The Anonymous Widower

The Mayor’s Plans For East London River Crossings

This article on the BBC is entitled Mayor accused of ‘betrayal’ over Silvertown river tunnel.

I made my feeling clear about the tunnel in No To Silvertown Tunnel . I started by saying this.

My personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy online or at a local shop. Although as a sixty-eight year-old-widower living alone, I don’t think my transport needs through the tunnel will be high.

I don’t drive after my stroke and I like that lifestyle, except when last night it takes me three trains, a coach and a taxi to get back from watching football at Ipswich. But that tortuous late night journey was caused because NuLabor spent my tax money on pointless wars that will haunt us for generations, rather than in extending and renewing our rail system, that will nurture and enrich our future.

I don’t think, that I’ve changed my views much.

The Mayor is actually proposing five river crossings.

Five New Thames Crossings

Five New Thames Crossings

Here my thoughts on each

Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge

This is detailed in Wkipedia as the Rotherhithe Crossing or Brunel Bridge.

Wikipedia says this about the location.

The preferred location for the bridge identified in the feasibility study would be between the Impound Lock close to Cascades Tower on the northern (Canary Wharf) bank, and at Durand’s Wharf park on the southern (Rotherhithe) bank.[2]

There is currently a Thames Clippers ferry shuttle between these two points. The Jubilee line parallels the route of the proposed bridge, with the nearest stations at Canada Water and Canary Wharf.

I took these pictures of the current ferry from Canary Wharf pier.

The bridge has its own web site, with a dramatic picture on the home page.

The visualisations show a bridge, that I think few would dislike. I certainly don’t!

  • It’s dramatic.
  • It would be open to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • It would be the longest bascule opening bridge in the world.
  • It would allow tall ships to pass through.

But above all I suspect that Marc and Isambard would have approved.

Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry

If Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe can sustain a ferry, then surely a ferry at the other side of Canary Wharf connecting to North Greenwich with the O2, must be viable.

This Google Map shows the Thames between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich.

 

Canary Wharf And North Greenwich

Canary Wharf And North Greenwich

It is not the longest ferry link, but there are questions to be answered.

  • Does the ferry go right into the heart of Canary Wharf or only as far as the bank of the Thames?
  • Does the ferry go all round the O2 to North Greenwich Pier or call at a new pier on the west side of the Greenwich Peninsular?
  • Will the ferry be fully accessible?
  • Will the ferry accommodate bicycles?
  • Will the ferry be free, as is  the current Woolwich Ferries?
  • How many boats will be used?

I think that there could be an opportunity to design an integrated ferry and pier, that would be all things to all users.

It certainly shouldn’t be boring and if possible it should call at the heart of Canary Wharf.

Silvertown Tunnel

In my view the Silvertown Tunnel is just another route for some travellers and possibly their goods to take between the two banks of the Thames.

Categories of traffic across the river through a new Silvertown Tunnel would include.

  1. Individuals, groups and families, who don’t necessarily need a vehicle. But sometimes choose to take one.
  2. Individuals, groups and families, who absolutely need to take a vehicle.
  3. Vans and trucks collecting or delivering goods.
  4. Buses and coaches
  5. Taxis, mini-cabs and private hire vehicles.

One thing that has been said about the Silvertown Tunnel is that it will be funded by a toll and some reports have said that the Blackwall and Rotherhithe Tunnels will be tolled as well.

London already has a congestion charging system for areas in the centre and I suspect that this could be updated to charge for the cross-river tunnels.

We’ve never had a toll to get across the Thames in London, with even the Woolwich Ferry being free, so I suspect that a toll would reduce cross-river vehicular traffic.

Remember that, when tunnels were built under the Thames in Central London, there was few quality alternatives with the exception of the Northern and Victoria Lines and the original undeveloped Thameslink.

But over the last few years, cross-river and other public transport has been getting better. And it still is!

Consider.

  • In the last year, a lot has been disclosed about Crossrail and its enormous Class 345 trains.
  • We’ve also seen the opening of the new London Bridge station and can see the improvements taking place in South London.
  • We’ve also seen the arrival of the Night Tube.
  • Capacity is being increased on the cross-river East London Line and the Jubilee, Northern and Victoria Lines.
  • We have Night Thameslink, so will we see a Night Crossrail?

Other developments will follow.

The only certainty is that we will be seeing a large increase in  quality public transport, over, under and on the Thames.

I think for the first time in my life, there could be two competing ways of getting across the Thames; driving through a tunnel or using public transport.

Cost, convenience, needs and possibly an all-singing-and-dancing computer or phone app will tell you where to go.

As I said earlier, if the Silvertown Tunnel is built, it will be just another route for travellers, with perhaps a higher, but fixed cost.

If it is built, I think there should be conditions.

  • The Blackwall, Rotherhithe and Silvertown Tunnels should all have tolls.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink should have a great deal more Park-and-Ride capacity.
  • All buses, coaches, mini-cabs, taxis and trucks in Central London should be low emission.

I also think that large areas of Central London, like the City and Oxford Street should be pedestrianised and some are on track for this to happen.

Much of the decision about the Silvertown Tunnel revolves around politics.

Sadiq Khan, has said he’s in favour of the tunnel with conditions, but he is up against a formidable movement that don’t want the tunnel built at any price.

I also find it interesting, that Ken Livingstone was in favour of the Silvertown Tunnel. But Ken brought in congestion charging.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if there’s some researchhanging aroiund in TfL, that says that a tolled road crossing will cut traffic. But it’s the sort of research no-one would believe.

So perhaps a tolled Silvertown Tunnel with conditions will be a good idea.

But only because there are now alternatives!

Gallions Reach DLR

The BBC article says this about this proposal.

A DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, helping support the development of around 17,000 new homes across Newham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich

It is different to the original proposal of a Docklands Light Railway extension to Dagenham Dock, which stayed on the North bank of the Thames.

This map shows the area of London from Gallions Reach to Abbey Wood.

Gallions Reach To Abbey Wood

Gallions Reach To Abbey Wood

Note.

  • Gallions Reach DLR station is marked with the red arrow.
  • Just to the North of Gallions Reach station is the main DLR depot, which would probably be an excellent site to start a tunnel.
  • The tunnel would probably emerge on the South bank of the Thames to the West of Thamesmead.
  • It could then weave its way along the side of the main road.
  • The North Kent Line with Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations runs along the bottom of the map.
  • Crossrail could be extended to Gravesend.
  • Crossrail should also be extended Ebbsfleet International for European rail services.

If the DLR extension went from Gallions Reach DLR station  to Abbey Wood station it will be a loop on Crossrail serving a lot of areas ripe for quality housing and commercial development.

It certainly looks a feasible area to think about taking the DLR.

Barking Riverside Overground Extension

When I first heard about the Thamesmead Extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, I thought it was a good idea.

As it is mentioned in the Mayor’s plans, I suspect that building the extension is getting nearer to reality.

Certainly provision has been made in the design of the Barking Riverside Overground Extension to extend the line under the river if required.

Joined Up Connections

If you take out the Silvertown Tunnel, which is the only one of the five crossings for which you need a vehicle, you get a route along the Thames from Canada Water To Barking.

  • Walk from Canada Water to the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge
  • Cross the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge
  • Walk to the Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry
  • Take the Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry to North Greenwich
  • Take the Emirates Air-Line to Royal Victoria
  • Take the DLR to Gallions Reach and on to Thamesmead
  • Take the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking

It’s an interesting route using various means of transport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Of The Worst Stations In England

On my trip home from Swansea via the Heart of Wales Line and an overnight stop with friends in Ludlow, I came through three of the worst stations, I have encountered in England; Craven Arms, Ludlow and Shrewsbury.

Craven Arms

Craven Arms station has minimal facilities to say the least.

It certainly fails the Gert and Daisy Test.

Gert and Daisy are two elderly and very independent,  travel-savvy sisters, who live in different parts of the country. Neither drives and they have arranged to go to see their first great-granddaughter, whose parents live a few miles from the station. Train times mean that they arrive within fifteen minutes from different directions and their grandson has arranged to pick them up when they’ve both arrived.

The one problem in this plan is the station, as there is no comfortable place to wait and there is no mobile signal to send a text message to their grandson to announce their arrival.

Luckily it’s a warm and sunny summer’s day.

I would like to see a law, that every station and bus stop in the country has a decent mobile signal.

In my case, I had to wait half-an-hour on a draughty station with nothing to do, as I had read the paper and there was no mobile signal to use for entertainment.

Ludlow

Ludlow station isn’t that much higher up the facilities league table.

All I needed was a taxi and the information was a set of cards on the counter in the Ticket Office.

But there was no mobile signal and eventually a passing taxi-driver took pity on me.

The station was very much an information-free zone, with not even any signs as to how to find a bus.

But surely, the most serious thing about Ludlkow station was that in the morning, the train informastion displays weren’t working, as I suspect the mobile signal they needed wasn’t available.

My phone certainly wasn’t working and it didn’t work until I got to Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury station may have seven platforms and a few trains, but it is definitely short on facilities as I said in Shrewsbury Station.

What Is To Be Done

I have to admit, that I’ve seen stations like these treated with contempt before.

When I moved back to London in 2010, some of the stations like Rectory Road, Clapton and Manor Park, to name just three were a disgrace.

In those days, they were managed by Abellio Greater Anglia from Norwich and any complaints were put down to whingeing Londoners.

Now that these stations are all managed by Transport for London, things have got much better.

All of the three stations are run by Arriva Trains Wales, so I suspect any complaints about the stations are filed under whingeing English.

Probably too, with trains devolved to the Welsh Assembly, Arriva Trains Wales are probably under close control from their paymasters in Cardiff.

I think that the most important thing to be done would be to put the management of these stations under control of Shropshire County Council.

Incidentally, all of the trains, I rode in the area were busy and my scheduling experience probably says that the area needs more services with more carriages.

Wolverhampton To Shrewsbury

Perhaps the solution at Shrewsbury is to up the frequency of trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton to create better access between the fast-growing West Midlands and Shropshire.

The service at the moment looks to be about two trains per hour (tph), but it is by no means clock face, which has been shown to increase passenger numbers.

Hereford

Going South from Ludlow, the first major city and station you come to is Hereford.

It is much better served by trains than Shrewsbury, with services to London and Birmingham.

In addition to Arriva Trains Wales, services are provided by London Midland and Great Western Railway.

I also think, that now that a new station has been created at Bromsgrove, that London Midland or the new franchisee might have plans to develop services from Birmingham to Worcester and Hereford.

Hereford, Shrewsbury And The Welsh Marches Line

The services between Hereford and Shrewsbury to Birmingham are vaguely similar , with about 2-3 tph, with trains taking between an hour and ninety m,inutes.

But neither service is clock-face and likely to attract customers on the trurn-up-and-go  principle. They are more likely to drive to Birmingham or perhaps a Park-and-Ride station like Bromsgrove.

But on the Welsh Marches Line connecting Hereford and Shrewsbury, the service is less frequent and if my experiences at Ludlow and Craven Arms are typical, the information systems and the trains, are not conducive to attracting passengers.

  • The trains are fine, but infrequent, crowded and managed by the Welsh Assembly.
  • Mobile phone coverage is not much better that the 1980s in Suffolk.
  • Broadband is not the best.

Perhaps the solution to the trains is to run a loop service from Wolverhampton to Birmingham via the following stations.

  • Telford
  • Wellington
  • Shrewsbury
  • Craven Arms
  • Ludlow
  • Leominster
  • Hereford
  • Worcester
  • Bromsgrove

If it were run by London Midland, it would be a partial solution to the transport problems of those English towns along the Welsh Border.

 

 

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Passing Through Shrewsbury Station

Returning from Ludlow, I came back via Shrewsbury station.

For a important place and railway interchange, the station is really not up to much, with the only facilities being toilets and a Starbucks.

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

The New Depot For Class 800 Trains At Swansea

The electrification to Swansea station may not be ready until 2024, but it looks like they have a depot for thew new Class 800 trains.

This illustrates how badly Network Rail got their planning for electrifying the Great Western Main Line.

October 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment