The Anonymous Widower

Should Trains Run From Dalston Junction To Hayes?

The East London Line currently runs at 16 trains per hour, but changes to the signalling and lengthened platforms will allow 24 6-car trains per hour, in the near future.

In my speculation about tram-trains in Croydon, I realised that you could get from Dalston Junction to Hayes with just one change at New Cross, in about 64-67 minutes with a delay of about 10-15 minutes caused by the change, although the change going south is just walking across the platform.

So in a few years time, when ERTMS allows us to run trains closer together would it be a good idea to use some of the extra capacity in the East London Line to run trains direct from Dalston Junction to Hayes via New Cross and Lewisham. I believe even two trains an hour would make a lot of difference.

1. Timings between Dalston Junction and Hayes would drop to about 52-54 minutes.

2. It would give people who live North of the Thames easy access to Lewisham, which is well-connected to Kent. Otherwise you need to go to one of the terminals that serve the area. And often that is the dreaded Victoria.

3. Once Crossrail opens, it will also give those South of the Thames a second route to the line by going direct to Whitechapel, instead of going to either Abbey Wood or Woolwich.

4. Hayes to Heathrow by Crossrail changing at Lewisham and Abbey Wood will be around 1:56, whereas just changing at Whitechapel will be 1:33. What also illustrates the speed of this route is West Croydon to Heathrow via Whitechapel and Crossrail could be about 1:26.

5. It would surely give an alternative route under the river and enable people to get home when problems exist on the primary routes.

The East London Line has very much been a quiet success, that has been enjoyed by those who live in the area it serves. So why shouldn’t we widen its catchment area?

Crossrail will bring a tremendous amount of extra passengers into London. So we must develop the infrastructure that links it to as much of London as possible. Thameslink is being upgraded and to many, the East London Line is just as valuable as a North South route.

If you link Hayes to the East London Line, why not link Orpington to it via Lewisham. Two trains per hour to Orpington, would give an excellent four trains an hour to Lewisham.

I obviously don’t know Transport for London’s passenger figures, but in the four years since the East London Line reopened, I’ve only gone to New Cross once, where I wasn’t going to catch a train on from the station.

So is New Cross the least used direct southern destination on the East London Line? Also, was it only included in the East London Line for historic reasons, as it had been a Metropolitan Line destination?

If so, it might be an idea to see if extension of the four trains per hour services terminating at the station is possible. Perhaps two could go Hayes and two to Orpington, which would double the frequency to both places from New Cross.

I think the only objectors would be Southastern.

If nothing else, this analysis shows how complicated London’s rail network is and how difficult it is to get the train patterns right.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Croydon?

The Croydon Tramlink has been around since 2000 and doesn’t get mentioned very often with respect to either expansion or tram-trains.

Tramlink Route 1

The Tramlink Route 1 to Elmers End, does not give much scope for tram-trains as Elmers End is the only station with a rail connection, other than East and West Croydon.

That is unless you wanted to run tram-trains up the Hayes Line to perhaps Lewisham or even Cannon Street.

These pictures show how the tram interfaces to the rail line at Elmers End.

It would appear to my untutored eye, that trams might be able to connect northwards, but southwards looks difficult. This is probably confirmed by this Google Earth image of the station.

Elmers End Station

Elmers End Station

If Route 1 was run by tram-trains, that continued after Elmers End, this would not cause any problem at the Croydon end, as they’d just go round the loop and back to the east.

So it looks like there is little scope to put tram-trains on Route 1 and then run them up and down the Hayes branch.

Tramlink Route 2

The Tramlink Route 2 to Beckenham Junction actually runs alongside the electrified railway between that station and Birkbeck. If that line had been built in France or Germany in the last few years, I think they would have used tram-trains to provide the service.

It is in the area of Birkbeck station, shown here in a Google Earth image that tram-trains could be used to advantage.

Birkbeck To Crystal Palace

Birkbeck To Crystal Palace

Note the red arrow pointing out Birkbeck station, the orange lines denoting the East London Line and the green line denoting Tramlink Route 2.

