Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Follow the yellow brick road

Posted in Business, Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 2 July 2013

I came across a story yesterday concerning East Midlands Parkway, the station that was built to provide a link to East Midlands Airport. It seems that the projected numbers of passengers that was used to justify the station’s construction all the way back under Midland Mainline was wildly overestimated – the reckoning was in the region of 740,000 per year going through its precincts, while the reality is that for the year 2012 the total number was a little over 260,000. I found out about the story thanks to a tweet from Wolmar:

Failure of East Midlands Parkway suggests HS2 station at Toton is in wrong place…  Ppl do not want out of town stns

I personally feel that that is a bit of a simplification. While an out of town station might well prove unhelpful if it is only on one route, if it is a genuine interchange with spokes going in different directions, then it can serve its purpose well. East Midlands Parkway is let down by the fact that its primary purpose, the airport, is 4 miles away, with no shuttle service, and that only trains travelling on the Midland Main Line use it. However, there are a number of small to medium sized towns in the area around the station that have no rail connection. Additionally, right next to the airport is Donington Park. Further, the suburb of Clifton is not too far either, and that is set to be the terminus of one of the new Nottingham Express Transit routes. With the go-ahead of the planned Sheffield tram-train, a similar system connecting the NET network with East Midlands Airport, Donington Park and perhaps somewhere like Ashby-de-la-Zouch, through East Midlands Parkway, would seem to be a reasonably good use of resources. Hell, it wouldn’t even have to connect directly, with Clifton used as an interchange for the NET and Nottingham, and East Midlands Parkway for those journeys to and from points north and south (Leicester, Derby). Were something along those lines to happen, how much footfall would East Midlands Parkway get then?

“East Midlands Parkway railway station fails to meet target”

East Midlands Parkway is currently underused. How much more traffic would it get with better connections to other destinations?

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Mix and Match

Posted in Great Britain, Metro, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 18 July 2012

It’s just over thirty years since what is described as Britain’s first light rail system, the Tyne and Wear Metro, opened for business. Since then, six new systems have opened of which only one, the DLR, isn’t a tramway. Now, the first of the second generation tramways are coming up to the time where they will be replacing their original fleet, with the announcement that Metrolink are to withdraw the last of their T-68 vehicles to have a single fleet of the new M5000. Having had a think about the various light rail systems, it seems that Metrolink is in the minority when it comes to having a uniform fleet; although Midland Metro will replace its existing fleet with a new one, Supertram and Nottingham Express Transit will be purchasing new vehicles to expand their fleets as a result of the expansion of their networks, while the remainder already operate mixed fleets:

I’ve often seen rail operators dispose of vehicles for the sake of uniformity, with the intention of reducing their maintenance costs – obviously having a single fleet means you only need a single source of parts. But on the flip side, for those operators who have a relatively new fleet of vehicles and who are looking to supplement this with a few new ones, opening a production line for a small order (as would have been the case with TfL’s newest 6) would be prohibitively expensive, while replacing the entire CR4000 fleet would also be a waste. Metrolink are in the position that, with their massive network expansion, they needed a massive fleet expansion, and its original fleet is approaching the time when it would need to be significantly overhauled. Which I guess makes it swings and roundabouts as to whether it’s worth having a mixed fleet.

“Manchester’s oldest Metrolink trams to be replaced”
“Nottingham’s new tram design unveiled”
“First tram-train gets go-ahead for Sheffield to Rotherham”

A Balloon and a Flexity 2 in Blackpool – the idea of a mixed fleet may be the only option in some cases

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