The Anonymous Widower

Should Crossrail 2 Be Extended?

In the gestation of Crossrail, alternative proposals were made including the ambitious Superlink, which would have linked Ipswich, Cambridge and many other places into the network.

Even as Crossrail was being built, in March 2014, it was decided to extend the line to Reading.

As the plans for Crossrail 2 are being developed, various councils are proposing that Crossrail 2 serve their area.Here’s three of those proposals!

There will probably be a few others too!

I think that during the consultation process one or two small extensions or additional stations might be incorporated.

The Ideal Cross City Line

A lot of my working life has been spent in writing scheduling software for large projects and sometimes it is just too complicated.

For this reason, a rail line like Crossrail, where services are queuing up to go through a series of stations, needs to have scheduling policy that is simple and easily understood, by passengers.

The classic cross-city line is London’s Victoria Line, which was built simple with no junctions and has now been reduced by cutting out the Seven Sisters turnback to a line where thirty-six trains per hour shuttle between Walthamstow Central and Brixton.

London’s Jubilee Line is another line that has been built simple. After signalling upgrades, this line will be able to run at thirty-six trains per hour from 2019.

London has a long-term objective in splitting the Northern Line into two separate 30-36 trains per hour lines. Perhaps, these could be.

  • Edgware to Morden via Bank
  • High Barnet to Battersea via Charing Cross.

This can only happen once the Northern Line Extension to Battersea and the rebuilding of Camden Town station are complete.

London’s Piccadilly Line is a simple continuous line, that splits at Acton Town in the west into two branches. The line needs resignalling and currently can only operate at twenty-one trains per hour through Central London. It could appear that  new trains and resignalling could increase the capacity of this line substantially. According to Wikipedia, the resignalling could start in 2019 and new trains could start to be delivered in 2022.

Looking at these deep-level Underground lines in London, it would appear, that this type of metro line, has a top frequency of over thirty trains per hour, when running under modern signalling with partial automatic train control. It could be full automatic train control, like the Docklands Light Railway, if the Mayor and London’s population decided to give the unions a good kicking!

At the present time, the heavy-rail Thameslink Programme is underway and this will give it twenty-four trains per hour through a central core line from St. Pancras to Blackfriars.

Crossrail will be designed with a central-core frequency of twenty-four trains per hour

London’s other high-capacity cross-city heavy-rail line is the East London Line of the London Overground, where the core section from Dalston Junction to Surrey Quays has been designed to handle twenty-four trains per hour, with aspirations to make all trains six-car. That would be a capacity upgrade of eighty percent on the current five-car sixteen trains per hour.

The East London Line has a simple route structure, where four dedicated platforms in the North serve four separate destinations in the South, through the central core on a four trains per hour basis.

I think the simple concept copes better with things like train or power failures, but it will be interesting to review this statement over the years and especially, when Crossrail and Thameslink are fully open.

The question has to be asked, why London’s Underground lines are moving upwards to frequencies over thirty trains per hour and that the heavy rail lines seem to be aiming for a pathetic twenty-four trains per hour.

The biggest difference between the two sets of lines are the increasing automation of the Underground and the over-complicated nature of heavy-rail lines.

If the farce of the Sutton loop on Thameslink is anything to go by, then passenger conservatism is probably to blame as well.

My engineering and scheduling experience, tells me, that a well-designed partially-automated heavy rail line through a major city, should be capable of thirty trains per hour. This is said under usage for the Paris RER.

Despite a frequency of more than one train every two minutes, made possible by the installation of digital signalling in 1989, and the partial introduction of double-decker trains since 1998, the central stations of Line A are critically crowded at peak times.

London’s cross-city lines have a lot of improvement to catch up with Paris.

Crossrail

In Crossrail the original terminals were.

  • Abbey Wood
  • Heathrow
  • Maidenhead
  • Shenfield

Maidenhead has since been changed to Reading. In my view this was a sensible change, as Maidenhead is not a large station and Reading is one of the busiest interchanges in England.

These are my thoughts on the terminals in a bit more detail.

  • Abbey Wood has only two Crossrail platforms and two for North Kent Line services. I was disappointed that the station wasn’t designed with cross-platform interchange between the two sets of lines.
  • Heathrow is rather a cobbled-together station, that doesn’t serve Terminal 5 directly.
  • Reading is a proper terminus and I suspect that when it becomes operational, changing between Crossrail and longer-distance services will be easy.
  • Shenfield is getting an extra platform and will have three Crossrail platforms and two for longer distance services.

I think that all terminals need a touch of the Readings about them.

  • A larger station in a town or city centre, that is a destination in its own right, with lots of shops and restaurants.
  • More than two Crossrail platforms.
  • Easy access, which preferably should be cross-platform, to longer-distance services.
  • The ability to be a terminus for services coming from the other direction.

In some terminal stations, the ability to run Crossrail or cross-city services, to another terminal a few miles further out could be useful. Reading probably doesn’t need that, but Shenfield services could run to Southend Victoria and Abbey Wood services to Ebbsfleet International.

I doubt we’ll see Shenfield services extended, but Abbey Wood to Gravesend is safe-guarded.

On the other hand, I suspect that Crossrail could handle thirty trains per hour and possibly thirty-six, through the central core.

As plans have been mentioned to extend Crossrail up the West Coast Main Line, surely a route like Ebbsfleet International to Milton Keynes would be possible.

  • It would provide a high capacity north-west to south-east cross-London link from Abbey Wood to Old Oak Common and Watford.
  • It would link the West Coast Main Line and HS2 directly to Continental train services at Ebbsfleet International.
  • If services in South East London were organised around a hub at Abbey Wood, it would improve transport links substantially in the area.
  • Old Oak Common, Watford and Milton Keyns could become hubs linked to St. Albans, Amersham and large parts of North West London, Hertfordshire and Bucks.
  • Could suburban services be removed or substantially reduced out of Euston to ease HS2 construction?
  • Could services be semi-fast perhaps only stopping at Old Oak Common, Paddington, Bond Street, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood?

The vision of up to a dozen trains an hour from Milton Keynes to Ebbsfleet International is truly mind-blowing.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is similar to Crossrail.

  • It has a high-capacity central tunnel under London.
  • It probably is being designed to a pathetic twenty-four trains per hour.
  • There is good connectivity with other lines.
  • The two main northern branches or Crossrail 2 to New Southgate and Broxbourne, which join at Dalston Junction, mirror  Crossrail, where the eastern branches to Shenfield and Abbey Wood, join at Whitechapel.

But the southern end of Crossrail 2 seems to have been designed like the western end of Crossrail on a see-what-we-can-join-up basis.

In the north the two terminals of New Southgate and Broxbourne could certainly be mini-Readings, that collect passengers for the line and provide access to longer-distance services.

But there is no terminal in the South that does a similar job.

Wimbledon is more of a Stratford than a Shenfield and I’m not saying, it won’t work, but building it will be horrendous upheaval for the area.

So to return to the reports of places wanting Crossrail2 extensions.

Harlow

Harlow Town is just a big station on a section of line between Broxbourne and Cambridge, that needs better services to serve Cambridge, Stansted Airport and the increasing population.

Perhaps, a tram-train or metro network centred on Cambridge, with links to Broxbourne, Harlow and Stansted Airport in the South, Ely and Peterborough in the North and perhaps Bury St. Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket in the East would be much better.

If tram-trains were to be used, they could go walkabout in the larger towns and cities, like Cambridge, Harlow and Peterborough. Tram-trains would also be an ideal replacenment for the guided bus.

Turnford

This Google Map shows it all.

The Area Of The Proposed Turnford Station

The Area Of The Proposed Turnford Station

Note.

  • Cheshunt station is the station towards the bottom of the map.
  • The Broxbourne Campus of Hertfordshire Regional College is surrounded by playing fields just off the roundabout on the A10.
  • The plans call for the station to be built close to the College.
  • The station would also be close to Holyfield Lake.
  • Because of the links to the A10, would it make a good Park-and-Ride station?

I think that a station here, could open up the area for residential and leisure purposes.

Woking and Dorking

The BBC article about Surrey, mentioned earlier says this.

A new rail route running crossing from north London into Surrey should extend as far as Woking and Dorking, according the the county council.

Plans for Crossrail 2 currently include Shepperton, Surbiton, Epsom, Hampton Court and Chessington South stations.

But Surrey County Council (SCC) said extending it further south would bring significant benefits to commuters and businesses in the county.

I think that the Crossrail 2 designers have laboured long and hard at the southern end of the route.

The current design effectively combines all the suburban services from Waterloo to Shepperton, Surbiton, Epsom, Hampton Court and Chessington South stations, comines them and sends them in a new tunnel to Clapham Junction, Victoria.

This takes twenty-four trains an hour out of Waterloo, but means passengers wanting to travel to and from Waterloo will have to change trains at Wimbleon or Raynes Park.

I will look at important stations in detail, but before let’s consider 2012-13 passenger numbers at Crossrail 2’s chosen terminal stations and others mentioned as possibilities.

Also consider the following points.

  • Woking and Dorking to Waterloo are 36 and 48 minutes respectively, which are quicker journeys that both Reading and Shenfield to Central London on Crossrail.
  • The South Western Main Line is at full capacity.
  • Crossrail 2 adds up to another twenty-four train per hour between Central London and Wimbledon/Raynes Park
  • Crossrail 2 frees up terminal platforms in Waterloo.
  • Extra tracks may be possible between Surbiton and Clapham Junction according to Wikipedia on the future of the South Western Main Line.
  • Crossrail’s two hundred metre long Class 345 trains or similar may give the capacity increase needed between London and Woking to Dorking.
  • The mess that is Raynes Park station could be rebuilt to create a better interchange, between the line through Surbiton and Working and that through Epsom and Dorking.
  • Space is available at both Dorking and Woking station for extra platforms, some of which could face out of London.
  • Could it result in a simpler Wimbledon station?
  • Dorking could be properly connected to the North Downs Line.

So I do wonder if Surrey County Council has a point.

I do think that Wimbledon and Raynes Park stations are the key, that could unlock a much better Southern end to Crossrail 2.

Wimbledon Station

There is a lot of opposition to the rebuilding of Wimbledon station, so could it be simplified if the following was done.

  • Crossrail 2 serves the station in underground platforms.
  • The Crossrail 2 tunnels would surface between Wimbledon and Raynes Park
  • The trams cross over the main lines on a flyover and meet the District Line platforms head on.
  • The station is rebuilt within its current boundaries.

Three other developments could have effects on Wimbledon station.

All could be built before Crossrail 2, to take pressure off Wimbledon.

I certainly believe that there is a better design to Wimbledon station, that would cause less disruption during the construction and might even cost no more than the current design.

Raynes Park Station

This Google Map sums up Raynes Park station.

Raynes Park Station

Raynes Park Station

And these are some pictures of the station.

Topsy certainly had a hand in the design.

  • Effectively the station has two island platforms; the eastbound 1/2 and the westbound 3/4, which are connected by the footbridge across the fast lines between them.
  • All trains from platforms 1 and 2 go to Waterloo, which seems unusual.
  • Platform 3 serves services via the South Western Main Line, including Hampton Court, the Kingston Loop and Shepperton.
  • Platform 4 serves services via the Mole Valley Line, including Chessington South, Dorking, Epsom and Guildford.
  • I think all of the current services that stop at Raynes Park, will transfer to Crossrail 2.

Whitechapel station on Crossrail has a similar problem, where the two eastern branches of the line must be joined or split to the east of the station.

Whitechapel will use only two platforms both handling twenty-four trains per hour, to give walk across interchange between passengers wanting to reverse direction, in perhaps a journey between Romford and Canary Wharf.

As there is plenty of space around Raynes Park station, which will handle only twelve Crossrail 2 trains per hour in both directions, I’m sure that there must be a solution to providing a much better layout at this station.

Look at this map of the lines from carto.metro.free.fr.

Lines Through Raynes Park Station

Lines Through Raynes Park Station

Note.

  • How close to the east of the station, the lines split and join.
  • The level crossings bracketing Motspur Park station. These need to be removed.
  • New Malden station to the West has platforms on both slow and fast lines, although those on the fast lines can’t be used.

I think it would be possible to do the following.

  • Move the junction to the west of single platforms on the single slow lines.
  • If Crossrail 2 is built, the two slow lines would go into tunnels and platforms under Wimbledon at a convenient point.
  • All crossings from the fast to slow lines between Wimbledon and Raynes Park would be eliminated.
  • Move the two platforms opposite each other.
  • Connect the platforms by an updated subway or even a spectacular wide bridge with a cafe above the lines.
  • The platforms would be served by escalators and lifts.

Surely if the number of platforms devoted to stopping services could be reduced from four to two, would this mean it would be easier to increase the capacity of the main lines through the station?

After my brief look and a think, I’m sure that there is a very cost effective solution to Rayne Park station, whether Crossrail 2 is built or not. It just needs an architect, engineer or railway professional with imagination.

Dorking Station

Dorking station is one of the alternative termini put forward by Surrey County Council, probably as an alternative to Epsom, which I wrote about in Before Crossrail 2 – Epsom.

