The Anonymous Widower

Whitechapel Station – 22nd December 2015

I decided to take one last look at Whitechapel Station before Christmas.

The steelwork is getting higher and in some ways it’s getting more claustrophobic.

But it would appear that the steelwork is getting higher to hold up a roof with windows, so the sun can filter down to the Overground platforms underneath the Underground platforms. How do you explain that contradiction to Mr. and Mrs. Cruz from Texas?

The platforms also seem to be extending to the North, which they will eventually do, so that when Crossrail opens Whitechapel station can handle five-car trains without selective door opening.

According to a station woman, the next big change is on the 18th of January, when the entrances and exits all change.

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

One of North London’s Forgotten Lines Is Awakening

Four of the nearest stations to my house are Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington. which all lie in an arc on the Northern City Line to Finsbury Park and on to North London and Hertfordshire, where it terminates at Hertford North, Letchworth, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City.

Traditionally, the line has always only run on a five day-a-week basis, with no service at weekends. As it serves Arsenal’s past and future stadia, I’ve always thought this was a bit short-sighted.

But then I’ve always felt that British  Rail considered it was a railway, that they didn’t really want after they acquired it from London Underground following the Moorgate Tube Crash.

So when this month, when they decided to run a weekend service and the weekday service until 23:59, I did not notice any announcement. I use Highbury and Islington station several times a week and I certainly didn’t see a poster.

This is one of those things that should be filed under At Last! Especially, as the southern end of the line in a few years time will connect a large number of lines together.

  • Moorgate – Northern, Metropolitan and District Lines and Crossrail (2019)
  • Old Street – Northern Line
  • Essex Road
  • Highbury and Islington – East London, North London and Victoria Lines
  • Drayton Park
  • Finsbury Park – Piccadilly and Victoria Lines and Thameslink (2019)

If Crossrail 2 ever gets built, it will connect to this line too!

The forgotten nature of the Northern City Line is illustrated, by the elderly Class 313 trains on the line. There are currently forty-four three-car sets on the line, usually working as six car services, so giving effectively twenty-two trains.

But the days of the Class 313 are numbered as according to this article on Rail Magazine, the operator; Govia Thameslink Railway has just ordered twenty-five six car Class 700 trains from Siemens. This is said about the trains.

The new trains will be Class 700s, and will be a variant of the 1,140 vehicles currently being delivered by Siemens to GTR for Thameslink. They will run on routes from Moorgate and London King’s Cross to Welwyn, Hertford, Stevenage and Letchworth. They will be fixed length with full width inter-vehicle gangways, air-conditioning, real time information and power points.

Of all the lines in London that could benefit from a fleet of new trains, this must be one of those routes, where they will give the greatest improvement.

Especially, as for the operator, it is just more of the same trains, they will be using on Thameslink.

But will they be exactly the same?

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Class 313 trains.

Since they were designed for use on Great Northern Suburban Inner Suburban services from Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City or Hertford North, Letchworth Garden City which included a section of ‘tube’ line built to take standard size trains between Drayton Park and Moorgate, they are built to a slightly smaller loading gauge than conventional trains. They are standard length and width, but the roof is lower, most noticeable due to the lack of a “well” for the Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph on the centre coach. They have to comply with regulations for underground trains, such as having doors at each end of the train for evacuation onto the tracks, and when on 750 V DC supply the traction supply for each motor coach is separate, whereas on conventional 750 V DC trains each coach in a unit is linked by a 750 V bus line. Due to this, each motor coach has shoe gear on both bogies, whereas normally it would only be on the leading bogie. They are fitted with trip-cocks that are struck by a raised train-stop arm at red signals and will apply the brakes if the train passes one.

I suspect there will be some intensive work to make the Class 700 trains meet the regulations for underground trains.

To say some of the stations at the southern end of the route are tired and/or difficult for those who need step-free access, would be an understatement.

Moorgate is getting improved for Crossrail and Finsbury Park is getting a much-needed redevelopment. This will only increase the pressure to rebuild stations like Old Street, Essex Road, Highbury and Islington and Drayton Park.

As it goes further north, I do wonder if we’ll see new stations to serve future housing developments, especially on the Hertford Loop Line.

The other possibility of improving services from Moorgate is that the top speed of the new Class 700 trains is 100 mph, whereas the speed limit on the Hertford Loop is only 75 mph.

So will we see the extra three trains available used to move services off the crowded section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct onto the Hertford Loop Line.

With some clever rescheduling, this might create a path or two on the East Coast Main Line.

The operator is not going to spend those millions on a new set of trains and not make them sweat!

I certainly think, that we’ll see good connectivity between trains on the Northern City and Hertford Loop Lines with Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge.

It will be interesting to see their plans, when they are revealed.

My one worry is that all those new trains will tempt a lot of passengers out of the woodwork!

But one of London’s railways will not be forgotten for very long!

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 8 Comments

Overground Humour

This article in the Standard, shows the lengths to which London Overground are going to discourage fare dodgers. A sign was put up saying.

Attention. Anyone caught travelling without a valid ticker or Oyster will be told the ending to the new Star Wars. (and also get a Penalty Fare).

It may not work, but people have found it very funny.

Many stations in London put up something funny every day. Does this happen in other cities across the world with large transport networks?

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment