The Midlands Connection

In December 2008 I noted Network Rail's publication of the Route Utilisation Strategy for Wales adding that the Midlands and Chiltern RUS will be published in draft in 2009; The Welsh Connection. Network Rail has now published it's draft West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy revealing that "Passenger numbers are expected to increase by up to 32% in the next 10 years",\RUS%20Documents\Route%20Utilisation%20Strategies\West Midlands and Chilterns&pageid=4449&root=\RUS%20Documents\Route%20Utilisation%20Strategies.

The deadline for responses is 4 February 2011 and Network Rail intends to publish the final RUS next spring.

Details from the draft RUS are shown below.

The aim of the Route Utilisation analysis is to assess there is sufficient capacity available to meet forecast demand with passenger journeys to and from Birmingham expected to increase by 32 per cent in the peak by 2019.

The RUS also considers these expected increases against committed schemes or initiatives and where there are none in place to meet identified gaps. The RUS seeks to make the best use of capacity to deal with these gaps such as train lengthening (exceeding committments made for the Control Period 4 Delivery Plan), timetable changes and service enhancements.
For example with train lengthening recommendations, services passing through the RUS area are also considered with the addition of extra vehicles on certain services such as:

l Manchester – Bournemouth: two to nine additional vehicles

l Manchester – Bristol/Paignton: up to one additional vehicle

l Edinburgh – Plymouth: six to nine additional vehicles

l Birmingham New Street – Leicester/Stansted Airport: eight additional vehicles.

Train Operating Companies

In the West Midlands RUS area there are eight train operating companies. The key ones are listed below:

Arriva Trains Wales - run within Wales and with services via Shrewsbury through the West Midlands. The franchise due to run until 2018.

Chiltern Railways - run long distance services between London Marylebone and the West Midlands. The current franchise commenced in 2002 and has term upto 20 years.

Crosscountry - run long distance and interurban services on routes not serving London. Birmingham New Street acts as a interchange. The current CrossCountry
franchise was awarded in November 2007 and is due to run until April 2016.

London Midland - principal operator of interurban and suburban services across the West Midlands. The franchise was awarded in November 2007 for a period of eight years.

Virgin Trains - operate long distance passenger service trains between London, West Midlands, North West, North Wales, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Three trains an hour run weekdays between Birmingham and London and one train per hour between Birmingham and Glasgow or Edinburgh. The franchise was awarded for a 15-year period from 1997 to March 2012.

Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company - run services between the Welsh Borders and London Marylebone

Current Passenger Demand

In 2009/10, approximately 73 million passenger rail journeys were made within, to, and from the West Midlands and Chilterns RUS area and it is estimated that about 25 per cent of these journeys were made using Centro tickets1. Passenger demand in the RUS area increased by around 60 per cent between 1998 and 20092, equating to an average growth rate of 4.5 per cent per annum.

Of the 73 million RUS total journeys in 2009/10, around 18 million journeys were made to, from and within the Chiltern region (including London Marylebone) and demand has almost doubled between 1998 and 2009.

Of the RUS area total journeys, around 70 per cent were made from entirely within the West Midlands and Chilterns RUS area and the remainder were made to/from areas outside the RUS area, predominately to and from the North West, East Midlands and the South East region.

Current Demand

Station Footfall

In 2009, over 26 million rail passenger journeys started or ended at Birmingham New Street station, a 75 per cent increase from 19983. Another five million passengers interchange at the station.

In 2007, about 24 per cent of all journeys into Birmingham city centre in the morning peak hours were made by rail, in contrast to 17 percent in 1999.
During the same period, the modal share of car has decreased to 44 per cent from 52 per cent.

Platform Lengths

Planned changes to infrastructure and services

Extension of electrification and Cross City services to Bromsgrove.
The scheme will extend electrification of the Cross City line from Barnt Green to Bromsgrove which will facilitate the extension of Cross City services to provide three trains per hour to Bromsgrove. There is an interface between this scheme and a third-party-funded scheme to relocate Bromsgrove station.

Bromsgrove station relocation
This scheme is a third-party-funding enhancement to increase capacity and capability for passengers at Bromsgrove. The proposed option is to relocate Bromsgrove station 250 metres southwards along the Birmingham to Bristol main line.

Redditch branch enhancement
This scheme will improve capacity on the Redditch branch, by enabling an additional train per hour between Barnt Green and Redditch (in each direction) and thereby delivering a standard 20-minute interval service between Redditch and Birmingham New
Street. Network Rail is currently assessing the option of a double track section between Alvechurch and Redditch. The planned commissioning date for the project is December 2012.

Evergreen 3 project
The Evergreen 3 project is the third phase of the major infrastructure works which Chiltern Railways have promoted as part of their 20 year franchise to improve services on the Chiltern Main Line. The first and second phase of works delivered additional capacity, improved speeds at certain locations and two new platforms at London Marylebone station.

The third phase of Evergreen is a £274 million project which will deliver faster journeys between London Marylebone to Birmingham via Bicester, and a new route to Oxford.

All signalling on the route will be controlled by a central location, and it is anticipated that new services will commence by 2012.

Uncommitted enhancement schemes

The following are the uncommitted schemes which, if implemented, would have a significant impact within the RUS area.

Cannock line linespeed improvements
This scheme aims to increase the linespeed on the route between Ryecroft Junction (Walsall) and Rugeley from the current 45/50mph to 75mph. The increase will apply to approximately 11 miles of the route in both directions. The objective of the scheme
is to enable a timetabled reduction in journey time for passenger services on the route, in order to encourage growth in passenger travel and modal shift, thereby realising socio-economic benefits.

It should be noted that it is anticipated that the linespeed increase would be implemented following the completion of the resignalling scheme in 2013.

Kenilworth station
A third-party scheme is in development to provide a new station at Kenilworth in Warwickshire. A new station in the town would give residents local access to the national rail network and encourage increased use of rail for journeys that might
otherwise be undertaken by car.

Birmingham Snow Hill improvements
Consideration is currently being given to enhancements which may help to facilitate service improvements on the Birmingham Snow Hill line. These include the potential to increase the linespeed between Birmingham Snow Hill and the Jewellery Quarter and an evaluation of options to upgrade the station facilities at Birmingham Snow Hill
station. The opportunity to reinstate Platform 4 at Birmingham Snow Hill for heavy rail use following the proposed extension of metro services to the city centre is also being investigated.


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