West Coast Main Line
|London – Glasgow / Edinburgh|
|Route length:||645 km|
|Gauge :||1435 mm ( standard gauge )|
|Power system :||25 kV 50 Hz ~|
The main line of WCML is 401 miles (645 km) long and runs from London Euston to Glasgow Central . The main stopovers are Milton Keynes , Rugby , Nuneaton , Tamworth , Stafford , Crewe , Warrington , Preston , Lancaster and Carlisle . A complex system of branch lines and alternative routes links other important cities to the WCML: Northampton , Coventry , Birmingham , Wolverhampton , Stoke-on-Trent , Macclesfield , Manchester , Bolton , Liverpool and Edinburgh . In addition, the WCML forms part of the suburban railway networks in the metropolitan areas of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
The WCML is not a single route, but rather a complex network of various branches and secondary routes that connect cities in the central area off the main route London – Glasgow. The original main route was the connection from rugby via Birmingham and Wolverhampton to Stafford, until a more direct route was built in the valley of the Trent . South of Rugby there is a branch that opens up to Northampton. Other important branches run from Crewe to Liverpool, Crewe to Manchester, Stafford to Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe to Wilmslow . The construction of the Windsor Link in Manchester has enabled direct trains via Bolton back to the main line at Preston since 1988. Edinburgh is also connected through a branch in Carstairs .
In the European context, the WCML is of great importance and has been classified as a route of the Trans-European Networks . It is the main freight corridor and connects mainland Europe via the Eurotunnel , London and south east England with the West Midlands, north west England and Scotland. The WCML is one of the busiest freight train routes in Europe.
The WCML was created between the 1830s and 1870s through the construction of various, initially independent railway lines. It started with the Grand Junction Railway (Warrington - Manchester), followed by the London and Birmingham Railway . These two merged in 1846 with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway , the North Union Railway and the Manchester and Birmingham Railway to form the London and North Western Railway (L & NWR). The line from Lancaster to Carlisle was built by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway from 1844. In September 1847, the line between the two cities began operating in their own company. In 1859 it also became part of the London and North Western Railway. North of Carlisle, the Caledonian Railway remained independent; it reached Glasgow in February 1848 and Edinburgh in November 1849. Another important company, the North Staffordshire Railway , which connected Macclesfield via Stoke-on-Trent with the Norton Bridge and Colwich branches, also remained independent until the merger in 1923.
To meet fears and opposition from landowners along the route, the railroad lines in some places were built to make long detours around manors and rural settlements. In order to reduce costs, the route was adapted to the topography, which resulted in numerous curves. The WCML also runs through some hilly areas such as the Chiltern Hills , Cumbria and southern Lanarkshire . For these reasons, the speed limit is lower than on the East Coast Main Line . This problem is countered with the use of tilting trains , earlier with the less successful Advanced Passenger Train from British Rail , since 2003 with the Pendolinos from Virgin Trains .
The L & NWR marketed the line to Scotland as The Premier Line , but operations were complicated by incompatible braking systems as the L & NWR used suction air brakes while the Caledonian Railway used Westinghouse air brakes . Continuous trains therefore had to consist of wagons with two braking systems, which were called West Coast Joint Stock . After consolidation on January 1, 1923, the line belonged to the route network of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the air brake quickly became the standard.
After nationalization, the line came into the possession of British Rail in 1948 and was part of the operating regions of London Midland and Scottish Region . It was here on April 17, 1948, that British Rail's first serious accident occurred. 24 people died.
For the first time, the name West Coast Main Line was officially used at that time . However, this name is misleading, as the line actually runs only about half a kilometer along the coast, on Morecambe Bay between Lancaster and Carnforth . Another serious rear-end collision occurred on December 26, 1962, again in the vicinity of Winsford station. 18 people died.
In 1963 there was a big robbery on a mail train, a gang of thieves looted over 2.6 million pounds (see mail train robbery ).
Between 1959 and 1974, the line was electrified in sections . The sections Crewe - Liverpool and Crewe - Manchester made the start. The remaining southern section followed until 1967, the section from Weaver Junction (junction to Liverpool) to Glasgow in 1974. This era was characterized by time-consuming and capacity-reducing locomotive changes - first from steam and later from diesel to electric locomotives - at important system changeover points such as Birmingham New Street, Crewe and Preston. The short section Carstairs - Edinburgh Waverley was only electrified in 1989, as it was still part of the East Coast Main Line at that time . The only non-electrified branches are Preston - Bolton - Manchester and Chester - Holyhead .
Railtrack and West Coast Main Land
Railtrack was the name of a group of companies in the United Kingdom that owned the tracks , signals , tunnels , bridges , level crossings and most of the stations on the privatized British rail network from 1994 to 2002 . The failed overhaul and modernization of the West Coast Main Line played a key role in the failure of the group of companies and the assets being transferred to Network Rail in October 2002 . Network Rail, unlike Railtrack previously, is a not-for-profit company, for which 116 mostly public corporations guarantee.
According to the analysis of the privatization critic James Meek, it was of considerable importance for Railtrack's IPO in 1996 that Railtrack had to arouse the conviction among investors that Railtrack, unlike British Rail, could fundamentally overtake the West Coast Main Line. In particular, the signal boxes as an essential element of the safety of train movements were in urgent need of overhaul . The predominantly US-American advisors of the IPO made the recommendation to rely on driving in moving distances for train protection in the future . With this procedure, which is also called driving on electronic sight or moving block , the capacity of a route can be maximized and the technical equipment minimized, since stationary blocks and their track vacancy detection systems are dispensed with. The trains then determine the location of their train end themselves and send it quasi-continuously to the next train. Taking into account its braking distance, this calculates the point from which the speed must be reduced. However, there was a major implementation problem: Driving in moving spatial distances was largely untested in rail transport. Meek points out that even in 2014, such systems are only limited to a few inner-city transport systems such as the Docklands Light Railway and the Shanghai Metro. Even these were only installed at a time when the modernization of the West Coast Main LIne should have long been completed. Most of the continental European railway companies had come to the conclusion in January 1995 that traveling in moving distances was not yet developed sufficiently to be used in train traffic. From Meek's point of view, this decision was not noticed by the mostly US-American consultants and executives of Railtrack because there was a lack of exchange with these experts. The consultants and top management of Railtrack mostly assumed that continental European railway companies were also dealing with the introduction of this technology and that Railtrack would only be the first railway company to introduce this technology. The warning from in-house experts was overheard, with unclear competencies, the downsizing of employees and internal quarrels as a result of the privatization. The consultants warned that failure of this technology would, on the one hand, significantly increase the costs of modernization, prevent the speed increase and would not lead to the hoped-for increase in capacity. These were at least not noticed by the public. The critical questions that were asked in the British House of Commons in February and March 1995 about Railtrack's plans also had no effect.
In February 1997, Richard Branson's Virgin Trains won the tender to operate the routes on the West Coast Main Line. In October 1997, Railtrack and Richard Branson announced how the future development of the West Coast Main Line should take place. Railtrack would spend £ 1.5 billion on track overhaul and install migratory distance travel for a portion of Virgin Trains' profits for £ 600 million on the route. This, along with other improvements, should result in high-speed lines that could reach speeds of 125 miles per hour from 2002 and 140 miles per hour from 2005. Manchester would then have been reachable from London in an hour and 45 minutes' drive. Railtrack also committed itself to high fines if this goal was not achieved by 2005. It was already clear in 1999 that this goal was not achievable: That year, Railtrack announced that the cost estimate was now at 5.8 billion British pounds and had largely abandoned the idea of installing moving space-distance travel. In 2001 the cost was estimated at £ 7.5 billion. The modernization of this important British train connection was only partially completed in 2008 and at the time had cost 9 billion British pounds, most of which was borne by the British taxpayer.
Three serious train accidents that occurred on other sections of the route for which Railtrack was responsible ultimately resulted in the British Transport Minister Stephen Byers placing Railtrack plc under compulsory liquidation on October 7, 2001 after a corresponding application to the High Court of Justice . The assets were transferred to Network Rail a few months later.
After British Rail was broken up, Virgin Trains was awarded the contract to operate long-distance services on WCML. In the course of the latest modernization, the route for tilting trains has been expanded and the top speed has been increased in sections from 110 mph (177 km / h) to 125 mph (201 km / h). The travel time between London and Glasgow could be reduced from 5:10 hours to 4:25 hours. Virgin Trains plans to run Pendolino trains at 135 mph (217 km / h) on the Trent Valley Line , which will be expanded to four lanes in 2008 . At the end of the concession, the line was put out to tender again, with the FirstGroup being awarded the contract for continued operation in 2012. The tender was successfully contested by Virgin Trains and will be repeated.
In addition to long-distance traffic by Virgin Rail, the WCML is used in sections by other railway companies.
- M. Buck and M. Rawlinson: Line By Line - The West Coast Main Line, London Euston to Glasgow Central. Freightmaster Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-9537540-0-6 .
- James Meek: Private Island - Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else. Verso, London 2014, ISBN 978-1-78168-695-9 .
- OS Nock: Electric Euston to Glasgow. 1974, ISBN 0-7110-0530-3 .
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 967.
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 1036.
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 1260.
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 1109.
- Repair costs spiral to £ 5bn , BBC News, December 15, 1999
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 897.
- Meek: Private Island , Chapter: Signal Failure; Privatised railways , p. 878.