The Anonymous Widower

Up And Down The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking photographs of various parts of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin).

There would still seem to be a lot to do to restore the railway to operation as a non-electrified railway.

However, the National Rail on-line timetable is showing that from Monday, the 13th of February, 2013, a four trains per hour (tph) service will be working.

It is also worthwhile looking at Transport for London’s Track Closures Six Months Look Ahead. This is usually reliable and states the following.

There is no London Overground service between Gospel Oak and Barking until late February 2017. Replacement buses are running.

It also lists no substantial closures on the GOBlin in the next six months.

There is also this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Electrification of London Overground’s Gospel Oak-Barking line 80% complete.

These various statements and my pictures could point to a coherent interim set of objectives.

An Interim Set Of Objectives

Both Transport for London and Network Rail will want to get the line open for the following trains as soon as possible.

  • Engineering trains to support the finish of the electrification and station works.
  • Diesel-hauled freight trains.
  • Restoration of the four tph passenger service using the two-car Class 172 trains.

It could be that from the point of view of the electrification, the engineering trains are the most important.

So what will need to be done to meet these interim objectives.

Hopefully, the line will reopen to passenger traffic before the end of February 2017. But no-one would complain, if it happens earlier.

Finishing The Project

Once the limited objectives are met and trains are running, the following will need to be done to complete the modernisation.

  • The completion of platform lengthening, as at Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • Erection of the missing gantries.
  • Installation and testing of the overhead wires.

All of these tasks , can probably be done alongside of the working railway, as similar work has been done on the North and East London Lines and Crossrail.

The contractors will have the following advantages.

  • The track and signalling will be complete.
  • It can probably be arranged that overnight very few trains will use the line.
  • They will have a working double-track railway to bring in supplies and specialist rail-mounted equipment.
  • No electric trains will need to run on the line.
  • They will soon have light evenings in which to work.

If they can fit construction around the passenger service, everybody will benefit.

Handling Regenerative Braking

Little has been said about regenerative braking on the GOBlin.

I think, it will be likely, that the Class 710 trains will be able to use regenerative braking on the line, as it typically saves around 20% of the energy required to drive a train.

There are two methods that can be used to handle the braking energy.

  1. It can be fed back into the overhead wires.
  2. It can be stored on the train and reused in acceleration.

As all Aventras are wired to be be fitted with batteries if required, and the Class 710 trains, will be running on several lines across North London, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the second method used to improve efficiency everywhere the new trains run.

The method of handling regenerative braking would have design implications for the electrification of the GOBlin.

As the prototype Aventra is now being tested, any design issues of handling braking energy will probably be resolved soon.

But prudence probably dictates that regenerative braking with batteries must be shown to work before the electrification design is finalised.

So could this explain, the delay in putting up the overhead wires?


January 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Laura Kuenssberg On The Southern Rail Dispute

This article on the BBC by Laura Kuenssberg is entitled The politics behind the Southern rail dispute.

It is a must-read for everyone who uses trains to get to and from work or for important journeys.

This is said.

One former senior minister tells me that “successive secretaries of state” in charge at Transport have wanted to “get rid of guards on trains”. The ambition is to bring down the cost of rail travel for the tax payer and the train passenger.

With that considered to be a long term ambition, it’s no surprise that the RMT, the only union that represents guards, wants to fight this every step of the way. Union sources deny it, but it’s suggested that they have dug in in this dispute, because if they lose it, they also lose a big chunk of their industrial muscle.

If there have to be guards on trains, a strike works if they walk out. If services can run with drivers on their own, their power to disrupt would be reduced. It’s worth noting that the RMT has more than 80,000 members, nearly ten times as many as the drivers’ union, ASLEF. It’s ASLEF that has agreed to meet Southern for talks tomorrow.

So like it or not the traditional guard is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Can rail passengers and  hard-pressed tax-payers afford to pay for a vanity job, which if abolished would result in no loss of employment, but as Laura points out, a considerable loss of industrial muscle.

