BTH Type 1 Bo-Bo – Happy 60th Birthday

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This design was another of the ‘Pilot Scheme’ diesels that was not so much a failure in design, but a product of the lack of clear definition of requirements, and the reliance on the electrical industry in the UK to design, and deliver systems that functioned well on the 1950s and 1960s railway. They were too, it has to be said, very much at the mercy of Government policies that were in a state of flux, and driven by the rapidly changing economy of the times.

So, we have in the BTH, or AEI if you prefer, Type 1 diesel-electric locomotive intended for use primarily on freight traffics, and especially the wagonload, and non-bulk traffics.

BTH Advert 1958Between 1955 and 1965, the modernisation and re-equipment programme had resulted in many changes of direction, the very public trials and tribulations of comparing the different diesel engine and transmission systems, and the over optimistic electrification plans. At the same time, the massively increased competition from road freight transport companies saw dramatic reductions in the railways’ share of the market, and operating costs that were rapidly rising.

This in turn led to some very unwise, or not thought through decisions, under pressure from dwindling financial resources, and the appearance of too wide a variety of designs, and decisions made to bulk manufacture products that were unproven to the railway environment.

In the early days the 174 pilot scheme diesels were going to be built and tested before fleet orders were placed – this was abandoned only part way through. Some of the manufacturers were failing to transform from steam traction to diesel and electric, and the railways were forced to rely on a collection of – in particular – existing electrical industries, with limited rail experience.

AEI Type 1 DieselThe arrival of a contract with British Thomson Houston, for the 44 locomotives, designated Type 1, with a Paxman diesel engine, powering four DC traction motors and all the ancillary and control equipment would have been very welcome in those uncertain economic times. Did the Rugby factory have enough capacity, or indeed capability to build the locomotives – not really. As was the case with numerous other designs of the day, they subcontracted the design and manufacture of the mechanical parts such as bodies, running gear, bogies, etc., to others.

At the same time, the engineering and manufacturing industry in the UK was undergoing some upheaval too, with acquisitions and mergers, and the arrival of Associated Electrical Industries (AEI), bringing together Metropolitan Vickers and BTH back in 1928 didn’t benefit anyone. Although part of the AEI Group when the order for the new Type 1 was placed, BTH was still quoted on the stock exchange as a separate, rival company to the likes of Metro Vick and English Electric. BTH subcontracted most of the mechanical works to the Clayton Equipment Co. in Derby, and the Yorkshire Engine Co. in Sheffield.

They were ordered in 4 separate lots, the first 10 in 1955 under the Pilot Scheme, then 3 more orders in lots of 10, 17, and 7 in 1959, all equipped for multiple unit operation, and numbered from D8200 to D8243. They were intended for service on the Eastern Region, covering North East London to East Anglia

With the first 10 locomotives appearing between November 1957 and November 1958, Clayton Equipment supplied the bogies and superstructure to Yorkshire Engine Co. in Sheffield, where the frame construction and final assembly was completed. The remainder were built by Clayton at Hatton, Derbyshire, and delivered between October 1959 and February 1961.

Neither of these two companies had much experience of designing or building main line diesel locomotives, and were focussed on industrial and mining and battery driven products. The Yorkshire Engine Co. had built main line steam locomotives in the past, but Clayton’s of Derby were perhaps even more of a niche engineering company.

AEI Type 1 side viewSo, in 1957 – 60 years ago – the new British Railway Type 1 took its first steps – beaten to the number 1 spot of course, by English Electric/Vulcan Foundry design – the ubiquitous Class 20 as it is known today.

BTH Type 1 leading dimensions table

1964 Allocations

1974 AllocationsThe 1967 National Traction Plan resulted in the loss of many of these ‘Pilot Scheme’ types, but also made other mistakes, one of which included ordering the centre cab Class 17 locomotives from the Clayton Equipment Co. With BTH placing work with Clayton for the ill-fated Class 15 for the mechanical components, it does seem an odd thing to do, even more so considering that the later Clayton design was even more unreliable than the BTH design.

