FREIGHT STUDY: NR tar­gets fast, high-ca­pac­ity net­work

Rail (UK) - - Front Page - An­drew Ro­den Con­tribut­ing Writer rail@bauer­me­ @AndyRo­den1

LONGER and faster freight trains run­ning on a higher-ca­pac­ity rail net­work form the cor­ner­stone of Net­work Rail’s draft Freight Net­work Study that was re­leased for con­sul­ta­tion in Au­gust.

In­creases in line speed on key sec­tions of the Strate­gic Freight Net­work are con­sid­ered, as is the de­vel­op­ment of a net­work-wide ca­pac­ity for 775-me­tre trains. Gauge en­hance­ment and cre­ation of more di­ver­sion­ary routes to en­able new in­ter­modal freight ser­vices is also dis­cussed in the 108-page doc­u­ment.

Key schemes pro­posed in­clude dynamic loops from Te­bay to Shap Sum­mit, from Pen­rith to Shap in the Up direc­tion, and on the Up line be­tween Carlisle to Plump­ton near Pen­rith. The cost of these in­ter­ven­tions ranges from £250 mil­lion to £500m for the first two, and £375m for the lat­ter. Re­mod­elling of Carstairs Junc­tion, in­clud­ing bi-di­rec­tional sig­nalling and ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of ex­ist­ing junc­tions, is ex­pected to be un­der­taken with track re­newals in Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (2019-2024), at a cost of up to £250m.

Grade sep­a­ra­tion at Den­bigh Hall South Junc­tion (near Bletch­ley) and ad­di­tional plat­form ca­pac­ity at Mil­ton Keynes Cen­tral are be­ing con­sid­ered with East West Rail ser­vices in mind, while gauge clear­ance to W12 load­ing gauge be­tween the West Coast Main Line and Grange­mouth is also a pos­si­bil­ity.

Longer-term as­pi­ra­tions on the West Coast Main Line - Bri­tain’s busiest mixed-use rail­way - in­clude quadru­ple track­ing from Pre­ston to north of the Scot­tish bor­der or the cre­ation of a new two-track rail­way, and qua­dru­pling from Carlisle to Carstairs and around Wins­ford, Weaver Junc­tion and Wi­gan and Pre­ston.

On the East Coast Main Line, dynamic loops at Grantshouse (Ber­wick-upon-Tweed) are needed to cope with ex­pected freight de­mand in CP6, and elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Ed­in­burgh Subur­ban Line will pro­vide a W12 load­ing gauge elec­tri­fied route be­tween the West and East Coast Main Lines. This could cost be­tween £150m and £300m.

Other Scot­tish im­prove­ments sug­gested in­clude in­stal­la­tion of an Up freight loop at Cam­per­down (north of Dundee) to in­crease ca­pac­ity, and cre­ation of a loop­ing strat­egy for freight be­tween Dundee and Aberdeen.

Fur­ther dou­bling of the Felixs­towe branch line, to meet grow­ing de­mand for rail ser­vices from the port, is pre­dicted to cost be­tween £75m and £150m, with a loop at Haugh­ley Junc­tion, sig­nalling up­grades at Bury St Ed­munds and track dou­bling be­tween Ely and So­ham also re­quired to max­imise the ben­e­fits. Ma­jor works at Ely and Peter­bor­ough are also con­sid­ered. W12 gauge clear­ance from Derby to Stoke has al­ready been com­mit­ted to in CP6.

Ma­jor ca­pac­ity en­hance­ments at Le­ices­ter are al­ready to be deliev­ered in CP6, with two

ad­di­tional tracks be­tween Wigston North and Sys­ton East Junc­tions and grade sep­a­ra­tion at Wigston North Junc­tion.

De­spite be­ing rel­e­gated in im­por­tance, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the di­ver­sion­ary route from Southamp­ton Ports and Bas­ingstoke via An­dover is in­cluded in the study, with costs es­ti­mated at £300m to £500m.

Grade sep­a­ra­tion at Did­cot East Junc­tion and ei­ther four-track­ing be­tween Did­cot and Ox­ford or grade sep­a­ra­tion and ca­pac­ity im­prove­ments in Ox­ford could cost £475m or £200m re­spec­tively.

In south­ern Eng­land, W12 clear­ance on key routes to and from the Chan­nel Tun­nel is de­sired, as is ad­dress­ing in­com­pat­i­bil­i­ties be­tween track cir­cuits at Red­hill and Class 92 lo­co­mo­tives.

The con­sul­ta­tion is avail­able at­­ning-process/FreightNet­work-Study/


Freight­liner 66567 heads south through Lan­cast­ers Gate (near Stow­martket) on Septem­ber 29 2015. It is ac­cel­er­at­ing away from Haugh­ley Junc­tion, which takes trains away from the Great Eastern Main Line and west­wards to­wards Ely. Net­work Rail is...

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