Line speeds around Shrewsbury

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Shrop

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I'm not sure if this is the right page for this but I wonder if anyone knows why the line from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton and London is the SLOWEST of the five lines radiating out of this county town?

The twisty and hilly route to Hereford has higher speeds along it, as do the lines to Chester, Crewe and Aberystwyth.

And yet way back in the 1970s I regularly logged class 47s reaching 90mph on the Wolves line.

In the 1990s, after trains had been limited to 70mph and had to suffer being overtaken by traffic on the parallel A5, a group of us had a meeting with rail Directors and were promised improved line speeds, which depended on improved signalling.

The signalling happened, but the speed improvements never did, and decades later this line remains an embarrassment.
 
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The Planner

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I'm not sure if this is the right page for this but I wonder if anyone knows why the line from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton and London is the SLOWEST of the five lines radiating out of this county town? The twisty and hilly route to Hereford has higher speeds along it, as do the lines to Chester, Crewe and Aberystwyth. And yet way back in the 1970s I regularly logged class 47s reaching 90mph on the Wolves line. In the 1990s, after trains had been limited to 70mph and had to suffer being overtaken by traffic on the parallel A5, a group of us had a meeting with rail Directors and were promised improved line speeds, which depended on improved signalling. The signalling happened, but the speed improvements never did, and decades later this line remains an embarrassment.
Looked at countless times, it never makes it past initial proposals as it doesn't get you much. The signaling is in reality what it was before in modern form. Not sure why its an embarrassment as chances are any journey time savings will just get eaten up at Shrewsbury as you can't take advantage of them.
 

Shrop

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Looked at countless times, it never makes it past initial proposals as it doesn't get you much. The signaling is in reality what it was before in modern form. Not sure why its an embarrassment as chances are any journey time savings will just get eaten up at Shrewsbury as you can't take advantage of them.
Thanks but that doesn't explain why all other routes are faster. When a limit is set at 70mph we all know that train drivers dare not exceed this even though the largely flat and straight track would cope (and used to with ease and smoothness), and so would the trains. Why not allow trains to do 90mph, even if the advantage might be eaten up at Shrewsbury (and it might not)? And what sort of advert is it for trains, to car drivers on the A5, most of whom do 80mph plus or minus a bit (generally with impunity), when they see trains trundling along slower than they're going? That's the embarrassing bit.
 

The Planner

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Thanks but that doesn't explain why all other routes are faster. When a limit is set at 70mph we all know that train drivers dare not exceed this even though the largely flat and straight track would cope (and used to with ease and smoothness), and so would the trains. Why not allow trains to do 90mph, even if the advantage might be eaten up at Shrewsbury (and it might not)? And what sort of advert is it for trains, to car drivers on the A5, most of whom do 80mph plus or minus a bit (generally with impunity), when they see trains trundling along slower than they're going? That's the embarrassing bit.
I will call on @Bald Rick to quote the list of things that a speed increase normally entails. It is only going to benefit TfW in the main and that is just the 1tph. I suspect it might get flagged again when the 197s come in as they will perform better than 158s where the work showed it didn't save a vast amount of time, especially when you factor in Wellington and the approach control. I doubt there is more than 2½ minutes there to be had. It would get eaten at Shrewsbury as you can't take advantage of it past Wolves.
 

Llanigraham

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Thanks but that doesn't explain why all other routes are faster. When a limit is set at 70mph we all know that train drivers dare not exceed this even though the largely flat and straight track would cope (and used to with ease and smoothness), and so would the trains. Why not allow trains to do 90mph, even if the advantage might be eaten up at Shrewsbury (and it might not)? And what sort of advert is it for trains, to car drivers on the A5, most of whom do 80mph plus or minus a bit (generally with impunity), when they see trains trundling along slower than they're going? That's the embarrassing bit.

Is it an embarrasment? I regularly use it and don't find it so, just as I regularly drive up the parallel A5 section, where I am sorry to tell you, but 80mph is rarely seen, even at 0200. In fact the average speed along there seems to be closer to 65 and I regularly get overtaken by trains.

And have you considered that allowing trains to go quicker along the Shrewsbury to Telford section may well then cause conflict in either direction with the junctions at both Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury. I suspect that my ex-collegues at Severn Bridge Box would be able to site chapter and verse over the numerous times conflicts would occur.

I do think from your several contributions to the forum that you really don't understand how the modern railway works.
 

172007

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I won’t quote as I don’t have the time to write out the 80 odd factors that have to be considered!
Shame you can't set a sticky and then close the conversation. Then just quote the link every time the question pops up.
 

Shrop

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I won’t quote as I don’t have the time to write out the 80 odd factors that have to be considered!
Hmm, yes it seems that a lot of people are very good at finding reasons not to do things, often without much or even any consideration of potential benefits. There is great opportunity in providing a fast railway next to a road, and conversely there is plenty of detriment in having trains running visibly slower than cars. Running even just this section of the line at 90mph would do more for advertising than any amount of TV exposure, the costs of doing so must surely be relatively small, and this would be worth doing even without capitalising on the time gains at Shrewsbury. It's a shame that so many people are so negatively focussed.
 

The Planner

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Hmm, yes it seems that a lot of people are very good at finding reasons not to do things, often without much or even any consideration of potential benefits. There is great opportunity in providing a fast railway next to a road, and conversely there is plenty of detriment in having trains running visibly slower than cars. Running even just this section of the line at 90mph would do more for advertising than any amount of TV exposure, the costs of doing so must surely be relatively small, and this would be worth doing even without capitalising on the time gains at Shrewsbury. It's a shame that so many people are so negatively focussed.
There isn't negativity, it is realism. People will want to know what the return is on that expenditure (which won't be small, don't think of it as the capital cost, moving from 70 to 90 takes it up a maintenance band as well). Would that 2-3 minutes from Shrewsbury or 1 or 1½ from Telford cause enough of a modal shift or create new journeys? The fact it runs by the A5 is neither here nor there, and it didn't pre 2002.
 

Shrop

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There isn't negativity, it is realism. People will want to know what the return is on that expenditure (which won't be small, don't think of it as the capital cost, moving from 70 to 90 takes it up a maintenance band as well). Would that 2-3 minutes from Shrewsbury or 1 or 1½ from Telford cause enough of a modal shift or create new journeys? The fact it runs by the A5 is neither here nor there, and it didn't pre 2002.
If you know this route, you'll know that the new A5 was opened in 1992, not 2002. You should also know that for the first ten years or so of its life, there was almost unimpeded view between the road and railway, and at that time traffic hadn't grown to today's levels, so 80mph on the roads was extremely common. I drove that section many times in the 1990s, and a handful of times I did so at 70mph out of interest (I actually did 73mph on the speedo to allow for possible over-reading), and I noted that I was overtaken by at least 10 times as many cars as the number that I overtook.

The situation is different today as the foliage has grown to such an extent that visibility between road and rail is much less, and also the road is a lot more congested so 80mph is less common, although it still does happen a lot, every day of the week, and at many times of day.

In the 1990s I spoke to a good many people in and via the Chamber of Commerce (and other sources), who said that the slow train speeds which they could see from their cars, made them less likely to travel by train. But with so much negativity among posters on this site, let alone among the roads lobby and others, I doubt it would ever be studied meaningfully.
 

Bald Rick

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Hmm, yes it seems that a lot of people are very good at finding reasons not to do things, often without much or even any consideration of potential benefits.

Be assured that there are people in the rail industry who spend their time assessing, in detail, the potential benefits (and costs) of proposals such as these. Including this proposal. Indeed the person who was most involved in it lives on the line. If there are reasons for not doing this, they will be good reasons.

In the 1990s

That was 30 years ago - a lot has changed since then.
 

Paula hewson

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If you know this route, you'll know that the new A5 was opened in 1992, not 2002. You should also know that for the first ten years or so of its life, there was almost unimpeded view between the road and railway, and at that time traffic hadn't grown to today's levels, so 80mph on the roads was extremely common. I drove that section many times in the 1990s, and a handful of times I did so at 70mph out of interest (I actually did 73mph on the speedo to allow for possible over-reading), and I noted that I was overtaken by at least 10 times as many cars as the number that I overtook.

The situation is different today as the foliage has grown to such an extent that visibility between road and rail is much less, and also the road is a lot more congested so 80mph is less common, although it still does happen a lot, every day of the week, and at many times of day.

In the 1990s I spoke to a good many people in and via the Chamber of Commerce (and other sources), who said that the slow train speeds which they could see from their cars, made them less likely to travel by train. But with so much negativity among posters on this site, let alone among the roads lobby and others, I doubt it would ever be studied meaningfully.
Totally agree. Its an embarassing service for my home County.
 

Shrop

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Be assured that there are people in the rail industry who spend their time assessing, in detail, the potential benefits (and costs) of proposals such as these. Including this proposal. Indeed the person who was most involved in it lives on the line. If there are reasons for not doing this, they will be good reasons.
Glad to hear it! But I have a background in four different local authorities and an international consultancy which is heavily involved in rail, and I've witnessed many decisions which have been reached for dubious reasons, hence my scepticism.
 

Llanigraham

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If you know this route, you'll know that the new A5 was opened in 1992, not 2002. You should also know that for the first ten years or so of its life, there was almost unimpeded view between the road and railway, and at that time traffic hadn't grown to today's levels, so 80mph on the roads was extremely common. I drove that section many times in the 1990s, and a handful of times I did so at 70mph out of interest (I actually did 73mph on the speedo to allow for possible over-reading), and I noted that I was overtaken by at least 10 times as many cars as the number that I overtook.
What happened 30 years ago is not what happens now, I'm afraid.
I regularly drive that section of road taking patients to Telford Hospital and as I have stated speeds of more than 65 mph (from my GPS) are now most uncommon.
And if your speedo was showing that speed you were probably actually doing about 9% less.

The situation is different today as the foliage has grown to such an extent that visibility between road and rail is much less, and also the road is a lot more congested so 80mph is less common, although it still does happen a lot, every day of the week, and at many times of day.

As stated above, speeds of that sort are not common now.
In the 1990s I spoke to a good many people in and via the Chamber of Commerce (and other sources), who said that the slow train speeds which they could see from their cars, made them less likely to travel by train. But with so much negativity among posters on this site, let alone among the roads lobby and others, I doubt it would ever be studied meaningfully.
Yes, and that was 30 years ago and is not what I see when I ctach the train between the two towns. Both TfW and West Mids trains regularly well loaded.
There is NOT negativity here from us, in fact quite the opposite. What we are doing is pointing out the facts as they are happening now and the reasons why things can't be done as you suggest. I'm sorry to say most of the negativity seems to eminate from you.
 

the sniper

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I do think from your several contributions to the forum that you really don't understand how the modern railway works.

No, no. It's obviously us who don't understand how it should work. The whys and wherefores are clearly irrelevant.
 

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It would be good if we could keep things on a level that those of us that are learning about what’s happening here don’t start losing the thread in arguments if possible please.
It’s an interesting subject but there’s a bit too much snapping going on in this thread at the moment so please keep things pleasant from this point for the rest of us…

Thanks. :)
 

wobman

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One issue that's been mentioned is the signalling at Wellington, you get checked down to a red in both directions. Resigning areas and eliminating the Wellington issue would offer great improvements.
Another issue is the bottleneck that's Wolverhampton Station, it needs more platforms desperately and resignalling. Most days you get checked down and delayed down at wolves.

Raised line speeds would improve things but infrastructure problems would eliminate any time gained on the route.
 

Shrop

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One issue that's been mentioned is the signalling at Wellington, you get checked down to a red in both directions. Resigning areas and eliminating the Wellington issue would offer great improvements.
Another issue is the bottleneck that's Wolverhampton Station, it needs more platforms desperately and resignalling. Most days you get checked down and delayed down at wolves.

Raised line speeds would improve things but infrastructure problems would eliminate any time gained on the route.
Yes, there's a lot to be desired at stations, but I really don't understand why, when trains are perfectly capable of 90mph, they should be stopped from reaching this speed, in a place where car drivers would see them and take note of their superior speed, rather than watching them trundle along as they overtake. Trains used to do 90mph here in the 1970s, FIFTY years ago, so why stop them from doing so now?

That was 30 years ago - a lot has changed since then.
Bald Rick, your comment was in response to this ... "In the 1990s I spoke to a good many people in and via the Chamber of Commerce (and other sources), who said that the slow train speeds which they could see from their cars, made them less likely to travel by train."

My point was that in the 1990s, a lot of car drivers would see trains travelling slowly, as one of several reasons to keep using their cars, along with their personal experiences and those of their friends, colleagues and other acquaintances, of missed connections, overcrowded trains etc. Are you suggesting that a lot has changed since then and therefore car drivers are now more likely to perceive things like this differently, and may be more likely to use trains? I'm genuinely trying to understand here, but I don't get your point ...
 