The Crystal Palace Line and Tramlink Route 2 are both single-track lines from west of Birkbeck most of the way to Beckenham Junction, with the railway carrying just two trains an hour each way.

It has been a long-term ambition of Tramlink to run the trams on-street to Crystal Palace, but with tram trains you only need a small piece of infrastructure.

At the bottom of the image, there is a blue roundel at a kink on the green line denoting Harrington Road tram stop. From here, the line goes northwards and turns to run alongside the railway to Birkbeck station.

The line goes to Crystal Palace station if you could turn left. That station is at the end of the topmost orange line on the map.

Here’s a large scale Google Earth image of the area, where Route 2 joins the main line railway.

Tramlink Route 2 To Crystal Palace

Tramlink Route 2 To Crystal Palace

There is probably enough railway land where the lines meet to create a simple triangular junction that would allow tram-trains to go from Harrington Road to Crystal Palace. As tram-trains are in effect normal trains on the main line, they would use the normal platforms.

The only problem is to decide where they reverse and go back to Croydon.

Looking at the Crystal Palace Line, the tram-trains could even be run all the way to and from Victoria or London Briodge, but that probably wouldn’t give enough capacity. So a bay platform will have to be brought into use somewhere. This is Platform 1 at Crystal Palace station, where it might be possible.

Changing At Crystal Palace

But it would need some good architecture and clever engineering.

Incidentally, the line has an operating speed of sixty miles an hour, so the Class 399 tram-trains would not interrupt any traffic, if they went all the way.

Where the tram-trains terminate will also be determined by passenger statistics.

If a variant of Route 2 was run by tram-trains, that continued to Crystal Palace, this would not cause any problem at the Croydon end, as they’d just go round the loop and back to the east.

The Hayes Line

Closely related to Tramlink Routes 1 and 2 is the Hayes Line.

I get the impression that it is a bit of a nuisance to train operating companies, as it’s always being talked about as a possible new terminus for the Bakerloo Line. Withdrawal of passenger services from the line have also been proposed and rejected in the recent past.

This Google Earth image shows how it crosses the Crystal Palace Line to the west of Beckenham Junction.

Hayes Line Crossing The Crystal Palace Line

Hayes Line Crossing The Crystal Palace Line

The Hayes Line crosses from north to south, but it is not a complete junction, where tram-trains coming from Crystal Palace could access the line. But there would appear to be the space for the necessary infrastructure.

As I said in the section on Tramlink Route 1 it could also be linked to that route at Elmers End.

There may also be advantages in running tram-trains as trams on the Hayes Line.

Remember that if you ran tram-trains from Victoria to Beckenham Junction and/or from Cannon Street to Hayes, you don’t necessarily have to stop running the current trains.

But overall, I  have my doubts about tram-trains on the Hayes branch, without some radical thinking.

Perhaps it is extended to the south past Hayes station as a tram route or Elmers End could be developed as a full interchange for trams and tram-trains, working the two routes.

But as there are more urgent proble,s and proposals on Tramlink, I think nothing much will happen on the Hayes branch.

Tramlink Route 3

The Tramlink Route 3 to Wmbledon has two connections with the rail network; Mitcham Junction and Wimbledon.

I am not knowledgeable about routes and traffic levels in that part of London, to postulate if tram-trains would be any advantage and give better connectivity for rail passengers.

However one of the proposed extensions of Tramlink is to Sutton station. Look at the layout at Mitcham Junction in this Google Earth image.

Mitcham Junction

Mitcham Junction

It might be possible to put a curve between Tramlink Route 3 and the Sutton and Mole Valley Lines that go south to Sutton and Epsom. According to Wikipedia Sutton station used to have a bay platform for local services from Mitcham. Could it be reinstated?

Tramlink Route 4

The Tramlink Route 4 to Elmers End is a partial dupication of other routes.

Proposed Routes

There are several proposed routes for the Tramlink.

I have already dealt with the extensions to Crystal Palace and Sutton and how tram-trains might help.

But could tram-trains help with other extensions. I also think that if anybody suggests more street running of trams, this might get short-shrift from car drivers, so a lot of the proposed extensions might be difficult to get planned.

As to getting to Mitcham Town Centre from Mitcham Junction, they probably won’t help unless another station is added to the line between Mitcham Junction and Mitcham Eastfields. But as the latter station was only opened in 2008, I can’t see that happening.

The route south to Purley would probably be liked by passengers, but it would probably be difficult to fit into Croydon’s crowded town centre.

Croydon Town Centre

Croydon Town Centre

The red arrow points to West Croydon station, with East Croydon station at the right, with the green lines showing the current tram routes.

The only way to go south would probably be with a lot of unpopular street running.

However, a route to Brixton could be fairly easy for a tram-train, by going via either Mitcham Junction or Crystal Palace.

The Tram-Trains Go Anywhere Capability

I am assuming that the tram-trains chosen are something like the Class 399, with the following characteristics.

1. Ability to use third rail or overhead 750 V DC.

2.Double-ended and able to use both tram and train platforms.

3. 110 kph and main line crash protection.


A tram-train with this level of capability could go virtually anywhere in South London, provided the track layout allowed it to get on the full-size railway.

So where could a tram-train go from Croydon?

Brixton – Via Crystal Palace, Gypsy Hill, West Norwood, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill

If the Victoria Line was extended to Herne Hill, this would give South London a very useful tube connection. You could also build a decent station at Brixton to link all the lines together.

Bromley South – Via Beckenham Junction

Epsom – Via Mitcham Junction and Sutton

Clapham Junction – Via Mitcham Junction, Balham and Wandsworth Common

Lewisham – Via New Beckenham, and Catford Bridge

This would link the Tramlink to the DLR

Orpington – Via Beckenham Junction and Bromley South

New Cross – Via New Beckenham, Catford Bridge and Lewisham.

This route actually extends the New Cross branch of the East London Line to Hayes.

Whatever happens in Croydon, I think it would be a good idea if perhaps four trains per hour of the eight extra that could be sent down the East London Line were to be sent to the Hayes Branch or Orpington via Lewisham. It would connect that part of South London to Crossrail at Whitechapel.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Edinburgh?

This might be design by hindsight but after viewing the tram-trains of Kassel, Karlsruhe and Mulhouse, I do wonder if tram-trains could be used to advantage in Edinburgh, alongside the new tram system.

To the west of Haymarket station, the trams and rail lines share a corridor, with the tram tracks to the north. So as the Edinburgh trams run on standard gauge tracks, any tram-trains coming or going to the west could just cross over between the two sets of tracks. This Google Earth image shows the tram stop and the train station at Haymarket.

Trams And Trains At Haymarket

Trams And Trains At Haymarket

Unfortunately, I think the image pre-dates the operation of the trams, but compared to some of the complicated layouts and tunnels in Germany, it should be very simple. As was shown in Paris, tram-trains can be built that run on both the 750 V DC used by Edinburgh trams and the 25 kV AC used on the electrified main line to both Glasgow and London from Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh trams run every 8-10 minutes during the week, so there should be capacity to run some train-trains through the city centre section, without much modification.

But where would they go at the eastern end?

The obvious place would be to go straight on past Waverley station and the Balmoral Hotel and then return to the rail lines to the east of the station, if that was possible. This is a Google Earth image of the area.

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley

If they ever extend the tram to Leith and Newhaven, that may or may not be a possibility. The Edinburgh trams are built to a very tight specification, which is designed to go round sharp corners and not make too much noise. Running straight between Haymarket and Waverley may be an easier task, than turning sharply on and off Princes Street.

As with Crossrail and Thameslink in London, where tunnels link two railways lines together, thus saving terminal platforms in the city centre, an east-west tram-train across Edinburgh, would reduce the needed platform capacity in both Waverley and Haymarket stations.

I have been looking at Google Earth images of Edinburgh and there are more railways than those that run passenger trains. I would assume they take freight from up the East Coast Main Line through the city. So could some of these lines be used by tram-trains to create much needed public transport routes in the city?

There is one interesting possibility. The Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway, runs across the south of the city and is used by freight trains, but no passenger services. According to Wikipedia there is a campaign to reopen the line to Passenger services and also a proposal by Network Rail to electrify the line. Tram-trains could be a possibility for providing the service, as the line links to the main railway across Edinburgh at both ends.

It would probably be more affordable to provide the passenger services using tram-train technology, as the stops would be simpler and you could use an off-the-shelf Class 399 tram-train, if they have been proven to work in Sheffield.

In the Wikipedia for Edinburgh trams, they also talk about a new stop called Edinburgh Gateway, which would link to trains on the Fife Circle Line.

It has been proposed that the Fife Circle Line be extended to Leven by creating the Levenmouth Rail Link.

I’m pretty certain that in Karlsruhe or Kassel, the Germans, would run tram-trains on the Fife Circle and the extension to Leven, probably using 750 DC electrification all the way.

1. The station at Edinburgh Gateway could be a simpler affair, which would only need to accommodate compatible tram-trains and trams which could share platforms. Obviously, if longer distance trains to Glasgow or Aberdeen were stopping at the station, these would probably need their own platforms.

2. Creating a 750 DC tram line between Thornton and Leven, even if parts of the line carried freight trains, must be more affordable, than heavy rail.

3. Edinburgh would have the iconic images of tram-trains going over the Forth Rail bridge, which could be electrified to either system, as the tram-trains won’t care.

4. Operation of the tram-train would be a bit like the proposed tram-train test in Sheffield, where both ends of the line operate as trams, with a section of heavy rail in the middle.

5. Battery technology could also be used between Edinburgh Gateway and Thornton.

I’ve seen everything, I’m proposing here, in the last few weeks.

This musing of a Saasenach, does illustrate the importance of the tram-train trial between Sheffield and Rotherham.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Should An Overground Station Be Built At Hythe Road?

Some weeks ago Transport for London (TfL) launched a consultation on transport links and stations in the Old Oak Common area of West London.

A report in the Kilburn Times has said that the public have said that they’d prefer Option C of the TfL consultation, which involves two new Overground stations.

1. Old Oak Common on the North London Line, which would link to Crossrail and HS2.

2. Hythe Road on the West London Line.

This TfL map shows their locations.

Option C Proposal At Old Oak Common

Option C Proposal At Old Oak Common

And this is a Google Earth image.

West London Line At Hythe Road

West London Line At Hythe Road

As TfL are saying that service frequencies on the West London Line will be four trains per hour, which is the same as that of trains to Heathrow on Crossrail, it strikes me that these two new stations will greatly ease access to Heathrow from South London and beyond.

From where I live in Dalston, the two station idea has the benefit that if I want to get on Crossrail to go to Reading or Heathrow, it is just a single change at either of the two stations, depending on where my westbound North London Line train is going. Old Oak Common would appear to be a shorter walk however.

But surely, if you are doing a big development as at Old Oak Common, you need as many connections as you can reasonably afford.


February 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

The Saddest Building In London

Others will have their own favourite building vying for this title, but surely Millennium Mills, the derelict flour mill by the Royal Victoria Dock is close to the top of a lot of lists of sad buildings.

For years it has stood there unloved between the dock and the Docklands Light Railway, pleading to be put out of its misery.

One of the problems with the building, is that it is full of asbestos and removal and disposal will cost millions.

But help is at hand according to this article in the Newham Recorder, which details a Government grant to kick-start the development. Here’s an extract.

The former flour factory, which was built in 1905, has been vacant since the early 1980s but will get a new lease of life as a hub for start-up businesses, while homes will be built on the surrounding land..

The £12m, which has come from the government’s Building Foundations for Growth Enterprise Zones capital grant fund, is being used to speed up the redevelopment.

It means work to remove asbestos can get under way much earlier than originally scheduled, speeding up the renovation by five years.

Judging by the picture in the report, it would appear that something positive is at last being done with one of London’s saddest buildings.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment