Some have raised questions, as to why it is necessary to close the East London Line next week for Crossrail works?
I have found this vaugely-dated document on the Crossrail web site entitled Whitechapel Station closures between 13 and 21 February 2016. It says this.
The programme of activities scheduled to take place between 01:00 on Saturday 13 February and 05:30 on Monday 22 February 2016 includes the following:
- Ground reinforcement (piling) activity in the vicinity of the London Overground and London Underground platforms
- Removing the staircases, walls and canopies in the vicinity of the Whitechapel Station and the former ticket hall.
- Removing cables from the protection deck located over the London Overground, to the north of Durward Street • Removing part of the old pedestrian footbridge at the eastern end of Whitechapel Station
- Station steelwork in the vicinity of London Overground
- Concrete pours in the vicinity of the station.
- There will be concrete lorries in Durward Street and activity on Whitechapel Road to support these concrete pours.
I can certainly understand, that if they have to close the railway for Health and Safety reasons, then so be it.
I can also understand, if they’ve found something unexpected in the old part of the Victorian station. We’ve all found that when we’ve renovated old buildings.
And of course, the closure is when it is, as it is half-term in Swanlea School, which helps with access.
But this whole closure is a puzzle to me, as Crossrail’s project management and also their handling of community relations and the media has been generally good.
According to someone locally to me in Dalston, this is an unexpected closure. If it is, then where is the story in the local press or on the BBC?
These days, with cameras and crews everywhere, why hasn’t there been an honest report on BBC London television?
I think Crossrail have rather mucked up here, as people are annoyed and if they’d given us the truth, people would be more understanding.
But then we’re in the East End, and if there was an Olympic event of ducking and diving, all the medals would be won, by someone from this area.
I took this sequence of pictures from a c2c train as it crossed Mile End Park on its way between Fenchurch Street and West Ham stations.
The hill covers the ventilation and access shaft in the Park for Crossrail.
This architect’s impression shows how the completed shaft will look.
Note the railway, from where I took the pictures in the background.
It’s certainly a less intrusive design, than the monstrosities used for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, with architecture from the Napoleonic Wars.
There are five of these across East London. Crossrail makes do with less than that!
I certainly feel that all those people worried about a Crossrail 2 ventilation shaft in their area, should go and have a look in Mile End Park.
These pictures show the changes that have happened at Whitechapel station in the last week.
It is now possible to change direction on the wide platform between the Eastbound and Westbound lines of the District and Metropolitan Lines.
The escalators to the Crossrail lines will also be located in this wide platform. So changing between Crossrail and the \district and Metropolitan Lines will be very straightforward.
What surprised me was the quality of the temporary station. It’s actually a lot better and far more spscious than the one that was used previously, with several more gates.
I am a control engineer and I have worked in industrial automation on and off since I was sixteen, when I had a summer job in the electronics laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills at Brimsdown.
One of the problems of running a railway to a high frequency, is that when you get to the terminus, the driver has to get off the train, walk to the other end and then step-up into the other cab. So a couple of minutes or so is wasted. On some lines, where drivers change over, there are delays and extra costs. It is one of the reasons, why train lines sometimes have reversing loops, like the Piccadilly Line at Heathrow and the Wirral Line underneath Liverpool.
It is also why, there has been talk of extending the Victoria Line in a large loop to a single platform at a new station under Herne Hill. I wouldn’t be surprised if when they extend the Northern Line Extension to Clapham Junction or the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham, that they use loops with single platform stations. The layout has the following advantages.
- The driver stays in his seat and drives the train normally.
- Stations are more affordable as they only have one platform.
- Passengers always go to the same platform and get the first train.
- It might be possible to dig the reversing loop with a single tunnel boring machine.
It is such a simple concept, I can’t understand why it isn’t used more.
Crossrail has a different problem in that all branches, except Heathrow, end on the surface and the Class 345 trains are two hundred metres long. So running a train every two minutes or so, means that drivers have a lot to do in the turn-round including a 200 metre walk.
The Class 345 trains are designed to incorporate auto-reverse. This extract from this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled, Signalling Crossrail, explains the concept.
A new facility called ‘auto reverse’ is being provided at Westbourne Park (no station) for turning the 14 trains per hour in the reversing sidings. The driver selects ‘auto reverse’ on leaving Paddington station and walks back through the train, obviating the need for drivers to ‘step-up’. By the time the train gets back to Paddington (about a mile) the driver should be in the other cab ready to form the next eastbound departure.
The facility has the capability to turn round a full 30 tph service. There is just time for the driver to walk back through the train whilst in the reversing siding but doing so on departure at Paddington gives that extra time that will also help recover from perturbation.
Essentially, the driver does his walk whilst the train is travelling to the reversing siding. It must have other advantages.
- The driver can check the train as he walks.
- Cleaners can get on at the actual terminus and then get off again with the usual rubbish.
- Someone who goes to sleep, just gets an extra ride into the reversing siding and out again.
It’s a very simple piece of automation, which as the extract says, enables a full 30 tph service and makes recovery from delays easier.
The only problem, I can see is that the drivers’ unions could insist that a driver is in the cab at all times.
It would appear that the system will be used by Crossrail at Abbey Wood and Paddington.
This article from The Wharf entitled Work begins to prepare Whitechapel station for Crossrail, is one of several reporting that this weekend is the big changeover at Whitechapel station, where a temporary ticket office is brought into use to allow work to start on the old station. This is said.
Work has begun to transform Whitechapel station ahead of the start of Crossrail services in 2018.
The station will be made step-free, the ticket hall will be expanded and the new Crossrail platforms will be integrated with the existing Tube and London Overground services.
Once the work is complete in late 2018, new lifts from street level to all train platforms will make the station fully accessible. The ticket hall will also be refurbished and expanded with wider pathways and more ticket gates.
These pictures were taken on January 13th.
I have long thought that Whitechapel station will be Crossrail’s Jewel In The East.
Why should signature stations be the just for the rich and the City?
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the various rail lines in the City of London.
Londoners and those who know the City well, will be able to pick out the lines in the map, but to help those who don’t, here’s a brief guide.
Note the North-South routes.
- Thameslink through Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars.
- Northern City Line through Old Street to terminate at Moorgate.
- Northern Line through Old Street, Moorgate, Bank and London Bridge
- East London Line through Shoreditch High Street, Whitechapel, Shadwell and Wapping.
And the East-West routes.
- Metropolitan Line through Farringdon, Barbican, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East and Whitechapel.
- Central Line through St. Paul’s, Bank, Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green.
- District Line through Blackfriars, Mansion House, Cannon Street, Monument, Tower Hill, Aldgate East and Whitechapel.
- DLR stretching east from Bank and Tower Gateway.
- Jubilee Line through Southwark and London Bridge.
There are also two lines that provide links out of the area.
- Circle Line through Farringdon, Barbican, Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill and Blackfriars.
- Waterloo and City Line between Waterloo and Bank.
The biggest transport development London in recent years, is about to create a high-capacity link through the area.
Most people think of Crossrail, as just an east-west line across London.
Crossrail will connect Heathrow, Reading, Paddington and Bond Street in the West with Essex and Kent passing through Farringdon, Moorgate/Liverpool Street and Whitechapel.
But Crossrail will do a lot more for the City of London.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Bank station.
Bank station is in desperate need of an upgrade.
In this press release on the TfL website entitled MAJOR UPGRADE OF BANK TUBE STATION GETS THE GREEN LIGHT FOR WORK TO BEGIN, this is said.
The £563m upgrade will increase the busy station’s capacity by 40 per cent, improving accessibility and reducing interchange times when it is completed in 2021. Now approved, the station becomes the latest in a series of major upgrades taking place across the Capital.
Bank is the third busiest station on the Tube network and is used by over 52 million passengers per year, with demand having risen by 50 per cent over the last 10 years. Improving the station is critical to keep London working and growing and is a key step in TfL’s future plan to increase frequency on the Northern line.
The plans for Bank station show the following.
- A new entrance to Bank station with lifts and escalators on Cannon Street at the junction of Nicholas Lane.
- This entrance will be about a hundred metres from Cannon Street station on the other side of the road.
- A new southbound running tunnel for the Northern Line, which will be to the west of the current platforms.
- Lots of cross passages and tunnels to link it all together.
The Liverpool Street/Moorgate Crossrail station, could take the pressure off Bank station during the expansion.
- As the Crossrail station, when it opens, should have good access to the Northern and Central Lines, will many walk the short distance?
- Many will use Crossrail/Thameslink to get to the Bank area, rather than a crowded Underground.
- Crossrail could be quicker to Canary Wharf from Bank than the DLR.
If the City of London took a bold step and pedestrianised much of the City, this would help make the Bank/Farringdon/Liverpool Street/Moorgate area a giant concourse for the rail lines underneath.
This Google Map shows the area from Moorgate and Liverpool Street in the North to Cannon Street and Bank in the South.
I reckon that from the Crossrail station to Bank will be about seven hundred metres of walking on the flat, as it took me less than ten minutes with plantar fasciitis.
Camberwell station is not in the City, but I’m including it here, as it looks like being the first positive consequence of Crossrail/Thameslink.
This press release on the Transport for London web site is entitled BAKERLOO LINE EXTENSION TO IMPROVE TRANSPORT LINKS IN SOUTH LONDON BY 2030. It says this about a new station at Camberwell.
The Mayor and TfL will be working closely with Network Rail and Southwark Council on plans for a new Thameslink station at Camberwell. This new station would reduce journey times into central London by up to 20 minutes, and by providing connections to the Underground and Crossrail, will improve access from Camberwell to locations across London.
It’s not definitely decided yet, but it looks hopeful.
I wonder if we’ll hear more before May.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines south from Elephant and Castle.
Will the new Camberwell Station be where Camberwell Road station is shown?
Cannon Street station is a modern well-appointed station, but it isn’t connected directly to Crossrail or Thameslink, but all the work will benefit this station.
- The new entrance at Bank station will mean that Cannon Street will be better connected into the lines serving Bank station.
- There is also the new Walbrook Entrance To Bank Station, which opens in 2017 and will give more routes into Bank station.
- Improvements to the District and Circle Lines will mean that Cannnon Stret has better East-West connections.
- Due to the improved layout at London Bridge station, passengers will have greater flexibility in their choice of terminus.
I think that the number of passengers using Cannon Street will increase.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines from Farringdon to Liverpool Street.
The Crossrail station at Farringdon is an immense double-ended one connecting to both Farringdon and Barbican stations.
I always think, that Crossrail and Thameslink should be treated together.
Once passengers learn how to navigate around Farringdon station, they will increasingly consider Crossrail and Thameslink as one system.
For myself, in Dalston, I suspect that my route to places South of the Thames could start at Farringdon. I could either get a 56 bus to near the station or use the East London Line and a five-minute hop on Crossrail,
Liverpool Street and Moorgate
Look closely at Liverpool Street and Moorgate on the Farringdon To Liverpool Street map and you can see the Crossrail station platforms lying between the two current stations. Several questions will be answered, when the station Crossrail station is fully revealed.
- Will connection be possible between the Northern and Central lines and easier than at the labyrinth at Bank?
- Will entrances from the Crossrail station be arranged to give direct access to the many buses?
- Will the Crossrail station create good access to Liverpool Street station from the Northern Line?
- Will access to the Northern City Line be better?
If they get the design right at the Liverpool Street/Moorgate Crossrail station, it could really take the pressure off Bank station, whilst it is extended.
London Bridge is a station that is being rebuilt at the moment.
It is part of this analysis, as the redesign of the station will make it easy for passengers to change easily between Thameslink and the various routes going to all over the South.
Hopefully, the new station will also make it easy to change between trains and the buses and Underground.
I sometimes think for selfish reasons, that a high-capacity surface link using a bus or tram is needed between London Bridge and Old Street, via Bank and Moorgate. I regularly use the 141 bus on this route, but it doesn’t have the required frequency or capacity.
It will be interesting to see how many passengers transfer to Thameslink, at or before London Bridge and then use Crossrail from Farringdon.
Shoreditch High Street
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Central Line as it goes East from Liverpool Street to Stratford.
The Central Line is in red, with Liverpool Street station, just off the map at the left and Stratford station at the top right.
Look at the map and you’ll see that Shoreditch High Street on the East London Line is directly above one of the longer stretches of the Central Line without a station.
With all the development going on in the Shoreditch area, it could be a good idea to link the two lines here with a new Central Line station. Construction of the station would require breaking the Central Line into two halves for a couple of years, so it would be a great inconvenience.
But Crossrail connects the gap, as it serves Stratford and Liverpool Street, so it is a possibility this link will be created once Crossrail has opened.
As the London Overground stations at Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath are very much not the best and are certainly not step-free, rebuilding them and connecting one of them to Bethnal Green tube station might be something at which to look.
This Google Map shows the rail lines between Shoreditch High Street and the two Bethnal Green stations.
As Network Rail are thinking about some more terminal platforms in the area to ease overcrowding at Liverpool Street, we could see something innovative in this area.
Look at Whitechapel on a tube map showing Crossrail and it appears to be just a handy interchange between Crossrail and the East London Line, and the District and Metropolitan Lines.
But it is much more than that!
- Whitechapel will be the station, where passengers going west from an Eastern branch, will walk across the platform to go back down the other branch. This will create a simple route between say Ilford and Abbey Wood stations, that avoids going further into the centre of London.
- The East London Line has a capacity of 24 trains per hour, but only runs sixteen at the moment. Once Crossrail is fully established, I believe the number of destinations on the East London Line, both North and South of the Thames, will increase.
- Whitechapel may well be the station, where travellers change to the south-east branch of Crossrail for Canary Wharf. I’ll probably do that by changing from the East London Line.
- The two platforms for the District and Metropolitan Lines will be combined into a single island platform, so on journeys like Barbican to Mansion House, passengers might take to going on a first train to Whitechapel and walking across the platform to get a district Line train, instead of waiting for a Circle Line train.
But you can’t predict how passengers will use a new station! As it’s the East End, where ducking and diving is the most popular sport, getting predictions right is even more difficult!
I shall certainly use Whitechapel station a lot, as it’s just a few stops down from Dalston Junction.
You ain’t seen nothing yet!
There is an article in Rail Engineer with this title and it describes how Crossrail’s contractors will fit out the line.
In some ways, one thing that surprised me is that the massive concreting train, that lays the concrete slab for the rails is a refurbished one from France. At least they were able to drag it here, through the Channel Tunnel.
It’s a fascinating article, that is well worth reading.
There is an interesting report on the front of the Business section of the Sunday Times entitled Heathrow starts fight over bill for Crossrail link.
Apparently, the airport want to charge passengers using Crossrail to the Airport for using the part of the Airport Rail Link, that was funded by the Airport. The Airport wants to raise a total of £40million every year.
My first reaction is to think this is an story worthy of April the First or someone in the negotiations for the route of Crossrail has made a big mistake.
If I wanted to build a new railway into say a small town, before I started to construct the railway, I would make sure all of the legals were tightly sown up and agreed.
Surely with a fourteen billion pound project like Crossrail, where since 1974, there has been talk of a link to Heathrow, you wouldn’t start construction of the project, unless you had everything nailed before starting construction.
The Crossrail Bill was approved in 2005 and has since been backed by all Governments and most political parties.
According to Wikipedia, Heathrow Airport Holdings,owns or part owns the Heathrow Airport branch of Crossrail. So it would appear that they may have some basis for charging passengers to use the line.
As I said the Crossrail Bill was signed in 2005 and then because of competition concerns, the company was made to divest themselves of most of the other Airports, that it owned. Competition Concerns in the Wikipedia entry for Heathrow Airport Holdings details the competition concerns.
Wikipedia describes Heathrow Airport as being owned like this.
The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which itself is owned by FGP TopCo Limited, an international consortium led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group that includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.
From what I can gather the Spanish group took over the old BAA plc, which had been privatised in 1986, in July 2006. So surely, as the Crossrail Bill had been signed in the previous year, they would have known all about the rail project.
So why just four years before Crossrail opens and everybody in London is getting excited about the project and especially the link to a major airport, should Heathrow Airport come up with a demand for forty million pounds a year?
I think there is a clue in the comments placed on the article, by subscribers to the Sunday Times web site. who are probably a fair cross section of the people who regularly use Heathrow.
There is not one comment, that thinks that Heathrow has a valid case and many are hostile even about the existence of Heathrow.
So has Heathrow just done a bit of research on the Heathrow Express?
They will have found some or all of the following.
- Heathrow Express only goes to Paddington.
- Passengers for Heathrow come from all parts of London and the South-East and don’t use Heathrow Express because getting to Paddington is difficult.
- Many of the workers at the airport, take public transport to get to the Airport and few use Heathrow Express.
- Crossrail will serve Central London and other important districts like Canary Wharf, Reading and South Essex.
- Crossrail links directly to Thameslink and the services out of Liverpool Street.
- Many passengers will use Crossrail instead of driving to and from the Airport.
- Crossrail will run all night.
- Londoners see London Overground and Underground as theirs and use them.
- Crossrail will be part of Transport for London’s system.
- Crossrail will use hassle-free contactless ticketing. Most travellers will just use a bank card and expect no waiting time.
- There will be a big row, if pensioners can’t use their Freedom Passes on Crossrail to Heathrow.
- No Mayoral candidate in next May’s election will back Heathrow over Transport for London.
- Gatwick Airport will introduce contactless ticketing in a few months.
- Paddington to Terminal One takes fifteen minutes on Heathrow Express and will take only nine minutes longer on Crossrail.
- A big enthusiasm for Crossrail
- As seen in the Sunday Times comments, deep resentment for Heathrow and Heathrow Express.
They will also probably have had some very forthright comments about the cost of tickets for Heathrow Express.
At the moment Heathrow Express is the only fast and comfortable train service to get between Heathrow and Central London.
But Crossrail will be a game-changer, as it will be not much slower, spacious, frequent, more convenient and hopefully comfortable.
For a few years, Crossrail will also have the new factor and passengers will at least give it a try.
I think that all this means there will be a massive shift of passengers away from Heathrow Express to Crossrail.
So seeing this projected loss of revenue, they have come to the conclusion that they must get another income stream to make up the losses.
But travellers are not stupid any more and unless their company is paying, now chose the most convenient route to their ultimate destination at the best price.
I may not be typical, but I have five convenient local airports, so on many flights, I have a choice of airport. Unfortunately for Heathrow, more and more of their possible travellers, have this luxury of choice.
All this leads to my view, that Heathrow will be forced to apply the-if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em principle, as I think Heathrow possibly needs Crossrail, more than Crossrail needs Heathrow.
Consider the following.
- Crossrail links at Farringdon to Thameslink, which serves Luton and Gatwick Airports.
- Crossrail links directly to the City and Canary Wharf.
- Crossrail avoids the bottleneck at Paddington.
- Crossrail will link Heathrow to the West Coast Main Line and the future HS2 at Old Oak Common.
- Crossrail will expand in the next few years to give better connectivity to many more places.
- Heathrow needs to build a direct link to Reading.
- Heathrow needs to link Crossrail to Terminal 5.
- Routes are possible, that could link Crossrail 2 to Heathrow.
- Heathrow will lose credibility and passengers, if it is not just seen as a stop on London’s transport network.
If Crossrail didn’t serve Heathrow for the first few years after it opened, I don’t think that Transport for London would get the blame!
In some ways, Heathrow’s best policy might be to cut their losses and sell the Heathrow Airport Links and its stations to Crossrail, after agreeing extensions to the Airport Rail Links.
But that would give in the eyes of some, London’s Mayor too much control over airports policy for the South East! Surely, he or she would know more about Heathrow and the problems the airport causes, than a faceless multi-national.
I decided to take one last look at Whitechapel Station before Christmas.
The steelwork is getting higher and in some ways it’s getting more claustrophobic.
But it would appear that the steelwork is getting higher to hold up a roof with windows, so the sun can filter down to the Overground platforms underneath the Underground platforms. How do you explain that contradiction to Mr. and Mrs. Cruz from Texas?
The platforms also seem to be extending to the North, which they will eventually do, so that when Crossrail opens Whitechapel station can handle five-car trains without selective door opening.
According to a station woman, the next big change is on the 18th of January, when the entrances and exits all change.