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Author Topic: Great Western Main Line electrification - ongoing discussion  (Read 684334 times)
Henry
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« Reply #210 on: June 18, 2010, 10:41:47 pm »

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10355547.stm

 In my opinion any promises made by the previous administration can now be ignored.
 It seems that there is now no cash available to even maintain our fragile network west of Exeter.

 Makes you wonder, if at the end of FGW's franchise, would any TOC take on this 'crumbling' network ?
 Fortunately I am only reliant upon 'public transport' for another couple of years.
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inspector_blakey
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« Reply #211 on: June 18, 2010, 10:57:08 pm »

Where on earth does the BBC article say there is no cash for maintaining the network west of Exeter? The only substantive point in that article referring to rail is that XC's voyagers aren't going to run on the sea wall in bad weather because of design flaws that have been known for nearly ten years.

There's actually a fair bit of money being spent on the network in the south west at the moment, with the major work on the Royal Albert Bridge just one example. Let's not grumble or get unduly pessimistic without some actual facts to back things up.
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John R
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« Reply #212 on: June 19, 2010, 10:19:23 am »

GWML electrification is about now therefore about committing money now, HS2 is still a pencil line on a map is years away from any major money so a Government can back it.

Also in 4 years time on the work up to the next general election the ConDem or is it LibTory can wave a big banner and say ain't good we are building a new railway.

If only you all knew how close GWM electrification is / was to be being a reality you would spit feathers

The problem is that all the work has been out of sight. It's a shame that NR could not have found a nice long stretch of simple plain line and aimed to get overhead masts up before the election. Probably very inefficient, but it's more difficult to can a project once there are visisble signs of progress (eg Crossrail....), so if it saved the project then worth the additional cost. 
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woody
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« Reply #213 on: June 19, 2010, 10:51:47 am »

Where on earth does the BBC article say there is no cash for maintaining the network west of Exeter? The only substantive point in that article referring to rail is that XC's voyagers aren't going to run on the sea wall in bad weather because of design flaws that have been known for nearly ten years.

There's actually a fair bit of money being spent on the network in the south west at the moment, with the major work on the Royal Albert Bridge just one example. Let's not grumble or get unduly pessimistic without some actual facts to back things up.

Unfortunately the perception of rail travel particularly among the business community west of Exeter/Newton Abbot is dominated by the relatively poor rail infrastructure as this reader comment (May 26th) about the current sale of Plymouth in my local paper highlights "If Plymouth loses its airport this city is dead in the water and confined to being in a backwater existence. We cannot rely in our roads, no motorway to mention and a railway stuck in Stevenson's Rocket times where it takes 50mins to get to Exeter for heavens sake. Who would want to do business with anybody in Plymouth if you cant get here".Yes a bit OTT but there is a message there for the Devon and Cornwalls railways and Government.
 With the ongoing financial clampdown on rail projects that situation can only get worse as the 21st century unfolds.
 The BBC says the current economic difficulties in the UK threaten planned projects to improve the transport infrastructure in Devon and Cornwall.
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has categorised the region's infrastructure as "at risk".
Severe weather and congestion on major routes can "effectively cut off Devon and Cornwall", it said.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/10355547.stm
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Henry
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« Reply #214 on: June 19, 2010, 06:14:35 pm »


  I admit to being pessimistic,  standing in the stairwell of a 142/143 does not help.
 
  Or watching the passenger bridge at Teignmouth gradually rotting away, perhaps one day they might repair the German
 Luftwaffe shell holes in the roof at Newton Abbot.
 

 
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grahame
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« Reply #215 on: June 19, 2010, 07:36:48 pm »

.... my local paper highlights "If Plymouth loses its airport this city is dead in the water and confined to being in a backwater existence. We cannot rely in our roads, no motorway to mention and a railway stuck in Stevenson's Rocket times where it takes 50mins to get to Exeter for heavens sake. Who would want to do business with anybody in Plymouth if you cant get here".

There is a very serious case for any town / city with relatively poor communications.  In our (IT, but with customers visiting us) business, there's a line somewhere around Taunton that we really shouldn't be to the west of ... west of Cardiff would probably hurt too.

There's a difference between a "will it make money / pay for itself with the income it generates" case, and a "will it do the area economic good beyond what it costs" case.
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« Reply #216 on: June 19, 2010, 07:44:21 pm »

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has categorised the region's infrastructure as "at risk".
Severe weather and congestion on major routes can "effectively cut off Devon and Cornwall", it said.
Indeed, in 2002 we were told the A303 was to be upgraded to dual carriageway standard between the M3 and Ilminster with the A358 also upgraded to dual carriageway from Ilminster to link to the M5 at Taunton to give a second high quality route to the South West.  This would have also relieved congestion in the Bristol area as many people use this route due to delays on the A303.  This was cancelled as was the dualling of the last two sections of the A30 (Temple to Higher Carblake and Carland Cross to Chiverton Cross) that needed upgrading.  The A380 Kingskerswell bypass may also be axed later this year.

In terms of railways the situation is not much better, large areas of North Devon have no network at all thanks to Beeching and journey times on the existing lines west of Newton Abbot are slow.  A journey from Exeter to Bodmin by train takes 1 hour 40 minute by train, on the A30 you would get there in 1 hour.  Exeter does benefit from an hourly service to Waterloo but any further double tracking of the route seems to have been ruled out for now.

Road and rail links to the South Coast remain poor, the A35 from Honiton is slow and the direct Penzance to Portsmouth train no longer runs.
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inspector_blakey
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« Reply #217 on: June 20, 2010, 03:41:21 am »

Dragging this thread back round onto the topic of GWML electrification, rather than nebulous, non-specific and (in my view) ill-founded paranoia about the future of the railway in Devon and Cornwall, how sure are we really that electrification has been canned? I will freely admit that I may be slightly out of date, since living out of the country doesn't always make it easy to keep abreast of developments as they happen.

However, I have in front of me issue 645 of Rail Magazine, in which the SoS for Transport Philip Hammond is quoted as saying, on 20 May 2010:
Quote
We are committed to a high-speed rail network and will take that to Birmingham. Having abandoned the third runway it is right and proper that high-speed rail should link to Heathrow. There is a renewed commitment to Great Western Main Line electrification and Crossrail.
My emphasis in bold.

That seems like pretty unequivocal language, especially coming from a politician who could more easily have made an evasive, non-committal statement. So has this commitment been superseded by subsequent events, or does it still stand, in which case we may be getting out knickers in a twist prematurely here.

The same issue also mentions on p.11 that the order for new Thameslink rolling stock is "not thought to be at risk" from DfT budget cuts. So it would seem from reading this magazine that, at least a couple of weeks ago, GWML electrification and the rather ingenious Thameslink rolling stock cascade were still on the agenda.
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« Reply #218 on: June 20, 2010, 08:10:32 am »

The GWML electrification design is still being worked on, the funding is there to do this, when this is complete this will be a very detailed "Form A" design sufficient to go out to tender.

The likely blockers to the scheme as Iain Coucher said in his Railnews article is the Government's freeze on ne rolling stock specifically the second (and largest) tranche of new Thameslink stock and the total reevaluation of the IEP, the whole concept of the GWML scheme is to do a "factory train build" in effect a production line from Airport Junction to Swansea; to do it peace meal will not get the per kM cost down to what the ORR were expecting.  In effect what Iain Coucher is saying if Mr DfT you only want to do as far as Oxford & Newbury it will cost a lot more, even Crossrail's costs will increase if they now take the Airport Jcn to Maidenhead wiring.

The team working on the GWML electrification design a little disappointed on the news that it may be delayed or stopped.

We all know and accept that the Country is in serious debt, schemes like the GWML and Thameslink stock can sit on hold but only for a short while these schemes need a Government decision one way or the other and in the next few months.
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« Reply #219 on: June 20, 2010, 09:32:56 am »

I wonder how Brunel would of handled the situation if he were still around today,probably turning in his grave now I expect.Lets hope wiser council prevails on this one and government takes the longer rather than the shorter terms view of this once in a generation opportunity to move Great Western foreward rather than sideways.
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willc
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« Reply #220 on: June 20, 2010, 10:42:04 am »

Quote
a railway stuck in Stevenson's Rocket times where it takes 50mins to get to Exeter for heavens sake

Maybe that person should try driving between the two cities then. I doubt you would get much under 45 minutes on a good day on the A38 (it's not short of twists, turns and climbs itself) and even the AA gives a centre to centre time by road of 58 minutes (and probably more on a summer Saturday), so what was that person on about? Or is there an air service between the two I don't know about?

Might it not be better to hang fire until the Budget this week, when the Government's plans may become clearer? And lest anyone forgets, many of the dmus that everyone is fighting to get their hands on were ordered and built under the Tories, who also authorised the ECML electrification.
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John R
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« Reply #221 on: June 20, 2010, 11:21:04 am »

Continuing the speculation, if the govt announce the cancellation of IEP and replaces it with a vanilla build of coaches, DVT, and some off the shelf electric locos (just enough to form the Bristol and Swansea services) then that will result in a fairly substantial headline saving. Maybe take off the Newbury branch of the project as well, and there would be enough savings to enable it to continue.

There still remains the problem of what to use on the local services if Thameslink doesn't involve the cascade of units expected. If I were the govt I would scrap the Thameslink procurement and build just enough bog standard electrostars or desiros to give the required increase in capacity.   
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woody
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« Reply #222 on: June 20, 2010, 11:33:45 am »

I think that remark about Stevenson's Rocket was more a reference to the disproportionately longer journey time of the Plymouth /Exeter part of longer distance journeys to Paddington.ie Paddington to Exeter (172) miles can be done in as little as 2 hours while most Paddington trains take about an hour to cover the mere 52 miles between Exeter and Plymouth because of the slow and sinuous rail route west of Exeter/Newton Abbot with its 55/60mph line speeds.If you were driving up the A38/M5 you would be at Taunton in the same time from Plymouth given that most traffic seems to regard 80mph as the norm even on the A38,its a question of perception really west of Newton Abbot railwise.The reality is that if rail links are important to your business then you probably would think twice about re-locating a business west of Exeter/Newton Abbot now,a point that FGWs plan to introduce an an earlier direct Paddington train targetting Exeter/Newton Abbot/Paignton rather than the much bigger Plymouth in December 2010 bares out.
 Dont get me wrong I am not knocking FGW after all they have a business to run and do the best they can with the limitations of the trains and the infrastructure they have,but limitations they do have hence the concern of some people in the far southwest over the possible loss of Air links.
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Electric train
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« Reply #223 on: June 20, 2010, 11:47:00 am »

Continuing the speculation, if the govt announce the cancellation of IEP and replaces it with a vanilla build of coaches, DVT, and some off the shelf electric locos (just enough to form the Bristol and Swansea services) then that will result in a fairly substantial headline saving. Maybe take off the Newbury branch of the project as well, and there would be enough savings to enable it to continue.

There still remains the problem of what to use on the local services if Thameslink doesn't involve the cascade of units expected. If I were the govt I would scrap the Thameslink procurement and build just enough bog standard electrostars or desiros to give the required increase in capacity.   
Would not mess about with "vanilla" coaches and loco's - Javelins are the answer for the Bristol / S Wales.  The TV routes could work by knocking out the Newbury section, but there is not much cost in doing that route compared to the whole GWML but would make a "political" saving
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« Reply #224 on: June 20, 2010, 12:07:13 pm »

you never know, they may include Westbury in the electrification to make it better value for money all over, all the Bedwyns AND the current Westbury's could be 319's meaning less DMU's and a more standard fleet.
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