst the line from London to Oxford is wired up but still be stuck with the same diesel trains when the wires are up and working).

    To wire to Aylsbury sounds easier, but you'd have to pay for all of the cost of wiring Marylebone (rather than piggybacking upon someone else's costs) and deal with the electrification where the route is shared with London Underground. Plus there's also the problem of an EMU fleet from Marylebone to Aylesbury being a relative micro fleet compared to the rest of the Chiltern operation.

    Just speculation, and I could have got the dates/order of the Cambridgeshire electrification a bit wrong - I'm just making the point that electrification traditionally often owed a lot to service patterns and nice neat routes, rather than just which ones are the most frequent. If you've got self contained services, if you can wire short sections beyond the current wires (i.e. where 75% of your route has already been wired then you are only paying for 25% of the route but getting 100% of the benefit).

    Bi-modes change this though, you can wire the main route without doing every single branch, you can avoid doing the difficult stations or tunnels.

    But pay for wiring the main GWML from Paddington to Cardiff and all of a sudden other routes can piggy back upon that infrastructure (e.g. extending Crossrail to Reading).
     
  9. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Well, Shenfield got wires in 1949 (just!) under a pre-war scheme, Chelmsford in the early 50s, and the busiest parts of Anglia in the late 50s early 60s - essentially everywhere within 30/40 miles of London plus the line to Clacton / Walton.

    Most of the rest was electrified in the late 80s under projects known as Anglia East (Colchester - Harwich / Norwich) and Anglia West (Bishops Stortford / Royston to Cambridge). Both were effectively total route modernisations that included complete resignalling, track rationalisation, new or cascaded trains, DOO (except north of Stowmarket) and a few other initiatives, all of which saved a considerable sum in operational costs. It wasn’t just about putting up the wires. The cases were thus made on the route modernisation as a whole rather than just electrification, and there was an economy of scale in that the new EMUs could be maintained in existing depots at Hornsey and Ilford, but the removal of the old DMUs meant closure of their depot (Cambridge Coldham Lane). All this was initiated and mostly delivered under Regional Management, because, well, Anglia did things that way. (Conversely, the Western was very much a diesel railway and largely determined to stay that way.)

    The Lynn line was lucky to get wires at all. The work was grossly underestimated and the project went way over budget (it’s not just a Network Rail thing!) and the project was descoped to get it over the line - hence signalboxes remain at Kings Lynn, Maggy Road, Downham Market and Littleport, and there’s a nice big empty space on the new (1992) panel at Cambridge ASC.
     
  10. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Liverpool Street had a far denser suburban service than Paddington, so suited initial suburban electrification much better, to Shenfield in 1949 and NE London in 1961. Once this was established, it was more straightforward to extend things incrementally as funds became available, which is what happened. Quite a lot of electric stock also became available from 1968 when the Victoria Line took a great deal of peak traffic away from the Enfield/Chingford lines, this was available for reuse such as the Lea Valley line, and even the later NSE schemes as commuting dropped off. Paddington in comparison did not have this to build on. Further, the proportion of trains going relatively short/medium distances from Liverpool Street, and thus contained within the electrification area, was far greater than the substantial long runs from Paddington, which would have required extensive loco changing. It's difficult to go too far within East Anglia; it's a pretty self-contained system, without the substantial through running from elsewhere that the WR had.

    The old GWR didn't have a mile of electrification, unlike the other Big Four companies. Traditions die hard.
     
  11. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    You may well be correct - it was a long time ago :smile:

    (I think at the time people were surprised BR even bothered with - costly - electric & diesel loco haulage, but I assume it was due to a mixture of lack of DMU availability and potential negative politics/PR from effectively downgrading the Kings Lynn service if had gone to a DMU connection/shuttle straight after electrification to Cambridge).
     
  12. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    That's true, but doesn't explain why when the southern section of the ECML was wired in the 70s they electrified the Cambridge line only as far as Royston! The through loco-hauled "Buffet Car Expresses" were taken off in favour of a transfer between a 312 and a 101 at Royston. BR deemed the Liverpool Street route to be the main Cambridge service despite it being slower than a fast from Kings Cross, and the London station less convenient for most.
     
  13. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    You need to remember the wires had already made it to Bishops Stortford on the WA lines by the time the GN was electrified to Royston.

    In at least one book, it is mentioned that the BR Eastern management, whilst they wanted to electrify from Royston - Cambridge were concerned that had they done so, the money to electrify from Bishops Stortford to Cambridge would never be forthcoming. Bishops Stortford to Cambridge is about 30 miles, whereas Royston is about 13.

    Once Bishops Stortford to Cambridge was done, the "Royston gap" became an easy 'in fill' scheme.

    The switch back to Kings Cross as the primary station from Cambridge also happened due to the opening of the Stansted Airport link and the demand for paths that the Stansted Express introduced.
     
  14. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Although it's only 13 miles further (from KGX), extending the GN scheme to Cambridge would have meant re-signalling the Cambridge area as well as putting up the wires (and maybe adding a feeder station in the area). That would have somewhat increased the costs of the GN scheme. 40+ years ago Cambridge wasn't the mega-busy tech area plus London commuter dormitory it is today, it was (in essence) a county market town with a large university attached, so I suspect commercial return versus extra cost didn't stack up (in terms of convincing the Treasury to fund the scheme in the early/mid-1970s).

    Once the Cambridge area was re-signalled in the early 1980s, that made justifying extension of electrification to Cambridge easier (less costly).
     
  15. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    I believe the wiring allowed electric locomotives from Liverpool Street to Cambridge but not Kings Cross to Cambridge as the power supply was insufficient between Royston and Shepreth Branch Jn.
     
  16. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Wasn't the Kings Lynn route double track before electrification and singled to save money by putting the masts in the track bed as they sunk into the Fens?
     
  17. grumpyoldman01

    grumpyoldman01 Member

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    Being pedantic, that isn't quite true.

    The Paddington through platforms, together with some of the tracks west to where the Hammersmith branch diverged, were electrified on the Underground 4-rail system; my understanding these were solely owned by the GWR. Moreover, the electrified Hammersmith branch was jointly owned by the GWR and the Metropolitan, the West London (part of which was jointly owned with the LNWR) was also electrified, as was part of the West London Extension Railway in which the GWR owned a quarter-share.

    Hammersmith & City possessed its own electric trains; these were the joint property of the GWR and Metropolitan, and were identified accordingly.
     
  18. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Some parts were singled well before electrification, but the last stretches were indeed done just in advance.
     
  19. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Correct (AFAIK) when the wiring was originally done, since as far as I remember the projects excluded a new feeder station at Cambridge to keep the costs down. A feeder station was added later as part of the Kings Lynn project (it's situated where the A14 crosses the railway). I don't know what the current restrictions might be on electric locos in the area, but given the power draw of modern EMUs (thinking about a few 12 car 700s or 387s accelerating away simultaneously) I suspect a loco wouldn't be much worse - is there a good reason for electric locos to want to visit Cambridge on a regular basis anyway?
     
  20. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Royston - Cambridge was the last bit to be done of Anglia West, so there would have been a time when electric locos (and trains) could only have got to Cambridge from the Stortford direction, simply because there were no wires th eothe way! (Side note - electrifying Royston to Cambridge only just got through the Ministry’s approval process, as the case was not good).

    However what you say is possible, but probably only as a temporary measure. The Royston branch is fed from Hitchin, and Milton (just north of Cambridge) with the usual split between the two at Litlington neutral section just south of Royston. On the Stortford line, the feeding is from Ugley (and yes, I do know an Ugley girl), which is just north of Stansted; the split between Ugley and Milton is normally at Shepreth Branch Jn. Personally I think it unlikely that if Ugley was feeding all the way to Cambridge and it could take locos, that Hitchin feeding to Shepreth Branch couldn’t. Having said that, in some alternative feeding arrangements Ugley can feed all the way to Litlington via Shepreth: this is a good 40k distance away. If this was the case when the wires went live then the voltage at the far end would have been ‘interesting’.
     
  21. grumpyoldman01

    grumpyoldman01 Member

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    With regard to Aylesbury, until 1960 it was served by London Transport Metropolitan Line trains from the City; these were hauled by electric locos as far as Rickmansworth, then steam for the rest of the journey. However, electrification of the line was only extended as far north as Amersham, and this became the terminating point for London Transport services (formed of A60 stock); therefore, is it not reasonable to assume that - at that time - it was deemed that there was insufficient demand to justify through electric services from the City to Aylesbury, and that this town could be best served by DMU services from Marylebone?

    On the general question regarding electrification schemes in the east of England, it really is necessary to see the BR investment submissions to see why lines were electrified in the sequence that they were, why some routes were singled (such as north of Ely to King's Lynn), etc; does anyone know if these are available for analysis in either the NRM or at The National Archives in Kew?

    Government specified BR's external financing limit, the amount that could be spent on capital investment (and when it could be spent), the required rate of return on investment programmes, etc; there were procedures laid down for investment formulation/analysis/evaluation, and BR had teams of competent managers who knew how to "play" the systems to maximise benefits and minimize capital expenditure (which generally only related to the "betterment" element of a project's costs). A direct consequence of this was that sometimes desirables were missed from schemes; an example of this which comes to mind is the electrification of just the slow lines in the Northfield/Longbridge area.

    BR was, of course, a vertically integrated railway, and this enabled it to take a much more holistic approach that is possible with today's fragmented structure; moreover, the creation of the business sectors in the early 1980s enabled it to look at matters much better than had been possible under the previous regional structure. This, together with a government change which allowed BR to cram more people into trains than had previously been allowed, perhaps accounts for some of the electrification schemes in the east of England.

    Certainly, my understanding is that the class 315s were originally procured just as Shenfield replacements, and if you look at the fleet size roundly 30 8-car trains replaced 30 9-car trains (formed of class 306 EMUs); but the change to the "cram-'em-in" factor meant that there was a surplus of EMUs in the NSE area, and in some places it was cheaper to string up wires than replace first-generation DMUs. Because only the "betterment" element of the cost had to be justified, the starting point for a project would be "how much will it cost to replace the existing DMUs with new ones?" Using spare EMUs was the basis for electrification of the Southminster branch and Romford - Upminster in the east of England (and also to East Grinstead).

    Reading 'Informed Sources' articles in old copies of 'Modern Railways' might help understand some of the decisions made years ago which seem "strange" when looking back with the benefit of hindsight, but Roger Ford wouldn't necessarily have known all that went on behind the scenes; just electrifying as far as Royston would have made sense to the BR managers responsible for developing the GN Suburban Scheme, and it enabled them to get that project through the investment approval process. Going the final few miles to Cambridge (or even going further north up the ECML to Peterborough) seems to have been a major omission when looking back, but that may have "killed" the GN Suburban Project completely; getting wires as far as Royston provided a platform for further enhancements at a later date, and no doubt the wiring of the ECML through the multi-tracked sections of North London would have helped justifying investment in the electrification of the ECML through to Edinburgh.

    And, in turn, didn't the electrification of the ECML enable Royston - Shepreth Branch Junction to be electrified on the cheap? Wasn't some equipment made redundant by strengthening the power supply (or something!) on the Hertford Loop re-used to extend electrification north from Royston?

    Or have I imagined it!
     
  22. a good off

    a good off Member

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    Several Class 86s did work over the Shepreth Branch Jn to Royston section in the 80s as I saw them passing through Meldreth. The OLE feed was done on the cheap and the 86s did draw a lot of juice.
     
  23. MarlowDonkey

    MarlowDonkey Member

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    I wonder whether there was ever any scope for a 1930s equivalent of CrossRail. Electrify out to West Drayton or Slough on a four rail system and run through trains to both sides of the Circle via the Bishop's Road connection at Paddington and at Ealing Broadway. Part of it even happened without electrification, given the through Windsor to Southend trains via the District.
     
  24. grumpyoldman01

    grumpyoldman01 Member

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    I was aware of the joint District/LT&SR service between Ealing Broadway and Southend, but I didn't know of the through services to Windsor; I believe the former used the south side of the Circle, and therefore didn't serve Paddington.

    However, there were through trains between the GWR and Moorgate, changing from steam to electric at Paddington; I don't know the frequency, and I think they stopped with the outbreak of WWII. Therefore, there was a precursor to part of CrossRail.

    The connection between the GWR and Met at Paddington was used for freight until the mid-1960s; certainly, in about 1963 there was still a cattle train from Birkenhead to Smithfield which took the Chester avoiding line at about 21.00hrs, and this attracted much attention from local anoraks as it was one of the few trains that far north on the former GWR network to be often hauled by a Churchward 47XX 2-8-0. Haulage of this service changed to a condensing Pannier at OOC, and weas steam worked along the northern side of the Circle until crossing to the Widened Lines at Farringdon.
     
  25. a good off

    a good off Member

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  26. Cambridgejcn

    Cambridgejcn New Member

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    The Kew file re track singling options is AN188/78 and this includes material relevant to the various singlings on the Ely-King’s Lynn line. Those singlings took place in 1984/5. Although they undoubtedly affected the economics of electrifying the line, effected in 1992, they were independent of the later decision to electrify NSE’s Cambridge-King’s Lynn section, which was authorised in February 1989. There seems to be a widespread misconception around that the first had a direct causal relationship on the second!

    However, the localised singlings (the creation of single leads from the King’s Lynn and from the Norwich lines) at Ely North Junction in May 1992 were part of the electrification works.

    Cambridge-King’s Lynn electrification is the subject of File AN184/384.

    Other Kew files, which (unlike the 2 above) I have not yet studied, include AN188/30 Anglia East and West Resignalling and Electrification, AN188/121 West Anglia Electrication, AN188/173 Anglia West Electrification and rejection of Royston-Cambridge, AN184/382 Royston-Cambridge Electrification.

    Great Northern Electrification files include AN124/1327, AN129/14, AN129/16, AN188/122, and AN199/139. The National Archives catalogue is at www.discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk .
     
    Last edited: 16 Mar 2019
  27. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    The 1930's "Crossrail" - deferred by WW2 was Ealing Broadway / West Ruislip (Denham) via Greenford towards Essex.
     
  28. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Presumably what we now refer to as the New Works Programme that saw the Central Line extended east and west how it is today.
     
  29. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Indeed - and despite the difficulties of post war Britain , it was given priority , and I think some POW's were used to assist the completion of the job. (that and the Shenfield electrification) - in tricky times , some strategic national strategy. A winning combination really.
     

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