The Anonymous Widower

Improving The East London Line

I make no apologies for returning to this subject, but I use the East London Line of the Overground virtually every day and it is very much part of my daily life.

What also prompted me to think about this topic, was coming back from Birmingham into Marylebone and thinking how I would get home in the aftermath of a Friday rush-hour. At the time I was passing Dollis Hill station, where the Chiltern Line runs alongside the Jubilee And Metropolitan Lines.

Dollis Hill Station From A Marylebone-Bound Train

Dollis Hill Station From A Marylebone-Bound Train

It reminded me of the plan to create a proper Interchange between all of lines at West Hampstead. But I can’t expect all trains into Marylebone to stop there, so that I can get easily to Dalston on the North London Line.

So in the end, when I got to Marylebone, I took one stop to Baker Street to get the Metropolitan line to Whitechapel for the East London Line. But usually the Metropolitan was a disaster with no trains and no information, so in the end I took the Jubilee Line to London Bridge from where I got a bus home.

To put it mildly, I’d hit the usual problem. – Getting to and from the Bakerloo Line from East London. It just doesn’t interchange with anything useful within a couple of stops from say Whitechapel or Dalston Junction.

There are two major developments that will happen in the next few years to the East London Line. As the Eastern end of the North London Line from Highbury & Islington to Stratford is closely tied to the East London Line, related improvements to that line will also be covered.

1. Six-car trains 

As I indicated in this earlier post on improving the Overground, the East London Line could be easily upgraded to take twenty-four six-car trains in each direction. I said this in that post.

At the moment the East London Line has 16 four-car trains an hour in the core route, so 24 six-car trains will mean an increase of capacity of 2.25.

But the East London Line already has five-car trains, so the improvement in capacity will be just a factor of 1.8.

The history of the Overground and their Class 378 trains has been one of continuously adding new carriages, ever since they were introduced. I feel that by the end of this decade plans will be in place for a sixth carriage on the East London Line.

There are documents from Network Rail and Transport for London, that also show that six-car trains and higher frequencies will be operating on the North London Line.

I don’t know the economics of building trains, but I suspect that Bombardier would like all new trains to be Aventras, so that they only have one type in production. After all the next order from London Overground is for Aventras for the Lea Valley Lines.

So we might see an early order for sixth carriages or London Overground may go for a fleet that was 100% Aventras. The latter wouldn’t be a waste of a fleet of Class 378 trains, as Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool, would probably like to acquire a fleet of trains less than a decade old.

2. Crossrail

Crossrail will also interface to the East London Line at Whitechapel station and who can predict accurately how much the new line will increase passengers on the East London Line? I suspect that Transport for London’s forecasts will be wrong, just because you are dealing with East Londoners, who have all the flexibility and cunning in their transport plans of little furry animals, who want to enter your property. I think this is due to the legacy of East London having pretty terrible Underground and rail lines  until the last few years.

All of these extra passengers travelling on the East London Line will generate a series of actions that will need to be taken, which fall vaguely into two groups.

1. Extra Terminal Platforms At Both The North And South Ends

For operational reasons, it is probably better to have the same number of North and South terminal platforms at both end of the line.

At present the East London Line operates four separate services with one train every fifteen minutes in both directions.

  • Dalston Junction to West Croydon
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction

Which gives the current sixteen trains per hour, so if they keep to the current balancing rule and a four trains per hour, they’ll need two extra terminal platforms in both North and South.

I think it is probably right to assume that the terminus shouldn’t be too far away from Whitechapel. Currently, West Croydon and Clapham Junction take about 40 minutes, so much longer than this is probably not possible.

I suspect that the planners of Transport for London have some surprising ideas, when they have a few drinks on a Friday night.

2. New Stations And Interchanges

The Overground and the East London Line in particular always seems to have someone pushing for a new station or better interchange with other lines.

Current interfaces beween Overground and Underground lines are as follows.

Bakerloo Line – Harrow & Wealdstone, Queen’s Park, Wembley Central and Willesden Junction

Central Line – Shepherds Bush and Stratford

District Line – Gunnersbury, Kew, Richmond, West Brompton and Whitechapel

Hammersmith And City – Whitechapel

Jubilee Line – Canada Water, Stratford And West Hampstead

Metropolitan

Northern Line – Camden Road-Camden Town

Piccadilly Line – None

Victoria Line – Highbury & Islington

I think, that there is scope for a lot more connections.

So what has been suggested and what would I like to see?

In alphabetical order we have.

Bakerloo Line Extension

The route of the Bakerloo Line Extension has not been decided yet, although TfL have received overwhelming support for the extension.

The three options for the extension all interchange with the East London Line.

Option 1 via Burgess Park, east to Peckham Rye and Catford Bridge,with the option of taking over the Hayes Line to terminate at Hayes, interchanges at Peckham Rye and Honor Oak Park.

Option 2 south to Camberwell Green, and then on to Herne Hill and Streatham Hill, with a branch at Tulse Hill which would take over the National Rail line to Beckenham Junction, interchanges at Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction

Option 3 a similar route to option 1, but after Burgess Park running via the Old Kent Road and New Cross before joining the Hayes line at Lewisham and terminating at Hayes, interchanges at New Cross.

So whatever option is chosen will effectively create a circular route round Central London with this route.

  • Highbury & Islington
  • Whitechapel
  • Surrey Quays
  • Crystal Palace, Honor Oak Park, Lewisham, New Cross, Norwood Junction or Peckham Rye
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Waterloo
  • Charing Cross
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Oxford Circus
  • Baker Street
  • Marylebone
  • Paddington
  • Queen’s Park
  • Willesden Junction
  • Harrow & Wealdstone

The line could follow its old route and end up in Watford.

It would appear that this route is more useful than the current truncated one to Elephant & Castle.

Hopefully, it would go some way to making it easier to get from East London to Marylebone and other awkward to access places in North West London.

Beckenham Junction As A New Southern Terminal

Beckenham Junction station has a lot going for it as a southern terminal. It has rail and tram services and it even has a bay platform, which is clearly shown in this Google Map.

Beckenham Junction Station

Beckenham Junction Station

As Beckenham Junction is probably less than forty minutes from Whitechapel, it may be a possibility, provided passenger statistics show it can generate enough revenue.

If as seems a possibility, the Hayes Line gets to become part of the Bakerloo Line, how will this effect Beckenham Junction.

It’s all very complicated as to how the Bakerloo Line Extension will fit in with the East London Line.

Brixton High Level Station

In their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, Transport for London are proposing a Brixton  High Level station.

The connection of a Brixton High Level station to the existing Brixton station and the Victoria Line will be difficult. Before the Overground opened to Brixton, I visited and wrote Could the London Overground Call at Brixton? This is a picture from that article from May 2012.

The Overground Flies Over Brixton Station

The Overground Flies Over Brixton Station

Either a high climb or a big set of lifts or escalators.

I said this in the article.

I tend to think that the only solution would be to spend millions to create a proper interchange station, that connects all of the three lines; Victoria, East London and main line together.  But in the present financial climate that is impossible.

Perhaps with the current upgrading of the Victoria Line to allow 36 trains per hour on the full line and London’s growing population, the economic rules have changed Or a big property developer needs to get a Planning Application through?

I wonder if when they are upgrade the Victoria Line at Brixton, they will also extend the southern end of the line to Herne Hill, as is described here in Wikipedia.This is said.

For many years there have been proposals to extend the line one stop southwards from Brixton to Herne Hill. Herne Hill station would be on a large reversing loop with one platform. This would remove a critical capacity restriction by eliminating the need for trains to reverse at Brixton.[48] The Mayor of London’s 2020 Vision, published in 2013, proposed extending the Victoria line “out beyond Brixton” by 2030.

There’s an interesting article from London Reconnections, which describes the problems at Herne Hill.

If they got their contracts and project management right, they might even be able to use one of the tunnel boring machines bought for the Northern Line Extension.

Brockley High Level Station

In their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, Transport for London are proposing a Brockley High Level station.

Brockley station sits underneath and is crossed by the Bexleyheath Line as this Google Map shows.

Brockley Station

Brockley Station

There was a station called Brockley Lane on the Bexleyheath Line, but it closed in 1917.

After the complicated nature of the problem at Hackney, I wouldn’t think creating a Brockley High Level station would be that difficult.

TfL would just have to make sure it was worth doing.

Camden Road Station Connection To The Northern Line

In their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, Transport for London are proposing a link between Camden Road and Camden Town stations.

Having walked between the two stations several times, I wouldn’t have thought they were close enough. However this railway map of the two stations, shows that they are closer than they appear on the surface and it might be possible to create perhaps an escalator connection. This Google Map shows the area.

Camden Town And Camden Road Stations

Camden Town And Camden Road Stations

Camden Town station is going to be rebuilt to relieve the chronic overcrowding. It is a project that will take several years and I suspect Transport for London will want to get as many other issues, like the interchange to the North London Line out of the way for ever.

 

Chingford As A New Northern Terminal

Chingford station is a possible new northern terminal if the Dalston Eastern Curve is reinstated. Trains would go via the High Meads Loop at Stratford, the new Lea Bridge station and the Hall Farm Curve. This would mean that a new station could be created within easy walking distance of Stratford International station, which would also serve the Northern part of the Olympic Park. This Google Map shows how the High Meads Loop curves between Stratford International station and the Olympic Park.

Olympic Park And Stratford International Station

Olympic Park And Stratford International Station

An East London Line station at Stratford International would certainly ease problems getting to events at the Velopark.

Lea Bridge station could also connect to services up the Lea Valley, Bishops Stortford, Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

Chingford is a well-appointed station, linked to a bus station, that could probably be reached in forty minutes from Whitechapel.

Using Chingford as a terminal would also directly link much of the boroughs of Waltham Forest and Hackney on a single line and then link the stations directly to South London.

But Chingford has big advantages in that it is already run by London Overground and it has three platforms and some sidings to park trains. This Google Map shows the station.

Chingford Station

Chingford Station

Note the bus station to the North-East of the station and the extensive sidings on the approach to the station.

Using Chingford as a new northern terminal, would also intertwine the two sections of the Overground together, with direct same platform interchange at Hackney Central, Homerton, Hackney Wick and all stations after St. James Street on the Chingford branch.

Dalston Eastern Curve

In my view the Dalston Eastern Curve could be important, as it would enable direct services between the Eastern terminal of the North London Line at Stratford and any of the South London destinations.

Also, if the Hall Farm Curve were to be rebuilt to give the Chingford Branch a direct connection to Stratford, services could run between Chingford and Walthamstow Central, and South London, by using the High Meads Loop.

There will be opposition to rebuilding the curve, but the number of passengers, will decide the issue.

I have a feeling that because the Kingsland Shopping Centre is going to be upgraded and the owners of that have rights over the land, that we might see a decision one way or the other on this fairly soon. Although on the contrary, this article in the Hackney Citizen seems to be all about various delays and problems, with redevelopment of the Shopping Centre.

I would also think that a lot of the arguments in the Hackney Citizen article about development and car parking, are getting to be more and more irrelevant, as Eastfield is probably taking a lot of the business of the Dalston Kingsland Shopping Centre. In my mind, the sort of people moving into the flats being developed around Dalston Kingsland are probably not the sort of people, who would shop in the Centre. Unless of course, it was substantially upgraded! Could this be, why the proposed development incorporates quite a few residential properties?

The other thing that could kickstart work in this area, would be a decision to proceed with either Dalston Kingsland station or Crossrail 2.

An interesting point, is that if Transport for London believed that rebuilding the Dalston Eastern Curve is essential to handle the traffic on the East London Line, they would probably get their way and the Shopping Centre would have to be redeveloped.

I think there is a lot of horse trading going on in dark corners of various offices of Hackney Council, Transport for London, the developers; Criterion Capital and hopefully a decent architect.

Whatever happens, when and if Crossrail 2 is given the go aged, Criterion Capital won’t be taking a loss.

What the outcome will be, is anybody’s guess!

I know nothing that hasn’t been published on the Internet, but I have this feeling that the Dalston Eastern Curve will be reinstated. Or at least it won’t be compromised! No Project Manager worth his salt would do the latter!

Dalston Station For Crossrail 2

In this article called Crossrail 2 Through East London, I said this when I was discussing the Dalston stations.

I have heard from Michele Dix of Crossrail 2, that they are looking at a double-ended station to serve both Dalston Kingsland and Junction stations. This was said.

We have been working closely with the London borough of Hackney on the early development of the proposals for how Crossrail 2 could ultimately serve Dalston. The work to date has been based around delivering a double-ended station, with one end being at Dalston Junction, and the other at Dalston Kingsland, thereby allowing the Crossrail 2 station to link to both existing stations. As Mr. Miller rightly points out, the distance between the existing stations is well suited to the 250m long platforms that will be required for the Crossrail 2 station, and the greater interchange opportunities to London Overground services also deliver significant benefits.

I believe that there is an opportunity to create a world class station that subtly brings together all the good elements of the area. The only necessary demolition would be the unloved Dalston Kingsland station. TfL have told me off the record, that Kingsland station will be replaced fairly soon.

Hayes As A New Southern Terminal

The Hayes Line and its terminal at Hayes, would seem to be a line that Network Rail doesn’t want, but TfL do, if you read this section in Wikipedia. Here’s a short extract.

The driving force for this change is that Network Rail would like the train paths freed up for services mainly from the South Eastern Main Line. Transport for London prefer this route due to its largely self-contained after Lewisham.

You also have the passenger reaction to being told they are going on smaller Underground trains to a different part of Central London.

Hayes though is just over forty minutes from Whitechapel and there are two terminal platforms at the station, so it could be used as a southern terminal.

But on balance, I think it is unlikely that Hayes will be chosen as a southern terminal.

Herne Hill Congestion

Herne Hill station may well be Grade II Listed, but read the Future section in its Wikipedia entry.

It has problems, as it would appear a gallon is being squeezed into a gill pot! If you read this article in London Reconnections, you’ll see that it is not just a serious problem, but an almost impossible one. Take this paragraph, which is one of many in a similar vein.

There are also specific local issues arising from land ownership and planning. Aside from being in a Conservation Area, where buildings and trees are protected, the Dulwich Estate retains significant planning powers and is probably the freeholder of the rail lines alongside the estate. Network Rail will be cognisant of the potential level of opposition from local residents in this affluent part of south London, as well as the likely difficulties in negotiating with the Estate, including any legal wrangling which may necessitate revisiting the 1870 Act of Parliament curtailing the Estate’s powers. This probably explains why the default position is to keep this project firmly in the pending tray ― something needs to be done, but not right now.

The report was written in 2012, so let’s hope that some of the problems have gone away.

I’ve never scheduled trains, but I’ve scheduled things that are just as difficult and the solution to the congestion at Herne Hill station needs either more capacity or less passengers wanting to use the line. Taking this direct from Wikipedia illustrates the problem.

Network Rail, in its July 2011 London & South East route utilisation strategy, recommended that all services from Herne Hill towards Blackfriars should terminate in the bay platforms at Blackfriars after London Bridge’s redevelopment is completed in 2018 and the diverted Thameslink trains return there. Passengers from Herne Hill would then have had to change at Blackfriars to travel further north. Network Rail made this recommendation because more services will be using the route between St Pancras and London Bridge from 2018; sending trains from Herne Hill to the terminating platforms on the western side of Blackfriars (instead of the through tracks on the eastern side of the station) would have removed the need for them to cross in front of trains to/from Denmark Hill and trains to/from London Bridge at junctions south of Blackfriars.

In January 2013, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that trains serving the Sutton Loop Line (also known as the Wimbledon Loop) will continue to travel across London after 2018. The number of trains calling at Herne Hill on the route will remain unchanged, with four trains per hour. The DfT has also decided the Sutton/Wimbledon Loop will remain part of the Thameslink franchise until at least late 2020; as such, the route will eventually be served by the new Thameslink trains.

Network Rail have a solution and then the politicians kill it.

So is there anything that the Overground and the East London Lines in particular can do to help?

Probably not!

But longer trains on the Clapham Junction branch may persuade passengers to take a different route. On the other hand, commuters are very conservative.

Hopefully, three other developments will help.

1. The opening of Crossrail, which might mean that some commuters travel via Abbey Wood. Crossrail’s opening will also improve the East London Line’s access to Central London, with a single change at Whitechapel.

2. If Crossrail were to be extended to Ebbsfleet International, as has been safeguarded, then this could help.

3. The completion of Thameslink with the new Class 700 trains, may increase capacity and persuade passengers to go via a reopened London Bridge station, rather than Victoria.

But it very much looks like Transport for London is pedalling hard to stand still.

 

Highbury & Islington Needs Rebuilding

Highbury & Islington station has needed rebuilding ever since British Rail’s cheapskate design produced the inadequate Underground station, that came with the Victoria Line.

When the East and North London Lines get more and bigger services through Highbury & Islington, this can only result in more and more passengers using the inadequate escalators and tunnels to access the Victoria and Northern City Lines. The station won’t be able to cope, just as it can’t now when Arsenal play at home.

The first stage of the rebuilding has started, as contractors are replacing the ageing bridge that carries the road over the Overground lines. No firm plans have been published yet for the station, but it needs a large increase in both capacity and accessibility.

I have a feeling though, that this station has a lot of potential possibilities, that could be used to create a top-notch station. For instance, there is a second building and entrance on the other side of the road, which has been used for signalling equipment for the Victoria Line.

Lewisham As A New Southern Terminal

Lewisham station is a possible choice for an extra southern terminal, as it has lots of rail and bus connections. This a Google Map of the station.

Lewisham Station

Lewisham Station

It shows a possible problem, in that there appears to be no easy place for a terminal platform. As it’s also only four or five minutes away from the existing terminus at New Cross, I think that Lewisham can be discarded as a terminal.

Maiden Lane Station

Maiden Lane station is an aspiration for Camden Council to serve the Kings Cross Central developments.

I discussed Maiden Lane station in this article in January and came to the conclusion, that the station might only be built as part of one the large developments in the area.

Using the station as a way of getting to Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations is probably not a possibility due to the distances involved.

Meridian Water As A New Northern Terminal

Angel Road station which will be renamed to serve the Meridian Water development, would be the most unlikely choice for a new northern terminal if the Dalston Eastern Curve is reinstated. Trains would go via the High Meads Loop at Stratford, the new Lea Bridge station and could possibly interface with a future Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water itself.

New Entrances And Stations

Over the last few years, London has been going through a quiet ticketing revolution.

People are rarely using cash in a station to buy tickets and if rumours are right, the proportion of those using contactless bank cards for tickets is increasing rapidly. Over the last week or two, signs are up everywhere on the Underground, saying that ApplePay is now accepted.

I’ve not really seen an article anywhere discussing the effects of this cashless and booking office free ticketing.

I recently used the new entrance at Shepherds Bush station and it was just a gate line with a shelter over the top and a refuge for staff. Obviously, as that entrance has been built to serve the Westfield Shopping Centre,  There is also a similar entrance at Harold Wood station, serving the car park.

I think we’ll be seeing more of these short-cut entrance/exits at several stations. I proposed this for Highbury & Islington in this article in March 2013 and personally, I’d like one at Hackney Central on the Westbound platform, to give access to the buses on Graham Road.

The technology could also mean that complete stations could be built much more easily and quickly.

It will be interesting to see how architects use their imagination in the freer environment created by the new ticketing technology, to design exciting, practical and very passenger and staff friendly.

New Interchanges

The new ticketing technology may also open up opportunities to create new interchanges between lines.

Obviously, this will probably be more to do with interchanges between two surface railways, as anything where digging is involved will be very expensive and probably rules out most linking with the Underground.

With the recent building of the walkway between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central stations, Transport for London have shown that they won’t rule out connecting lines by any affordble and sensible method.

So are there any possibilities for new interchanges, made possible by the new technology linked to some imaginative thinking?

I think there are stations that could be improved in this way and they are in the text in their alphabetical position.

North Acton Station Connection To The Central Line

Development at North Acton station on the Central Line has for a long time talked about linking to the North London Line.

Just a few years ago, it would have needed a lot of expensive construction, but with the development of new ideas in ticketing, station architecture and the successful introduction of the walkway at Hackney, the cost will have been considerably reduced. This Google Map shows the area around North Acton station.

North Acton Station

North Acton Station

The North London Line is at the right of the image and at the top is the junction where the Dudding Hill Line branches off.

Whether it is now a station and interchange worth building is up to Transport for London, but modern techniques have opened up possibilities.

Old Oak Common As A New Northern Terminal

The yet to be developed, Old Oak Common station is a possible new northern terminal. As a completely new station, hopefully you’d get a perfect solution.

But I don’t think you’d want to have both Old Oak Common and Willesden Junction stations as terminals, but a lot of the reasoning, that applies to Willesden also applies to Old Oak Common.

There is not much point in predicting what will happen at Old Oak Common, but I suspect whatever is proposed will be worth waiting for.

Orpington As A New Southern Terminal

Orpington station is a possible choice for an extra southern terminal, as it has lots of rail and bus connections.

This a Google Map of the station.

Orpington Station

Orpington Station

Orpington would be reached by way of New Cross, Lewisham and Beckhenham Junction is around 35 minutes, so it is actually closer than West Croydon and only just five ,minutes longer than Crystal Palace. It also has several terminal platforms, that could easily accommodate the six-car trains.

An extension to Orpington would appear to connect a lot of places in South East London to Crossrail at Whitechapel and the Jubilee Line at Canada Water.

 

Penge

In their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, Transport for London mention a new interchange at Penge. This is a Google Map showing both stations.

Penge West And East Stations

Penge East station has services between Victoria and Orpington and on Thameslink.

Penge West Station has services on the East London Line and the Brighton Main Line.

This small mention in the TfL report is the only thing I can find about an interchange at Penge.

But could it be a dastardly plot to overcome the Great Anomaly in South London’s suburban services, where many services to Kent and the South East tend to terminate at Victoria?

Look at this enlarged Google Map, where the line through Penge West cross over the line through Penge East.

A Place For Penge Station?

A Place For Penge Station?

Note the isolated line a short distance to the East of the main lines to London Bridge. This is the line that carries East London Line services to Crystal Palace

TfL must think there is a need for an interchange between East London Line and London Bridge services and those Victoria and Thameslink services.

Shoreditch High Street Station Connection To The Central Line

Shoreditch High Street station sits on top of the Central Line and Wikipedia in a section on plans for the station, says this about creating a connection between the two lines.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak times.

It would appear from this detailed map of the London Underground and around Liverpool Street in particular, that trains can be turned back at both Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green stations, so as there are depots at both ends of the Central Line, once Crossrail was providing a bypass, construction might be possible, if the link was actually needed.

The Shoreditch area has also been talked about for some more platforms for Liverpool Street station. I found this article in the Architect’s Journal.

I put forward my idea in this article called An Idea For A New Station At Shoreditch High Street.

My idea is probably total crap, but who’d have thought the rickety North London Line and the orphaned branch of the Metropolitan Line, through the Thames Tunnel would have morphed from forgotten, crumbling and dirty assets into one of the best urban railways in Europe?

One thing I said in the previous post, when talking about a new station to handle traffic for Liverpool Street was this.

I think if a station gets built alongside or under Shoreditch High Street station, it will be nothing like any ideas, that might get talked about in the media now. One of the Foster/Farrell/Rogers fraternity could probably do something extraordinary here.

I think we’ll see something spectacular at Shoreditch High Street, with the Overground and possibly the Central Line in the thick of it.

Stratford As A New Northern Terminal

Stratford station is a possible new northern terminal if the Dalston Eastern Curve is reinstated.

It is a well-appointed station, linked to Crossrail and long distance services, buses and the shops at Eastfield, that could probably be reached in thirty minutes from Whitechapel.

I think that a platform could be found to terminate services, but using Stratford offers nothing that isn’t also solved by the opening of Crossrail. Also it doesn’t solve one of the main problems of the Stratford stations, which is the difficulty of getting to Stratford International. On the other hand, using Chingford as a terminal gives the possibility of a connection to the high speed station.

Willesden Junction As A New Northern Terminal

Willesden Junction station is a possible new northern terminal.

When the original plans for the East London Line were published a few years ago, I’m sure Willesden Junction was mentioned as a possible terminal.

It is a well-appointed station, linked to the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines, that could be reached from Whitechapel in under forty minutes.

It already has a bay platform, which lies between the two North and South platforms, that could be used as a terminal, as it has been recently lengthened and upgraded. There is also another disused bay platform that might be reinstated. This Google Map show the station.

Willesden Junction Station

If Willesden Junction is made a terminal, this has other advantages, especially if it gets the standard service of four trains per hour.

As now there are effectively three Northern branches going to Highbury & Islington instead of two, there will be a fifty percent increase in services between Highbury & Islington and Whitechapel and South London, with an extra destination served directly.

The four trains an hour  to Willesden Junction, would increase the service frequency on the section of the North London Line between Dalston and Willesden. Various pronouncements from Transport for London have said that the frequency of trains on the North London Line should be increased.

If the Dalston Eastern Curve were to be reopened and four trains per hour went to either Chingford, Meridian Water or Stratford, this would effectively put an extra four trains per hour between Stratford and Willesden Junction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

I Like This TfL Proposal

Transport for London have proposed changes at the junction of Stamford and Kingsland Roads near where I live. The changes are detailed in this page on their web site. This image shows the proposed junction.

Proposed Kingsland Road Stamford Road Junction

Proposed Kingsland Road Stamford Road Junction

And this is a Google Map of the area.

Kingsland Road Stamford Road Junction

Kingsland Road Stamford Road Junction

Note the inevitable truck parked outside Tesco, gumming everything up. Why is it that Tesco do this more than other supermarkets? Or they seem to do it in my opinion! As the crossing has been moved to allow buses to turn left out of the bus station, the loading bay has been moved further south, so I suspect that trucks won’t be able to park there and cause other vehicles to block the crossing that I regularly use. So that is one reason I like it, as it will make it easier for me to cross the road to get into Dalston Junction station. As buses will be able to turn left out of the bus station, I do wonder if TfL have got plans for more bus routes from Dalston, which of course I would support. I don’t think others will be so supportive. Look at these pictures of the junction and Tottenham Road.

Note that the Tesco store is quite a way up towards the Balls Pond Road and after the changes are made, they will have a cycle lane in front of the shop. My heart bleeds for them! – I don’t think! There are quite a few businesses in Tottenham Road, who might find movements of vehicles rather difficult. Especially, as the Cycle Superhighway will soon cross the road in the middle. I also think that some residents of Tottenham Road will be objecting, as effectively unless they do a three-point turn, they will have to go a long way round to get out, as they’ll be a dead-end at one end of the road and the Cycle Superhighway across the middle. As I don’t drive, I don’t care!

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail 2 Through East London

TfL have now published their preferred route for Crossrail 2 and in this post I will detail, how I think it will affect East London.

In this post, I will refer to the Crossrail currently being built as Crossrail 1 to avoid confusion.

The Progression Of Large Projects

I have been around the management of large projects for just over forty years, since I wrote my first software system for project management in 1973. From talking to project managers over that time, I have come to various conclusions, some of which will certainly affect the realisation of Crossrail 2.

The second system I wrote; Artemis, was very much involved in providing the necessary management for the development of North Sea Oil. Project managers told me many times, that things were getting easier and more affordable because of the development of bigger and better rigs, platforms and lifting capabilities. In parallel better techniques and methods were also being developed.

I was also told many times, that doing the second, third or fourth version of something like a concrete production platform, got easier each time, especially if substantially the same team could be used.

Crossrail 2 Is The Next In A Long Line

You could argue that Crossrail 2 will be the latest in a succession of large tunnelling projects under London, since the Second World War.

1 The Victoria Line was bored in the 1960s and I can remember seeing film of the digging of both this line’s tunnels and those at Dartford on the television. Pleasant and safe working, it was not! The BBC have posted a 1969 documentary called How They Dug The Victoria Line on iPlayer. It is a must watch!

2. The Jubilee Line was bored in two sections and was completed as we see it now in 2000. In some ways it is the first modern line and stations in London, where some the latter were built to be architectural gems, like some of London’s pre-war stations.

3. Around the turn of the millennium, the Docklands Light Railway was also extended with two branches and four tunnels under the Thames. I have a feeling that the tunnels of the DLR are the first under London to have wholly concrete as opposed to all or partly iron or steel linings. This video, shows the tunnel from Bank to Shadwell.

4. The London tunnels of HS1, were completed in 2007 to St. Pancras and were the first full-size rail tunnels to be dug under London, since the Snow Hill Tunnel opened in 1866.

5. Over the last few years, the forty-two kilometres of tunnels for Crossrail 1 have been bored under London. Like HS1’s tunnels they are full-size with overhead electrification and hopefully non-corroding concrete linings.

These five tunnels show a constant progression of larger and better-designed and constructed tunnels, that have been built by using a succession of bigger and better machines.

You also have a tremendous base of knowledge built-up by companies, engineers and tunnel workers, which as the recent documentary on the BBC about Crossrail showed, includes families and individuals, who’ve worked on all these five tunnels and a good few others besides!

It is my belief that when the politicians press the Go-button on Crossrail 2, the tunnels will make a painless progression under London as Crossrail 2 sneaks along the defined route.

Crossrail 1 And Crossrail 2 Compared

At first sight, both Crossrails would appear to be two large tunnels and train lines across London, from where lines fan out into the wider suburbs and nearby towns and cities at each end.

But there are some major differences.

Crossrail 1 is much more complicated than Crossrail 2. I suspect some will argue that if they were designing Crossrail 1 today, it would be very different to what is being built. For instance, of the major rail terminals in London, it only serves Liverpool Street and Paddington. I think that the design of Crossrail 2 cleverly builds on Crossrail 1 and helps get over some of the earlier line’s deficiencies.

Crossrail 1 was designed in an era, where passengers needed booking offices in stations. In the last couple of years, the growth in contactless ticketing is showing that booking offices can be closed and the space used for more productive purposes.

Crossrail 1 chose to have the major tunnel portals at Royal Oak, Pudding Mill Lane and Plumstead which would appear to be much more cramped and congested sites than those of Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale, New Southgate and Wimbledon.

In addition the surface sections of Crossrail 1 would appear to require a lot more work to bring them up to modern standards, than similar parts of Crossrail 2.

This efficient simplicity in the design will keep costs, time-scales and disruption during the construction phase of Crossrail 2, to a much lower level than Crossrail 1.

Crossrail 1 was skilfully threaded through the mass of tunnels under London, as the BBC documentary showed. The engineers could have gone deeper to get under the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road but for some reason they didn’t. Perhaps going deeper would have meant difficulties and extra costs in the design of stations. Crossrail 2 will have to go deeper in the Dalston area to get under High Speed One and it will also have to pass Crossrail 1 at Tottenham Court Road. The tunnels of High Speed One are at a depth of 34 to 50 metres, so will we see Crossrail 2 bored across London below all the other foundations and infrastructure?

Crossrail 1 by virtue of its route through Central London has necessitated the expensive rebuilding of quite a few stations. It has also needed expensive new stations at Canary Wharf, Woolwich and Custom House. On the other hand, Crossrail 2 would appear not to require so many stations to be completely rebuilt, as the three central stations of Euston/St. Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria, will have been or are being rebuilt for other reasons and like Angel will have been rebuilt with provision to link to Crossrail 2. This will save time and costs in construction and probably mean that the disruption caused by Crossrail 2 would be much less than Crossrail 1.

The big station reconstruction will be Euston for HS2 and that will cause massive disruption to everything. Making sure the new station will connect easily to Crossrail 2, is a small problem in the grand scheme of things.

When Crossrail 1 opens, Whitechapel station will be the Jewel In The East. And this will not be just about how the station was designed and will look, but about the way it was built. Instead of digging down from the current station to the new Crossrail 1 tunnels, the thirty metres or so long shaft for the escalators and lifts is being dug upwards from the tunnels, using a coal mining technique called uphill excavation.

Currently the escalators in London with the highest vertical rise are those at Angel station, which rise twenty-seven metres, but this is a dwarf compared to some of the longest in the world. Crossrail 2 looks certain to break London’s record.

Crossrail 2 Could Be A Very Deep Line

I think we could see an unprecedented deep tunnel for Crossrail 2 across London, with tunnels in places over fifty metres below the surface. By comparison, Crossrail 1 is thirty metres deep at Whitechapel, which is not as deep as the Saint Petersburg metro , which has one station at a depth of eighty-six metres.

No major station rebuilding, the digging of stations from the tunnel up, longer escalators and other smaller improvements in techniques and machines , lead me to the conclusion, that the central section of Crossrail 2 will be one deep tunnel that excavates its way to the surface mainly direct into existing Crossrail 2-ready stations.

It will be a very cost effective and hopefully much quicker way of building a railway under London, which could cause a lot less disruption than the current Crossrail 1.

What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Crossrail 1?

In my view from the outside, Crossrail 1 has been a pretty well-managed project. But it has skilfully used various ideas to make construction flow smoothly.

One big problem with large tunnelling projects is getting rid of all the spoil dug out of the tunnels. Crossrail 1 changed, the tunnelling strategy to remove excavated material by barge from Leamouth rather than the originally proposed complex conveyor system in Mile End.

To further use the spoil on the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project was a master-stroke with a large dose of green.

It would appear that all three of Crossrail 2’s portals have good rail and/or water access to remove spoil. Will it be used to similar effect?

Crossrail 1 has been able to use archaeology for positive publicity to balance negative stories. I don’t think Crossrail 2 will be going through such rich veins of historical interest, but they will have to find a positive story to spin, that is not directly-related to the project.

Crossrail 1 had a major problem with the junction of the two eastern branches under Stepney. Instead of being heavy, they worked with the Stepney City Farm to create a solution acceptable to both parties. Crossrail 2 must work the same way in sensitive areas, like their proposed junction under Stamford Hill and the only new station on the line at Chelsea.

When people talk about Crossrail 1, the subject of disruption always comes up. In any plan for the design and construction of Crossrail 2, minimising disruption should be an important objective.

There is an entry entitled Controversy in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail.

This is one of the things that is said.

There had been complaints from music fans, as the redevelopment of the area forced the closure of a number of historic music venues. The London Astoria, the Astoria 2, The Metro, Sin nightclub and The Ghetto have been demolished to allow expansion of the ticket hall and congestion relief at Tottenham Court Road tube station in advance of the arrival of Crossrail.

Crossrail 2 might well find that if they avoided unnecessary demolition, they might calm a few Nimbys.

What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Other Metros?

From the little of Crossrail 1, I’ve seen in reality, and the masses of visualisations I’ve seen in places like the Crossrail 1 web site, the line strikes me as sound and solid, but not that adventurous in its approach to design and architecture. The stations with perhaps a couple of exceptions, do not have mould-breaking designs that characterise the Piccadilly and Jubilee Lines.

London Transport, the predecessor to Transport for London, was rightly famous for its design from typefaces and maps to stations and buses.

The rules still seem to be applied, but Crossrail 1 doesn’t seem to have extended them, in the way that the Victoria Line did and the Docklands Light Railway and the London Overground still are.

I recently went to Bilbao and saw Norman Foster’s award-winning Metro, which is very much a design-led system.

Crossrail 2 needs to find itself a modern extension of London Transport’s philosophy. They might perhaps start by stealing and Londonising the fosterito idea from Bilbao.

The Safeguarded Areas For Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 has now firmed up the areas they want to be safeguarded from any possible development that might make building the line difficult.

Building.co.uk has also given a handy checklist of all the changes, that have been recently agreed.

The web site says this about safeguarding.

The updated route means that relevant planning applications in safeguarded areas will be referred to TfL for advice. If development interferes with Crossrail 2, either a compromise will be reached or the development will not be allowed.

It also says this about TfL and compulsory purchase.

TfL said it currently has no plans to compulsorily purchase properties along the route.

This page on the Crossrail 2 web site, explains all about safeguarded areas and acts as a key to the detailed maps.

The maps show the route of the line and how it effects individual areas, streets and houses.

The only problem is that the PDF maps are sometimes a bit on the skew, but hopefully they will be improved.

Crossrail 2 Through East London

I’m going to look at the area as it works it way through Hackney from Tottenham Hale to The Angel.

Tottenham Hale

The portal for the North Eastern branch is south of Tottenham Hale station, from where it goes up the West Anglia Main Line to Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hertford East.

It is basically a good plan, as it would appear that the tunnel portal appears to be in an area with all the beauty and charm of East London after the Blitz. It is also located close to rail and water for the efficient and environmentally sound removal of tunnel spoil. Thames Water are even ceating the Walthamstow Wetlands in the area and may have innovative uses for some f the tunnel spoil.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Tottenham Hale, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

South Tottenham/Seven Sisters

It looks increasingly like South Tottenham and Seven Sisters stations could share a double-ended Crossrail 2 station and become a major  interchange between London Overground ‘s Gospel Oak to Barking and Lea Valley Lines, the Victoria Line, Crossrail 2 and National Rail services.

Such an interchange will support major development in a part of London, that desperately needs more housing, jobs and leisure and business opportunities.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At South Tottenham/Seven Sisters, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

The Junction Under Stamford Hill

The two northern branches of Crossrail 2, that go to New Southgate and Tottenham Hale respectively, would appear according to the safeguarding map on the Crossrail 2 web site, to join together under Stamford Hill.

It all seems to point to some clever strategy and alignments, that will allow the junction to be created deep underground, without disturbing anything or anybody on the surface.

This post entitled The Crossrail 2 Junction Under Stamford Hill, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

Dalston

If there is one area in East London that needs to see its existing transport links tidied up and new ones added, it is Hackney and Dalston.

I have heard from Michele Dix of Crossrail 2, that they are looking at a double-ended station to serve both Dalston Kingsland and Junction stations. This was said.

We have been working closely with the London borough of Hackney on the early development of the proposals for how Crossrail 2 could ultimately serve Dalston. The work to date has been based around delivering a double-ended station, with one end being at Dalston Junction, and the other at Dalston Kingsland, thereby allowing the Crossrail 2 station to link to both existing stations. As Mr. Miller rightly points out, the distance between the existing stations is well suited to the 250m long platforms that will be required for the Crossrail 2 station, and the greater interchange opportunities to London Overground services also deliver significant benefits.

I believe that there is an opportunity to create a world class station that subtly brings together all the good elements of the area. The only necessary demolition would be the unloved Dalston Kingsland station. TfL have told me off the record, that Kingsland station will be replaced fairly soon.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Dalston, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full about the stations.

De Beauvoir Town

Looking at the safeguarding maps gives the impression that Crossrail 2 will swing under De Beauvoir Town before turning in the direction of the Angel and Kings Cross.

I think the only negative effect will be the possible use of the Bentley Road Car Park as a work site. Why else would it have been singled out for safeguarding?

This post entitled Crossrail 2 Under De Beauvoir Town, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

Angel

Just as at Stamford Hill, I feel that Crossrail 2 could effectively take a route through the hill at the Angel, well below the foundations of any building on top.

Angel station was rebuilt in the 1990s and this was after a route for Crossrail 2 was first safeguarded, so I suspect that creating a Crossrail 2 station at Angel would have been taken into account in the rebuilding.

I think the biggest decision to be made at the Angel, is whether the new station is double-ended with entrances on both sides of the hill or it just pops up into the current station.

As at Dalston, there is scope for the creation of an affordable world class station, which is subtly blended with the good buildings in the area.

How Will Crossrail 2 Be Built?

Crossrail 1 was built rather traditionally, in that the tunnels have been bored first and then the stations have been created.  One thing that surprised me was that the surface sections, which have nothing to do with the tunnels were not prepared for Crossrail 1 a lot earlier.

This is probably because politicians dithered for years about giving the go-ahead for the line. More time and the better planning before tunnelling started would have enabled, the surface stations and possibly one or two of the Central London ones to be made Crossrail 1-ready.

Crossrail 2 has a big advantage over Crossrail 1, when it comes to the politics of the route and construction.

With the exception of a few stations in Hertfordshire and some in the boroughs of Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell, Crossrail 2 is a London project, where nearly everything is under the control of Transport for London and ultimately the Mayor. As the only work that will need to be done to outlying stations like Hertford East and Epsom, is bring the existing structures up to a modern standard, that will be capable of handling larger trains, I can’t imagine many complaints about Crossrail 2 from that quarter. It’s interesting to note, that now tunnelling is complete most of the negative stories from Crossrail 1 are about works on the surface section.

As construction of Crossrail 2 is unlikely to start for some years, the tunnelling can probably be scheduled to start after all of the stations have been upgraded to be Crossrail 2-ready.

When St. Pancras was rebuilt for High Speed One, provision was made for Thameslink, and in the same way when Euston and Victoria are rebuilt, I will be surprised if the designs don’t incorporate full provision for Crossrail 2.

Where I live in Dalston, which according to my letter says will have a double-ended station serving both Dalston stations, a TfL manager told me that Dalston Kingsland station is to be rebuilt in the next few years. So as Dalston Junction station was built with Crossrail 2 in mind, boring the tunnels through Dalston will only require threading two needles with the same thread simultaneously.

Probably the only station that needs to be created or rebuilt after or alongside the tunnelling is Chelsea Kings Road, which I suspect will be more politically difficult than any other.

A lot of other features of Crossrail 2, like trains, signalling and the design of tunnels, platforms, track and overhead line systems will probably be the same as Crossrail 1.

I would suspect that a decision will be made to use the same Class 345 trains for Crossrail 2, that are being built for Crossrail 1. The only difference would be that they will need to be dual-voltage to run on the third-rail lines in the south. But they could be built as a run-on to the trains needed for Crossrail 1 and possibly introduced early on the surface lines from Liverpool Street to Hertford North or Victoria to Epsom. I feel that a common weakness of Crossrail 1 and Thameslink, is that they are introducing new types of train as they are respectively building or updating the lines. By using a proven train type the risks associated with the project will be reduced.

So I think we will get a series of phases for Crossrail 2.

1. Introduce some of the new trains on some of the surface sections. New trains on these lines will be needed anyway, as some of the current ones are getting pretty tired and dated.

2. Rebuild Euston station for High Speed Two and make provision for connection to Crossrail 2. This phase alone is probably the most expensive and contentious rail project that will happen in London in the next few years and inextricably links the work for Crossrail 2 and HS2.

3. The current situation at Victoria station is difficult to say the least. Hopefully in 2018, it will have a much better Underground station, with two platforms at which Crossrail 2’s tunnellers will aim their boring machines.

4. Make all the existing stations on the surface lines, Crossrail-2 ready and to a modern standard. Much of the work on the surface sections will be done anyway under Network Rail’s Access for All program.

5. Bore the tunnels through Central London.

6. Fit out the tunnels and the new station platforms.

7. Build the station at Chelsea. This could be an independent last phase, as was Pimlico station on the Victoria Line

Obviously, there are other ancillary projects like the creation of a depot for the trains and as a lot of Phases 1 to 4  won’t interfere with Phases 5 and 6, it could be scheduled to be done at the same time, if planned properly.

As so many elements of Crossrail 2 should be the same as Crossrail 1, any good project manager would probably say costs would be saved by scheduling Crossrail 2 to follow Crossrail 1 by a couple of years or so.

Conclusion

I am optimistic that Crossrail 2 can set new standards of design, affordability, accessibility and neighbourliness as it is built across London in a much shorter time with less demolition and disruption than Crossrail 1.

Well! At least I’m very hopeful!

March 29, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail 2 At Dalston

In a post called An Opportunity For Dalston, I looked at how a double-ended station for Crossrail 2 might connect with both Kingsland and Junction stations. I felt it could bring major advantages to the area of not requiring any demolition, except for the unloved Kingsland station, much better interchange for passengers and improved pedestrians routes in the area.

I concluded that all was possible because the Victorians spaced the stations to enable a modern Crossrail station to fit in between. This map from the Crossrail 2 web site, shows the two stations and the safeguarded area.

Crossrail 2 In Dalston

Crossrail 2 In Dalston

The rail line at the far right or north is the North London Line with High Speed One beneath. The safeguarded area would appear to follow the Kingland High Road, but it does pass close to both stations.

I just thought it was logical and never envisaged that those working on the project would entertain a similar idea. But after contacting my MP, I have received a letter from Michele Dix, who is the Managing Director of Crossrail 2. This is a paragraph.

We have been working closely with the London borough of Hackney on the early development of the proposals for how Crossrail 2 could ultimately serve Dalston. The work to date has been based around delivering a double-ended station, with one end being at Dalston Junction, and the other at Dalston Kingsland, thereby allowing the Crossrail 2 station to link to both existing stations. As Mr. Miller rightly points out, the distance between the existing stations is well suited to the 250m long platforms that will be required for the Crossrail 2 station, and the greater interchange opportunities to London Overground services also deliver significant benefits.

Various factors will also drive the design of the Crossrail 2 station and the related Dalston Kingsland station at Dalston.

1. Crossrail 2 will have to get past and probably under High Speed One and the Dalston Curve, that takes the East London Line to Canonbury and Highbury and Islington. So it will be a deep line, where any stations will need escalators and/or lifts. These stations will also probably be built from the tunnel up, as parts of Whitechapel station are being built for Crossrail.

2. Could Dalston Kingsland station be designed as a station with entrances on both sides of Kingsland High Street, perhaps with a single island platform served by escalators and lifts?

3. Demolition of any quality buildings will stir up a lot of opposition.

4. There isn’t many places to put a work site, with the possible exception of the Car Park in Bentley Road which is in the safeguarded area.

5.Surely the Ridley Road market could be improved by good design of the new stations.

I think there is a chance for a good architect with a bit of vision to create an innovative world class station.

Perhaps, we need our own versions of these distinctive fosteritos to access the Crossrail 2 station from the surface.

These were designed by Sir Norman Foster for the Bilbao Metro. Hence the name!

I also think that if the design is right, Crossrail 2 can sneak its way through Dalston, with little disruption and no demolition of a building worth saving.,

Why shouldn’t us plebs in Dalston have the best?

March 28, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

How Where I Live Now Looked In 1949

This is an image of Dalston from Britain from Above taken in 1949.

Dalston In 1949

Dalston In 1949

This is the same area today from Google Earth.

Dalston In 2014

Dalston In 2014

In the Google Earth image, the Overground lines are marked in orange and Dalston Junction station is marked by a red arrow.

In the aerial image the following can be clearly seen.

1. The platforms at the old Dalston Junction station in the bottom right hand corner.

2. The A10 road stretching away to the North.

3. The Balls Pond Road stretching towards Highbury Corner.

I can pick out more, but then I live in a house that was built ten years ago and is or would be in the bottom left hand corners of both images.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Walking Through My Maternal Grandparents’ Lives

My maternal grandmother, Harriet Martha Upcott, was born opposite Dalston Junction station in Dalston Lane in May 1871. In September 1894, she married my grandfather, Henry Millbank, who had been born in Clerkenwell in 1870. Census and other records show that in 1894 they lived at 29 Dalston Lane and then by 1901 they had moved to 90, Princess May Road in Stoke Newington. As Princess May Road is perhaps a kilometre from where I live now, I walked round all these places this morning.

In some ways, one thing that struck me as I walked in a semi-circle to St. Mark at the back of the famous Ridley Road Market was how intact the late Victorian terraces were. But why was 90, Princess May Road missing. Was it just development or did the Luftwaffe have a hand? I shall go to the Hackney Records Office opposite where my grandmother was born in the week.

It was a family joke between my parents, that my grandmother was born in the Balls Pond Road, when it was posh the first time around. The Balls Pond Road is the continuation of Dalston Lane towards Islington.

I can’t salso ever remember talk of Dalston, despite my mother having worked at Reeves. Stoke Newington and Islington were mentioned.

January 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Can We Extend Overground Connectivity In North London?

The East London Line has four termini in South London; New Cross, West Croydon, Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction, but only two in the North; Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington.

In the North the Lea Valley Lines are being added to the system and although these lines meet the North London Line at the Hackney Downs/Central station complex, they are not intimately connected to the core route of the East London Line, as this would need a change of train at Canonbury.

So how could we improve the extend the connectivity?

Hackney Central/Downs

I regularly take the Overground from Stratford to my home. On a wet day, I would take a train to Canonbury from Stratford, walk across the platform to a southbound train and then go one stop to Dalston Junction, from where I would get a bus two stops to my home. On a sunny day, I might change at Hackney Central to a 38 bus or walk from Dalston Kingsland.

But I usually take the Canonbury route, as it has the least amount of walking and if I’ve got a heavy parcel, there is a lift at Dalston Junction.

The two Hackney stations are being connected by a covered high level walk and this would help those changing between the North London Line and Lea Valley and Cambridge services.

But two other things could be done, if the run-down area around the stations is redeveloped.

If you want to get a bus or walk to the Town Hall area, after alighting on the westbound platform at Hackney Central, you have to cross the tracks on a footbridge. An entrance needs to be provided on the south side of the station.

The connection to the buses are better than they were a few years ago, but Downs/Central should have easy access to stops for the high-frequency bus routes that pass through the area.

I have a feeling that they may have spent a lot of money on making the footbridge step-free with lifts and in a few years time, it will be rarely used, as other better routes are developed. A southern entrance would help in this respect.

Crossrail 2 will be the driving force here, as the planners have stated a preference for only having one station in Hackney, to save a billion pounds. Whether this station is Dalston Junction or Hackney Downs/Central doesn’t matter, provided that these two stations are connected by other means. There are already two routes; the North London Line and the high-frequency buses.

For this reason, the access to buses from Hackney Downs/Central must be made as easy as possible. But that doesn’t need to wait for Crossrail 2!

There is a superb opportunity here for a developer to create a real town centre at Hackney Central/Downs, of which everybody can be proud. The original station building is not used, but it is a building worthy of saving as are few other historic buildings in the area.

An Extra Terminal In The North

If the frequency on the core section of the East London Line is increased from 16 tph to 24 tph as is stated in TfL’s plans, there could be a need for another Northern terminus to supplement Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington, where these trains could turn back.

An extra terminus might ease the overcrowding that is prevalent at Highbury and Islington.

In the original plans for the Overground, there was talk about some East London Line trains going as far as Willesden Junction and terminating there.

With plans for a new super station at Old Oak Common, that could be a possibility. But even New Cross to Old Oak Common would be a journey of about an hour, and there will be faster  ways via Crossrail at Whitechapel.

So a terminus for the East London Line at Willesden Junction or Old Oak Common, would be more about inceasing the frequency of trains on the North London Line, by using some of the eight extra trains an hour on the East London Line to provide the extra trains.

There are two other possibilities for extra Northern terminals.

If the Dalston Eastern Curve were to be reopened, then trains could move easily between Hackney Downs/Central and Stratford and the East London Line.

This would mean that Stratford could be an additional terminal and also that some East London Line trains could have an interchange with the Lea Valley Lines.

There is also a curve at Canonbury that connects the North London Line to the East Coast Main Line. It used to be double track, but is only single track now! So could this be used to get to a new Northern terminus?

The Canonbury Curve To The East Coast Main Line

The Canonbury Curve To The East Coast Main Line

It all depends on the passenger flows, which of course TfL has at its fingertips.

We must also take note of passenger behaviour in using cross-city railways.

When Crossrail opens in 2019, all parameters will change, as many who want to use the East London Line to get on the Underground at Highbury and Islington, might get on Crossrail at Whitechapel instead. This passenger will probably go to Oxford Street, by walking to Dalston Junction, before taking the East London Line to Whitechapel for Crossrail. The alternative of taking a bus to Highbury and Islington and then getting the Victoria line, means I have to use a station I avoid as much as possible, due to the excessive walking involved to get to the trains.

The Eastern Curve At Dalston Junction

This seems an easy option to improve connectivity, as it would allow trains to pass easily between Stratford and Hackney Downs/Central and the East London Line. But there are two problems.

It might be a difficult sell to the Dalstonistas and the shopping centre at Dalston Kingsland is being redeveloped, although the Eastern Curve is safeguarded.

It would seem though, that in the next couple of years, there is a chance to make a good fist of sorting out the shops and stations at Dalston.

Tying In The Lea Valley Lines

There has been little or no speculation about how the London Overground will link the Lea Valley Lines to their current lines. London Overground has said that it will deep clean the trains and stations and that new trains are on the way.

They have also got at least three out of station interchanges between the new lines and the current system.

  1. Walthamstow Central to Walthamstow Queens Road.
  2. Hackney Downs to Hackney Central, although the way that is going, it will probably become a single station.
  3. Seven Sisters to South Tottenham

There are also a couple of junctions where useful connectivity already exists.

There is a rail line called the High Meads Loop that goes between the Lee Valley Lines and the North London Line, virtually straight under the old Olympic Village. This is the North London Line End just after Hackney Wick station.

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins North London Line

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins North London Line

And this is the other end on the Lea Valley Line, between Stratford and Tottenham Hale

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins Lea Valley Line

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins Lea Valley Line

Incidentally, I don’t think there is a station under all those dwellings.

There is also another junction that links the Lea Valley Line to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to the East of South Tottenham station.

Perhaps the most interesting proposal though, is to reinstate the Hall Farm Curve in conjunction with the reopening of Lea Bridge station. I travel to Walthamstow Central regularly and the curent timetable of the GreaterAnglia service is a bit threadbare to say the least. So if this curve is reopened, will we see trains linking Walthamstow to Stratford and even to and along the North London Line by way of the link I showed in the pictures to my local station at Dalston.

If the Eastern Curve at Dalston Junction was to be reinstated, then some of those extra trains through the core section of the East London Line could go to Walthamstow and Chingford.

Summing Up

The more I look at the East London Line, the basic concept of a high frequency line through Marc Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, fanning out to several destinations on both sides of the river, was a stroke of genius, which was probably dreamed up in the time-honoured manner of so many other good ideas on the back of serviettes, beer mats or fag packets in a real ale hostelry somewhere.

Who can predict with any certainty what the Overground will look like in 2020, let alone the 2050 target of Transport for London?

The only certainty is that Transport for London will have created another iconic brand to go with Underground and Routemaster.

It could also be argued that London’s three new cross-London lines;Thameslink, Crossrail and East London, are all following a similar design of a central tunnelled core, with a collection of branches at each end.

Certainly the current Thameslink and East London Line have shown that the concept works and if they perform in the next few years, this can only mean that further lines in London and further afield follow a similar pattern. Crossrail is adding more branches and termini and the basic design for the proposed Crossrail 2 appears to have been designed by the use of a photocopier.

 

 

August 11, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Crossrail 2 Serve Dalston Junction And/Or Hackney Central?

The latest proposal for Crossrail 2 says this about the routes north of Angel station.

Further work to reduce the overall cost of the scheme and to minimise environmental impacts during both construction and operation has resulted in a potential change to the proposal for Crossrail 2 in this area. Rather than the route splitting at Angel with one tunnel going via Dalston and the other via Hackney, a single route would continue as far as Stoke Newington or Clapton, at which point the line would split, with one branch towards Seven Sisters and New Southgate and the other towards Tottenham Hale and Hertford East. 

So it looks like it’s either call at Dalston Junction or Hackney Central stations, but not both.

Before I discuss which of the two locations is served, I will make a few assumptions.

Crossrail is going to provide up to 24 two hundred metre long trains per hour, that can each carry up to 1,500 passengers between Whitechapel and Paddington as detailed here. Thameslink will also be using a frequency of 24 trains per hour.

So it is reasonable to assume that Crossrail 2 will have similar frequency and probably use similar trains to Crossrail, so there’ll be an awful lot of passengers on the line.

But they are proposing Crossrail 2 for the future not for 2014.

By that time the  Overground will be running more trains and they will be at least five-car trains. Judging by the modular nature of the Class 378 trains, which have already gone from three to four and will be going to five coaches later this year, who’s to say what the length will be? The limiting factor is the length of platforms, but I think I read somewhere, that most stations could go to six. At those that couldn’t take six coaches, selective door opening could be used.

Station improvements will also increase the capacity of the system.

With the redevelopment of the Kingsland Shopping Centre and the various redevelopment between the two stations, I would hope that the walk between the two Dalston stations ; Junction and Kingsland, becomes a pleasant sheltered one past cafes and shops, rather than a precarious scramble up the side of a busy road on a crowded and exposed pavement. If the Dalston Kingsland station entrance was moved to the eastern side of the Kingsland Road, this would shorten the walk and mean that only one major road had to be crossed.

As the Lea Valley Lines will have been fully incorporated in the Overground by then, Hackney Central should have been combined with Hackney Downs to effectively be one station. I’ve believed for some time that the two stations should be made one, with a proper interchange to the buses. I suspect too, that the station improvements could be part of a large property development in the area, as could the improvements at Dalston.

So by the time Crossrail 2 is finished both Dalston Kingsland/Junction and Hackney Downs/Central could be two substantially developed stations with lots of apartments, shops, offices and leisure facilities, with the North London Line between them. At present there are eight trains per hour and an awful lot of buses between the two areas.

I think we can see, why the planners have virtually said that it’s an either..on between the two stations. Cutting out one station supposedly cuts a billion off the bill for the project.

So which will get built?

It’s very much a case of who pays the money gets the tune.

But I think as Hackney Central/Downs will be the better connected station, it might well get the vote.

But remember one of the rules of the planning of large and expensive projects. What gets delivered in the end is often very different to what was originally proposed. Look at the simple example from Crossrail, where the line was originally planned to run to Maidenhead, but was extended to Reading, in March 2014.

So what could happen to change the scope of Crossrail 2?

The Overground has a problem of not enough capacity, which is partly made worse by all the freight trains travelling along it. So will a radical solution be made to remove most of the freight trains away from the Overground? This problem is going to get worse as more ships call at London Gateway, so sending more freight trains on the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines (GOB) will be increasing unpopular, with both TfL and residents. Although hopefully in a few years, the noisy Class 66 diesel locomotives, will have been replaced with quieter electric ones.

But one solution could be incorporated into the Overground that would make the one station in Hackney work better. And that would be to reinstate the Eastern Curve at Dalston Junction to enable trains to go between the East London Line and Stratford.

The more I think about it, to make a one station concept work, freight must be removed from the North London Line. Read what the London Gateway Wikipedia entry says about distribution, which says trains will go partly at night on the GOB.

Rail logistics partner DB Schenker Rail (UK) plan to run four intermodal trains per day (mainly overnight) via Barking and Gospel Oak to the West Coast Main Line. 

What will the residents living by the GOB, think of the noise at night?

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Payday Lenders Fight Back

Payday lenders have had a lot of bad publicity today.  So Oakam in Dalston decided to fight back.

Payday Lenders Fight Back

Payday Lenders Fight Back

I suppose the only guy doing well is the guy on stilts.

Perhaps we need more street performers on the High Street.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Finance, World | , | 1 Comment

Dalston On BBC Breakfast

Dalston featured in a report on BBC Breakfast this morning.

It was all about payday loans.

It is almost impossible to walk down the Kingsland Road without falling over the endless number of boards offering loans on the street.

All loans no matter where they are from, should be properly registered on a central database, which is then checked for anomalies and excessive borrowings.

The FCA is imposing new regulations as reported here on the BBC.

But no matter what regulations are tabled, it will not stop people borrowing at rates, they can’t afford. So the new regulations will probably turn out to be a business opportunity for loan sharks.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Business, Finance, News | , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,033 other followers