My suggestion to re-open the Whole Great Central route

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TheBeard

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Hi have started a group to lobby and more to reopen the whole through route
Aim to Reopen the Great Central, a line from London to Manchester via Rugby, Leicester, Nottingham Sheffield built to European wider gauge, and complete the vision of Sir Edward Watkins to link the North to Europe with larger freight trains. To avoid housing and heritage by using the old Midland route in the Leicester-Nottingham corridor, and saving costs on moving those on the lines by rebuilding similar houses nearby, as a £1million house is basically only £80000 to construct. Much of the line is intact or in trackbed. A really economic way to improve capacity out of London, and Manchester, without vast expense on a white elephant. To right a complete wrong of closure.


its just a proposal and thoughts both positive and negative and balanced are welcomed.
 
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HSTEd

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Most of it is either been obliterated by development or is in the middle of nowhere with no practical use, unfortunately.

Maybe more of it should have been salvaged at the time, but we can't undo that now. (Nottingham Victoria I think was the better placed station, but too late to do anything about it now)
 

The Planner

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Of no real use these days, but we have done this to death. I also commented on WNXX about the Woodhead idea that has no figures or anything behind it, Great Northern or something.
 

Altfish

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If it hadn't been closed, it would have made a good freight route. But too much has been obliterated.
 

NSEFAN

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For the benefit of those who don't use Facebook, this is the group description:
Aim to Reopen the Great Central, a line from London to Manchester via Rugby, Leicester, Nottingham Sheffield built to European wider gauge, and complete the vision of Sir Edward Watkins to link the North to Europe with larger freight trains. To avoid housing and heritage by using the old Midland route in the Leicester-Nottingham corridor, and saving costs on moving those on the lines by rebuilding similar houses nearby, as a £1million house is basically only £80000 to construct. Much of the line is intact or in trackbed. A really economic way to improve capacity out of London, and Manchester, without vast expense on a white elephant. To right a complete wrong of closure.
Some points:
* How would the European-loading gauge freight make it from the Channel Tunnel to the re-opened Great Central?
* In fact, how do you deal with the capacity issues around London, given this bit of the GC is now the busy Chiltern mainline and Metropolitan line?
* A £1m house only costs £80k to build? Really?
* Obligatory white-elephant-HS2 jibe has also been included... :rolleyes:
 
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Kettledrum

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The HS2 guide to tunnelling costs says it would cost £491million to build a 7km tunnel.

Any plan to rebuild Great Central would need a number of these tunnels, especially one under central Leicester and one under central Nottingham. Station boxes would be even more expensive, but these might not be necessary if it was purely for freight.

With or without these passenger services though, there is no way the maths could add up to make it viable.
 
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* A £1m house only costs £80k to build? Really?

I mean this may be true (with a very cheap builder), but that ignores the cost of the land and getting planning permission for it....
And yes you could say the government could release land elsewhere, but why couldn't they just do that anyway?
 

TheBeard

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Land prices are carefully controlled, so if this wasnt an issue, you would save.
The idea was a curve South of Leicester to a curve north of Nottingham- clearly cant undo the undoable. The track isnt too bad otherwise.
Not sure of the link between SECR and GC, it was built?
Sorry about the white elephant jibe-firmly believe HS2 will get cancelled, sorry. 10 fold the number of people will use a new Great Central
 

The Planner

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From where to where? Are you saying there is a massive untapped demand from Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby and Brackley that is 10 times that of HS2? Good luck with backing that one up.
 

NSEFAN

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Land prices are carefully controlled, so if this wasnt an issue, you would save.
The idea was a curve South of Leicester to a curve north of Nottingham- clearly cant undo the undoable. The track isnt too bad otherwise.
Not sure of the link between SECR and GC, it was built?
Sorry about the white elephant jibe-firmly believe HS2 will get cancelled, sorry. 10 fold the number of people will use a new Great Central
It's a bit redundant to be saying "If land prices were cheaper, then re-opening railways would be cheaper". The land price is what it is.

At one point, there was a grand plan to have trains to the Channel Tunnel using the Metropolitan line tunnels. Clearly this wouldn't be viable today... And as far as I know there are no European gauge connections between the former GC and SECR routes, so you'd be looking at new build. Whether it's tunnels or above ground, it will be expensive because of London. This is partly why a HS1-HS2 link wasn't included in the final plans of HS2.

Whilst there will obviously be plenty of regional journeys on a re-opened GC, do you really think that this could be 10x as many as between London, Birmingham and Manchester?
 

Chester1

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Sorry about the white elephant jibe-firmly believe HS2 will get cancelled, sorry.

At what point would you accept it will happen? The legislation has become law, the contracts have been signed and the preparatory works have started. When the proper civil engineering starts next year will you still believe it will be cancelled? Phase 2b might be changed, reduced or merged into Northern Powerhouse Rail but that is a different matter to HS2 as whole being cancelled. Thinking it will be cancelled at this stage is simply denial.
 

6Gman

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So let's talk this through ...

* This railway will start from Marylebone? Good luck fitting that in, both in Marylebone itself and on the intensively-worked sections between there and Amersham. Long time since I've timed any trains round there but fitting in the paths for ten times as many passengers as HS2 would be a challenge ...
* Once we are past Aylesbury we are into open countryside so much easier to build a railway and fit in the trains, but no significant traffic centres until ... Rugby. Need a nice new bridge there over the WCML ... and a new station. Where?
* Back to empty fields to somewhere south of Leicester, where you're proposing a new curve to the MML and funnelling everything through Leicester Midland (which is going to be a busy place).
* Follow the MML to Nottingham? Again, good luck pathing through Attenborough and Beeston.
* What happens at Nottingham? Reversal? And how do you get back to the GC route?
* New station at Sheffield?
* Then over Woodhead ... and what arrangement are you proposing for the famous tunnel/s, given their current condition and use?
* Finally, what happens between Guide Bridge and Piccadilly?

And who benefits? Manchester would be slower than now. Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester no faster. Or is this about freight? (In which case, given major originating points are Felixstowe, Southampton and Dollands Moor how do they get to your route?

If the GC had survived an hourly semi-fast (using 170s? Voyagers?) would have provided useful links between any two of Aylesbury - Rugby - Leicester - Nottingham - Sheffield but to talk of it as a major strategic route is fanciful.

IMO
 
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Land prices are carefully controlled, so if this wasnt an issue, you would save.
Well yes, but it doesn't look like the government is going to do anything about it anytime soon, so this is kind of a moot point.

If the government allowed a lot more building (e.g. allowing houses within a mile of train stations in the "Green Belt") then land prices would indeed fall, but allowing demolition of houses on the Great Central is probably a long way on the list of reasons to do this!
 

TheAdelante

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Hi,

I think Clubmans or Turbostars are the ideal units for secondary mainline services therefore I think they would be idea for if the line was to reopen.

:)
 

gazthomas

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If it made money back on the 1960’s it would not have closed. It passed through quite sparsley populated areas for quite a bit of its length and now it is being superceded by HS2
 

Chrisyd

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If the Grand Central had never existed, would anyone choose that now as the route of a new line?

If so, as it is the best route and there are presumably structures/disused trackbeds that could be utilised more cheap than a fresh route, let’s get on with it!

If not does the presumable savings make the compromises worth while?
 

TheBeard

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If so, as it is the best route and there are presumably structures/disused trackbeds that could be utilised more cheap than a fresh route, let’s get on with it!

If not does the presumable savings make the compromises worth while?

I clearly can't fund it! Lobbying tries to gain National funding. Govt says its going to reopen old routes, surely the GCR and LSWR to Cornwall are very strong cases
As to house prices, the Official Bank of England forecast a price drop of 30% if we get a good Brexit(only they know if things are not good...). Who controls the land? A complex question of supply, demand, and the caeful release of funds by banks. If they had maintained the balance of 3.5x salary, then that's what your average house would cost. Its a bubble like Bitcoin and South Seas and Railway Mania. My real interest is MAnchester Sheffield but clearly it may make a good secondary route. Interesting on Southampton et al, perhaps there is a strong argument to gauge widen an interconnecting network. Perhaps a GC station at Rugby could help WCML capacity and speed up the WCML slightly. The service from Notts/Leicester to Manchester is not good/very slow on the old Midland lines, they could become an important part of the Northern Powerhouse...
As costs of travel from MAnchesters and Brum are almost prohibitive on the WCML at Weekday standard rates (am on decent pay), not sure how you envisage so many on HS2
 

6Gman

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As to house prices, the Official Bank of England forecast a price drop of 30% if we get a good Brexit(only they know if things are not good...). Who controls the land? A complex question of supply, demand, and the caeful release of funds by banks. If they had maintained the balance of 3.5x salary, then that's what your average house would cost.

You didn't say "house prices", you said "land prices".
 

6Gman

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The service from Notts/Leicester to Manchester is not good/very slow on the old Midland lines, they could become an important part of the Northern Powerhouse...

Why would they be faster via a restored GC line?

And I note you have not answered the points re capacity out of Marylebone, or what you would do about the Woodhead tunnels.
 

Kettledrum

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I clearly can't fund it! Lobbying tries to gain National funding. Govt says its going to reopen old routes, surely the GCR and LSWR to Cornwall are very strong cases

What the Government says and what the Government actually does are two very different things. Any re-openings of old lines are likely to be very modest in terms of distances and may already be freight only routes, so the rails are already down. Even then the costs of upgrading will be huge. In terms of the area around the Great Central, the authorities are more likely to push the following:

- Leicester to Burton - currently freight only
- Nottinghamshire coalfield lines to extend the Robin Hood line on one hand and connect to the HS2 station at Toton on another.

Further afield, the Middlewich line is another freight line that might get passengers.

All these are relatively modest schemes, but even so finding the money for these will be a huge ask.

In respect of the former GC route, at one time Chiltern did consider extending their current operations to a park and ride station near Rugby. That may be your best bet.
 

6Gman

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As costs of travel from MAnchesters and Brum are almost prohibitive on the WCML at Weekday standard rates (am on decent pay),

I can see £37 return fares available for next week - for a round trip of around 160 miles. So under 25p per mile. HMRC allows 45p per mile as a reasonable figure for the cost of motoring.

Prohibitive?
 

Polarbear

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As others up-thread have suggested, it would have made a good route for freight, had it been retained. It wasn't.

Amongst many of the missing parts of the route, some of the more expensive to reinstate would include;

  • Nottingham Victoria
  • The formation through Leicester
  • The alignment around Rugby
There are probably many other sections that would be expensive, if not impossible to reinstate.

Also, as a through route between Manchester & London, there's not a hope that it could compete with existing services on time, so it would have to compete on price. How would that square with recouping the (huge) cost of rebuilding a line, that aside from a few areas, ran through rural areas of the country?
 

yoyothehobo

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I love these discussions. They make great reading!

It is like some people think that to open a railway you need to decide where it is going and start laying track. Thats even better if the remains of an old formation are there.

I would argue that having the remains of the formation are more of a hindrance, especially when looking to increase the loading gauge.

Having started as a geotechnical driller and moved into general site investigation and having done quite a bit on the railways, our victorian earthworks and structures are in a fairly shoddy state and it is playing continuous catch up. Now consider areas which have had no maintenance for 60 years. You will have to do a ground investigation over the entire stretch and then decide what to do with the fill the emankments were made of, change designs etc to suit the often very unstable ground conditions.

It would likely be easier to build it new on virgin ground a la HS2 and HS2 will be taking up a sizeable chunk of national contractor resources for the foreseeable future for drilling boreholes. This is ultimate pie in the sky.

Fix what we have first!
 

The Planner

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I have asked on another thread about the notion of freight, based on the major flows of today, which is intermodal, what use would it be?
 

MarlowDonkey

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HS2 is using some of the route of the Great Central, coupled with the route of the line the Great Western built between Ruislip and Old Oak Common.
 
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