The Anonymous Widower

Changes At Highbury Corner

Transport for London have announced their plans to change the pedestrian, cycling and vehicle routes at Highbury Corner, which are detailed in this document on their web site, which is entitled Have your say on improvements to Highbury Corner for pedestrians and cyclists, and changes to bus services.

The document contains this map.

Highbury Corner Changes

Highbury Corner Changes

The map is a good summary of the proposed changes.

  • The western side of the roundabout is to be closed and become a pedestrian area.
  • The roads around the roundabout will become two-way.
  • The area in front of Highbury and Islington station and the Famous Cock public house will become a large pedestrian area.
  • Pedestrian routes will be improved.
  • There will be new cycling routes.
  • There will be provision for a taxi rank by the station.
  • The 277 bus route will be cut back to Dalston Junction and more buses will run on route 30.
  • There will be a new N277 night bus.

They are also developing two options for the arboretum in the middle of the roundabout.

  • Option 1 would keep it closed off from the hoi polloi.
  • Option 2 would open it up to create a pleasant walking route to the station.

The first option would see nineteen trees felled and the second twenty-three.

My Problems With The Current Layout

I try to avoid using Highbury Corner as much as possible, despite it being an easy bus ride on a 30 or 277 bus from the stop behind my house.

The reasons are as follows.

  1. Highbury and Islington station needs a makeover with a wrecking ball. It has no lifts to the Victoria and Northern City Line platforms and at certain times of the year, my feet aren’t up to the stations long and dreary passages.
  2. To get to the station from the bus stop, you have to walk along a narrow pavement and cross a busy road on a light-controlled crossing at both ends of the walk. To make matters worse, there are two roads, which are used by drivers as rat runs and then there are bikes chained up blocking the pavement.
  3. Coming home is only one road crossing, but the bus stop is exposed and can be a bleak and polluted place to wait.
  4. If I’m coming home with heavy shopping, it’s impossible to get a taxi.
  5. The bus stops are not well-placed if you arrive at the station and want to go South to the Angel.
  6. Some of the pavements are rather narrow and crowded.

At least when I’m coming home, I can take the North London Line to Dalston Junction station and then get a bus from outside the station.

So how does the new layout affect my points.

1. Highbury And Islington Station

This isn’t covered in the current plans and I hope when TfL get round to sorting the station, they do a good job. I would like to see the following.

  • Full step-free access.
  • A second entrance in the 1904 entrance on the other side of Holloway Road
  • Better laid out walking routes to the Emirates Stadium.
  • A decent iconic building on the top of the station.

In Could We Create A Second Entrance To The Overground At Highbury And Islington Station, I proposed an a second entrance at the other end of the Overground plstforms.

It’s probably not feasible, but the station has potential for being a lot better.

2. Walking Between The Station And The Bus Stops On St. Paul’s Road

The walking route is improved a bit.

  • Moving the crossing on St. Paul’s Road to the west is good.
  • The wider pavement in froint of Marie Curie will help.
  • The closure of Corsica Street is good.
  • I would like to see more of a closure of Highbury Place.

But the walking route is improved a lot, if Option 2 for the arboretum is implemented.

  • It would be much more pleasant and sheltered to walk through the trees.
  • I like the option to walk from the St. Paul’s Road stop, to catch a 271 bus to go towards Archway at Stop H.

It will of course seem to be longer.

3. The Eastbound Stop On St. Paul’s Road

There is very little that can be done to improve Stop C, unless it was moved nearer the roundabout and placed on a wider pavement.

It is a stop that gets loaded up with fast food litter and needs a Big Belly.

4. Taxis

I like the provision of a taxi rank, in front of the station.

5. Buses To The Angel

The bus stops seem better positioned.

If possible I would like to see Stops F and G as near to the station as possible, with Stop G on a wider pavement.

Stop G is probably a better option now to go South, as the bus routes 4, 19 and 30 have joined and it should be easier to cross the traffic.

6. Narrow And Crowded Pavements

The places that I don’t like are.

  • From the Barclays Bank to Bus Stop C along the North side of the roundabout.
  • From the station to Bus Stop G.
  • From the station to Bus Stop F.

The first and third will be improved if drivers don’t rush into and out of side roads.

The second may be improved by the better crossing at the roundabout.

But I do feel that bus stops C and G need to be on wider pavements.

These are my comments on other parts of the proposals.

Traffic Routes

As I don’t drive, any more, I won’t comment, other than to say, that if drivers obey the signals, pedestrians will be happy.

Closure Of The Western Side Of The Roundabout

I’m very much in favour, as all stations should welcome you to an area. A pedestrian space half the size of a football pitch does that!

Improved Pedestrian Crossings

No problem! I don’t like double crossings, as I’m getting a bit slow.

Legible London Signage

I have a gammy left hand and use the signs and liths a lot, as I find them easier to use than a book of maps or a smart-phone,

New Cycling Facilities

My days of cycling in areas like Highbury Corner are long gone. So long as cyclists obey the rules and don’t knock me over on the pavement, I’ll leave them alone.

Changes To Trees

A proportion of London’s trees are suffering because of pollution and some others are inappropriate for today’s climate.

All I ask, is that a sensible approach is taken, that in a few years means that Highbury Corner is held up, as the correct way to manage an urban space.

Some people get far too emnotional about trees, when a hard-nosed practical approach can often lead to more trees being planted.

I should also say, that I used to own and live in a property surrounded by beautiful trees, many of which were hundreds of years old.

Over a period of about ten years, I lost about twenty specimen elm trees to Dutch Elm Disease and then the Great Storm of 1987 blew half the rest of my wonderful trees away overnight.

Bus Service Changes

I’m broadly in favour and providing that the extra buses are added to route 30 to make up for the loss of route 277 between Dalston Junction andv Highbury and Islington, I won’t bother too much.

I sometimes feel that there might be scope for a bus to go on a route something like this.

  • Shoreditch
  • Dalston Junction
  • Highbury and Islington
  • Holloway Road
  • Archway

But I think I’m just being selfish!

Options For A New Public Space

As I want to walk through the arboretum, when I take a bus to Highbury and Islington station, I’m totally in favour of Option 2.

Drop-In Sessions

TfL will be holding three events at which you can view the proposals in detail and speak to representatives of TfL and Islington Council.

Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, London N1 2UN

  • Wednesday, 24 February 15:00 – 19:00
  • Saturday, 27 February 09:30 – 13:30
  • Monday, 29 February 10:00 – 14:00

Conclusion

It’s a good start and I wouldn’t be surprised if the final scheme was better.

 

 

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

An Ideal Oxted Line

This post was suggested by a comment by Ben H on my post called Untangling The Brighton Main Line. He said this about Oxted Line services.

Cease all services between the Oxted lines and Victoria (fast lines). All Oxted line services should go to London Bridge and (excluding diesels) become part of Thameslink.

Oxted services should operate single-line working between Norwood Junction and Sanderstead, with East Croydon’s easternmost platform island acting as the passing loop.

In one way, what he says is a no-no. If Oxted services were switched from Victoria to London Bridge, all the commuters would be up in arms and would challenge the change of London terminal in every way possible. Remember what happened when Network Rail proposed terminating all Sutton Loop services at Blackfriars. This is from Wikipedia in Political Developments under Thameslink Program.

Network Rail had planned to terminate Sutton Loop Thameslink trains at Blackfriars station, rather than have them continue through central London as at present. This upset many residents in South London and their local politicians, who saw it as a reduction in services rather than an improvement. In response to pressure, government has ordered Network Rail to reverse the decision.

So Oxted services will have to go into Victoria, until something so much better comes along, they forget about it. Bribery is a powerful tool.

The Current Oxted Line Service

So what services go down the two branches of the Oxted Line?

In the Off Peak the following services run.

  • Two trains per hour go between Victoria and East Grinstead
  • One train per hour between London Bridge and Uckfield.

There are extra trains in the peak, as this Departures display at Oxted station shows.

Trains From Oxted

Trains From Oxted

But compared to say the Chingford Branch into Liverpool Street, which has at least four trains per hour all day, it is a very sick joke of a service. And a lot of the Chingford Branch services are eight cars!

Four Trains Per Hour To East Grinstead And Uckfield?

I strongly believe that services need to be four trains an hour, as they are on the East London Line to the four Southern terminals of Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.

So the question has to be asked if East Grinstead and Uckfield should have a four trains per hour service?

My view is that they do, if you want to have a turn-up-and-go service!

Fifteen minutes may seem a long wait, but if you can get a coffee and a paper, it can be quite a short time.

So what frequencies do other places in Sussex have to and from London?

These are better than Uckfield and just about on a par with East Grinstead.

Thameslink Will Be A Game-Changer

The completion of the Thameslink Programme will bring an increase in capacity all the way from Brighton and Gatwick Airport to London and beyond.

This a map of Thameslink Programme.

ThamesLink Programme Map

ThamesLink Programme Map

Brighton and Gatwick Airport  after the upgrade will have frequencies of upwards of eight and twenty trains per hour respectively and a choice of destinations including.

  • Blackfriars
  • Cambridge
  • Farringdon for Crossrail
  • London Bridge
  • Luton
  • Peterborough
  • St. Pancras
  • Victoria

I also think that if passengers were prepared to change at Brighton, Gatwick or East Croydon, there could be substantial increases in faster services to London and beyond from places on the Coastway Lines like Bognor Regis, Eastbourne, Hastings and Worthing etc.

There is possibly an argument to build some south-facing bay platforms at Gatwick, so that additional services can be run from there down the two Coastways. Thus a passenger from Hastings to London say, would have in addition to the direct service perhaps two or three with a step-free change at Gatwick, where they could choose either a Victoria or a Thameslink service.

What happens in the future will depend on how passengers use the improved Thameslink and what Gatwick decides to do to gain more passengers.

It will be interesting to see how the pattern of commuters changes in the next few years.

Have Thameslink Got Their Act Together?

One thing that puzzles me, is that I can’t find anything on the Internet, which talks about speeded up services on Thameslink after improvement. So am I right to assume that they’re spending all this money to provide more trains with larger capacity to more destinations in the same time as now?

There is no journey time calculator on the Thameslink Programme web site like there is on the Crossrail web site.

Obviously, it isn’t provided as the truth may be at odds with how wonderful the PR guys believe Thameslink is going to be.

Thameslink To Uckfield and East Grinstead

It might seem logical to run Thameslink trains down the Oxted Line to Uckfield and East Grinstead.

In fact, it is planned to run an eight-car service between West Hampstead Thameslink and East Grinstead in the Peak.

So why not run two four-car Class 700 trains that join and split at Oxted?

  • The trains only come in fixed formations of eight and twelve cars.
  • A sixteen-car train would probably be too long for the tunnels and the trains don’t have the end gangways needed for tunnels.
  • The Uckfield Branch is not electrified.
  • It would probably not be a good decision to build four-car trains for one branch of Thameslink.

Given the chequered history of the birth of Thameslink and the design of the trains, I think that four-car trains that could run in pairs, were discarded from the design of the railway. As it’s also common for trains to be split and joined all over southern England, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shorter trains in the future on Thameslink.

Services Not Serving Gatwick Airport At East Croydon Station

If consolidation of services can take place at Brighton and Gatwick Airport, would it be possible to do the same at East Croydon station. These are the services south from East Croydon, that don’t terminate at Three Bridges and Brighton or pass through Gatwick Airport.

  • 2 trains per hour from Victoria to Caterham
  • 2 trains per hour from London Bridge to Caterham
  • 2 trains per hour from London Bridge to Tattenham Corner, which when the Thameslink Programme is complete will start from Cambridge.
  • 2 trains per our from Victoria to East Grinstead
  • 1 train per hour from London Bridge to Uckfield
  • 1 train per hour from Victoria to Tonbridge via Redhill
  • 1 train per hour from Victoria to Reigate via Redhill

To summarise there are eleven trains an hour of which six go to Victoria and five to London Bridge. I assume it’s all for historic reasons and nothing to do with any serious railway planning.

Thankfully, the Tattenham Corner services are being taken out of the mix and will become part of Thameslink.

Another Gatwick Express Route

An interesting point is that Reigate and Tonbridge are both on the East West Route that connects Reading to Ashford International, via Guildford, Reigate, Redhill, Gatwick Airport and Tonbridge.

I believe that this could be a second Gatwick Express route to link the Airport to Wales and the West, and Continental rail services. So a four trains per hour service from Reading to Ashford international via Gatwick could benefit a lot more than those going to and from the Airport.

Platforms 5 And 6 At East Croydon Station

Intriguingly, all of these non-Gatwick services from London,  seem to go south from Platform 6 at East Croydon station and go North from Platform 5.

There are also some other services like London Bridge to Horsham, that also use these platforms.

So do the savvy passengers coming from the South wanting to go to London Bridge, but from a station served by Victoria , change at East Croydon for the alternative destination?

Interestingly, if you use the National Rail’s Journey Planner to look at services from Victoria to Uckfield or London Bridge to East Grinstead, it sends you via a change at East Croydon.

So I would suspect that regular travellers know how to use East Croydon as an optimal interchange to get to their correct destination.

These pictures show  Platform 5 and 6 at East Croydon station.

It is a well-equipped island platform, with coffee and food stalls, a waiting room, an information booth and toilets. The bridge at the Northern end and the ramp at the Southern end give step-free access to the two entrances and the other platforms.

Compared to some draughty, unwelcoming and scruffy places, where I’ve changed trains, it is one of the best single-platform interchanges.

The only thing that the island platform lacks is an Oyster reader, so that those like me, who need to touch-out and touch-in again, as they are changing from a Zone 6 ticket to contactless for Gatwick Airport, don’t have to walk up and through the barrier. I wrote about this in Contactless Between East Croydon And Gatwick Airport, which showed that at present contactless cards may be cheaper!

Increasing Capacity on the Oxted Line Is Not That Simple

Various factors come into play when providing extra capacity on the Oxted Line and I’ll discuss them in the next few sections.

Extra Services Through Platforms 5 And 6 At East Croydon

I’ve looked at an hour in the rush hour and a dozen trains have travelled South through platforms 5 and 6, with some gaps between trains being as low as two or three minutes.

Many platforms in London handle upwards of sixteen to twenty trains an hour. Londoners and visitors, also know how to use platforms like these as interchanges, by getting off one train and then getting another one a few minutes later.

When Thameslink is fully upgraded, passengers from Peterborough, Cambridge and Bedford, will change to their ultimate southern Thameslink destination at stations like St.Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars and London Bridge.

So on a brief analysis, it would appear that Platforms 5 and 6 at East Croydon are not the limiting factor, provided that signalling, track, trains and staff are all working as they should. The platforms also offer valuable interchange opportunities to set up the journey you need.

It gives a simple rule for getting to any of the stations on the various inner branch lines to Caterham, Uckfield, East Grinstead and others not served by Thameslink.

You get any train on either of these branches to East Croydon and then wait on Platform 5/6 for the next train to your ultimate destination.

Thameslink to Tattenham Corner And Horsham

When I went to Gatwick Airport to write about the contactless ticketing, I arrived on Platform 5 at East Croydon on a Horsham train, that had started from London Bridge, that I’d caught at New Cross Gate. These services run twice every hour, as does a service from London Bridge to Tattenham Corner.

When Thameslink is completed, two services to Horsham and two to Tattenham Corner will become all day twelve-car services as follows.

  • Peterborough to Horsham. – Currently this service stops at New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction between London Bridge and East Croydon.
  • Cambridge to Tattenham Corner – Currently some services stop at Norwood Junction between London Bridge and East Croydon.

Incidentally, I do wonder if the person, who devised the Thameslink schedule was a horse racing enthusiast. A twelve car train from Cambridge to Tattenham Corner would be ideal for getting between the two important racing centres of Newmarket and Epsom.

Will these four services continue to use Platforms 5/6 at East Croydon?

I think they should as it would give all of those places like East Grinstead, Purley, Uckfield and all the other stations currently connected to Platform 5/6, a same-platform interchange to a four trains per hour Thameslink service to the East Coast Main Line.

If passengers want the other northern branch to Luton and Bedfird, they would change in the core.

Will these Thameslink services still continue to stop between East Croydon and London Bridge?

Judging by some of the chatter on the Internet, it looks like there’s a good chance they won’t!

Extra Northbound Destinations From Platform 5 And 6 At East Croydon

East Croydon station frustrates me, in that to get there from my closest station at Dalston Junction is not simple.

  • Change at New Cross Gate or Norwood Junction stations.
  • Travel to West Croydon station and get the Tramlink.

So could a third northbound destination be added to platform 5 and 6 at East Croydon?

I believe that the answer is yes, especially as there is spare capacity on the East London Line to the North of Surrey Quays station. Although, I doubt that Southern’s trains could run north of that station.

  • Personally, I would find a Dalston Junction service to East Croydon, much more useful than the current one to West Croydon.
  • Crystal Palace possibly has the space.
  • It would be very handy, if it were possible to have a terminal platform somewhere in the Shoreditch High Street/Whitechapel area.
  • Transport for London are also thinking about a station in the Penge area, where the East London Line and the Chatham Main Line cross.

What is done in the end will depend on the travel statistics. I suspect that the new Penge station and swapping the West Croydon service to East Croydon are the most likely options.

Gatwick Express To Old Oak Common And Milton Keynes

Platform 5/6 At East Croydon is the Southern terminus of a service to Milton Keynes that uses the West London Line.

I believe that this service could be upgraded to be part of Gatwick Express.

  • It would use the same trains as the other Gatwick Expresses.
  • Hopefully, it could run more than once an hour.
  • It would create a simple link from Gatwick Airport to the Midlands and the North.
  • It would serve the new Old Oak Common station for HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.
  • It would terminate at Milton Keynes on the East West Rail Link.

I certainly think, that this is a third route for Gatwick Express.

The Tattenham Corner Paths Won’t Always Be Released

After Thameslink is fully open, two of the services from Tattenham Corner to London Bridge, will become Thameslink services to Cambridge.

But as some Caterham and Tattenham Corner services to Victoria join and split at Purley, this might not mean that two extra paths an hour are available to London Bridge.

I have one question about this Thameslink Tatterham Corner to Cambridge service. Which platforms will it use at

Can South Croydon Help Sort Things Out?

South Croydon station could be a key to providing better services through East Croydon. Look at this Google Map of the station and the junction to the South.

South Croydon Station And Junction

South Croydon Station And Junction

Note.

  • The station currently has five platforms, but I don’t think it could be called a modern station in terms of facilities.
  • The junction south of the station, is where the Oxted Line for Uckfield and East Grinstead leaves the Brighton Main Line.
  • The Southern service from Milton Keynes to East Croydon, used to terminate at South Croydon.

Many of the services that use Plstforms 5 and 6 at East Croydon pass through South Croydon and I feel that a properly remodelled station could be an alternative interchange.

I think that South Croydon could also be an alternative terminus for East London Line services that currently go to West Croydon.

Norwood Junction Station

I also find Norwood Junction station frustrating and judging by the calls for some Thameslink services to call at the station, I suspect others do too.

If I’m going south on the East London Line, I can change to various services to places like East Croydon, Horsham and Tattenham Corner, by just walking across the island platform 5/4.

But going north, you have to dive into a subway to get to platform 1, rather than using the other side of the island platform 2/3.

There will be a lot of Thameslink services passing through the station and if some stopped, it would be possible to have simple cross-platform access between the East London Line and Thameslink.

A New Penge Station

Transport for London have proposed a Penge Interchange station in the Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, If it were to be built it would link the East London Line and the \Chatham Main Line, where they crossed just North of Penge West station. I wrote about the station in An Exploration At Penge.

This station could be an interchange between the following services.

  • Chatham Main Line
  • East London Line
  • London Bridge to East Croydon Services
  • Thameslink

As the site is quite large, there is also space for some terminal platforms facing South.

Conclusion

I have no idea what will happen, but it would seem to be possible to increase the services on the Oxted Line towards the ultimate aim of one every fifteen minutes to both termini.

The simplest solution would see the Oxted Line relegated to a branch line, where some services terminated at a rebuilt and rejuvenated  South Croydon station with cross-platform access to Victoria, London Bridge and Thameslink services.

But I do doubt that four services an hour on both branches can be accommodated in the main London termini.

I do think though that there is so much flexibility, that what happens in the end will be a pleasant surprise. And probably totally acceptable to everybody except Disgusted in Tunbridge Wells!

 

 

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February 13, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Contactless Between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport

I recently travelled to Gatwick Airport and went via East Croydon station, which is a Zone 6 station and thus Freedom Pass territory for lucky Londoners like me!

I used my Freedom Pass to get to East Croydon, by changing at New Cross Gate from the East London Line.

At East Croydon, I found myself on the well-appointed Platform 5, with its coffee stall, waiting room, information booth and toilets.

The only thing that the platform lacks is an Oyster reader, so that those like me, who need to touch-out and touch-in again, as they are changing from a Zone 6 ticket to contactless for Gatwick Airport, don’t have to walk up and through the barrier.

Incidentally, for those like me who have a Freedom Pass, there is an interesting anomaly. After going through the barrier, I then re-entered the station using my AMEX card, before catching a Bognor Regis/Southampton Central service to Gatwick Airport.

At Gatwick I entered the Airport using my AMEX card and when I checked the statement I found that I’d been charged three pounds for the journey.

Coming back, I bought a ticket in a machine from Gatwick Airport to East Croydon and I was charged three pounds and forty-five pence.

So contactless cards may be cheaper! And the return ticket used my Senior Railcard!

I shall have to travel between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport on a Gatwick Express and see how much I’m charged.

It would seem to me that for Freedom Pass holders, the cheapest way to get to Gatwick, is to use the pass to get to East Croydon, exit the station and then re-enter the station using an Oyster or contactless bank card.

It’s just a pity, there isn’t an Oyster reader on the platform at East Croydon, so that those changing for Gatwick at the station can touch out and touch in again.

But this simple exercise showed that for those wanting to go to Gatwick, using contactless ticketing is the way to go.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment