This was the headline on a small piece in The Times on Monday.
Luton Airport want the following from the new East Midlands Franchise.
- A dedicated fast train.
- Four trains an hour (tph) to and from St. Pancras.
- A journey time of less than thirty minutes.
This is an extract from the article..
The move would add up to £110million of extra fare revenue to the government over ten years and take almost 1 million cars off the road, a study by North Star, the consultancy found.
At present there are two separate services to Luton Airport.
- Thameslink, which leaves from the low-level Thameslink platform takes 45 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of six tph.
- East Midlands Trains, which leave from the high-level platforms take around 30 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of 1-2 tph.
Note these points about the current service.
- The lack of a dedicated platform for the fast trains to the airport, must confuse occassional passengers.
- The time of sub-thirty minutes is certainly possible on East Midlands Trains.
- There is not enough platforms in the high-level station for a dedicated platform for an express Luton Airport service.
The problems are made worse by the fur coat and no knickers nature of St. Pancras station.
The new franchise will probably be buying new electric trains for the Midland Main Line services. These could be key to providing an express airport service to Luton Airport.
Abellio has stated that their new Flirts and Aventras for Greater Anglia, will have a very fast stop and restart time, thus enabling services like Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty.
So we then have the possibility of similar trains on the Midland Main Line to Corby, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield stopping at Luton Airport Parkway, without adding a large delay to the service. This would give Luton Airport, the following express services.
- At least four tph to and from St. Pancras in under thirty ,minutes.
- At least two tph to and from Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
- At least three tph to and from Leicester.
The only complaints would come from East Midlands Airport.
As there will be at least eight tph on Thameslink, this should be enough trains for everyone.
Perhaps the best comment on the decision to go for the NW Runway at Heathrow, a this reasoned one from Construction News, which is headlined, Heathrow: Still ifs and buts.
That sums it all up.
This decision is still twenty years away from opening.
.But I suspect it won’t open, as there is too much opposition to the runway.
Last week, I went to a consultation about the Draft Hackney Central And Surrounds Masterplan in the Narrow Way by HackneyCentral station.
If you want to see the full version of the masterplan it is available at www.hackney.gov.uk/spd.
As this article will be sent to the Council Planning Department, I’ll say a little bit about myself.
- Widowed, in my seventieth year and living alone.
- I’m coeliac, which I inherited from my father.
- I always describe my politics as left-wing Tory and very radical.
- As someone, who has helped create two high class technology businesses sold for millions of pounds, I’m very entrepreneurial.
- My father and three of my grandparents were all born within the triangle based on the Angel, Dalston Junction and Highbury Corner.
- My father was the least racist person, I’ve ever met. I hope his attitude has rubbed off on me!
- My two grandfathers were of part-Jewish and part-Huguenot ancestry respectively.
- As my two grandmothers families came from Northants and Devon, I usually describe myself as a London mongrel.
- My late wife and myself partly brought our three sons up in the Barbican.
- My middle son talks of that time in a tower block with affection, so I’m not against well-designed tower blocks.
After a stroke, left me unable to drive, I returned to my roots.
My Views On The Masterplan
I like lots of things about it. And especially these!
- The prominence given to new workspace, shops and the creation of jobs.
- The creation of new housing, where I’m only against bad tower blocks.
- The opening up of the railway viaduct, so it becomes a feature. Network Rail get a lot of stick, but they know how to look after railway brickwork.
- The creation of a public square at the bottom of the Narrow Way.
- The creation of more pedestrian streets.
- Better use of the bus garage site.
- Improvement of Bohemia Place.
It wouldn’t be me, to not put in my own wish list.
Truth be told, I don’t think Transport for London, thought the Overground would be the success, it has turned out to be. So the designers did the minimum they felt they could get away with and would satisfy their political masters!
But the London Overground’s success has been repeated in places like the Borders Railway, Electrification in Liverpool, new stations in Leeds and the Todmorden Curve, and it is now proven in the UK, that if you give the population a good train service, they’ll use it.
Now that the walkway has connected Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations and other improvements to the complex are in the pipeline, I think that serious consideration should be given to creating a second entrance to Hackney Central from Graham Road.
Failing that, pedestrian routes should be improved, so that access to the cluster of buildings around the Town Hall and the Empire is easier.
Hackney Central As A Meeting Point
Once the public square is created at the bottom of the Narrow Way, use of the area as a meeting point should be encouraged.
- Hackney Central is where two rail lines cross.
- The London Overground through Hackney Downs gets new trains in 2018.
- There are several bus routes passing through the area.
- Bohemia Place and the railway arches must have potential for specialist shops and cafe/restaurants like Leon.
- Leon was started by a Hackney resident.
Who said it’s all about location?
Learning From Other Cities And Towns
I travel extensively, in the UK and Europe and see both good and bad examples of how to develop cities and towns.
Recently, I went to Blackburn and I was totally surprised at the transformation since I last visited a few years ago.
A Landscaped square had been created between the station and the cathedral.The square is surrounded by a PremierInn, a new office block, a small bus station on one side and a pedestrian way to a supermarket on the other.
Hackney could do similar or even better.
My uncle was a very good sculptor and I feel it is a crime that works of art like large bronzes are kept in store because security and insurance is a problem.
However, there are places where they could be placed with little fear of theft or damage. And that is at carefully selected locations on the platforms of railway stations.
So why not?
Hackney Downs certainly has space for one, but the platforms at Central are too narrow!
When I was on holiday in Iceland, every building with a historic connection, had full information displayed outside.
Is Hackney’s information up to scratch?
This is a series of pictures with comments.
Hackney Central has some interesting buildings on which to develop the area. Unfortunately, there is some bad examples of boring architecture.
Some sites definitely have potential.
- Could the top floors of the Iceland building, be converted into a Southern station entrance, with perhaps a cafe and a couple of shops that travellers like?
- Bohemia Place could be a nice oasis with cafes, workshops and individual shops, a bit like the Box Park at Shoreditch High Street station.
- Bohemia Place will be better, when the arches under the railway are opened up.
- The right architect could do a fine job on the M & S Building.
- The car park at Hackney Central station might be much better as a bus interchange.
In my view the key is Bohemia Place, as this could be a magnet for people of all ages, races and classes to come and shop and refresh themselves.
Today, the Government will decide on their preferred option for another runway in the South-East.
So what happens on the M4 today? It has been blocked by a fuel-spillage.
Will all the cabinet members get to the meeting?
This article in the Oxford Mail is entitled Train timetable released for new Oxford to London Marylebone route.
This is said.
The new timetable shows services running every 30 minutes, starting at 6.02am from Oxford and returning at 23.10pm.
The line will open on Monday, December 12.
That is certainly a passenger magnet of a timetable.
Looking at the timetable of both Chiltern and Great Western,
- Both services run at least two trains per hour (tph) all day.
- Both services run fairly late in the evening.
- Great Western has the fastest trains, with some doing the journey in under an hour.
It will certainly be interesting to see how these two heavyweights slug it out.
But this is only Round 1One.
- In December 2018, Crossrail services between Paddington and Abbey Wood, via Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf start.
- In May 2019, Crossrail services between Paddington and Shenfield start.
- In December 2019, full Crossrail services start.
- The East West Rail Link will open.
- Oxford to Didcot should be electrified, allowing electric trains to Oxford.
These developments may appear to favour Great Western services over Chiltern, but I doubt that Chiltern will sit back and do nothing.
So what will Chiltern do?
- Will the Marylebone to Oxford route be improved to allow services to run faster and more frequent services? There are certainly some possible plans for this on Wikipedia.
- Will the West Hampstead Interchange be created?
- I doubt that it would be easy to shoehorn more services between High Wycombe and Marylebone, so this route will probably be limited to 2 tph.
- The Oxford to Marylebone trains will go to Class 68 locomotives and rakes of Mark 3 coaches, as Chiltern use to Birmingham at the present time.
- Greater Anglia could be releasing some high-quality Mark 3 coaches in 2019-2020.
- There has been speculation that Chiltern could open a second London terminus at Old Oak Common for Crossrail. I wrote about it in Will Chiltern Railways Get A Second London Terminus At Old Oak Common?.
- Will electrification come to the Chiltern Line? Or at least enough to run modern bi-mode or battery-electreic trains.
- The Guardian says that Bicester Village is one of the top tourist destinations in the UK.
What is needed is a comprehensive plan for Chiltern’s future.
I can’t believe that they’re not working on one!
It could include the following.
- Line improvements to reduce journey times between Marylebone and Oxford.
- Improvements to allow the longest possible locomotive-hauled sets to run the route.
- Development of West Hampstead Interchange.
- Creation of a second terminus at Old Oak Common.
One or both of the last two options will have to be implemented, due to the lack of capacity at Marylebone and that station’s bad connectivity.
But what would I do?
The Southern end of the Chiltern Main Line needs better connectivity and the best way to do this would be to link it to Crossrail.
When Crossrail opens to Paddington in December 2018, the direct link I wrote about in Paddington Is Operational Again, will enable passengers taking the Bakerloo Line from Marylebone to change easily to Crossrail.
Together with line improvements and longer trains, this should handle the traffic for a few years.
It is interesting to look at a few journey times.
- Chiltern has trains scheduled between Marylebone and High Wycombe in around 24-28 minutes.
- Crossrail services from Paddington will take 27 minutes to Sloughbold step of creating a Crossrail .
- Crossrail services from Paddington will take 45 minutes to Reading.
I would take the bold step of creating a Crossrail branch to High Wycombe.
- High Wycombe would receive 4 tph from Crossrail.
- There could be cross-platform interchange between Crossrail and Chiltern services to Oxford and Birmingham.
- The Acton-Northolt Line would be double-tracked and electrified to connect Crossrail at Old Oak Common to the Chiltern Main Line at Northolt Junction.
- The Chiltern Main line would be electrified from Northolt Junction to High Wycombe.
- Chiltern’s Oxford and Birmingham services could use Class 88 electro-diesel locomotives, to take advantage of the limited electrification.
- Extra services could run from High Wycombe to Oxford and Birmingham, if traffic required more capacity.
Except for the electrification and some track layout changes, there is no substantial investment required in new lines and stations.
If this approach is taken, there will probably be eough eletrification on the Chiltern routes to use Aventra trains with an IPEMU-capability to provide the services out of Marylebone.
But plans were obviously changed.
This article in the Islington Gazette is entitled Holloway Road closures: Islington Council threatens to sue TfL over ‘last-minute’ plans.
This is said.
TfL says work to transfer underground pipes and cables from the old bridge to another specially-made bridge has proved problematic because of their “complex layout, poor condition and a leaking water main”.
But Cllr Webbe was having none of it. She said: “This section of Holloway Road will be closed in at least one direction for nearly three months, including over half term, Christmas and New Year.
It looks like the water main is the problem and perhaps this didn’t show up until they started to move everything.
But whatever the problem was, it looks to me like there has been a cock-up by someone.
Was it the surveyor, who looked at the moving of the cables and the water main and didn’t quantify the task properly?
Surely though, the big problem now is that if this bridge problem delays the rebuilding of the trac for the GOBlink, which is needed for the electrification.
It’s a mess!
I took these pictures of the area today.
I walked down from Archway station and then caught a free bus to Holloway Road. At least TfL had got the buses right.
But except for Junction Road from Archway to Kentish Town, which was blocked solid, the traffic levels were very low.