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wobman

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Yes, there's a lot to be desired at stations, but I really don't understand why, when trains are perfectly capable of 90mph, they should be stopped from reaching this speed, in a place where car drivers would see them and take note of their superior speed, rather than watching them trundle along as they overtake. Trains used to do 90mph here in the 1970s, FIFTY years ago, so why stop them from doing so now?
It's the costs of track maintenance and infrastructure, it costs more in maintenance for a 90 mph track v a 70 mph track. Plus the signalling was changed to cheaper to run system than the old signal boxes that used to be on the route.
As a result there's bigger sections between signals and network rail like it that way, its a far cheaper railway to run for them.

Tfw and wmt have no influence over line speeds it's all about the money, if funding is eventually found for electrification on the route that would be an ideal time to increase infrastructure and so line speeds.

It's all about the money.......
 

zwk500

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Yes, there's a lot to be desired at stations, but I really don't understand why, when trains are perfectly capable of 90mph, they should be stopped from reaching this speed, in a place where car drivers would see them and take note of their superior speed, rather than watching them trundle along as they overtake. Trains used to do 90mph here in the 1970s, FIFTY years ago, so why stop them from doing so now?
Because it raises maintenance costs and imposes stricter limits on design values because of the higher forces. If there's nothing to be gained overall because of problems elsewhere, there's no point incurring additional costs. In the spirit of 'a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link', the biggest benefit is always found by focusing on the tightest constraint. Linespeed on this line is not as big a constraint as Wellington Approach control or Wolverhampton Platform Capacity.
 

The Planner

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One issue that's been mentioned is the signalling at Wellington, you get checked down to a red in both directions. Resigning areas and eliminating the Wellington issue would offer great improvements.
Another issue is the bottleneck that's Wolverhampton Station, it needs more platforms desperately and resignalling. Most days you get checked down and delayed down at wolves.

Raised line speeds would improve things but infrastructure problems would eliminate any time gained on the route.
Wolves has been resignalled. No one is touching that for 30 years. Wellington needs a Bicester doing to it and extending the platforms out.
 

Shrop

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It's the costs of track maintenance and infrastructure, it costs more in maintenance for a 90 mph track v a 70 mph track. Plus the signalling was changed to cheaper to run system than the old signal boxes that used to be on the route.
As a result there's bigger sections between signals and network rail like it that way, its a far cheaper railway to run for them.

Tfw and wmt have no influence over line speeds it's all about the money, if funding is eventually found for electrification on the route that would be an ideal time to increase infrastructure and so line speeds.

It's all about the money.......
Electrification? That's a long standing joke I Shropshire. Many people pleaded for it for many years but most have given up in despair. Norwich is the same size as Telford but they got electric trains, and King's Lynn is smaller than Shrewsbury as well as being a terminus in comparison with Shrewsbury having several other routes radiating out. But Norfolk gets two lines electrified while Shropshire gets none. There must be more to this than is being aired.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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What is odd about this route is that the timetable was adjusted for 90mph line speeds at the same time as the resignalling (2010-ish?).
But the timetable had to be wound back the following year as the track work had not been done (supposedly because of the pressures of WCRM).

This business of not being worth doing without other work in parallel sounds defeatist.
The ECML achieved its high speed profile by many small increments, each one not particularly significant in itself, but very successful as an integrated set.
The Marches route from Shrewsbury (to Hereford/Crewe) benefits from differential speed limits up to 90mph north of Ludlow, designed when the class 158s came in.
The Chester line to Gobowen was recently upgraded (restored?) to 90mph as part of the Welsh Government's rail investment in the TfW network.
There's no reason why the Wolves line cannot be treated the same way, though it is in a different NR Region whose priorities might be elsewhere and service planning is split between DfT and WG.

I remember the 90mph upgrade on the North Wales main line, just as the 100mph 175s came in (around 2000).
When questioned why 100mph wasn't in the plan, NR said the scheme had been developed in RRNW days for class 158s, so 90mph it was.
We will soon have 100mph-capable trains (replacing all the ex-BR 15x stock) on the route from both TfW and WMT - but no plan to exploit better than 70mph on this line.
It is indeed odd that the same train can do 83mph (130km/h) on the Cambrian branch, but only 70mph on the trunk route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.
 

Shrop

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What is odd about this route is that the timetable was adjusted for 90mph line speeds at the same time as the resignalling (2010-ish?).
But the timetable had to be wound back the following year as the track work had not been done (supposedly because of the pressures of WCRM).

This business of not being worth doing without other work in parallel sounds defeatist.
The ECML achieved its high speed profile by many small increments, each one not particularly significant in itself, but very successful as an integrated set.
The Marches route from Shrewsbury (to Hereford/Crewe) benefits from differential speed limits up to 90mph north of Ludlow, designed when the class 158s came in.
The Chester line to Gobowen was recently upgraded (restored?) to 90mph as part of the Welsh Government's rail investment in the TfW network.
There's no reason why the Wolves line cannot be treated the same way, though it is in a different NR Region whose priorities might be elsewhere and service planning is split between DfT and WG.

I remember the 90mph upgrade on the North Wales main line, just as the 100mph 175s came in (around 2000).
When questioned why 100mph wasn't in the plan, NR said the scheme had been developed in RRNW days for class 158s, so 90mph it was.
We will soon have 100mph-capable trains (replacing all the ex-BR 15x stock) on the route from both TfW and WMT - but no plan to exploit better than 70mph on this line.
It is indeed odd that the same train can do 83mph (130km/h) on the Cambrian branch, but only 70mph on the trunk route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.
Thank you, well said
 

XAM2175

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But Norfolk gets two lines electrified while Shropshire gets none. There must be more to this than is being aired.
Could it possibly have anything to do with electrification delivering greater benefit when it's designed and delivered with regard for the whole network rather than in a tit-for-tat "it's my turn nowwww" fashion?
 

zwk500

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This business of not being worth doing without other work in parallel sounds defeatist.
It's not defeatist, it's a recognition of the times we currently live in. Particularly the political and economic constraints. If we had different funding structures this line might well get incremental improvements. But these structures are beyond the control on the rail industry itself, as they are set by Parliament. If you want projects for prestige's sake, talk to your MP.
 

Shrop

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It's not defeatist, it's a recognition of the times we currently live in. Particularly the political and economic constraints. If we had different funding structures this line might well get incremental improvements. But these structures are beyond the control on the rail industry itself, as they are set by Parliament. If you want projects for prestige's sake, talk to your MP.
Talk to your MP? You might as well talk to the roads lobby! And in respect of those few MPs who are interested in rail advancement, few actually understand the concept, otherwise HS2 would have been designed differently.
When Shrewsbury's A5 by-pass was opened in 1992, the sitting MP rarely said anything to support railways, he really was disinterested in them. But when the new A5 had just one lane closed a few weeks after opening for essential maintenance on overhead pylons, he was "incandescent" about daring to close just one lane for a few days, making his concerns known far and wide. The present MP isn't exactly known for his support of railways either, so please forgive any despair we might have in the Shrewsbury area about using MPs to advance our rail cause. And why mention "for prestige's sake"? Rail advancement is about serving the public and the environment, surely?
 

Bald Rick

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Are you suggesting that a lot has changed since then and therefore car drivers are now more likely to perceive things like this differently, and may be more likely to use trains? I'm genuinely trying to understand here, but I don't get your point ...

Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying.



But Norfolk gets two lines electrified while Shropshire gets none. There must be more to this than is being aired.

Go to Norfolk, and many people moan about not having any motorways.
 

Chris172

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Aren't the turbostars slow at acceleration as they enter final drive at 70? Maybe the journey times will be quicker with the 196s enter service.

What is the speed limit between wolvo and Shrewsbury?
 

Watershed

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Talk to your MP? You might as well talk to the roads lobby! And in respect of those few MPs who are interested in rail advancement, few actually understand the concept, otherwise HS2 would have been designed differently.
When Shrewsbury's A5 by-pass was opened in 1992, the sitting MP rarely said anything to support railways, he really was disinterested in them. But when the new A5 had just one lane closed a few weeks after opening for essential maintenance on overhead pylons, he was "incandescent" about daring to close just one lane for a few days, making his concerns known far and wide. The present MP isn't exactly known for his support of railways either, so please forgive any despair we might have in the Shrewsbury area about using MPs to advance our rail cause. And why mention "for prestige's sake"? Rail advancement is about serving the public and the environment, surely?
So you recognise that local MPs don't support making a massive investment in the line, meaning that the government is also unlikely to do so...

Yet somehow Network Rail are supposed to upgrade it using money they've found down the back of a sofa?
 
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