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.
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.
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
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 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
So whatever option is chosen will effectively create a circular route round Central London with this route.
- Highbury & Islington
- Surrey Quays
- Crystal Palace, Honor Oak Park, Lewisham, New Cross, Norwood Junction or Peckham Rye
- Elephant & Castle
- Charing Cross
- Piccadilly Circus
- Oxford Circus
- Baker Street
- 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.
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.
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. 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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
There are several reports of a pantomime horse being spotted at Edgbaston in the cricket yesterday.
Surprisingly, I can’t find a picture in the papers.
The BBC has quoted the French Police Chief at Calais as saying that the number of trucks trying to use the ferries and Eurotunnel has dropped.
Is this because it’s now the Summer holidays and the drivers have flown to their holidays or could it be that at last the needs of freight transport between the UK and Europe are being increasingly fulfilled by the obvious alternative, that hopefully would be totally useless to the migrants? – Direct freight trains between UK and Europe.
I wrote on this in December 2014 calling the post, Would Reorganising Cross-Channel Freight Cut Illegal Migration?
I stand by what I said then.
You have to remember, that a lot of freight flows between the UK and Europe are large and predicable. This is a few freight categories that I know go by rail over the channel.
- Car components including complete engines for Ford and BMW.
- Complete vehicles. Four years ago, you didn’t see car trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines, but now they are quite common.
- Fresh fruit from Spain to the UK.
- Steel products for Tata Group between Wales and The Netherlands
Are cargoes like Scottish fish and meat from all parts of the UK something that will be going on that list? These would only need refrigerated containers, that you see all over the railways. With meat too, there are no welfare issues and as a beef farmer once told me, dead carcasses pack three times better in a refrigerated truck, than livestock.
I have also found this informative article on the DB Schenker web site. It isn’t dated unfortunately, but it makes a lot of general points. This is the first two paragraphs.
When the Channel Tunnel between Calais in northern France and Folkstone on the southeastern coast of England opened in 1995, many forecasted a bright future for rail freight transport between Great Britain and continental Europe. An enormous amount of effort and money went into the construction of the two-track rail tunnel. The high hopes for the groundbreaking project have not yet been met, however. In fact, only 1.1 million metric tons of freight was transported by rail via the tunnel under the English Channel in 2010, less than before the 50-km tunnel opened.
High prices in particular have prevented rail freight transport from making greater use of the tunnel. Competition between freight forwarders that use the truck shuttle has kept prices in check. Eurotunnel charges a higher, constant price for block trains, however, and as a result, only a few providers can afford the transfer.
The last part in particular blames the high charges and the charging method of Eurotunnel. Governments should apply pressure here.
The article does talk about problems with the UK loading gauge, which hopefully are being fully addressed now.
At least thought freight trains between the UK and Europe can now get from Barking in East London to virtually anywhere in Europe.
Perhaps, the UK Government should use taxation and tax relief to encourage more freight flows across the Channel to go on freight trains.
The losers would be UK haulage firms and drivers, but they can’t find Cross-Channel trade very profitable and stress-free at the moment.