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Author Topic: Airtrack Redux - Heathrow Southern Rail  (Read 1773 times)
stuving
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« on: September 01, 2017, 11:49:59 pm »

Well, here's a cunning plan! Why not resurrect most of Airtrack, with its line across Staines Moor to the current Staines station, a bay platform there, and the reinstated chord leading westwards. However, then we could add a new line, tacked onto the side of the M25 past (or through, if you prefer) Egham as far as Lyne Bridge where it joins the Chertsey Branch.

According to Paul Clifton, reporting this tonight, its big selling points are not putting extra trains over Egham level crossing and offering a new route into Paddington from and Via Woking. They propose that these through trains would be the 4 tph Heathrow Express extended, and some Crossrail trains would also run on to Staines. But as I recall it Airtrack could have offered that, but HAL didn't want it to happen. Whether NR and DfT did was not entirely clear, given they said very little about Airtrack.

The words talk about four tph running from T5 to Waterloo:
Quote
Network Railís modelling confirms that a service of four trains per hour is possible with current planned capacity enhancements, although this will require some adjustments to the service specification for the South Western franchise. We have already discussed these with both the Department for Transport and Network Rail.

Presumably that would need Reading and Windsor to go back down to 2 tph. Well, one of the odd things about the new SWT service levels is that Egham crossing gets the extra trains that were supposedly what killed off Airtrack - this would take them away again, which might please some Eghammers (though perhaps not enough to make this happen).

Who's backing this? And most importantly, what about HAL? They (HSR) don't say; in fact they present themselves as just eight individuals. Outside of the money men, most of them have railway management experience (but some time ago if they are retired) except, oddly, the only one listed as "executive director". They seem to be suggesting they would build it with private funding, but then rather than run the trains they would run it as a private infrastructure operator letting it be franchised by DfT - though that could not apply to HEx.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 09:45:09 am by stuving » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2017, 07:17:27 am »

One of the issues that stifled Airtrack originally are the level crossings particularly at Feltham, the original timetable from Waterloo to Heathrow, Windsor, Reading etc meant the crossing barriers were only open to road traffic for 15 mins out of every 60!  The idea of a reduced service by splitting a Windsor section off at Staines the complexity meant it was unworkable.

The sponsors ie Heathrow Airport decided the most economical option was the western approach on the GWML
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2017, 04:17:37 pm »

One of the issues that stifled Airtrack originally are the level crossings particularly at Feltham, the original timetable from Waterloo to Heathrow, Windsor, Reading etc meant the crossing barriers were only open to road traffic for 15 mins out of every 60!  The idea of a reduced service by splitting a Windsor section off at Staines the complexity meant it was unworkable.

The sponsors ie Heathrow Airport decided the most economical option was the western approach on the GWML

Airtrack's analysis put "their" level crossing into four groups:

1. Open time reduced by more than 25% - Staines, Pooley Green, Egham, Wokingham station.
2. Open time reduced by 10-25% - Mortlake, North Sheen, Starlane Wokingham, Addlestone.
3. Open time reduced by less than 10% - Barnes (both), Feltham, Rusham, Sunningdale, Waterloo Wokingham, Chertsey.

So Feltham wasn't one of the key crossings, and of course now it's going to be closed (approved but no date yet). Wokingham station crossing has been improved, but what its new capacity for trains is we don't know. We know the trains will be going up from 4 to 7 tph each way soon, and probably losing the present "two trains for the price of one closure". I'd guess a few more have had something done to them as well, and of course the whole line will see more trains before 2019.

But in any case I never really believed that the level crossings issue was the the determining factor for Airtrack.

For a start, why did the TWA application involve all that study of the impact on level crossings, when usually they say little or nothing of the services to be run? I suspect Airrtack made a tactical error there. It's really not their problem, since they proposed the trains would be part of the SW franchise. How many trains somewhere is decided by DfT (setting the minimum in the franchise SLC), NR (refusing to timetable paths above capacity), and the TOC (if there's any leeway between those two limits).

At least they could have said something like :

"All the local authorities on the route have adopted policies in favour of better rail services, without being more specific. But more trains, to more destinations, and faster, would all be part of anyone's definition of better rail services. This Airtrack proposal would bring all three.

Any extra trains, which these local councils want (and whether for Airtrack or not), will reduce traffic capacity at level crossings. In some cases new or altered infrastructure will be needed, and as is usual all of those who benefit would be asked to help fund this. Airtrack would expect to be a part, but only one part, of this process."

I think they (in effect HAL) decided this TWA business was too much hassle, and gave up the idea.
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paul7755
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 11:55:17 am »

This isn't actually completely new, there was another Network Rail 'Southern Access" report dated Dec 2015, it contained two options for bypassing Egham, so NR seem to be working on it as well:

http://your.heathrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Southern-Rail-Access-to-Heathrow-Feasibility-Study.pdf 

I'm not sure how these third party reports should be taken.

They basically just seem to be giving publicity to one of NR's proposals, basically 'Option 3'.  Surely a project like this would have to be undertaken by NR anyway?

Paul

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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 05:47:52 am »

There's a new demonstration of how to be efficient in level crossing closure at

http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2017/09/04/wait-hour-see-flying-scotsman-happens/
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