Compare this Google Map of Epsom station.

Epsom Station

Epsom Station

With this one of the two stations in the centre of Dorking.

Dorking And Dorking Deepdene Stations

Dorking And Dorking Deepdene Stations

Dorking Deepdene station is on the North Downs Line from Reading to Gatwick Airport.

The big advantage of Dorking over Epsom, is that, it is surrounded by so much space and not crowded round with buildings and rail bridges.

I also feel that a good architect could extend and upgrade Dorking station so that it connected to the North Downs Line , which crosses about two hundred metres or so south of the station.

Dorking station is shown in these pictures.

I feel that Crossrail 2’s engineers will look seriously at extending the Epsom branch to Dorking.

Woking Station

Woking station is an important one in a town of around a hundred thousand people.

This Google Map shows the station.

Woking Station

WokingStation

Note how the railway line goes right through the town centre.

It would be difficult, but not impossible, to put a sensible number of new platforms for Crossrail 2 in the station.

These are some pictures of the station.

I believe Working has possibilities to provide a busy terminus in the South West to match Broxbourne in the North and Reading and Shenfield on Crossrail.

Conventional solutions are possible with bay terminal platforms replacing the car parks to the south-east.

Other radical solutions might be implemented.

As the fast main lines are the middle two of the four lines, could they not be dropped into a cut and cover tunnel, which had the terminal platforms for Crossrail 2 on top? I wrote about Antwerp Central station in A Triple Decker Station. So it wouldn’t be a first!

Land is an expensive resource in a railway station and we must make it work harder with-over station developments and innovative station layouts.

Flat land used for car parking is a waste of space.

Other Stations

The other stations from Raynes Park outwards are a bit of a mixed bunch, with only a few having step-free access. These are some pictures, I took on the way to Woking.

Whether Crossrail 2 is built or not, some of these stations must be updated to a modern standard.

Conclusions

As to Crossrail 2 being extended north and south, I’ll leave that to the planners.

But if Crossrail 2 is built or not, this will not affect the fact, that there are a lot of stations on this line, that need updating to a modern standard.

I also feel that there is scope to create local metro networks, based on large towns and cities served by Crossrail, Crossrail 2 and Thameslink.

For Crossrail these might be based on.

  • Abbey Wood and Dartford.
  • Milton Keynes, Reading, Slough and Basingstoke.
  • Shenfield, Billericay, Basildon and Southend.
  • Watford, Amersham and St. Albans.

For Crossrail 2 these might be based on.

  • Broxbourne, Harlow and Cambridge.
  • New Southgate.
  • Wimbledon, Surbiton and Raynes Park.

For Thameslink these might be based on.

  • Brighton and the East and West Coastways.
  • Croydon, where Tramlink already exists.
  • Cambridge
  • St. Albans and Hatfield
  • Peterborough

These metro networks could be a mixture of trains, trams and tram-trains. Add tram-trains to the Tramlink and you would have a good model to start from.

Crossrail, Crossrail 2 and Thameslink are just the long distance string, that would connect everything together.

One action that would help capacity in London, would be to screw as much increase in frequency out of the cross-London routes. Compared to the Victoria Line, Jubilee Line and Paris, twenty-four trains per house is a very poor frequency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 11, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,

4 Comments »

  1. always a joy to read your speculation on transport systems… but I grew up five mins away from New Southgate station and it would be a real stretch of the imagination to describe it as a ‘mini -Reading’ … 🙂

    Comment by boypathos | January 12, 2016 | Reply

    • Perhaps, but they have a lot of space there and I suspect that Thameslink trains for Peterborough and Cambridge will stop there to give an interchange with Crossrail 2!

      Comment by AnonW | January 12, 2016 | Reply

      • I understand the interchange bit and it makes some sense … I was more amused by thinking of the locale as a ‘mini-Reading’. Back in the late 70s when we used to spend the long, hot summers train spotting thereabouts, you really did feel you were in the back of nowhere without a single shop to buy a cooling ‘Top Deck’ lemonade shandy for miles or so it seemed..

        anyway… great article

        Comment by boypathos | January 12, 2016

  2. ps…

    I may have referred you before to http://ukrail.blogspot.co.uk/ but he has a really elegant alternative for the southern end of crossrail 2, he calls ‘SWIRL’ … it is worth a read on a leaden grey London afternoon

    Comment by boypathos | January 12, 2016 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: