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Should East West Rail (EWR) plans be more rational and proportional?

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21C101

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Well thats the end of that. This will never see the light of day. Ludicrous gold plating for a service that wont be needed for decades, if ever. In what world will more than two an hour from Cambridge to Bletchley ever be needed, never mind 4.

Impacting ~90 houses in Bedford (which face demolition, risk of demolition or land loss (see note at bottom of post)) to six track the line north from Bedford Station to the junction, when the slow lines north of Bedford carry a third of the traffic the slow lines south of Bedford do?

Shutting Kempston Hardwick when a town of 20,000 people called Wixams is being built next to it and the main line station has not materislised (and probably never will).

Shutting Millbrook. Sure its miles from Millbrook but it is on the edge of Marston Moretaine which has houses being built en masse.

Moving Ridgmont a mile away from the Amazon warehouse, it's main source of passengers.

Shutting Bow Brickhill when the area is being saturated with new housing.

Shutting Fenny Stratford a.k.a Wimbledon FC Stadium halt.

Two virtually unused low level platforms at Platforms at Bletchley not enough.

Shutting every single level crossing with some roads not replaced with bridges.

The signalling not fit for purpose and unreliable. Its significantly less than 20 years old?

Up to now the opposition has been uninfomed nimbies maundering on about night goods trains. Thus will turn it into a cause like the M3 through Winchester. It will upset EVERYONE, people living in Bedford, people whos road will be closed, plus the Bedford to Bletchley Rail Users, who's users association you cross at your peril, plus the nimbies.

They didn't even have the sense to propose a station at the north top of Bedford to serve the swaythes of Bedford northern suburbs that are nowhere near Bedford Station and give them some benefit in return for cutting a railway through the glorious countryside north of Bedford.

The cost is going to be absolutely astronomic and unaffordable in the post Covid world. We seem to have returned to modernisation plan levels of waste.

Any proposals need to be rational and proportional. These proposals are not and risk killing the project.

Note. Table 8.2 (page 294) in the technical report states as indicative worst case for the preferred six track option north of Bedford with new tracks on eastern side:
* 28 Demolished.
* 25 At risk of demolition.
* 44 lose land (chunk of garden or parking space)
Total: 97

 
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richieb1971

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I agree with the slow line comparison between North and south of Bedford. You have about 8 trains an hour south of Bedford vs 1 passenger train an hour using the down slow for EMR currently. It doesn't make sense to me. Even the EMR train will cease to use the slow line of the Bedford Station if modernized under the new plan. Which will leave just freight and EWR on the slows North of Bedford. There is obviously a freight requirement we are unawares of.
 

Bletchleyite

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I agree with the slow line comparison between North and south of Bedford. You have about 8 trains an hour south of Bedford vs 1 passenger train an hour using the down slow for EMR currently. It doesn't make sense to me. Even the EMR train will cease to use the slow line of the Bedford Station if modernized under the new plan. Which will leave just freight and EWR on the slows North of Bedford. There is obviously a freight requirement we are unawares of.

Huge sums of money spent there - and yet no east-north curve to allow more trains to serve Milton Keynes Central, the station serving the biggest employment centre on the entire route and providing IC connections north. That much is nuts.

Those two Bletchley terminators, post HS2, really need to go to MKC, then reverse to become the MKC-Oxford and MKC-Aylesbury hourly services.
 

Ianno87

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I agree with the slow line comparison between North and south of Bedford. You have about 8 trains an hour south of Bedford vs 1 passenger train an hour using the down slow for EMR currently. It doesn't make sense to me. Even the EMR train will cease to use the slow line of the Bedford Station if modernized under the new plan. Which will leave just freight and EWR on the slows North of Bedford. There is obviously a freight requirement we are unawares of.

The key benefit of the 6 tracks is probably avoiding the need to bind the EWR and MML timetables together, by effectively giving them each dedicated infrastructure.

Pair back EWR too much, and suddenly you have a timetable that needs to be hardcoded at Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge to the point of being unworkable.
 