In the Class 15, the Paxman engine was a pressure-charged engine with sixteen 7inch x 7 ¾ inch cylinders in “V” formation, but generating a mere 800hp at what was essentially a high-speed engine, compared to many other around at that time. This engine proved to be a source of numerous problems in service, from general unreliability to excessive maintenance, and the poor visibility from the location of the cab didn’t help.

Class 15 2A major contributory factor for the withdrawal of the class was the decline in suitable freight working in the North East London to East Anglia area, and they were all withdrawn from operational service between April 1968 and March 1971. All except the four allocated for departmental service were scrapped by the end of 1972, and D8233 has been saved for preservation, and undergoing restoration on the East Lancashire Railway.

A lot of work has been done, and it is good to know that in its 60th anniversary year, an interesting design from BR’s early dieselisation years has survived.

 

Useful links:

http://d8233.org.uk/about.htm

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Class 56 – 40 Years on …

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The first 30 of the Class 56 diesel-
electric Co-Co heavy freight locomotives supplied to British Rail by Brush Electrical
 Machines Ltd were built by the Romania subcontractor “Electroputere”, and entered service 40 years ago. These were classed as a “Type 5” and fitted with a Ruston-Paxman 3,250 bhp (2,423 kW) 16RK3CT diesel engine, with a Co-Co wheel arrangement. The diesel engine was the final development of the old English Electric CSVT series, under the GEC Diesels badge, which brought together both English Electric and Ruston-Paxman at Newton-le-Willows.

Brush Falcon on test run Bush Type 4 publicity shot

The Brush family likeness – “The Falcon” prototype and the ubiquitous Class 47 Co-Co

Class 56 in build - Jim Mason

Class 56 under construction at BREL – (c) Jim Mason

The electrical and control equipment in the Class 56 is a really interesting and innovative development, with a Brush three-phase, twelve-pole main alternator to provide power to the traction motors, and an auxiliary supplying the cab air-conditioning equipment, blower and compressor motors and battery charger. Both alternators are brushless, each with a rotating diode assembly to rectify the ac supply from the exciters for excitation of the alternators. This separately excited, or –‘sep-ex’ – technique was the next logical step to the full AC drive systems in place today.

 

Class 56 Diagram

British Rail Weight Diagram for Class 56

Leading Dimensions

Length over buffers 19,355mm
Total wheelbase 14,580mm
Bogie pivot centres 11,480mm
Bogie wheelbase 4,100mm
Bogie type CP2 (One loco was fitted with type C3 for test before fitting to Class 58)
Overall height (to rail) 3,960mm
Overall width 2,790mm
Weight (in working order) 125.25 tonnes
Maximum tractive effort 275,000 N
Continuous tractive effort 240,000 N at 27 km/h
Minimum radius curve 74 m
Maximum permitted speed 130 km/hr

Engine and Transmission

 

GEC Diesels / Ruston

RK3CT

Max. Continuous output (each engine)

2,460 kW at 900 rpm

Cylinders; Number.

16

Traction motors; No, make and type

Six Brush Type TM 76-32

Final drive

Single reduction spur gearing

Main generator; No, make and type

Brush three-phase, twelve-pole brushless main alternator
Braking equipment Davies & Metcalfe Type E70 system
Fuel tank capacity 5,228 litres

Mechanically they were very much the same as the earlier Brush Type 4 (Class 47) design, with an all- welded monocoque superstructure assembly using a stressed skin form of construction.

56002 - Jim Mason photo

Class 56 number 56002 in the earlier style BR blue livery with the small logo.                                      Photo Courtesy: (c) Jim Mason

No less than 105 of these were built between 1976 and 1984, and although the first 30 were built in Romania, the remainder were built at Doncaster (70, Nos. 56 031 to 56 115) and Crewe (30, Nos. 56 116 to 56 135), but with significant modifications, from the poor experience with the first batch.

Unsurprisingly perhaps they bore a strong similarity to the Brush Class 47 /Type 4, as the photos and diagrams show, and are the last of what might be described as the British Railways style of double ended locomotives, with a full width body. They were later joined by BR’s final diesel design, the Class 58, and although this also featured a cab at each end, it followed a perhaps more traditional freight loco design, with only a simple casing/hood over the engine.

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Class 56 No. 56026 under heavy repair at Doncaster Works in 1982, alongside the Class 58 locos under construction.  (Photo (c) Rodger Bradley)

The Doncaster built Class 56 were the penultimate diesel design built in a BR / British Rail Engineering Ltd works for British Rail, with the works building BR’s final home designed and built locomotive, the Class 58. The first 30 locomotives Nos. 56 001 – 56 030) were found to be a poor quality build, with many being withdrawn from service early for extensive rebuilding, and then re-entering re-entering service.

The first Class 56 3,250hp Co-Co diesel-electric heavy freight locomotive to be built by BREL was handed over to British Rail on 29th April 1977, shipped from Romania through the port of Harwich. It was planned to outshop 20 locomotives per year.

Since BR had indicated there would be a follow-on order after the first 30, Doncaster Works resources would be severely stretched to meet these targets. Despite the fabrication facilities available at Doncaster, it was the lack of numbers of skilled staff to build the mechanical parts that was the most difficult challenge.

For this reason, the use of Ashford, Eastleigh and Swindon Works to fabricate sub-assemblies proved essential to meet the building programme timetable. Roofs, fuel tanks and cab frames were produced at Ashford, with cab desks from Eastleigh, and radiator housings from Swindon.

56114 on MGR - Mandy Sharpe photo

56114 in old style BR Blue with large double arrow logo on an MGR coal working. Photo courtesy: (c) Mandy Sharpe

At that time – the mid to late 1970s, the big railway workshops were still in existence, although there had of course been many closures, loss of skilled staff, and re-organisations that were to come would prove even more costly to railway engineering in the UK as a whole.

 

The final batch of 30 were built at Crewe Works, and with the BREL works across the UK coming together to supply the sub-assemblies, skills, knowledge, experience and programme timings were maintained. Brush and their subcontractors supplied the type CP2 bogies, whilst the power and control systems were designed and provided by the Loughborough company.

In operation they were hit by the BR privatisation, and became part of the newly formed EWS (English, Welsh & Scottish railway Ltd) from 1996, which comprised four divisions of British Rail’s rail freight operations – Rail Express Systems, Loadhaul, Transrail Freight and Mainline Freight. EWS later bought the National Power Rail Unit and British Rail’s European division – Railfreight Distribution, using the Class 56 in their primary role, until the arrival of many of the new Class 66 locomotives. By 2004, the Class 66 were in the majority operationally, and EWS took the decision to withdraw these Brush designs, although some were used in France to help build the then new LGV for TGV-Est, and other European work.

56032-mr-140901

Classic shot of the second of the second Doncaster built engines, 56032 on a typical MGR working in EWS livery in 2001
© 53A Models of Hull Collection

After EWS withdrew the Class 56 in 2004, they were stored at Crewe, Toton, Warrington, Barrow Hill and Eastleigh, and when DB Schenker bought EWS they continued to focus on the Class 66 as their preferred main line freight type.

 

DB Schenker, now DB Cargo sold 27 Class 56s for scrap to European Metal Recycling in 2011, but 11 were bought by Colas Rail, and remain in service on traffic for which they were originally built. Colas is effectively a subsidiary of French engineering company SECO. UK Rail Leasing own and operate a further 15 class 56 locos, which operate on a range of services.

The Class 56 proved operationally superior when compared with the later Class 58, and a number have been preserved, whilst others are still in service with other train operating companies, including:

Owner Numbers
British American Railway Services 56 091/103/128/303(125)/311(057)/312(003)
Colas Rail 56 049/051/074/078/087/090/094/096/105/113/302(124)
UK Rail Leasing 56 007/018/031/032/037/038/060/065/069/
077/081/098/104/106/
Class 56 Locomotives 56 301(045)

Whichever way you look at the Class 56, it has been both successful and unsuccessful, as BR’s last Type 5 locomotive, and in effect brought back to life after privatisation, effectively saying that BR had done a good job in the design and operation of this locomotive.

Many are still with us 40 years on, through occasional lease to rail freight operators, but the design does bring to an end that era of British diesel locomotive building, and the legacy from Brush Traction/Brush Electrical Engineering.

-oOo-

Useful links

Edinburgh – Technology Beneath Your Feet

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Back in the Edwardian era across Britain, many towns and cities embraced and installed tramways to provide a mass transport system.  With the arrival of the mass market motor car, fixed urban transport systems like trams rapidly went out of favour and the tracks and facilities ripped up.

Edinburgh had an extensive tramway network – no less than 24 different routes criss-crossing the city, from Joppa to Corstophine, and Granton to Liberton, with a total of more than 47 miles of route.  The first of the Edinburgh Corporation Trams began operating from July 1919, and the last tram ran on 16th November 1956.

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Edinburgh Tram Network in 1924

In 2014, the new tram network opened with “Urbos”3 series vehicles from Spanish train maker CAF.  The design has been used across Europe, from Budapest and Belgrade, to Malaga, Freiburg and Utrecht, and deployed typically as 3-car or 5-car sets.  The vehicles for Edinburgh are 5-car units, and a low-floor design, with 100% wheelchair.

IMAGE07 - tramway map image

Original 2007 plan for Edinburgh tram routes

Such is CAF’s success in this market, the company is setting up a new factory in Newport, South Wales, to build more trams for the Birmingham network expansion, in addition to Northern Ireland Railways, and is targeting further urban work in the UK.

Edinburgh was its first major success in the UK, and despite the financial crises that beset the building of the line, ‘Auld Reekie’ now runs some state of the art trams.  However, those crises of funding and disputes with the prime contractor, together with Government involvement considerably reduced the planned scheme, which resulted in a very much foreshortened scheme.

Edinburgh tram route map 2017

Edinburgh tram route map 2017

Below, is a reproduction of the item I wrote about this back in 2006:

Technology Beneath your Feet

 

English Electric Traction for Japan

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Back in the early 1920s, railways in many countries around the world were beginning to invest more widely in electrification projects, and Preston based English Electric were what would be described today as world leaders in this field.

Today we have been accustomed to recognising Japan as home to very high speed trains since the early “Shinkansen” in the 1960s, and we now see electric units from Hitachi being delivered for use on railways in the UK.  Barely 40 years earlier, English Electric designed and built a new Bo-Bo electric locomotive design, and shipped them 12,000 miles to Tokyo, for the Imperial Government Railway.

In 1922, English Electric’s first orders consisted of two complete 1200hp Bo-Bo locomotives for the Tokyo Suburban lines. The locomotives were dual voltage types, for use on either 600V d.c, or 1200V d.c. systems. The order was placed by the Imperial Government Railways, as work began on electrification of a stretch of the Tokaido Railway, covering some 590 kilometres, between Tokyo and Kobe.

EE Co. Bo-Bo for JapanDuring their delivery in 1923, an earthquake occurred, and the ship carrying the locomotives from Preston to Tokyo was in Tokyo Harbour, with unloading in progress. Unfortunately the bogies (for the Bo-Bo locomotives) and the motors were on the wharf, with the superstructure and control gear on barges, which sank during the earthquake. The bogies and traction motors disappeared beneath the sea too, as the wharf on which they had been deposited also collapsed. Replacement locomotives were built, and subsequently shipped out successfully.

Despite the initial earthquake disaster, the locomotives were a success, and resulted in a further order being placed on English Electric for a further 26, box cab type locomotives, nine of which were for local passenger duties, with the remainder on freight work.

Japan had adopted electric traction as its national policy, and not just for the state railway, but also the numerous private railways operating across the country.  However, the dual voltage of 600V and 1200V d.c. was not typical, with other major electrification schemes for main line systems around the world adopted 1500V d.c.

 

On the suburban routes, in the UK, railways had adopted – mainly – the 3rd rail DC style – avoiding the use of overhead contact systems, despite that arrangement having been used around 1900.  The Midland Railway and Lancashire & Yorkshire companies had each adopted both styles, but the overhead contact system was largely used by urban tramway and inter-urban transport networks.

Japan Railway LocoExamples of both were adopted in Japan, and one of the world’s heaviest electric locomotives was built and supplied by English Electric for Japan in 1925 for the Tokyo to Kobe main line, generating some 1,836hp.  Eight express passenger locomotives to this design were built at Preston, generating 1,836hp, and weighing 100 tons in a 2-Co-Co-2 wheel arrangement, with leading and trailing bogies.

 

In contrast, the Nagoya Railway used multiple unit style coaches/cars, taking their power from an overhead line through a tramcar trolley pole arrangement.

Two-car EMU for Nagoya Railway

Today we are seeing the complete reverse of what happened in the 1920s, with Japanese companies, such as Hitachi supplying the very latest technology to main line and suburban railways in the UK.  The names of English Electric and even GEC Traction may no longer be commonplace in Britain, but the legacy has been important for rail traction around the world.

GWR Intercity Express Train edited

-oOo-

From “Settebello” to “Frecciabianca”

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When I was about 9, my parents bought me a copy of the Ian Allan “Locospotters Annual” for Christmas, and inside were all manner of railway stories and photographs. Amongst these was a particular item about the Italian State Railways train which operated from Rome to Milan, as one of the new, post war luxury trains – this was the “Settebello”, “Beautiful Seven” or “Lucky Seven”. This, and a few other stories set me on course to visit and travel on a variety of European railways.

Settebello at Rome

Settebello at Rome – photo from 1962 ‘Locospotters Annual’

In Italy, this service started in 1953, using the ETR300 series of multiple unit trains. At the time it was the epitome of high-speed luxury, with the fastest section of its route between Rome and Bologna, where it would average 130 km/hr. This train was seven-carriages, electrically hauled throughout, reaching Milan in 6 hours initially, but accelerated until the journey time in 1978 was 5 hours 35 minutes. It became part of the TEE network from 1974, with international services operated jointly by Italy, West Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Settebello leaving Rome

As the luxury, supplement-charging train, the “Settebello” ceased operating in 1984, but was renamed in that year, under the TEE brand as the “Colosseum”. Sadly, I never got the opportunity to ride on this service, but Italian railways have continued to expand its high-speed network, with “Direttissima” lines connecting the major cities, Rome, Florence, Turin, Milan, Venice, etc.

Like the UK, Italy developed and operated ‘tilting trains’ in fixed formations since the 1960s, to enable increased speeds on existing tracks, without the need to build new, more direct high-speed lines. The Italian developments back to the late 1960s when Fiat Ferroviaria carried out its first experiments with tilting technology. The first real steps forward were made in 1976, when the experimental ETR401 took to the rails. This four-coach train was the first in the world and the nickname “Pendolino” adopted on the famous tilting railcar experiments stuck.

 

Ironically perhaps, the technology used on the “Pendolino” trains in Britain uses technology developed by British Rail in Derby for the ill-fated “Advanced Passenger Train” (APT). This was later acquired and adapted by Fiat, for the ETR450 trains, which began operating between Rome and Milan in 1988, followed by another 9-car series – the ETR460 in 1992.

ETR460 Set at Verona PN

ETR460 at Verona Porta Nuova in 2016

However, not all high-speed trains in Italy are tilting trains, largely thanks to the construction of the new high-speed routes. Services like the Freccia Rossa, Freccia Argento, and Freccia Bianca provide the backbone of operations on long distance national and international services. More recently, as the expansion of ‘privatisation’, competition from the new ‘Italo’ train operators has seen ever more innovation, and the latest ETR600 series of tilting trains, first seen in 2006.

 

Italo at Rome

‘Italo’ Set 4 at Rome

Whilst not having had the pleasure of a trip on the “Settebello”, I have had a number of enjoyable trips on high-speed (non-tilting) trains on the Turin-Milan-Venice main line, notably behind the ETR500 series, such as the ‘Frecciabianca’ below:

 

ETR500 Frecciabianca at Verona PN

ETR500 on Frecciabianca service at Verona Porta Nuova in 2016

We have a lot in common with the Italian approach to the ‘little pendulum’ trains, although the UK has been much slower to invest in high-speed rail than other European countries, and the tilting trains operated by ‘Virgin Trains’ in Britain are now 16 years old. The tilting mechanism was applied to the all-electric units as shown below, and some of the diesel powered variants on cross-country services.

Virgin Pendolino at Oxenholme 2014

Virgin Pendolino service at Oxenholme in 2014

There are some new trains entering service in 2017/18 in the UK, built by Hitachi, in Pistoia, Italy, Japan, and in the UK. These new 9-car units will operate on the Great Western and East Coast main lines, and as Class 800 also have both all electric and diesel powered options, and are part of the UK’s IEP (InterCity Express Programme), announced back in 2009.

GWR Intercity Express Train edited

Whilst the old manufacturers such as GEC-Alstom (who built the original UK high-speed pendolino sets), may not be as common as they once were on the rails, perhaps the Hitachi designs will offer comparable results.

-oOo-

Crossrail 2 Hits the Buffers?

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In a press release today, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) expressed concern that Crossrail2 was not mentioned in this week’s Queen’s Speech, although commitment to HS2 was retained.

Crossrail 2 is targeted at relieving congestion on commuter routes into and across London, but it will be some years before this project is completed.  Crossrail 1, or “The Elizabeth Line” is not due to open for services until 2018/19.

“We are, however, concerned that there was no mention of Crossrail 2 in the Speech. This scheme is vital not only to keep London moving and to support its further economic and social development, but also as a key element of the national transport infrastructure which serves the entire national economy. As Britain looks to plan for a post-Brexit future, investment in mobility is of even greater importance. Therefore, CILT calls on the Government to make a clear commitment to the future of the Crossrail 2 project.”

The line itself – if it is ever built – follows the route illustrated below:

Crossrail 2

The core line from Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters through St Pancras, Euston, Victoria and down to Clapham Junction.  I suspect that the ‘branches’ will never get built, and now, maybe even doubts about this ‘core’ section.

Maybe the CILT aren’t far wrong as Daniel Parker-Klein, Head of Policy, CILT said:

“It is imperative that Government commits to support the development of Crossrail 2.  This scheme is essential for not only London’s future but for the whole of the UK.  There is little time for delay – a hybrid bill must be submitted by 2020.  Without it, the benefits of HS2 may not be realised, the movement of goods and people will be constrained and the UK’s economy will be less resilient to meet the demands of an uncertain future.”

What a good job we have a competent and wide ranging transport strategy in the UK as leave the EU.

-oOo-

 

 

 

8,000 km of Railway Closed

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In the UK today, we constantly hear about the massively expanding number of passengers – all supported by the statistical evidence.  Whilst it would be true to say that the route mileage – well kilometres – was most drastically cut between 1965 and 1975, with just under 6,000 km disappearing, another 2,000km plus has gone since then.

From a total network of 24,012km in 1965, by 2015 this was cut to 15,799km – a 34% reduction – inevitably driven by the Beeching Plan.

network-routes-open

Comparing these two 20-year periods, it is clear that little change in the network route mileage took place between 1985 and 2005, with the network reduced by only 942 miles. Also during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the last main line electrification on UK railways was completed – the East Coast Main Line.

At the same time, passenger stations have closed – yes I know there has been massive rebuilding for some – but the possibility of sending parcels and small goods by rail has almost disappeared. In the years between 1965 and 1985, 40% of all stations disappeared, and in the period between 1975 and 1985 67% of all freight stations ceased to exist.

british-rail-stations

At least, that’s what the ONS figures suggest.

Does this mean that more people are being crammed onto less distance, in shorter and less frequent services, with fewer stations, and fewer options?

The UK is still a major player in the rail technology arena, and electrification has, and is, a key part of the network’s success. In 1985, with 3,809 km of route electrified (23% of total route), the electrified routes grew by 1,500km by 2015 – it is now 34% of the total network. Within that 1,500km total, the completion of the ECML to Edinburgh in 1991 was a major highlight.

What about passenger and goods traffic?

Measured in terms of billions of tonne kilometres, goods travelled 25.2 billion tonne/km on British Rail in 1965. By 1985, this figure had fallen to 15.3 billion tonne/km – a reduction of 39% – whilst at the same time road freight had increased by 44%. Between 1965 and 1975, coastal shipping was still carrying a lot of freight, just slightly less than rail, but clearly the emphasis by successive governments over the decade and more to 1979 to give priority to road freight had taken its toll.

freight-tonne-km

In 2012 there were 2,533 passenger stations listed by the DfT, and by 2016 this had risen to 2,557 as recorded by Steer, Davies & Gleave for the ORR.  Details here: http://www.orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates

On the face of it, this seems to suggest that 172 new stations have been added to the network since 1985.  But maybe all is not what it seems.  A report, published by Steer, Davies & Gleave for the ORR titled “Station Usage and Demand Forecasts for Newly Opened Railway Lines and Stations” in August 2010 makes for interesting reading.  It states that since 1999, some 40 new stations were opened, during the ‘privatised’ era, and which on my count leaves 132 opened before 1999.

Clearly the ‘privatisation’ of the rail – at least the train operators – cannot be stated as responsible for these new stations, but there has been significant increase in demand for rail passenger services.

However, looking at some of the stations listed as ‘new’ depends on your definition.  For example, the station at Alloa was opened in 2008, but is in fact a replacement for the station closed in 1980.  The table lists those replaced, or reinstated as follows:

New Stations in ORR Report

There are some quite clearly new stations in the list such as Luton Airport, Rhoose (for Cardiff Airport), and Braintree Freeport, but the majority are just re-opened.

More recently the ORR claimed 14 new stations opened in 2015/16 with 7 of these being stations previously operating on the old Waverley Route between Carlisle and Edinburgh, and now on the “Borders Railway”.

ORR 2015-16 New station map

Image from ORR – “Estimates of Station Usage 2015-16”

Are We Getting Back to the Future?

It might be argued that despite the massive increases in passenger traffic, there has been much less in the way of freight transport increases, much less goods are carried by rail today than 40 years ago.  There is limited development of distribution points beyond the core trunk routes, and logistics companies still prefer to transport small – 40 tonne lorry loads – over journeys of more than 200 km in the UK. In no small way is this supported by the many thousands of courier loads of small parcels, for which there is now no alternative but low-powered trucks, or articulated lorries.

Back 40 years ago, and more, we were less concerned about the environmental footprint of our key transport networks, and we sold off innovative technologies that we have now been forced to buy back, simply to meet passenger demand.  Will the same be true of freight I wonder.

Are we there yet ?? Plenty of passenger traffic, new stations and even new lines, but little or no freight – the future for integrated transport looks decidedly bleak.

-oOo-