Lines that should have been mainlines

Sad Sprinter

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.
 
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UrieS15

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.
Certainly as a user of the routes to London from Dorking in the 60s the shortcomings of the route to London Bridge were painful. However I would suggest that four tracking Leatherhead to Dorking would be problematic because of the North Downs. Mickleham Tunnel would need doubling, following the River Mole as an alternative would have to face the heavy flooding which has washed away many bridges at Young Street. Ending the four track at Leatherhead would make a sort of sense because it might increase the Effingham line route traffic to Guildford, and even now the traffic south to Barnham would seem not to justify four tracks.
 

yorksrob

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.

It's an interesting thought.

The Maidstone East route should be more direct to Dover, but it goes quite sharply South, then East, then South East due to the Downs, so probably isn't much more direct than the main line through Tonbridge.

Quadruple track between Shortlands and Brixton might have been handy though !

Further North, quadruple track between Micklefield and Leeds would be useful (although it probably would have been reduced in the 60's - 80's anyway !)
 

Shimbleshanks

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).
The West Coast Main Line north of Preston...
 

70014IronDuke

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.

Do you know how many routes were built as four track from the outset?

it's easy to think with the benefit of hindsight and when you expect others to back up your thoughts with their money, not your own.
 

Sad Sprinter

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Do you know how many routes were built as four track from the outset?

it's easy to think with the benefit of hindsight and when you expect others to back up your thoughts with their money, not your own.

Yes true, but its just a thought experiment rather than anything serious.

Probably tends towards zero. So a fairly poor definition of “built as a trunk route”.

Yes also true, but I think people get what I mean.

Certainly as a user of the routes to London from Dorking in the 60s the shortcomings of the route to London Bridge were painful. However I would suggest that four tracking Leatherhead to Dorking would be problematic because of the North Downs. Mickleham Tunnel would need doubling, following the River Mole as an alternative would have to face the heavy flooding which has washed away many bridges at Young Street. Ending the four track at Leatherhead would make a sort of sense because it might increase the Effingham line route traffic to Guildford, and even now the traffic south to Barnham would seem not to justify four tracks.

Yes even if you quadrupled to Streatham Junction you'd still dump London Bridge services onto double track routes through Dulwich or West Croydon, so you'd probably have to quadruple Sutton to Windmill Bridge.
It's an interesting thought.

The Maidstone East route should be more direct to Dover, but it goes quite sharply South, then East, then South East due to the Downs, so probably isn't much more direct than the main line through Tonbridge.

Quadruple track between Shortlands and Brixton might have been handy though !

Further North, quadruple track between Micklefield and Leeds would be useful (although it probably would have been reduced in the 60's - 80's anyway !)

Yes that is true re. Maidstone Line. Perhaps the diversion through Otford could be remedied with a spur from the SEML just north of Sevenoaks to Kemsing.
 
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Helvellyn

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Even by your definition many Main Lines were upgraded to four tracks. Very few (if any?) were built as four tracks from the outset.

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.
If Chessington to Leatherhead had been built as planned you'd have had Leatherhead being very busy today. The Waterloo-Dorking services also used to continue down to Horsham. You might have seen then seen demand for four track from Leatherhead (or even Epsom) to Horsham but lots of other Southern routes remain two track and cope.


I know you want built as new, but it might be worth considering pre First World War widening schemes that should have been continued. For example, the fact the LSWR never extended its four tracking South from Worting Junction (where the West of England line diverges) to Southampton is a real bottleneck today. The number of extra tunnels required though (including Southampton), plus widening the cutting for Winchester Station, would have been massive. You'd also probably want a flyover either between St Denys and Northam or Southampton Central and Redbridge.

Welwyn Viaduct and the Welwyn Tunnels not being four tracked by the GNR is another bottleneck.
 

swt_passenger

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A side question, were the first routes to be four tracked over longer distances trunk routes? Or busy suburban routes?
 

MarlowDonkey

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I know you want built as new, but it might be worth considering pre First World War widening schemes that should have been continued.
In London, four tracking the Circle from Paddington to Kings Cross, from Moorgate to Liverpool Street or Aldgate and from Gloucester Road to Aldgate would have opened up some Crossrail style opportunities between the GWR and the GER/LTS. Kings Cross to Moorgate was built as the Widened Lines and High Street Kensington to Gloucester Road as part of a dispute between the Metropolitan and the District.
 

yorksrob

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A side question, were the first routes to be four tracked over longer distances trunk routes? Or busy suburban routes?

London Bridge towards Bermondsey must be one of the earliest. Probably competing companies sharing lines.
 

Dr Hoo

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In industrial areas the biggest driver around quadrupling was often to separate moderately fast passenger services from very slow freights that were forever stopping for banking assistance, pinning down brakes, shunting intermediate sidings and so on. Not necessarily on what we might think of as 'crack express' main lines.
 

30907

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It's an interesting thought.

The Maidstone East route should be more direct to Dover, but it goes quite sharply South, then East, then South East due to the Downs, so probably isn't much more direct than the main line through Tonbridge.
It's about 3m longer owing to using the Darenth Valley to avoid a much longer tunnel.
Quadruple track between Shortlands and Brixton might have been handy though !
We called it the Catford Loop :) - better than nowt.
 

chorleyjeff

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The West Coast Main Line north of Preston...
Surely a pair of tracks is all that is needed North of Preston. There aren't that many trains per hour or day.
But the Leeds to Carlisle line should have gone with the original plan via Ingleton with the WCML quadrupled from where they merged near Tebay. But the need for that disappeared with unfitted freight.
 

lachlan

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Interesting one, not sure if this is the sort of thing you're looking for but the line from Perth Montrose should have been built with through stations at Forfar and Brechin, and perhaps if this had been done then it would still be in use today potentially as the mainline south.
 

Taunton

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Not quite in the 4-tracking league, but the onetime direct Bristol-Radstock-Frome line was half the distance between Bristol and Frome of the current main Bristol-Weymouth route, meandering round through Bath (where it heads due north at one point) and into Wiltshire through Trowbridge and Westbury. All the junctions point the right way as well.
 

Shimbleshanks

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Surely a pair of tracks is all that is needed North of Preston. There aren't that many trains per hour or day.
But the Leeds to Carlisle line should have gone with the original plan via Ingleton with the WCML quadrupled from where they merged near Tebay. But the need for that disappeared with unfitted freight.
Don't think the freight operators to central Scotland can do all they'd like at the moment, especially for containers. An extra pair of tracks would also give a bit more scope for overnight operations. HS2 could make the situation worse by stimulating demand for passenger services to Scotland thanks to the faster overall journey possibilities.
 

YorksLad12

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Further North, quadruple track between Micklefield and Leeds would be useful (although it probably would have been reduced in the 60's - 80's anyway !)
Perhaps, but if it had been four in the past it would be easier to turn back into four now - no need for land take, for one thing.

Indeed, one could argue that the TPE north (via Huddersfield) route should be classed as a main line.
 

yorksrob

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Perhaps, but if it had been four in the past it would be easier to turn back into four now - no need for land take, for one thing.

Indeed, one could argue that the TPE north (via Huddersfield) route should be classed as a main line.

You'd have thought so. It doesn't seem to be the case though. I can only think of that line near Bristol that's gone vack from 2 to four tracks.

On a similar note, four tracks from Leeds to Shipley would be useful today (although Thackley Old Tunnel would need rebuilding).
 

Aictos

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The West Coast Main Line north of Preston...
The East Coast Main Line north of Stoke Tunnel....

Welwyn Viaduct and the Welwyn Tunnels not being four tracked by the GNR is another bottleneck.

There was a diagram that I saw a few years ago which showed that the GNR actually was going to 4 track the ECML all the way to Peterborough, of course that never happened.
 

gg1

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You'd have thought so. It doesn't seem to be the case though. I can only think of that line near Bristol that's gone vack from 2 to four tracks.

On a similar note, four tracks from Leeds to Shipley would be useful today (although Thackley Old Tunnel would need rebuilding).
One major obstacle to reinstatement of 4 track routes is when when main lines were converted from 4 to 2 track by BR, it was common practice for the 2 remaining tracks to be realigned in order to smooth out curves and allow for increased line speed. 4 tracking along the existing formation would reverse those speed gains.
 

yorksrob

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One major obstacle to reinstatement of 4 track routes is when when main lines were converted from 4 to 2 track by BR, it was common practice for the 2 remaining tracks to be realigned in order to smooth out curves and allow for increased line speed. 4 tracking along the existing formation would reverse those speed gains.

Yes, that's a biggie for the TPE route.
 

YorksLad12

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You'd have thought so. It doesn't seem to be the case though. I can only think of that line near Bristol that's gone vack from 2 to four tracks.

On a similar note, four tracks from Leeds to Shipley would be useful today (although Thackley Old Tunnel would need rebuilding).
Interestingly: when I "opened" Apperley Bridge I was asked by someone why the area hadn't been re-four tracked, and that we'd have to rebuild the station if it was. I knew enough to reply that track and signalling is expensive to build and maintain just on the off-chance it would be needed. Wasn't you, was it? :D

Conversely, I think the platforms at Kirkstall Forge should have been build a bit further back in case that part was re-four tracked; it would make more sense to do that there than on the Apperley Bridge stretch. They would have to be very long loops to make it worth doing, of course.
 

yorksrob

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Interestingly: when I "opened" Apperley Bridge I was asked by someone why the area hadn't been re-four tracked, and that we'd have to rebuild the station if it was. I knew enough to reply that track and signalling is expensive to build and maintain just on the off-chance it would be needed. Wasn't you, was it? :D

Conversely, I think the platforms at Kirkstall Forge should have been build a bit further back in case that part was re-four tracked; it would make more sense to do that there than on the Apperley Bridge stretch. They would have to be very long loops to make it worth doing, of course.

No, it wasn't me at the re-opening :lol:

I suppose you would get some benefit quadrupling up to the junction towards Guiseley, without the cost of digging out Thackley Old tunnel.
 

ac6000cw

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Don't think the freight operators to central Scotland can do all they'd like at the moment, especially for containers.
The FOC's just need more power on the trains i.e. modern electric traction - if the freights could climb the hills at 75 mph it would open up more paths to them, I'm sure. Adding extra tracks is a very expensive way of adding capacity.

(I find the notion that a route needs four tracks to qualify as a 'mainline' somewhat bizarre - have you ever looked at how much freight tonnage per day some single-track mainlines in other parts of the world carry?)
 
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DJS76

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What about the West Anglia Main Line? Most services confined to the 2 northern tracks out of Liverpool Street, goes to 4 track after Bethnal Green but then share with Chingford trains. If it was 4 track from Hackney Downs all the way to Broxbourne or even as far as Bishops Stortford then you wouldn't have the problems there are today.
 

YorksLad12

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(I find the notion that a route needs four tracks to qualify as a 'mainline' somewhat bizarre - have you ever looked at how much freight tonnage per day some single-track mainlines in other parts of the world carry?)
Quite. A route being four (or more) tracked as a result of being designated a main line, yes. Calling yourself a main line just because you have four tracks, no.
 

bassmike

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Can you think of any lines that should have been built (not that you would upgrade) as trunk routes instead of secondary routes? I.e, with four tracking, straighter alignments or grade-separated junctions, that would at least of had some benefit to passengers today? (so no Far North Line quadrupling).

I think the Balham-Mitcham-Sutton-Horsham-Barnham corridor really should have been straighter with four tracks, at least between Balham and Dorking. Plus maybe the Maidstone line, which is the straightest route towards Dover/Folkstone.
Maidstone line has a very sharp curve at Otford junc:
 

Welshman

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The L&Y Sowerby Bridge-Rishworth line was intended as a through route to Manchester, tunnelling through the Pennines to emerge at Littleborough, and thus shortening the journey to Manchester by 5 miles.
In the event, the tunnel was not built and it remained a secondary branch, closed completely in 1958, but had it been completed and developed, it could have been an integral part of a fast Leeds-Manchester line for today's needs.
 

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