Hey 3

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Huge sums of money spent there - and yet no east-north curve to allow more trains to serve Milton Keynes Central, the station serving the biggest employment centre on the entire route and providing IC connections north. That much is nuts.

Those two Bletchley terminators, post HS2, really need to go to MKC, then reverse to become the MKC-Oxford and MKC-Aylesbury hourly services.
Do we really need to build an east to north chord at Bletchley when we can just change?
No, I would not waste that money especially as it is hard to build the chord/curve anyway.
 

Ianno87

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Do we really need to build an east to north chord at Bletchley when we can just change?
No, I would not waste that money especially as it is hard to build the chord/curve anyway.

Would be ~4tph East-West connecting into ~4tph North-South. Miss a connection and not too long to the next one. Arguably better than 1-2tph directly.

If the chord was easy to build, it would perhaps be a different equation. But that part of the Slows south of MK are hardly quiet, so can't be filled up with too many EWR trains from all directions.
 

Bletchleyite

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Would be ~4tph East-West connecting into ~4tph North-South. Miss a connection and not too long to the next one. Arguably better than 1-2tph directly.

If the connections were nicely coordinated - cross platform and timed to connect. But they won't be. It'll involve getting off at Bletchley, dragging yourself over the bridge and back down, and no doubt being timed to just miss.

If the chord was easy to build, it would perhaps be a different equation. But that part of the Slows south of MK are hardly quiet, so can't be filled up with too many EWR trains from all directions.

Post HS2 things will be very different, of course. It depends what timetable is implemented then on the WCML. If it's "metro style" then perhaps changing won't be so bad, but that is nowhere near decided.
 

Class 170101

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My first question is "what on earth is 4tph to Cambridge needed for"? This will require hugely costly infrastructure to provide, will involve moving Ridgmont to an inconvenient place for the trading estate it presently serves and will be a classic example of short DMUs running at excessive frequencies.

Two from Oxford to Cambridge would be quite adequate (plus one to MKC and the hourly Aylesbury). They should be 200m long and electric before we bump up frequencies like that.
Frequency increases demand just look at BR Cross-Country compared to pre-covid but this post (see below) and the attached link suggests only 2tph between Oxford and Cambridge. Two faster services between Bletchley and Cambridge (perhaps onwards to Milton Keynes??? but see posts above mine)
 

21C101

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The key benefit of the 6 tracks is probably avoiding the need to bind the EWR and MML timetables together, by effectively giving them each dedicated infrastructure.
There isn't an infinite pot of money and I can think of many many locations where provision of extra tracks would be of far more benefit than spending a couple of hundred millions of pounds for a nice to have luxury that provides nothing beyond operating convenience, and fairly incremental operating convenience at that.

I agree with the slow line comparison between North and south of Bedford. You have about 8 trains an hour south of Bedford vs 1 passenger train an hour using the down slow for EMR currently. It doesn't make sense to me. Even the EMR train will cease to use the slow line of the Bedford Station if modernized under the new plan. Which will leave just freight and EWR on the slows North of Bedford. There is obviously a freight requirement we are unawares of.
Yes this will have the night freight conspiracy theory nimbies on steroids. If an extra pair of tracks are going to be built anywhere it should be between Bletchley and MK so that trains from Cambridge can reverse at Bletchley instead of terminating, ditto the existing service from Bedford. I suspect one extra track much of the way would be enough, as was originally planned between Wolvercote and Oxford.
 
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Ianno87

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There isn't an infinite pot of money and I can think of many many locations where provision of extra tracks would be of far more benefit than spending a couple of hundred millions of pounds for a nice to have luxury that provides nothing beyond operating convenience, and fairly incremental operating convenience at that.


Yes this will have the night freight conspiracy theory nimbies on steroids.

It's not "operating convenience" it's "being able to actually produce a workable complaint timetable" by minimising the number of dis-coordonated dots that need to be joined up.

The EWR timetable is going to inevitably play second fiddle to the timetable of 5 main lines out of London (GWML, WCML, MML, ECML, WAML), all of which are going to evolve between now and when EWR opens - best to make it as segregated as practicable from each of them.
 

21C101

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It's not "operating convenience" it's "being able to actually produce a workable complaint timetable" by minimising the number of dis-coordonated dots that need to be joined up.

The EWR timetable is going to inevitably play second fiddle to the timetable of 5 main lines out of London (GWML, WCML, MML, ECML, WAML), all of which are going to evolve between now and when EWR opens - best to make it as segregated as practicable from each of them.
Once a set of crossovers from the down fast to and from Platform 3 has been built (been on the cards for ages) for the two an hour from Corby to London, all that is going to be using the slow lines north of Bedford most of the time is freight, and that runs disproportionately at night.

Sorry but it is madness and will attract Swampy levels of opposition if as is reported ~90 properties will be impacted to do it.
 
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Ianno87

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Once a set of crossovers from the down fast to and from Platform 3 has been built (been on the cards for ages) for the two an hour from Corby to London, all that is going to be using the slow lines north of Bedford most of the time is freight, and that runs disproportionately at night.

Sorry but it is madness and will attract Swampy levels of opposition if as is reported 90 properties will be destroyed to do it.

I do suspect it is something that EWR will have to provide very, very good justification for.
 

Bletchleyite

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I do suspect it is something that EWR will have to provide very, very good justification for.

Unless the idea is that they are asking for far more than they expect to actually get? Then when it's descoped to save money, it's descoped down to what they originally wanted anyway?
 

Ianno87

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Unless the idea is that they are asking for far more than they expect to actually get? Then when it's descoped to save money, it's descoped down to what they originally wanted anyway?

I don't think you'd propose anything of this scale in a consultation (and all the aggro it would generate) unless you were reasonably serious about it.
 

21C101

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Unless the idea is that they are asking for far more than they expect to actually get? Then when it's descoped to save money, it's descoped down to what they originally wanted anyway?
If that is their game it is still madness as it requires flattening large numbers of homes in central Bedford which is going to galvanise opposition to the whole project. I used to live in South London and recall the uproar the M23 extension and ringway proposals caused before the whole thing was scrapped.

The A12 extension in East London in the 80s, a very much scaled down version of a fragment of the ringways that resulted in the loss of a similar number of houses, caused absolute uproar with years of trench warfare with the protestors which blew the construction budget out of the water.

Running a new line through green field countryside will result in enough controversy without handing you opponents open goals.

Swampy and co have their next causus belli.....
 

21C101

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The bi-directional capability has been taken into account, I can assure you.

The six-track options are the only way to allow for increased passenger services in the future, as the quoted paragraph 8.5.53 says, so it is neither exclusively nor mostly about additional future freight capacity.
I would have thought that four an hour to Cambridge was more than enough future proofing. Where are these three freight trains an hour going to go South of Bedford or are we going to six track from Silkstream to Bedford too?

A crossover from the up fast to and from Platform 3 was proposed years ago and should have already been done.

Incemental costs for future proofing for the next 100 years is one thing. About £200 million and ~90 families homes impacted is another matter entirely.

Two an hour frpm Oxford to Cambridge is one thing. Two more an hour from Bletchley to Cambridge is quite another. If four an hour really are needed from Bedford to Cambridge then extend two of the Thameslinks giving through Luton Airport etc to Cambridge services and unclogging Bedford Station in the process.

Two Oxford to Cambridge services plus the hourly Bedford to Bletchley would also mean you don't have to spend a small fortune totally rebuilding the Bedford to Bletchley line and so the Aylesbury bit can be uncancelled.
 
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mr_jrt

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If the chord was easy to build, it would perhaps be a different equation. But that part of the Slows south of MK are hardly quiet, so can't be filled up with too many EWR trains from all directions.
<tongue-in-cheek>Why not 6 track from Bletchley to MK?</tongue-in-cheek> ;)
 

tspaul26

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I would have thought that four an hour to Cambridge was more than enough future proofing. Where are these three freight trains an hour going to go South of Bedford or are we going to six track from Silkstream to Bedford too?

A crossover from the up fast to and from Platform 3 was proposed years ago and should have already been done.

Incemental costs for future proofing for the next 100 years is one thing. About £200 million and 90 families houses demolished is another matter entirely.

Two an hour frpm Oxford to Cambridge is one thing. Two more an hour from Bletchley to Cambridge is quite another. If four an hour really are needed from Bedford to Cambridge then extend two of the Thameslinks giving through Luton Airport etc to Cambridge services and unclogging Bedford Station in the process.

Two Oxford to Cambridge services plus the hourly Bedford to Bletchley would also mean you don't have to spend a small fortune totally rebuilding the Bedford to Bletchley line and so the Aylesbury bit can be uncancelled.
I’m sure all of that would be lovely, but that is not the specification provided for in the Project Objectives which the proposals have been designed to meet.

You are of course at liberty to respond to the consultation with your thoughts which will then be taken into account before DfT decide what to do next.

Indeed, I would encourage all members of the forum to feed into the process.
 

Brissle Girl

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I had already expressed exactly these sentiments in the main thread before finding this one. It’s ludicrous gold plating.
 

21C101

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Presumably because MK is a “branch” with most EWR trains going directly East-West at Bletchley, whereas Bedford is on the EWR “main line”.
Which perhaps reveals the muddled thinking behind this.

MK is a city of half a milion people that just about every East-West train should serve.

Bedford is roughly a tenth of the size, and it appears they prematurely ruled out running south of Bedford with a split level interchange station at Wixams, before discovering that their preferred option involved demolition of a significant chunk of Bedford Town Centre and huge disruption to the Midland Main Line and Thameslink for years.
 

tspaul26

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Which perhaps reveals the muddled thinking behind this.

MK is a city of half a milion people that just about every East-West train should serve.

Bedford is roughly a tenth of the size, and it appears they prematurely ruled out running south of Bedford with a split level interchange station at Wixams, before discovering that their preferred option involved demolition of a significant chunk of Bedford Town Centre and huge disruption to the Midland Main Line and Thameslink for years.
Where would you place a split level Wixams interchange?
 

Ianno87

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Which perhaps reveals the muddled thinking behind this.

MK is a city of half a milion people that just about every East-West train should serve.

It does. Bletchley is part of Milton Keynes with frequent connections to reach MKC.

Bedford is roughly a tenth of the size, and it appears they prematurely ruled out running south of Bedford with a split level interchange station at Wixams, before discovering that their preferred option involved demolition of a significant chunk of Bedford Town Centre and huge disruption to the Midland Main Line and Thameslink for years.

A residential street (admittedly 90 houses) is not "a significant chunk of he town centre". I sense a bit of hyperbole here.


The alternative headlines at this point are "East West Rail to bypass Bedford!!!", with resulting local campaign to not be bypassed.

Bedford is also "on the way" to Cambridge, so there's not much to be gained by not bypassing it.



As a side note, this forum is filled with thousands upon thousands of pages lamenting "stupid" or "short-sighted" decisions that are a "mistake". Here something genuinely built for the future is proposed, and people still complain.... Can't win.
 

tspaul26

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... before discovering that their preferred option involved demolition of a significant chunk of Bedford Town Centre and huge disruption to the Midland Main Line and Thameslink for years.
Ianno87:
A residential street (admittedly 90 houses) is not "a significant chunk of he town centre". I sense a bit of hyperbole here.

Where has this figure of 90 come from?

The six-track options would require the demolition of 21 residential properties (on the western side) or 28 residential properties (on the eastern side).
 

Ianno87

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Where has this figure of 90 come from?

The six-track options would require the demolition of 21 residential properties (on the western side) or 28 residential properties (on the eastern side).

I stand corrected - clearly misremembering off the cuff. Even less justification for claiming "a significant chunk of the town centre".
 

21C101

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It does. Bletchley is part of Milton Keynes with frequent connections to reach MKC.



A residential street (admittedly 90 houses) is not "a significant chunk of he town centre". I sense a bit of hyperbole here.


The alternative headlines at this point are "East West Rail to bypass Bedford!!!", with resulting local campaign to not be bypassed.

Bedford is also "on the way" to Cambridge, so there's not much to be gained by not bypassing it.



As a side note, this forum is filled with thousands upon thousands of pages lamenting "stupid" or "short-sighted" decisions that are a "mistake". Here something genuinely built for the future is proposed, and people still complain.... Can't win.
Bletchley is in Milton Keynes in the same way that Bradford is in Leeds.

WIxams is part of Bedford Borough with frequent Thameslink services to Bedford on the Midland Main line, and a split level Tamworth type station there woupd be nearer Bedford than Bletchley is to Milton Keynes Central.

So why are you happy for Milton Keynes with a population of getting on for half a million to by bypassed while it is essential for Bedford with little more than a tenth of the population to have EWR routed through it at a cost of hundreds of milions of pounds and the sort if destruction normally associated with an urban motorway?

~90 homes might not seem much to you but for every home impacted ten more will be blighted.

The A12 link road in Wanstead, east London "only" took 263 houses but the protests were epic and no government (outside Scotland) has dared build an urban motorway since.

Then to cap it they propose the biggest set of station closures since about 1970 with five of the Marston Vale line stations proposed to be closed and one of the others moved a mile away forcing its passengers to walk a mile including over an M1 intersection to get to Brogborough and the Amazon Warehouse.

If the Railway Conversion League had infiltrated East West Rail to undermine the project I don't think they could have done a better job

 
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Ianno87

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Bletchley is in Milton Keynes in the same way that Bradford is in Leeds.

Not true. Bletchley *is* part of Milton Keynes. Bradford is an entirely separate city from Leeds.

So why are you happy for Milton Keynes with a population of getting on for half a million to by bypassed while it is essential for Bedford with little more than a tenth of the population to have EWR routed through it at a cost of hundreds of milions of pounds and the sort if destruction normally associated with an urban motorway?

*Hyperbole alert again*

Because neither town is bypassed, and if anything Bedford is in greater need of town centre regeneration generated by a new railway passing through than Milton Keynes does.


90 houses might not seem much to you but for every house destroyed ten more will be blighted.

Those figures aren't true. You've made them up.


The A12 link road in Wanstead, east London "only" took 263 houses but the protests were epic and no government (outside Scotland) has dared build an urban motorway since.

Good thing that it's not a motorway being proposed then.



Then to cap it they propose the biggest set of station closures since about 1970 with five of the Marston Vale line stations proposed to be closed and one of the others moved a mile away forcing its passengers to walk a mile including over an M1 intersection to get to Brogborough and the Amazon Warehouse.

Two option are proposed, the actual solution might be a blend of the two to balance local and strategic needs. Locals might actually benefit from a train service that actually becomes more useful than the present one, even if they have further to reach the station. Usage of the current train service suggests that its current form doesn't serve local needs particularly well anyway.


If the Railway Conversion League had infiltrated East West Rail to undermine the project I don't think they could have done a better job


*Hyperbole*
 

tspaul26

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Bletchley is in Milton Keynes in the same way that Bradford is in Leeds.

WIxams is part of Bedford Borough with frequent Thameslink services to Bedford on the Midland Main line, and a split level Tamworth type station there woupd be nearer Bedford than Bletchley is to Milton Keynes Central.
Wixams has no station at the moment.

You have also not answered my earlier question: where would you place a split level Wixams interchange?

90 houses might not seem much to you but for every house destroyed ten more will be blighted.

The six-track eastern option would require (as a reasonable worst case scenario) the demolition of 28 residential properties. These comprise 21 houses as a number of them are flats rather than single dwellings.

As to blight, these properties are already in the vicinity of the existing Midland Mainline.

Then to cap it they propose the biggest set of station closures since about 1970 with five of the Marston Vale line stations proposed to be closed and one of the others moved a mile away forcing its passengers to walk a mile including over an M1 intersection to get to Brogborough and the Amazon Warehouse.
...
It’s not a mile extra walk: it’s about seven or eight minutes or so, but with a much more frequent service.

Improving pedestrian and cycle links - plus the scope to deliver station parking - is also under consideration as part and parcel of any relocation.
 
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