It is interesting to look at the future in the shape of Merseyrail’s new trains, that I wrote about in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

  • The trains will be designed to fit the platforms for step-free entry and exit for all passengers.
  • The trains will be designed for as high a level of passenger safety as possible.
  • The trains will have a high degree of automation.
  • Automatic Train Operation may be implemented in the Loop Line under Liverpool.

The trains will be designed for Driver Only Operation. This article on the BBC, which is entitled Merseyrail driver-only trains: RMT sets guards decision deadline.

This is said.

A train operator has two weeks to give “cast-iron” assurances that guards will be retained or risk dispute, rail union RMT has said.

I have a feeling that Merseyrail have been cunning here and that as it is three years before the trains run, natural wastage and other factors, will mean that the second men and women on the trains by 2020, will be running under new contracts.

Liverpudlians like a good fight and I have a feeling that in this dispute the RMT and its guards will be severely outnumbered.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Surrey Has A Budget Crisis

This article on the BBC is entitled Conservative-led Surrey County Council plans 15% council tax hike.

This is said.

A Conservative-run council wants to raise its tax by 15% in the next financial year, blaming government cuts and increased demand for social care.

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said the government had cut its annual grant by £170m since 2010.

Surrey definitely has a budget crisis.

An old friend of mine was a senior executive in a FTSE-listed mining and resources company.

We were having lunch and he said that of all the areas in the UK, Surrey was the most likely to find a sizeable oil-field.

He also said, that Oil Exploration would be transformed if there was a Local Extraction Tax.

So why aren’t Surrey encouraging the Oil Companies to foind the black gold to pay for all those services that the County needs?

In fact, if you type “fracking Surrey” into Google, you’ll find nothing but hostility..

After all they’ve already found one sizeable field recently at Horse Hill, as I wrote about inThe Oil Find That Will Settle The Result Of The Election.

I’m afraid, you can’t have your cake and eat it!

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Health, World | , | Leave a comment


In Taxis And Bank Junction, I mentioned that the Northern City Line was originally authorised to Lothbury station .

These pictures were taken at the junction of Lothbury, Moorgate and Prine’s Street.

It strikes me, that a station here would have been a good Edwardian addition.

This map from shows the lines North of Bank station.


The interesting thing is the dates on the lines.

  • Northern Line – 25/02/1900
  • Central Line – 28/07/1912

As the Northern City Line opened in 1904, there would have been a lot of construction going on in the area.

Around 1913, plans were made to connect the Northern City Line with the nearby Waterloo and City Line.

The Bank of England Building is relatively modern dating from the 1920s.

So probably all of this building meant that the extension to Lothbury just got in the way.

But interestingly note, how the two lines of the Northern Line cross over in probably the area where the new station would have gone. This would surely have made more tunnelling difficult.

So was it just too complicated as well?

I don’t know!

But it is probably true to say that if we wanted to extend the line today, we could probably do it.

Especially, as the Northern Line tunnels are being realigned when Bank station is rebuilt in the next few years.

But I doubt we will do it, as the new massive Moorgate-Liverpool Street for Crossrail will finally give the Northern City Line, the connectivity it needs.



January 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Between Bank And Cannon Street Station

The City of London is creating a new walking route between Bank and Cannon Street stations, along Walbrook.

It doesn’t reach to the Thames yet, as there is some 1980s development and the dual-carriageway of Upper Thames Street in the way, but I suspect it will, at some point in the future.

On the Western side of the walk is Walbrook Square being developed by Bloomberg, which underneath which are both the London Mithraeum and the new step-free entrance to the Waterloo and City Line and Bank station.

On the Eastern side is the historic church of |St. Stephen Walbrook, where I once met Chad Varah; the founder of The Samaritans, who for personal and wider reasons, I nominated at Man of the Noughties.

This Google Map shows the area.


It looks like this walking and cycling route will come with a prestigious office development, an important Roman site and a transport interchange.

I have a feeling there’s a deep agenda in pedestrianising Walbrook in this way.

Commuters arriving in the City at Cannon Street station or the Waterloo and City Line will be able to come out of the stations onto the spacious thoroughfare of Walbrook , from where they could walk to their place of work. A pedestrianised Bank Junction would give a traffic free route for commuters to the East side of the junction.

Could we see other routes around Bank Junction also given over to pedestrians and cyclists? Roads like.

  • Cannon |Street
  • Cornhill
  • Dowgate Hill
  • King William Street
  • Lombard Street
  • Lothbury
  • Old Jewry
  • Prince’s Street
  • St. Swithin’s Lane

and a few others, must all be being considered for full or partial pedestrianisation.

In addition, there will be beloe-ground routes through Bank station.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hastings Station

Hastings station was only built in 2004 and it is effectively a new building on the existing platforms, which have been made step-free.

What surprised me though, was that trains going East are still controlled by semaphore signals, although there appeared to be new LED signals at the Western end of the station.

I wanted to go back via East Croydon and unfortunately, I just missed that train, so as there is only one direct train per hour (tph), I had to fiddle about and go via Eastbourne and Brighton.

In an ideal world, there would be four tph at all stations on the line between Ashford and Brighton, with stations like Hastings, St. Leonards and Eastbourne having better direct services to London.

The current services on both the East Coastway and West Coastway Lines seem to be designed to discourage passengers to turn-up-and-go.

If you look at the Off Peak services through the Medway towns from Gravesend to Gillingham, it is four tph, whereas Hastings to Brighton is only two tph.

But then Southern seem to have a very focused business model, where passengers are someway down the list!

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

From St. Leonard’s To Hastings

I walked along the sea-front in the sun to Hastings.

It was colder than it looked and I was pleased, I had got a lot of layers on.

I finished my walk, in the cafe at the surprisingly large Marks and Spencer, which was just a short walk from the station.

About fifteen years ago, I went to Hastings and was distinctly unimpressed. It has certainly improved and it was a good walk along the front.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Bank Junction

These pictures show Bank Junction, at around mid-day.

Would banning of all vehicles except buses and cycles work?

The taxi-drivers think not! Thyey’ve been protesting all wek!


January 19, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

St. Leonard’s Warrior Square Station

I’d never been to St. Leonard’s Warrior Square station, but I went today to enjoy a walk in the sun.

The station is a fairly simple affair, with unusually tunnels at both ends of the station. According to Wikipedia, this means that the number of carriages that have access to the platforms is restricted.

This oogle Map shows the station, with the tunnel portals clearly visible.


Although, the bridge across the tracks is not step-free, it has an unusually low number of steps on each side.

As the main Hasting station is new and step-free, I suspect this station will not be updated for step-free access, unless a developer had a plan to create a new station and make a lot of money with perhaps an appropriate over-site development.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

China To The UK By Freight Train

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled First China to UK rail freight service arrives in London.

The article describes in detail how 34 containers came all the way to Barking by train.

It is very much a route-proving exercise at the moment and the UK shipment was effectively part of a larger shipment that was split at Duisburg

in Germany.

The trip can be summarised as follows.

  • The trip took seventeen days, which was faster than container ship.
  • The trip is slower, but a lot cheaper than air-freight.
  • The trip is 12,000 kilometres.
  • There were two changes to gauge and transshipment of the containers on the route.

It is intended to run the trains for three or four months to assess demand.

The article finishes like this.

The project supports the Chinese government’s One Belt, One Road trade connectivity initiative to create a modern-day Silk Road. According to DB around 40 000 containers were transported by rail along the routes between China and Europe in 2016, with journey times of between 12 and 16 days. Annual traffic is expected to increase to 100 000 containers by 2020.

If these figures are achieved, it certainly looks like the route could be approaching viability.

In How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China, I wrote about German plans to create a standard gauge railway from Germany to China via Georgia, that would avoid Russia and all the gauge-changing.

Without the gauge-change, this would surely be a faster route, thus increasingly viability.

There’s going to be an interestimg commercial battle in the next bfew years between the various metods of getting freight between Europe and China.


January 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments